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Economics

November 20, 2014

"SF Rent Ordinance: Like a Bomb You Don't Hear Till It Hits"

Ah, Baghdad by the Bay: I'm so glad I turned down a chance to work there.

November 17, 2014

"Marc Andreessen in Conversation"

This is just spectacular. If he's not willing to run for office as a conservative he should at least be willing to contribute a bunch of money. Just one great bit:

The critique of Silicon Valley is also that it isn’t very diverse. At Twitter, for instance, 90 percent of the tech employees are male and more than 50 percent of them are white.

I think these discussions are totally valid. Now, I disagree with many of the specific points.

What’s your take?

Shall we? Let’s launch right into it. I think the critique that Silicon Valley companies are deliberately, systematically discriminatory is incorrect, and there are two reasons to believe that that’s the case. No. 1, these companies are like the United Nations internally. All the diversity studies say that the engineering population is like 70 percent white and Asian. Let’s dig into that for a second. First, apparently Asian doesn’t count as diverse. And then “white”: When you actually go in these companies, what you find is it’s American people, but it’s also Russians, and Eastern Europeans, and French, and German, and British. And then there are the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Thais, Indonesians, and Vietnamese. All these different countries, all these different cultures. To believe in a systematic pattern of discrimination, you’d have to believe that we’re discriminatory toward certain people without being discriminatory at all toward an extremely broad range of ethnicities and religions. Because of Pakistanis, we’re seeing a higher-than-ever proportion of Muslim employees in a lot of our companies.

No. 2, our companies are desperate for talent. Desperate. Our companies are dying for talent. They’re like lying on the beach gasping because they can’t get enough talented people in for these jobs. The motivation to go find talent wherever it is is unbelievably high.

(On diversity in tech see also the excellent "Cellophane Diversity".)

And here is Mr. Andreessen citing Claudia Goldin. Good on you, sir.

"Washington's Mathematical Mess: America's Looming Entitlement Tsunami"

Yes, indeed. Unless there are some major changes it won't be too long before the federal government does little more than cut entitlement checks

Genius and . . . not genius

Genius. (Via Instapundit.) Ashe Schow, "A Modest Proposal for Closing the Gender Wage Gap":

And so I humbly present my own proposal for closing the gender wage gap, which I hope will not only solve the problem but also satisfy voices on all sides of the argument. As a society, we must begin telling women what subjects they can major in, what colleges they can attend, and what jobs they can take.

Not genius:

When asked about the accreditation review, UNC Provost Jim Dean told ABC11, "The entire university should not be punished for the academic fraud that went on for nearly 20 years."

"During that period of time that the report represents, we had about 97,000 students and about 3,000 of those students were engaged at the most in this activity," said Dean. "So as bad as it was, to say that it represents the whole university is pretty disingenuous."

I eagerly await the next time a Chapel Hill male student is accused of sexual assault for him to declare, "I've been alive for about 158,000 hours. To take what I did for less than one hour and characterize me as a bad person is disingenuous."

A follow-up of my endorsement of Prof. Gruber for president

There has been lots of additional commentary posted since last week. Six of the best pieces I saw:

James Bovard, "The Obamacare deception of ‘stupid’ Americans: How the liberal elites rely on lies to pass their paternalistic agenda". Makes the fine point that the operation of Social Security was, and continues to be, lied about.

Philip Klein, "Gruber's Obamacare comments expose what's wrong with liberalism". I'd substitute "illustrate" for "expose," but that's a nitpick.

Ian Tuttle, "Smarter than Thou: The “stupidity of the American voter” is an article of faith for the Left."

[Dr.] Marc Siegel, "Calling Me Stupid".

My patient with a thyroid problem couldn’t afford the necessary ultrasound and antibody tests to better understand her condition before Obamacare, and she can’t afford them now, either, because of her large deductible. This gap between coverage and actual care is not a surprise to people who have struggled with the limitations of insurance of all kinds their entire lives. Most Americans do not believe in a free lunch these days – and certainly not when the government is pitching it.

Americans have always understood the Obamacare gap between insurance and actual care. 

Ron Fournier[!], "Obamacare's Foundation of Lies".

Liberals should be the angriest. Not only were they personally deceived, but the administration's dishonest approach to health care reform has helped make Obamacare unpopular while undermining the public's faith in an activist government. A double blow to progressives.\

Well, as they say, "Every cloud has a silver lining."

Finally, Patterico, "Lefties Deceive as They Try to Distract from Gruber's Praise of . . . Deceit".

This is who they are and this is what they do. 

November 16, 2014

Here's an excellent reason not to trust the reporting of the New York Times

The Grey Lady gets caught, yet again, on the Dvorak keyboard myth, hook, line, and sinker:

How we became stuck with the Qwerty is a matter of debate, but some historians point to a national typing-speed competition in the late 1880s. Unlike the other contestant, the winner had memorized the key positions, in part, the story goes, because they made no sense. The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, invented in 1932, is objectively superior, so much so that, in the 1940s, the United States Navy determined that it was worth retraining its typists. As the evolutionary biologist and science historian Stephen Jay Gould (whose mother was a typist and father a court stenographer) wrote, 'If every typist in the world stopped using Qwerty tomorrow and began to learn Dvorak, we would all be a winner.'

It's not just that it's a mistake--everybody makes mistakes. It's that the paragraph is so credulous, so uninformed, so amateurish in the worst way. And it conforms, of course, to the Times's long-standing anti-market bias.

Why would you possibly trust what they tell you about global warming? Or anything else important?

(If you haven't heard, there's a large literature on the myth of the Dvorak keyboard. Start with Liebowitz and Margolis, "The Fable of the Keys," Journal of Law and Economics, April 1990.)

November 11, 2014

Jonathan Gruber for president!

If you believe as I do that we desperately need much more "transparency" in our government--when I was a kid it just called honesty--Mr. Gruber could well be our man. He is, shall we say, honest to a fault:

This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO [Congressional Budget Office] scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that.  In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass....Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not."

A reason to think this admission is deeply embarassing: the University of Pennsylvania supposedly pulled it off the Net.

Here's a reminder of another one of Mr. Gruber's greatest hits (and its relevance to King v. Burwell).

UPDATE: see Keith Hennessey's concise and very fine discussion of how pervasive hidden, lied-about cross-subsidies in government are.

"The Truth About Mass Public Shootings"

As usual, it pays to look at the data very closely.

Reducing the occurrence of mass public shootings is implicit to the debate over whether they have recently increased. Yet asking why mass public shootings have recently increased, even if only modestly since the mid-1990s, is the wrong question. Rather, what truly needs explaining is why the mass public shooting rate during the 1996-2006 period (an annual average of 1.00) was lower than at any time during the last 30 (or even 40) years.

November 10, 2014

"Not so foolish"

Steven Poole, Aeon: "We are more rational than those who nudge us."

And so there is less reason than many think to doubt humans’ ability to be reasonable. The dissenting critiques of the cognitive-bias literature argue that people are not, in fact, as individually irrational as the present cultural climate assumes. And proponents of debiasing argue that we can each become more rational with practice. But even if we each acted as irrationally as often as the most pessimistic picture implies, that would be no cause to flatten democratic deliberation into the weighted engineering of consumer choices, as nudge politics seeks to do. On the contrary, public reason is our best hope for survival. Even a reasoned argument to the effect that human rationality is fatally compromised is itself an exercise in rationality. Albeit rather a perverse, and – we might suppose – ultimately self-defeating one.

Bravo!

 

"Governments Need Inflation, Economies Don’t"

Peter Schiff speaks truth to power

Every year the levels of government debt as a percentage of GDP, for both emerging market and developed economies, continue to go higher and higher. As the ratios push out into uncharted territories, particularly in Europe’s southern tier, the ability to “inflate away” debt through monetization remains the only means available to postpone default. Evans-Pritchard quotes a Bank of America analyst as saying that even “low inflation” (not to mention actual deflation) is the “biggest threat to the dynamics of public debt.” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde ramped up the rhetoric further when she recently told the Washington Press Club that “deflation is the ogre that must be fought decisively.” In other words, governments need inflation to remain viable. It’s the drug they just can’t do without.

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