"New and Improved Economics? Don’t Believe It"

Donald Boudreaux has a complaint which I also have:

The presumption about which I complain is this: economic analysis is grounded in assumptions so flawed – and performed by eggheads so out of touch with reality – that economic science has been either of very little use to humanity or even a curse. But (the presumption continues) don’t despair! The Brilliant Economist who now offers this pioneering new book, or who teaches that radically new-style course, has discovered the Philosopher’s Stone for transforming base and sterile economics into a sure source of brilliant insight and guidance of a sort that the world has until now been denied.

Finally, all will be well with the world’s economies!


"Can student radicals please just publish a League Table of Oppression?"

I agree: this is sorely needed.

To let everyone know where they stand, the NUS must publish a weekly League Table of Oppression.

Obviously at the bottom would be white, British, middle-class, heterosexual men like me. Shamefully, we aren’t oppressed at all. But where does everyone else fit in? Does the NUS rank transgender people above depressives? Are lesbians below the disabled? And what about Muslim men versus Muslim women?


"Middle Age Misery Peaks at Age of 47.2, Economist Says"

I haven't read the study, but I find such a conclusion baffling on its face. To me, happiness isn't a scalar, it's a vector and the elements of the vector can, and mostly do, change from week to week and year to year. Unless all the elements are moving in the same direction, which strikes me as unlikely, how can one time in a person's life be considered happier than another?

For a minute  I thought that you could judge intertemporal happiness using a tool in the economists' toolkit: revealed preference. You confront a person at age X with the choice between staying at age X or retreating to age X - Y. (If the person chooses X - Y he or she doesn't retain any of the additional knowledge and experience.) Similarly, you could confront a person at age X with the choice of advancing to age X + Y given a lot of detail about what the person's life is like at X + Y. (And with the proviso that if the person refuses to go to to X + Y he or she will retain no memory of the details of that possible future.)

But even if were possible to confront individuals with these choice, I don't think they would suffice to conclude a person was happier at one time than another. To give a specific example: if somebody asked would I rather return to age 20, I think I would say no but not because I am happier now than I was at that age. At age 20, my life was stochastic with many possible realizations. To say that I would remain at my current age just means that I feel that I had quite a lucky, good realization and that I am very risk averse.

So, at least for me, an age of peak or trough happiness will have to remain undefined.


"Don’t buy the media hype over the new China virus"

I'm linking to this despite the substantial risk of kina hurra because it's a fine example of something journalists and commentators don't do enough of: provide a meaningful intertemporal or cross-sectional basis of comparison.

As a share of hospitalizations, the regular flu death rate is 8.5 percent to 17 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — considerably higher than for Wuhan. 

(As partial penance for tempting the Fates, here's a sober, rather pessimistic analysis by five academics. Link via Instapundit.)

And if you want to track the spread of the virus in real time, here, from Johns Hopkins, is a map.

 


"She's the One"

The Boss and E Street, live in London, 1975.

"This is easily one of the handful of Bruce videos I would recommend to anyone unfamiliar with him or the band. This is rock ‘n’ roll in its purest form."

"This is one of the most dangerous videos on Youtube. Before you realise it you're an addict ;-)"

"Scientists have confirmed that it is physically impossible to see them and not have a great time."