Assorted links

by on January 2, 2010 at 1:25 pm in Web/Tech | Permalink

1. Is Somali pirate cash causing a Kenyan property boom?

2. What is the hardest language?

3. Markets in everything: how hackers check their work on viruses.

4. Has the anti-foreclosure program done more harm than good?

5. National and cultural differences in cell phone usage.

6. How economists manage their money (and lives).

7. Twitter as eternal plumbing.

Quigley January 2, 2010 at 1:56 pm

I’ll throw Hungarian/Finnish/Estonian into the mix.

floccina January 2, 2010 at 6:25 pm

“U.S. Loan Effort Is Seen as Adding to Housing Woes”

It is hard to see how it could be otherwise. It seems like the sort of thing that is enacted in order to show the median voter that the politicians care even though the politicians know that it will not help. better to eliminate the FICA tax.

David Stern January 2, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Of major modern languages, I’d vote that the hardest language to read is Japanese. People who already can read Chinese can get the hang of quite a bit of the meaning but few if any clues to pronunciation… If you were starting fresh it would be very difficult. Learning to read Chinese is easier as each character = one syllable and there are some clues to pronunciation. For those who didn’t grow up speaking a tonal language Japanese has advantages there. So far I’ve found it easier to read Chinese than speak or understand it spoken.

mulp January 2, 2010 at 10:37 pm

It is hard to see how it could be otherwise. It seems like the sort of thing that is enacted in order to show the median voter that the politicians care even though the politicians know that it will not help. better to eliminate the FICA tax.

Let’s see, cutting taxes eight consecutive times has reduced tax revenue 25% from over 20% of GDP to under 15% of GDP with flt to negative employment growth, and an asset bubble forming from the tax cuts that promote pump and dump “investment”, and then popping, which has caused massive balance sheet losses and further sharply negative employment. And the solution is to force further falls in asset prices with accompanying balance sheet losses and bankruptcies and most likely further negative employment.

I find the idea of driving housing prices down even further as somehow resulting in new construction to be completely illogical. The pump and dump tax incentives resulted in speculators building and buying housing at prices far in excess of construction costs. So the way to restart new construction is to establish a house market price level lower than construction costs?? Ah, the idea is to cut taxes so those who work will borrow more money than they can really afford to drive a new housing bubble??

About a third of FICA is since 1985 has been a 4-5% flat tax on the only labor income to fund government operations and make it possible to cut taxes and run up huge deficits. But now the reason FICA was set high, the looming retirement of boomers, has arrived, so the full FICA revenue is needed for the retired. And the ranks of the retired has increased by the reduced employment that has followed the past eight consecutive tax cuts.

The employment rate peaks have occurred when taxes have been hiked, not lowered, and have occurred when taxes were higher, not lower.

mulp January 2, 2010 at 11:16 pm

6. How economists manage their money (and lives).

Somehow I don’t find the conclusion that economists are more likely to be free riders, or that economists find it desirable to have unfair business preferences that favor themselves.

I do wonder if economists really engage in “buy and hold” as they so often tell others when they call for tax policies that discourage “buy and live off the dividends,” but instead favor “pump and dump.”

On the other hand, how often do economists seek work where pay is based on output, instead of seeking work with guaranteed incomes.

Andrew January 4, 2010 at 5:00 am

mulp,

I don’t think economists say that it isn’t human nature to seek guaranteed pay, just that it’s not very rational to grant it.

Andrew January 4, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Come to think about it, it may be irrational to seek guaranteed wages too. Your employee will see that like any other liability when pucker-up time comes.

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