Assorted links

by on April 16, 2012 at 11:15 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Carrying costs > liquidity premium, German dead body edition.  Raise the price of a donation, I say.

2. Liquidity premium > carrying costs, German live body edition, disintermediation; “He meets 10 to 15 women a month.”  Recommended, I read it twice.

3. Jeff Sachs toys with the idea of a three-child limit for Nigeria (for fathers?  mothers?  probably de facto just the latter, then won’t it boost polygamy?).  In any case it would be a huge tax on rural Nigerians and it is a very bad idea, not to mention a massive violation of personal liberty.  Wouldn’t a more right-wing thinker have encountered a firestorm for a similar proposal?  (Addendum: a related set of links and commentary from Chris Blattman.)

4. More on Robert Caro.

5. Me in El Diario, on El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, sister cities of a sort, a wonderful near-controlled experiment on how the law influences our food (in Spanish).

AC April 16, 2012 at 11:32 am

#3: I’m trying to come up with a status based explanation why it’s ok for a left-winger to say that. Maybe it’s because they’re presumed to want to raise the status of the poor, while right-wingers are assumed to want to lower their status? But that doesn’t make sense – clearly limiting someone’s reproduction is status-lowering, saying that you know better than them. I think that this makes the most sense if you see it as a straightforward coalitional fight, with little concern for right or wrong. Principle doesn’t matter; tribalism does.

Ken S April 16, 2012 at 12:46 pm

“I think that this makes the most sense if you see it as a straightforward coalitional fight, with little concern for right or wrong. Principle doesn’t matter; tribalism does.”

Jeff Sachs didn’t bring up the Left vs Right issue though did he? Did he tell any righties to get lost if/when they voiced support for his proposal?

If you consider one of Tyler’s complaints, it could be framed as an individual rights vs collectivism issue on the political end of things. Your original explanation does make more sense looked at from this direction. Perhaps there is a perception that the left has more legitimacy and better intentions when it comes to making certain collectivist proposals. Maybe this is not fair or correct.

Millian April 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Why try to do that? Hanson’s hammer makes everything look like a nail. There is a more parsimonious solution: development economists tend to be left-wing (because they care about poor people) and tend to be ignored by most people (because they don’t). So the most likely outcome is that Cowen is engaging in tribalist self-pity, especially since he hasn’t provided evidence for his belief that this would be public and controversial were it said by, say, Easterly.

MD April 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm

I think the idea is that saying “Nigeria should work towards attaining a maximum of three children per family” is commensurate with saying “I have this theory of evolution involving violent people in Africa, which is why that black lady at the DMV didn’t smile at me.”

GiT April 16, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Well that’s a patently silly idea.

Varun April 16, 2012 at 6:35 pm

I’m not sure how we went from “Nigeria should work towards attaining a maximum of three children per family” to Sachs having Nigeria mandate limits to reproductive freedom.

There are a number of successful initiatives that governments can pursue to try and bring down the birth rate: ranging from education to increasing the availability of subsidized vasectomies/tubectomies (you’d be very surprised at how successful the latter are in China/India etc.).

It turns out there is more to government than enforcement with violence folks.

pcm4 April 16, 2012 at 11:41 am

#3: lol @ Jeff Sachs wanting the World Bank position. As a leftie that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard suggested. Just wow…

Yancey Ward April 16, 2012 at 11:43 am

A pity, I think, that Jeffrey Sach’s parents were allowed to reproduce.

Rich Berger April 16, 2012 at 11:47 am

I guess I missed the news that Sachs had become king of Nigeria. Note that the projections are to 2100. I wonder what the projections about 2012 population were back in 1924?

Miley Cyrax April 16, 2012 at 11:52 am

@3

What sort of racist, Malthusian, Hitlerian, conservative suggestion is that? Clearly Nigerians should be able to have as many children as they want, and we should guilt the white and Asian people of western nations into subsidizing this lifestyle. Anything short of this is unprogressive.

Miley Cyrax April 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm

@2
Kudos to that guy, living the dream. Although I expected him to look like Brad Pitt with Von Neumann’s resume, but perhaps I shouldn’t have as women in their late 20s to 40s don’t exactly have a lot of time/options.

Rahul April 16, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I’ll wait for a decade to follow the story of how many lawsuits he has to defend against.

Miley Cyrax April 16, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Rahul, I’m sure German women are just as upstanding as their American counterparts and would never take advantage of male-unfriendly family courts to renege on their word, tear up contracts, and screw over the father of their children.

Rahul April 16, 2012 at 1:41 pm

The ones I pity are the kids. They weren’t even parties to the contract.

Why can’t these women simply adopt? 50% of this DNA is anyways from a weirdo they met for barely 24 hours.

The Other Jim April 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm

#2 — It doesn’t matter; his strategy to stay poor and live off the taxpayers means that the Moms have no choice but to also live off the taxpayers. In short, everybody wins.

And when future archaeologists try to figure out why Western Civilization died, I do hope they find this article.

Rahul April 16, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I wonder if he could expand this business model to a for-pay EU-citizenship-on-demand service. Do illegitimate offspring enjoy jus sanguinis citizenship privileges?

Immigration services frown upon sham-marriages but could they object to “sham parentage”?

Allan April 16, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Without much doubt, Mr. Caro is the best biography writer/historian of the 20th (and the 21st?) century.

His books are brilliant. What makes them more brilliant than others is that he is not a sycophant. When I was doing research at the LBJ library in the late 1980s, I remember the librarians whispering with a certain awe and respect when Mr. Caro came in. That led me to read his books and I was enthralled.

I have waited 10 years for the next book and am as excited as a 10 year old would have been when a new Harry Potter book came out.

I wish that there were such well-written biographies of other giants of the 20th century. But there are not, because no-one dares to go where Mr. Caro has gone and continues to go.

tt31 April 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm

I think I’m missing something on the responses to the Sachs quote. Clicking through the links, it looks like he said “”I am really scared about population explosion in Nigeria. It is not healthy. Nigeria should work towards attaining a maximum of three children per family,” From the articles linked to, I don’t read Sachs as saying that a government imposed limit should be established, and therefore all of Tyler’s observations (polygamy, violation of personal liberty) don’t necessarily apply. But please link to something with more context if it is available.

mark April 16, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Thanks for elucidating this and saving others the time. However, based on what I have read elsewhere about Nigeria, maybe this just means that the headline should have been “Jeffrey Sachs calls for Nigerian government to wave magic wand to fix one of its problems”

Ed April 16, 2012 at 1:17 pm

I only skimmed through the link, but I’m also skeptical that Sachs proposed that the Nigerian federal government pass legislation making it against the law to have more than three children (which is the implication of the claim made at #3). He seems to have said that if most Nigerians limited their families to three children, they and the children they did have would be much better off.

Neither the government of India in the 1970s and the government of China in the 1980s imposed population control measures that crude and drastic. And while India abandoned its effort at population control, the Chinese effort was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, success stories of recent times. China’s GDP in aggregate and per capita increased, its standing in the world increased, and the world was spared the additional pressure on the environment and on immigration channels that would have been brought to bear by an additional billion Chinese. Professional optimists are even hailing the world dealing successfully with overpopulation, without doing anything really drastic, while ignoring how much of that is due to Chinese government policies.

But the evidence is that Nigeria could (and should) get its population under control just by educating its women and giving them more career opportunities. They shouldn’t have to imitate India Ghandi or Deng Xiaoping.

Pub Editor April 16, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Neither the government of India in the 1970s…imposed population control measures that crude and drastic.

Forgive me, but if forced vasectomies do not rise to the level of “crude and drastic,” I would be interested in knowing where you draw the line. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-12-29/india/28661327_1_slum-clearance-sanjay-gandhi-sterilization

I agree with this: “I’m also skeptical that Sachs proposed that the Nigerian federal government pass legislation making it against the law to have more than three children.”

This is from the article on Sachs:

“I am really scared about population explosion in Nigeria. It is not healthy. Nigeria should work towards attaining a maximum of three children per family,” Sachs told AFP on the margins of a presidential interactive meeting with key members of the business community.

http://www.timeslive.co.za/africa/article1083058.ece/UN-Chief-warns-Nigeria-against-population-explosion

There are multiple ways to read that, and I suspect that Nigeria can “work towards” a three-child-max goal through means (e.g. economic incentives, educational programs, public health initiatives) that do fall short of outright coercion.

Ed April 16, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Also relevant to population control, this piece is hilarious (courtesy of Ran Prieur):

http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/04/economist-meets-physicist/

Max April 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Physics is going to trump most of macro economics over the next 50-100 years.

Som April 16, 2012 at 4:38 pm

There was a post on that here last week.

The physicist does not accept that the economic growth of the future will look a lot different than current economic growth (in some cases precisely because of the physical limits he references). The whole exercise lost it’s appeal to me halfway through the second course, when the physicist started arguing a slightly different point.

Max April 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Economic growth can only come from increased use of energy or more efficient use of energy. There are hard physical limits to both.

Nico April 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Despite being a left-winger, I couldn’t agree more with this comment from Tyler:

“Wouldn’t a more right-wing thinker have encountered a firestorm for a similar proposal?”

Andre April 16, 2012 at 2:56 pm

I think the Nigerian setup is quite the counter to people worried about over population. 170 million people in an area smaller than the american south west and there isn’t any mass starvation or chaos, gangs roaming the streets for gas or water or whatever is scarce and precious. And that is with barely any infrastructure more than what was left from the 50’s. Think of how many people they could support if their oil money went to infrastructure supporting better agriculture and denser cities, rather than palaces and jets. Their lack of fertilizer and tall buildings is a political problem not an existential threat to humanity and the planet.

And PS there isn’t anything in any of these article about Sach’s suggesting a legally imposed three child limit. I don’t see anything controversal here, regardless of whether it is said from the left or right.

Scoop April 16, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Having children is not just a personal liberty for parents. Your personal liberty ends when it affects others and it’s hard to think of anything that affects others more than having kids.

You can make strong, though still arguable cases, for society’s right to restrict reproduction for the good of society.

More importantly, you can make unarguable cases about restricting child bearing for the good of the children, both those that are born and those that are prevented.

mark April 16, 2012 at 3:20 pm

You are welcome to conduct a real world experiment to test your hypothesis. Put it out there and see what happens.

Miley Cyrax April 16, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Yet, here in America we treat having kids on the taxpayer dime like it’s a God-given right.

Dent April 18, 2012 at 9:13 am

Which is clearly a great wrong. Children cannot consent to being born, let alone in a state of poverty. They cannot easily opt out of suffering either. I agree with Scoop that this creates a huge responsibility on the parents’ part.

Imagine what mark’s objection really means: Even if unconditional laissez-faire reproduction is a form of violence against children, you cannot prevent people from doing it in practice. This is like saying, if enough people want to hurt children, they will make themselves politically free to do so.

Maybe we should rethink the legitimacy of democracy again.

Ray Lopez April 16, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Tsk, tsk professor, don’t believe everything you read! Like in history, some newspaper stories are just tall tales to amuse.

Re the “Papa Ed” sperm donor story in De Spiegel: does not ring true. I’m not a doctor but could play one on TV, and here’s what I know about this issue just talking to people: the Papa Ed subject of the article is too old to be an ideal sperm donor (not clear what his age was, but he’s at least mid 30s and looks older, and the fact that his love-making sessions only last about 15 minutes tells me he’s probably over 40 at least, hehehe); second, clinics say the “natural” way of introducing sperm into a women is actually not efficient, so fertility clinics prefer artificial means; third, he has a family history of genetic problems (“His brother had died of multiple sclerosis at 22.”) and he apparently still lives at home or does not have much income, showing me he’s not an ideal candidate for healthy kids (though one study I saw linked hornyness to poverty, meaning the more poor you are the more horny); fourth, I think what’s going on is that Papa Ed is offering not to be anonymous, as most sperm donors on, and this appears to some women, and his ‘clients’ are sexual fetishists called “Cuckolds”–perhaps his notoriety and this Spiegel article will increase his fame with this crowd?

Just like the “King’s Gambit is solved by computers” April Fools story erroneously reported as fact on this blog, I’m afraid Professor Cowen you are repeating a bit of a journalist sensationalist story. But thanks for the link, it was interesting as are most of your blog entries.

As for Sachs and Nigeria, it seems to be repeating the failed “One Child Policy” of China.

Jacob April 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm

The one child policy has had its costs to be sure, but it has hardly failed!

dk April 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm

1) Ed is providing his services for free (asking only for expense reimbursement) so women may be less picky about his medical history or his age. Furthermore he provides medical reports indicating that he is quite “potent.”
2) I’m not sure you understand what a cuckold is, but his clients fit the description. You may want to explore it more on your own as this isn’t an appropriate venue to describe it.
3) These women aren’t infertile so using artificial means isn’t necessary. For the vast majority of people the “natural” way works just fine.
4) I think your fourth point (not being anonymous) is a good one and one that is also highlighted in the article as he keeps in touch with many of these women.

Ray Lopez April 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Thanks dk for supporting my points. As potency goes, I think Ed’s sperm count is about normal, maybe high normal, not spectacular from what I recall a friend discussing. If I was a woman I would not want a MS-family-history person siring my offspring, even though MS, like dyslexia and other diseases, is only weakly influenced by genetics and there’s an environmental component, but I doubt Ed’s clients are that sophisticated, though apparently some are doctors. Cuckold is somebody (a husband) who likes to watch strangers make love to their gf/wife. Not inappropriate to discuss here since I think that might be the driving factor (Germany is kinkier than the US) behind this whole thing–notice the article even said some husbands actually stay in the room to watch and others go play tennis–quoting the article. Non-anonymity is I agree a key, since women, unlike men, prefer non-anonymity I think, instinctively.

Floccina April 16, 2012 at 3:40 pm

#3 in this era of cheap transportation of good is it possible for a country like Nigeria to be over populated while the world in not over populated?

Floccina April 16, 2012 at 3:53 pm

#3 in this era of cheap transportation of goods, is it possible for a country like Nigeria to be over populated while the world in not over populated?

GiT April 16, 2012 at 8:19 pm

If it is also a world of secured borders…

Floccina April 16, 2012 at 3:52 pm

@2 I hope that no 2 of his children end up married to each other.

Dent April 18, 2012 at 9:21 am

They would only be half-siblings. The genetic risk to their children shouldn’t be much higher than that to other children. I just wish genetic quality control were legally mandatory for such mass sperm donation.

Brandon April 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm

#2

Now their only option is Ed Houben.

LMAO. Fascinating throughout.

sam April 16, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Jefferey Sachs — one of the worst economists and attention whores of all time. Go back to sucking on Bono’s dick fucking commie.

The Original Frank April 16, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Even Nigeria looks to be going through the demographic transition: http://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?c=ni&v=25

In addition, in many places, calling for limits to the number of children per family amounts to calling for abortion or infanticide of females.

mochoajr April 16, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Tyler, having grown up in El Paso and lived in several cities in the U.S., EP has some of the best Mexican food in the country. Juarez probably still very good but the last several years, many restaurants have relocated to EP due to the drug killings. My current favorites are Carnitas Queretaro and Julio’s Cafe Corona in EP. I haven’t crossed over to Juarez in years.

Anthony April 17, 2012 at 12:26 am

Why can’t reporters ask the interesting questions? Did the former director at Cologne’s facility donate his body?

Bill April 17, 2012 at 8:52 pm

What’s so very terrible about a 3-child limit? Isn’t one of the major problems in Africa the size of the population relative to necessary resources (such as arable land and water) available? Even with a 3 child limit, the population would grow significantly each generation.

“I guess I missed the news that Sachs had become king of Nigeria”
You don’t have to be the ruler of a country to make suggestions for how it might be better run.

“#3 in this era of cheap transportation of good is it possible for a country like Nigeria to be over populated while the world in not over populated?”
Who says the world isn’t overpopulated? That said, it’s certainly possible for particular regions to be overpopulated.

“170 million people in an area smaller than the american south west and there isn’t any mass starvation or chaos, gangs roaming the streets for gas or water or whatever is scarce and precious. And that is with barely any infrastructure more than what was left from the 50′s.”
Just chronic malnutrition, housing shortages, and Christian vs. Muslim rioting.

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