Assorted links

by on February 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. The political culture that is Meghalaya.

2. An unexpected budget surplus in Texas.

3. Richard Thaler’s health care prescriptions.

4. Does it make sense for colleges to recruit chess players?

5. Thomas Reese on the papal election.

6. On Austro-Iberian business cycle theory.

7. The rebuilding of Shanghai.

anon February 24, 2013 at 1:17 pm
DocMerlin February 24, 2013 at 1:30 pm

How do you know the media has an anti-conservative bias? When Texas has an unexpected budget surplus, they make it sound like a bad thing, and use it as a cautionary tale against austerity.

prior_approval February 24, 2013 at 1:36 pm

So let me get this straight – you are accusing The Economist of an ‘anti-conservative bias?’

Somebody really needs to slam that American Overton window shut before the scornful laughter from outside gets too loud.

Therapsid February 24, 2013 at 2:05 pm

The Economist does often take an anti-conservative line. It’s politics are a brand of Western cosmopolitan neo-liberalism. Only cramped minds who view politics along a single 2 dimensional axis would find it difficult to understand why a pro-free trade British publication could fulminate against conservatives in America.

prior_approval February 24, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Well, my actual point was that the Economist is broadly considered to be a source of factual information, coming from a perspective that used to be considered ‘conservative’ in American political terms. Back in the golden age of Reagan and Thatcher, for example.

But now, an article which is full of actual information giving an overview of how Texas handles its budgeting is a considered a sign of anti-conservative bias. Leaving aside the cheap joke, it seems as if facts have also been thrown out of America’s Overton window.

But there is no question, being in its heart a non-American publication, The Economist cares little about what Americans think of its reporting. Which may be the worst sign of bias that some Americans can conceive of.

Roy February 24, 2013 at 3:50 pm

It is full of this factual information, except it provides no facts to explain why a surplus is bad. Now it is not a “fact” that a surplus is bad, it is an opinion, an opinion that the article doesn’t even attempt to support.

As a Texan I have noticed over the years that the voters in my native state seem to believe that a surplus is good. They may be in error, but this factual article doesn’t even attemp to explain why that might be.

mulp February 25, 2013 at 1:43 am

The Economist does not say the surplus is bad, unless you believe reporting should only report the views of people you approve of, and that by reporting the views of Democrats along with Republicans, the Economist has a liberal bias.

JWatts February 25, 2013 at 12:13 pm

“The Economist does not say the surplus is bad”

No, it doesn’t say that, but the article seems to go out of its way to avoid saying the surplus is good. You get the idea that the author would never be willing to admit that Texan’s were actually right about something.

Millian February 24, 2013 at 2:18 pm

They do, clearly, despise the Tea Party.

prior_approval February 24, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Well, in all honesty, the Economist is just providing one of the normal reactions from the rest of the world to the Tea Party, the other major one being total befuddlement at grouping where ignorance is prized as a political strength.

Keith February 24, 2013 at 2:49 pm

They’re so ignorant, they ran a budget surplus amid a growing economy.

Roy February 24, 2013 at 3:56 pm

I have seen little evidence that Rick Perry, as conservative as he is, is a Tea Party guy. While the Tea Party had a certain amount of initial enthusiasm for the guy in 2011 it quickly evaporated as they discovered his actual positions. It is hardly a new phenomena for a Texas government to try and run surpluses, this is pretty much political orthodoxy in the state. I could go back to the 19th century with examples of this attitude, and direct measures taken by the various governors and legislatures over the years to make this so. It is not a new thing under the son, and it has little to do with the Tea Party.

DocMerlin February 24, 2013 at 4:12 pm

“total befuddlement at grouping where ignorance is prized as a political strength”

It isn’t. This is another clue that the media has an anti-conservative bias. Their readers, such as yourself, have no clue what actual tea partiers believe.

Anon. February 24, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Doc, your comment already has a flavor of No True Scotsman to it. Don’t try to deny that they’re religious lunatics.

R2D2 February 24, 2013 at 7:07 pm

The Tea Party are religious fundies in the same way that the Democrats are Socialist revolutionaries.

Benny Lava February 25, 2013 at 12:22 am

Here is what tea partiers actually believe:

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-10-05/pinellas-county-florida-votes-no-fluoride-in-drinking-water/50673318/1

That’s right the tea party is against water fluoridation. Ignorant stupid hick party. I guess it is just a media conspiracy, right?

Jayson Virissimo February 25, 2013 at 11:37 pm

Benny Lava, the Tea Party is not obviously wrong on this one: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22820538. You should really get a new sufficient condition for ‘ignorant stupid hick’ness.

john personna February 24, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Wow. I read all these comments before the article. I found the original much more subtle than “Texas bad (Economist good)”. In fact it is mainly about an algorithmic approach to budgeting – one that will changes to rate of growth.

john personna February 24, 2013 at 9:02 pm

One that will [lag] changes …

prior_approval February 25, 2013 at 7:47 am

Actually, my take away from the article was the last paragraph –

‘Then, too, there is the fact that the Texas legislature meets for 140 days every other year. In the 1960s, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 31 states had biennial sessions, but now only four do. The others changed, in part, because annual sessions allow them to respond more quickly to new federal laws or variable economic conditions. The result of holding out is that Texas legislators end up writing a two-year budget that takes effect months after the session ends and is based on projections about how flush consumers will feel almost three years down the road. Little surprise that they err on the side of caution. But an abundance of caution may have undesirable consequences, too.’

How this becomes a sign of anti-conservative bias escapes me. Since it is merely describing how Texas runs its legislature sessions and budgeting, and what effects that can result in.

What is even more amusing is that this very web site supports many of the exact same positions as the Economist – free trade and immigration, marriage equality, drug legalization.

Though I guess that the real proof of this web site’s anti-conservative bias, apart from the fact that it actually located in the DC metro region, is that it linked to an Economist article talking about Texas’s fairly unique approach in how it makes its budgets. An article full of actual facts, even if the last two sentences are lazy filler of the sort that editors are paid to hack away.

Rahul February 24, 2013 at 1:53 pm

#4 “Does it make sense for colleges to recruit chess players?”

They probably come so cheap; who cares? Can’t go wrong either way.

Ray Lopez February 24, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Rex S* is the power that is making this happen: “Webster’s recruitment of Polgar and her players is just one in a string of recent investments that are transforming St. Louis into a chess mecca. … Much of that influx can be traced back to one guy: Rex Sinquefield, the silver-haired investment wizard. ” The trouble is: to appreciate chess you have to play it well, and not many people have the patience to play it well. I will say however IMO (and I’m not that strong, just a club player) it is more interesting to watch, even for me, than say TV golf, if that’s a consolation. They should allow betting on chess to spice things up, though that also increases the temptation to cheat (as evidenced by the ongoing soccer scandal in Europe at the moment).

celestus February 24, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Correct me if I am wrong but it looks like #2 is actually an unexpected expected surplus, not an unexpected surplus.

Even if true the lesson is to be less praising of [Texas/California] for achieving a surplus and more accepting of the fact that consumer income and spending is doing quite well, improving sales tax receipts and therefore the budget situation across the universe of state fiscal policies.

Ray Lopez February 24, 2013 at 2:16 pm

@#2–that was a link I sent to TC. How cool is that? A world famous economist not only reads email you send him but sometimes thanks you and sometimes even reposts your email link on his website visited by millions! In my email I had indicated “Austerity = stimulus” since Texas is doing well due to increased sales revenue and arguably more gas revenue due to fracking. IMO a national sales tax is the way to go: kill two birds with one stone–not just the US deficit but also rampant US consumerism. True, it is regressive a bit but perhaps an additional ‘rich folks only’ income tax can cure that.

DocMerlin February 24, 2013 at 4:14 pm

A national sales tax would just be used to control what people buy and sell. Since the creation of the federal reserve, the federal government hasn’t been interested in tax revenue so much as using taxes for political ends.

Ray Lopez February 25, 2013 at 5:31 am

Like Sin Taxes? Perhaps true, but I’m speaking more as a person who wants to save the US from collapse,which I see coming. Not that it matters to me, personally, as my family is rich and I’m a dual-national, but it would be a shame to see 2-4 years of chaos followed by recovery (the typical pattern during collapse, from what I’ve heard about in Greece), and the possibility of an American dictator arising in the interim.

turang February 24, 2013 at 3:20 pm

On 1. It is not uncommon to come across people in India who are named after famous people. There would be a number of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhis, Netaji Subhash Chadra Boses and Jhansi Lakshmis (with surnames like Gadde, Nori or Yerlagadda, if they are from Andhra Pradesh). Tamilnadu political leader Karunanidhi has as son called Stalin. I know other Tamils with the same name.

Interesting is the naming of an old friend of mine from Calcutta. He had a brother named Marco Polo and he himself was named Napoleon. As he grew up, he was called Nep for short. Apparently Napoleon fell into disfavor with his parents for some reason (perhaps they read War and Peace). A new name had to be invented that started with Nep and the result was that my friend was renamed Neptune.

Bender Bending Rodriguez February 24, 2013 at 7:29 pm

How many fearless people do you know named Chulbul Pandey?

zbicyclist February 24, 2013 at 4:18 pm

#4. Maybe. For many years (at least back to the last 1960s) Emporia has had top collegiate debate programs. http://www.emporia.edu/communication/debate/index.html That’s my only impression of the school, and it is a favorable one. But it’s on a small stage — college debate is even more obscure than college chess.

I think it’s helpful for a school to stand out in something, rather than just being another liberal arts college. Webster was an early pioneer in satellite campuses, but that’s common now.

Ashok Rao February 24, 2013 at 5:11 pm

1. The famous DMK party scion and former deputy chief minister of Tamil Nadu is Stalin. So is our banker.

Chip February 24, 2013 at 5:57 pm

The Economist had become increasingly statist over the years. It did after all support the elections of both Blair and Obama.

Read it a lot when I was younger. But the statism turned me off years ago.

ChrisA February 24, 2013 at 8:49 pm

The Economist is just responding to social pressures. Conservatism and Libertarianism are not cool at the moment, they are the province of wild eyed fanatics, as considered by the social set that most of the Economist staff associate with. Texas is also not cool to this set, a Texas accent indicates lack of social sophistication, Texan’s are considered rural hicks, with a simplistic attitude towards life (all those guns, and the frightful oil business). To be considered “serious” the Economist must not appear too enthusiastic for this kind of thing – the last thing a magazine wants to be is not considered serious. But actually the Economist is the most enthusiastic of any serious media outlet for many libertarian causes; free trade, drug liberalization, fiscal conservatism etc. So don’t be too hard on them.

This is just fashion of course, I remember when Texas was cool, and the oil business too. And Libertarianism was cool for a while, when no-one knew what it was.

Roy February 25, 2013 at 1:00 am

Libertarianism was cool? Oh you mean in the days of Martin Van Buren?

Oh right, Old Kinderhook was never cool.

JWatts February 25, 2013 at 1:38 am

The Economist has two primary offices in the US. One in New York City and the other in San Francisco.

mulp February 25, 2013 at 1:55 am

3. Richard Thaler’s health care prescriptions.

Does anyone wonder why it is claimed that a malpractice law suit crisis exists when only 37% of premiums pay claims?

Isn’t that a malpractice insurance excess profit crisis?

NH formed a State malpractice insurer which racked up huge profits with reduced rates that did not increase over a decade. When the State wanted to take that profit and use it to pay hospital costs, the insurer managers protested and sued, so the court has ordered rebates on premiums over this period.

Before this insurer was formed by the legislature, the demands for malpractice reform were constant, with the soaring premiums and the insurers existing the NH markets because of high payouts, etc, but since it was formed and became the primary insurer, malpractice lawsuits have not been a problem in NH worthy of news coverage or political debate.

Dan Weber February 25, 2013 at 11:21 am

37% goes to claims, and 40% goes to lawyers. Medical lawsuits are expensive for all involved, not just in money but also time and attention.

The vaccine courts were set up as a voluntary system to ease the load on the normal court system, and it works better for all involved, being voluntary. If you don’t like the result, you can try in normal court, but then you will have to prove a bunch of stuff. Whereas the vaccine courts will say “if you get a shot and within time period X suffer any of these side effects, you get a payout, no need to prove anything else.”

There may be a good place for medical courts that provide quick answers to questions that are expensive to fully argue.

Anon February 25, 2013 at 11:01 am

1. When I was in college in Chennai ( Madras) , the Madras medical college had a very good basketball team.Even 40 years later I can’t forget the name combination of their top 3 players: Stalin, Goebbels and Subbaih . Only in India!

mobile February 25, 2013 at 11:57 am

Really enjoyed the article about Shanghai.

Shane M February 26, 2013 at 12:53 am

#4: Re:” In February 2012, she announced that she would be transferring to Webster as its new chess coach. But not only that; eight of her players would be transferring too.”

Before long there will be an NCCA just like the NCAA to force chess players who transfer to sit out a year and redshirt.

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