Assorted links

by on February 1, 2014 at 12:42 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Arnold Kling has a question for Thomas Piketty.

2. Suzanne Scotchmer has passed away.  In addition to her research achievements, during her time at Harvard she was one of the most popular professors with the graduate students and also one of the most helpful.

3. “Al-Qaida is obsessed with documenting the most minute expenses.

4. “(There is in fact no bowl.)” — how would we cover the Super Bowl if it were an event in another country?  Recommended.

5. California students sue teachers over the existence of tenure.

1 Alexei Sadeski February 1, 2014 at 12:59 pm

#4. If leftists didn’t experience an overwhelming urge to destroy everything fun, they just might be more successful.

2 Careless February 1, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Huh? Anyway, the first thing I read when I went to the link was another headline: “Snow Didn’t Paralyze Atlanta. Racism Did.”

Slate really is an embarrassment.

3 BC February 1, 2014 at 7:30 pm

I read something similar a few weeks ago. These “If it happened in another country, here is how we would write about it” stories are way off the mark. If the Super Bowl happened in another country, we just wouldn’t cover it.

4 prior_approval February 2, 2014 at 3:45 am

Pretty much – how is World Cup coverage in the U.S. these days?

5 Careless February 2, 2014 at 7:21 pm
6 sean February 1, 2014 at 8:39 pm

It seemed to read like a Douglas Adams bit from the Hitchhikers Guide. Maybe I’m just a pot of flowers.

7 Israel February 1, 2014 at 1:05 pm

What’s puzzling about #1? It’s just the condition for dynamic efficiency in neoclassical growth theory.

8 Preston Sturgeon February 1, 2014 at 1:11 pm

4. Gay

9 Hei Lun Chan February 1, 2014 at 1:23 pm

American sports media cover foreign sporting events all the time, and it’s … not anything like that. This reads like a conservative parody of a liberal who hates sports writing about sports.

10 Careless February 1, 2014 at 4:19 pm


11 Dan S February 1, 2014 at 2:22 pm

I think one day Tyler ought to give all his hyperlinks click-baity titles.

“You won’t BELIEVE what Arnold Kling asked Thomas Piketty”


12 TSUDrew February 1, 2014 at 3:27 pm

You have something there, Dan. April is on its way…

“Economists HATE him!”

“Grow your own Krugman beard using this one weird trick.”

13 Brian Donohue February 1, 2014 at 5:19 pm

+1 to da bot ah youse. So, +2 in total.

14 Silas Barta February 3, 2014 at 3:42 pm

He already does that: e.g. an out-of-context quote from a boring article.

15 Age of doubt February 1, 2014 at 2:54 pm

5. A new teacher with a Master’s degree is paid so poorly, they have nothing to look forward to but tenure. If they paid teachers a decent wage up front, they wouldn’t need unions. You could attract more and better candidates to the field and you wouldn’t have legions of ineffective, burnt-out educators who can’t be fired.

The funds are there. We don’t bat an eye spending $20 million on a predator drone, but if you said you wanted to give a $10K raise to 2000 teachers, you would get lynched by the Tea party.

16 Rahul February 1, 2014 at 3:52 pm

….the union would probably insist it be a flat wage hike, I suppose?

17 Careless February 1, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Yeah, if we didn’t pony up the cash, they’d take that master’s in education and go… well, they’d get some highly paid job with it, you can be sure of that!

18 Jody February 1, 2014 at 4:26 pm

This probably didnt merit this response, but a predator costs 4 million not 20 million. Not off by an order of magnitude, but a factor of 5 is still large.

19 libert February 2, 2014 at 1:09 am

$4 million!? Damn I would have guessed much less than that. A predator drone costs 4x the value of a mansion!?

20 John Schilling February 2, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Also, a $10K raise for 2000 teachers doesn’t cost $20 million. Just for a start, that’s $20 million per year. Forever, given that we do have tenure, and with mandatory cost-of-living increases. Plus benefits and overhead, which will probably be in the 50-100% range.

The total life cycle cost of a Predator is on the order of $9 million, with the operating expenses spread over maybe ten years. So, net present value of $7.5 million at the time of purchase. The net present value of a commitment to a $10K raise for one teaching position, is probably something like $250K.

So, you get thirty better-paid teachers for the price of one terrorist-hunting drone, not two thousand. Given Age of Doubt’s demonstrated math skills, maybe we do need the teachers more.

21 GinSlinger February 1, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Yeah, this is further evidenced by the poor results and teaching vacancies in private schools.

Looks like Californian public school teachers average salary is more than 10k more than the state average, and closes in on 1.5x the state average in some districts. Private schools pay on average 20k less.

22 Marie February 1, 2014 at 7:44 pm

New teacher with Masters in LA, $50,000 for 9 months, which you could say makes it $66,000 a year, plus health insurance, healthy vacation time, and retirement for the year.

If this is a new teacher, this is $66 a year plus benefits for an entry level job.

23 Marie February 1, 2014 at 7:53 pm

And in case you were unaware, the median household income in America seems to be $52,000. This includes single new workers without even a high school degree, but also households with two incomes, and households with two earners who have been doing their jobs for twenty years or more.

24 Larry Siegel February 3, 2014 at 3:40 am

That is true, but the value of a teacher is set by supply and demand, not by what non-teachers are making. Do we set the salaries for airplane pilots by surveying what the passengers are making? No, we find out how much money it takes to attract and retain the kinds of pilots the airlines want.

I’m not saying teachers are worth more or less than they’re making – obviously the best are worth more and the worst are worth less – only that the median household income is not useful information.

25 Marie February 3, 2014 at 9:24 am

We certainly should set the value with a free market supply and demand pricing system, but of course since this is a government job, we don’t.

This might be less of a factor if this wasn’t such a large block of employees (3.1 million teachers nationwide), if it weren’t in large part a coerced market (no, you don’t HAVE to send your kids to public school, but most people feel like they do), if there weren’t so many silly artificial barriers to entry into the field, protections for those in it, etc.

But as a former teacher, I say it’s not rational that a teacher in LA could be making this much money her/his first year on the job and still consider himself underpaid. I use median household income, but I could have compared to other average salaries — CNA 27,000; retail 29,999; construction 40,000; veterinarian $51,000 — and that’s not entry level, that’s averaging across the population, and in several cases doesn’t include benefits.

This is the income inequality I gripe about, people making far more than people doing work of equal or more market value and complaining that it’s not enough because they are in a protected class and have a warped view of their work’s worth.

The only justification for this salary is that it includes hazard pay (Army private, $20,000; average police patrol officer, $52,000), but the solution to that is not to pay more, it’s to reduce the hazards, which doesn’t happen because that’s harder than arguing about money.

26 dan1111 February 2, 2014 at 1:42 am

I think abolishing tenure in itself would improve quality in the field.

Removing the requirement for a master’s degree would also be a good idea. Why are 5-6 years of college education needed to teach six year olds how to read? A bachelor’s (at most) should be sufficient–in education for younger ages, and in a subject-specific field for older ages.

27 Brandon Berg February 2, 2014 at 3:45 am

My understanding is that a master’s degree is not required, but will result in a higher salary.

28 Marie February 2, 2014 at 11:02 am

It’s both, usually.

Technically, you don’t have to get a Masters, but I believe all states require teachers to continue higher education credits in order to retain their license.

This is a stupid, stupid system. It drives some dumb behavior. For example, since you’re taking the credits only to move on the salary scale and keep your license, you usually wind up taking the easiest and therefore least useful classes you can find. It is a financial ding unless the district pays for it, so you wind up taking what the district pays for instead of something useful for your field. And if you have to take all these credit hours anyway, many will go for a Masters to bump more on the scale, or just to have it on the resume, but what biology teacher can get a Masters in biology in three credit hour increments over the course of many years? So you wind up getting your degree in education, or administration, or whatever. Tons of teachers get their Masters in areas that will allow them to move into administrative work (principal, VP, or other jobs outside the classroom they are learning to dread being in) so that you get a whole bunch of teachers who think they should be principals and principals who are former teachers that can’t stand teaching.

I really don’t understand why this tentacle is not tackled in education reform, it’s wasteful and counterproductive.

29 Larry Siegel February 2, 2014 at 6:42 pm

So is a new everything. Marketing analysts, bank loan officers, carpenters, etc. all start their careers making $30-50K and don’t demand (or get) tenure.

@ageofdoubt: Meanwhile, many people in your hated Tea Party are paying their taxes AND paying private schools to hire their own teachers so their kids can get an education. (I am not a Tea Party member.)

30 Peter February 1, 2014 at 2:56 pm

As a non-American who thinks football is dumb, #4 is spot on. It reminds me of when the Onion used to be good.

31 Alexei Sadeski February 1, 2014 at 3:43 pm
32 John Rand Lennon February 1, 2014 at 3:33 pm

The best football parody from the point of view of a “foreigner” was the routine that made Andy Griffith famous:

The Slate piece is lame and unfunny because the premise fails.

33 TSUDrew February 1, 2014 at 3:34 pm

#5 I wonder if the top 15% fighting legal proxy wars is to be a hallmark of the post-Average world,

34 watchmaker February 1, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Regarding one: dividends and buy backs.

35 yo February 2, 2014 at 10:34 am

That was my idea too. 3.5% div yield plus 2.5% revaluation p.a. equals seven percent. The revaluation component is eaten up in the long run by periodic busts and inflation bursts. And Kling’s argument disappears. He doesn’t seem to understand equities, as some comments on the original post also point out.

36 Brian Donohue February 3, 2014 at 6:33 am

Me three. This seems obvious. Kling should directly address this.

37 chuck martel February 1, 2014 at 6:41 pm

What about the revenue end of the Al-Qaida corporation?

38 gabe February 2, 2014 at 6:20 pm

This article leads me to believe that some government agency like Al-CIA-da provides the “revenue” for Al-Qaida.

39 Ray Lopez February 1, 2014 at 7:29 pm

@#4 – was a well written, funny parody of American Futbol. What is even more funny is that the Virginian rednecks upstream of this post commenting found it offensive. Only in AmeriKKKa.

40 how sure can you be February 1, 2014 at 7:48 pm

#2 I did some time studying law and economics at Berkeley, and one of the clichéd qualifiers the pointy heads just could not resist was: “to be sure.” This obit does not disappoint.

41 MD February 2, 2014 at 5:39 am

#5 – Yes, what California needs is more nonsense lawsuits. Tenure is a political problem and needs a political solution, not bullshit litigation taxing an overburdened judiciary.

42 Marie February 2, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Normally I’d agree, but how does California handle it? Do local school boards determine tenure policies within their district? Or does California legislate that all districts must provide tenure? If the latter, which I’d suspect, doesn’t that make it a judicial issue also since the check to unlawful legislation is the judiciary?

43 Brandon Berg February 2, 2014 at 7:41 am

Without downplaying all the reasons this is problematic, isn’t the state being the single largest employer par for the course these days? Government employment in the US is on the order of (gag) twenty million. I can’t imagine there’s a private employer who comes close.

44 Brandon Berg February 2, 2014 at 7:43 am

I meant to post that on the post about the Russian economy.

45 Andrew M February 2, 2014 at 11:21 am

$1.80 for a bar of soap? $8 for a packet of macaroni?

No wonder these people are poor!

46 Andreas Moser February 2, 2014 at 3:38 pm

A previous report from Pakistan had already revealed how stingy Al Qaeda are there:

47 Larry Siegel February 2, 2014 at 6:45 pm

When you are walking around with a machine gun, you should be able to get better prices than that.

48 Merijn Knibbe February 2, 2014 at 3:51 pm

#1 What’s the definition of capital? Land? Machinery? ‘Goodwill’? The stock of capital on the asset side of the balance sheet of households, companies etcetera? Or the value of stocks traded on the stock exchange? Kling seems to write about the value of stocks, but what about the capital of companies/households/governments/non-profits which are not listed? I’ve not read the book either, but as a rule the national accounts look at the value of assets on the balance sheets of economic entities. That’s what Kling should be writing about, I mean, we need consistent, coherent, encompassing metrics! And why are American economists so obsessed with trade in second and third and fourth hand items on this stock market?

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