Monday assorted links

by on January 18, 2016 at 8:38 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. The Hillary Clinton autism plan seeks to diagnose everybody: not a good idea.

2. “In June 2015, officials in Wisconsin changed the rules on therapy animals after a woman walked into a fast food restaurant with a baby kangaroo.”  Link here.  Photos you are not expecting, recommended, it’s not Thanksgiving.

3. David Warsh reports on the AEA meetings.  Chris Bertram reports on Ferrante.

4. The European Commission will launch formal “rule of law” procedures against Poland.  A sign of a broken system…both of them.

5. Claims about fraud in tennis (speculative), and pushback from Djokovic and Federer.

1 Jan January 18, 2016 at 8:53 am

1. Increased screening is controversial for many things. I can see both sides of the argument. There was no mention of the other aspects of Clinton’s plan, which include things like banning mechanical and chemical restraints, often used on autistic kids, and helping move autistic adults into jobs. Overall it is s good plan, but I wonder if the focus on it is simply a result of autism winning the “disease arms race” in recent years.

2 Dan Weber January 18, 2016 at 10:26 am

I, too, am missing why increased diagnosis is automatically “not a good idea.”

I do worry about banning physical restraint. I know a severe ASD student who would, at the age of 12, throw school-desks around the room until physically restrained, at which point he would relax and go through the rest of his school day. Eventually the admins started the day by physically restraining him, before the throwing of desks, and it had the same effect.

3 Slocum January 18, 2016 at 10:40 am

Take a big new bureaucratic organization whose reason for being is providing services and combine that with the fact that ASD is a matter of degree (e.g. a ‘spectrum’) for which there are no definitive tests…and you’re pretty much guaranteed a rapid increase in the number of children diagnosed, no?

4 JWatts January 18, 2016 at 11:33 am

My wife worked at a facility where a Federal judge, acting on the behest of a patients rights group, ordered that locked doors be removed. (They actually removed the entire door). Previous rulings had restricted the use of straight-jackets to short periods of time. The predictable result was that a particularly violent inmate assaulted several other inmates and staff members. One of the staff members was hospitalized before they just started ignoring the court ruling.

5 Hazel Meade January 18, 2016 at 11:36 am

This might have something to do with the effect swaddling has on infants. Physical restraint reminds babies of being in the womb and helps them relax. I imagine that some children with autism never grow out of it. Heck, maybe even some normal adults, seeing as how some people are into bondage.

6 Ethan Bernard January 18, 2016 at 11:57 am

This seems to be the principle behind the hug machine:

7 Hazel Meade January 18, 2016 at 12:27 pm

Another reminder that the ‘thou shalt not use physical restraints’ commandment is deeply misguided.

It’s like a classic example of the information problem. The central authority lacks the local knowledge of the child’s particular circumstances and behaviors.

8 Hazel Meade January 18, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Also, reminds me of how, when I was 4-5 years old, I used to LOVE being tucked into bed really tightly. My dad would tuck me in all around so I was immobilized like a mummy. I still kind of like it. Problem is eventually something starts to itch.

9 Jan January 18, 2016 at 1:40 pm

The challenge is that people, mostly kids, who do have ASD and could benefit from some existing services in school or health care almost certainly cannot access those services unless diagnosed. They have to have that signature from the doc to get any help. Kids whose parents are disengaged, stupid or just ignorant are much less likely to get diagnosed.

10 Komori January 19, 2016 at 11:39 am

The problem is simply statistics. Type I and Type II errors. If you’re testing everyone for something fairly rare, false positives will swamp the true positives, and you’ll be attempting to treat a large number of people who don’t need it. Even if you ignore the monetary and time cost, there’s generally other side effects involved that mean testing everyone can easily end up with a net negative health benefit.

11 Dan Lavatan January 18, 2016 at 9:46 pm

I have autism and was diagnosed at an early age by accredited medical experts. I think the Clinton plan is a bad plan. First, it ignores what would actually be helpful, which is strong school choice including funding for books and materials to use to learn on our own. Like many similar plans, it wastes money and the one thing that probably would help me the most now is lower taxes. I’m not a fan of the requirement for a post-graduation plan; presumably my brethren would be punished for failing to complete the plan – more paperwork certainly wouldn’t help.

Banning restraints would be helpful in principle, however in practice administrators would just use the restraints and then deny doing it on the form. It’s not like anyone is going to take the word of an autistic kid over that of an educator. In practice this would almost never be enforced in our favor. Verbal and physical abuse has always been against public policy, but that certainly didn’t stop it from going on.

The primary consequence of early diagnosis was to supply more ammunition for the students, teachers, and administrators to attack me, but even without a diagnosis or a different diagnosis I think things would have been almost as bad.

I resent the fact she is using the fact our neurophysiology is incompatible with rules largely created by authoritarians like her (in the form of school policy) to promote her own personal lust for power. I don’t think I need to form an autistics against Hillary group, we can just vote for other candidates and if she wins hopefully Republicans will just vote down every bill for the next eight years.

12 John L. January 19, 2016 at 3:06 am

“Like many similar plans, it wastes money and the one thing that probably would help me the most now is lower taxes.”
Is there anything lower taxes can’t do?

13 Larry Siegel January 20, 2016 at 2:20 am

There are many things that lower taxes can’t do, because government often performs necessary or beneficial services. However, lower taxes are *always* good on the margin for any given taxpayer.

14 Jon Rodney January 18, 2016 at 9:17 am

4. For a bit of balance on the issue:

Sounds like a mess all around, but I don’t know much about Polish politics.

15 A Definite Beta Guy January 18, 2016 at 9:40 am

From that article, I cannot figure out what’s going on, except that the author doesn’t like the new Polish political party. I don’t see how Polish democracy is threatened, but I don’t know much about Polish politics either.

16 Jon Rodney January 18, 2016 at 10:58 am

Sounds to me like his complaints are about some kind of court-packing scheme and politicization of formerly non-partisan agencies like the state media. I have no idea how much merit those complaints have, but if we take them at face value I can see why people might be concerned about a drift towards authoritarianism. That doesn’t mean it’s wise for the EU to butt in, of course.

17 Art Deco January 18, 2016 at 11:38 am

The complaint stated baldly is that Law and Justice refuses to recognize the courts or the state media as the property of people like Timothy Garton Ash. That upsets Dr. Ash and his confederates. The same types are pervasive in this country.

18 Harun January 18, 2016 at 12:18 pm

“formerly non-partisan agencies like the state media.”

Do they only report on sports news or something? I highly doubt any form of media, let alone state media, could ever be truly non-partisan.

19 Jon Rodney January 18, 2016 at 2:34 pm

I think it depends what you mean by ‘non-partisan’. Most media organizations will have some kind of political bias, even if it’s an inadvertent one. But ususally when people describe an organization as non-partisan, they aren’t claiming some platonic ideal of impartiality, they just mean that the organization’s mission involves strong efforts to eliminate that bias in it’s output. In the article the Polish state media is compared to the BBC. I have no idea if that comparison is apt or not, but it doesn’t seem controversial to say that the BBC at least attempts to project the appearance of impartiality, while the Daily Mail’s business model depends on its conservative slant.

20 Deek January 19, 2016 at 4:46 am

Jon, the BBC has a reputation for being impartial, so in reality they can get away with bias to a much greater degree. Take a look at the Scottish independence referendum for plenty of examples, the first B stands for British after all. (Here’s one from a very pro-Nat source but a good example nevertheless:

21 Jon January 18, 2016 at 9:21 am

#1…actually Tyler makes a serious error in sighting the second article says early diagnosis of more people is not a good idea.

The second article just compares people who had early diagnosis vs later diagnosis in the past, without determining how much could be due to a correlation between the nature of the individual’s condition and the age of diagnosis or whether early diagnosis may in the future enable earlier treatment.

Furthermore when people talk about early diagnosis they generally mean at extremely early ages when treatment may have the potential to have grear benfits, not at whether someone has been diagnosed at age 40 vs age 12.

22 Cliff January 18, 2016 at 1:09 pm

Well there’s a study, right? I imagine it controlled for severity of condition since it discusses that tangentially at the end?

23 Decimal January 18, 2016 at 1:42 pm

Never imagine when it comes to studies!

24 Milo Minderbinder January 18, 2016 at 9:26 am

Passing the Keeping All Students Safe Act, which would ban mechanical and chemical restraints, as well as physical restraints that restrict breathing; only allow seclusion or restraint when there’s an imminent risk of a student causing physical injury to herself or others; and otherwise limits coercive practices that are often used against autistic youth

Boys are 4 to 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with autism.

25 Jan January 18, 2016 at 9:48 am

I wish we had gender neutral pronoun, both for clarity in these situations, as well as to avoid unnecessary deliberating on which pronoun to use and the resulting outrage when an author makes the “wrong” choice.

26 Cererean January 18, 2016 at 12:34 pm

We have had a gender neutral pronoun for a long time in English. It’s “they”, regardless of how much certain grammarians like to pretend otherwise.

27 JWatts January 18, 2016 at 3:47 pm

Well in this context, I would have used “themselves or others”.

28 Jan January 18, 2016 at 3:51 pm

True, but that approach suffers from one of same main problems that choosing between male or female pronouns has–lots of people will still whine.

29 dearieme January 18, 2016 at 9:49 am

#2 I killed a joey once. Its mother had hopped across the road in front of us, and the poor wee blighter followed mum. It reminded me slightly of those dim women you see who want to cross the road and decide to push the baby-buggy out into the traffic first. Reminiscent in the sense of making me wonder about the ‘maternal instinct’.

30 Jan January 18, 2016 at 9:57 am

Evolutionarily speaking, isn’t the paternal instinct often to kill the babies that don’t have your DNA, with a car or otherwise?

31 Cliff January 18, 2016 at 11:35 am

Meh only if you want to breed with the mother and you’re a lion

32 Jan January 18, 2016 at 5:26 pm

Meh or lots of other animals. And what good male of any species doesn’t have the innate desire to breed with lots of other moms?

33 chuck martel January 18, 2016 at 10:21 am

5. We’re surrounded by fraud and corruption, why not tennis as well?

34 Deek January 19, 2016 at 4:53 am

There are a lot of sports where match/spot fixing is productive (snooker, cricket, etc.) and there are a lot of sports where drug cheating pays off to a huge extent (rugby, athletics, etc.) but there are very few which are as affected by both drugs and match fixing as tennis. Surely the most corrupt sport in the world.

35 Art Deco January 18, 2016 at 10:34 am

The European commission’s unprecedented inquiry into changes in Polish law will fuel Eurosceptics – and sets a dangerous precedent

Setting dangerous precedents is the whole point. Poland needs to set a precedent of its own by leaving the EU, the Council of Europe, and all the humbug commissions and tribunals.

36 Observer January 18, 2016 at 11:38 am

Clearly the problem is Poland is not enough statism.

37 Millian January 18, 2016 at 1:24 pm

When will you people learn that other countries don’t want to let you live vicariously through reactionary blunders that you avoid from your free-market liberal democracies?

38 Hoosier January 18, 2016 at 6:43 pm

Would leaving the EU really be good for Poland?! No economic repercussions to this one?

39 prior_test January 18, 2016 at 11:04 am

‘A sign of a broken system…both of them.’

Sure – why not go back to that old European standby, with Poland just being invaded by another country.

Oddly, no one ever seems to call that centuries long European tradition of warfare ‘broken.’

40 Art Deco January 18, 2016 at 11:36 am

Officious nuisances in Brussels are not what’s keeping Poland from being invaded by anyone.

41 JWatts January 18, 2016 at 11:49 am

“Oddly, no one ever seems to call that centuries long European tradition of warfare ‘broken.’”

Pretty much everyone calls that system broken. You should probably get out more.

42 prior_test January 18, 2016 at 1:27 pm

Really? Well, there is this fascinating idea that Europe is so advanced due to its constant warfare. Maybe you should read this web site more, as seen in approvingly quoted passage – ‘Many of the innovations that most helped the British weren’t about steam power or the division of labor or mechanized factories. They stemmed, rather, from the application of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century experimental science to warfare. During the mid-1700s, new scientific discoveries enabled Europeans to measure the speed of projectiles, understand the effects of wind resistance, model trajectories, make better and more consistent gunpowder, develop deadly airborne missiles, and master the use of explosive shells.’

And of course, there was this column from a GMU econ prof. arguing that a lack of state planning for war is a possible explanation of growth stagnation – And if there was one thing European states used to excel at, it was planning for war, a trait that Prof. Cowen would undoubtedly applaud.

Maybe you should read more of what he writes and cites?

43 JWatts January 18, 2016 at 2:48 pm

Tyler Cowen didn’t say the “long European tradition of warfare” was something that should be brought back, he merely pointed out that military competition might well spur technological progress. Your straw man arguments are juvenile.

44 Gochujang January 18, 2016 at 11:08 am

3 is good. This tidbit both skewers rational consumer models and should relieve the household:

“Markets cater to consumer biases rather than correct them. Extended warranties generate $27 billion/year in revenues, even though economists and Consumer Reports agree that one should never buy them. “

45 Cliff January 18, 2016 at 11:36 am

I let economists and Consumer Reports do the thinking for me and tell me what to like

46 Gochujang January 18, 2016 at 11:47 am

Economists and Consumer Reports show me their math.

47 Dan Weber January 18, 2016 at 12:10 pm

I was thinking the other day how consumer advocates seem to draw from both the strong liberals and the strong libertarians, for wildly different reasons, but to the same ends: empowering the consumer.

48 Gochujang January 18, 2016 at 5:39 pm

Really? I would have thought CR subscribers were the boring middle. Like me.

49 Dan Weber January 19, 2016 at 10:44 am

Oh, the readers are all over the place, and should be. I was talking about the people who see it as part of their career to produce the content.

50 Harun January 18, 2016 at 12:23 pm

Everyone’s situation is different. Saying no one should ever buy some insurance product is too sweeping.

For example, on my last car I bought the extended warranty and prepaid service. I am almost certain it was “not a good deal.” Except I planned to be travelling a lot and my wife was a recent immigrant who I didn’t want to have fleeced by some random car repair place, when the dealer was a mile away and everything would be covered.

51 Gochujang January 18, 2016 at 5:38 pm

Per the CR study, people with an extended warranty, who must return to the dealer, pay $370 (from memory) more out of pocket, after warranty, than those who can shop around.

But as you say, YMMV.

52 Cliff January 18, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Yes, I just tell “economists” and Consumer Reports to let me know my own risk preferences and then I go with whatever they say.

53 Jan January 18, 2016 at 5:32 pm

But we’re not clear. Do you rely on economists and Consumer Reports?

54 Gochujang January 18, 2016 at 5:41 pm

I trust a survey of 10,000 drivers more than I trust you (or a friendly salesperson).

55 Hazel Meade January 18, 2016 at 11:32 am

#1. I think some people with milder symptoms might perceive themselves to be more severely impacted, and hence actually be more seriously impacted, if they are “diagnosed” as having a “disorder” at a young age. IMO, the “neurodiversity” crowd actually ought to oppose early diagnosis, because the diagnosis itself stigmatizes. An autistic person who is only mildly autistic probably has a much better chance of passing for normal, being treated as normal, and regarding themselves as normal, if they aren’t even diagnosed with autism in the first place.

It’s funny how today we have expanded the definition of autism to include people with only slightly odd behaviors, and at the same time are throwing these people in the same bucket as people with serious disabilities such as being completely unable to speak. And then we are supposed to have a uniform policy that applies to the entire bucket. Restraints, or no restraints, whether they are severely disabled four year olds, or teens with Aspergers.

56 Ethan Bernard January 18, 2016 at 12:14 pm

“An autistic person who is only mildly autistic probably has a much better chance of passing for normal, being treated as normal, and regarding themselves as normal, if they aren’t even diagnosed with autism in the first place.”

I disagree. I think mildly autistic people are likely to benefit from understanding their condition. There are many coping strategies they can learn from the community of high-functioning autistic people to help them function in the “normal” world. To hide this knowledge from someone is to deny them access to potentially very empowering tools.

Of course the diagnosis can just become a crutch. But it is patronizing and presumptuous to assume that is what someone will do with their diagnosis. It has to be up to them.

57 Hazel Meade January 18, 2016 at 12:32 pm

But people with milder conditions can generally self-diagnose later in life and seek out those communities if they feel the need for it. If you diagnose someone as a two year old they can’t consent to how they are going to be treated by parents and teachers, long before they have an understanding of what their condition is.

58 Hazel Meade January 18, 2016 at 12:35 pm

Not to mention how they will be treated by the other kids when it is official that they have a “condition”.

59 Ethan Bernard January 18, 2016 at 12:49 pm

Perhaps in these border cases the child should simply be closely monitored for worsening symptoms.
I agree the stigma from other kids is a problem, and that has to be weighed against the actual damage from the condition. And of course hiding such a thing from the other kids is usually impossible.

60 Hazel Meade January 18, 2016 at 1:55 pm

And the more severe cases are usually obvious enough that there’s no need to explicitly enforce early screening.
It’s not like cancer that is going to get worse if it’s left undetected.

61 Cliff January 18, 2016 at 3:52 pm

It will indeed get worse if left untreated. The window for treatment is for the most part early and short

62 Hazel Meade January 18, 2016 at 4:25 pm

Um, no. Autism is not a progressive disease. You can do a few things to mitigate the effects if you catch it early enough, but the really mild cases are going to stay mild , they aren’t going to turn into severe cases if they go undetected.

63 Mark Thorson January 18, 2016 at 12:57 pm
64 Millian January 18, 2016 at 1:23 pm

4. Of course the EU is broken. Tell us again when you think the euro is going to fail, didn’t you say it will be in minus 3 years’ time?

65 revver January 18, 2016 at 2:19 pm

4. With all the increasing talk about Poland lately in the media some points need to be kept in mind: As a result of centuries of foreign occupation and control, the Polish have developed a strong impetus in preserving their culture. As a result they are hyper-attuned to any action they consider to undermine or outright attack it, both from without (foreign interests), and within (those who’ve “sold-out” to foreign interests).

It’s also remarkable how journalists, esp. left-leaning ones, forget the definition of “Democracy”: rule of the people. “People” must be limited to a subset, it can’t mean “the Planet’s population”.

66 JWatts January 18, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Leftists just pay lip service to the idea of Democracy. What they’d prefer is rule by a scientific elite.

67 Jan January 18, 2016 at 5:46 pm

Whereas conservatives would prefer rule by a right-wing, wealthy elite, minus the “science.”

Suppress the vote, governor, and take this call from billionaire X. He has some “policy advice”.

68 JWatts January 18, 2016 at 11:48 pm

You know “a left-wing, wealthy elite, minus the “science.” is a pretty good description of Hillary Clinton, so maybe I’m wrong about the Left.

69 revver January 18, 2016 at 2:20 pm

impetus for*

70 Ian January 18, 2016 at 4:18 pm

#4: You can read reasonably neutral info on one aspect of the crisis here:,_2015

Personally, I have little doubt that Polish ruling party are populists without much regard for democracy. However, the whole thing is happening while the whole Eastern Europe (I’ll use more neutral term “new EU countries”) is becoming increasing EU-skeptic. Polish “Law and Justice” party won elections with openly EU-skeptic rhetoric replacing a very “pro-EU” government. Pressuring Poland at this time seems to be extremely counter-productive.

While the tensions between the new and old countries were growing over the longer time, the last year was especially disastrous.

* Greek debt crisis. All new EU countries went through some severe austerity after the collapse of the Eastern bloc. If I am Googling correctly, even today, Greece enjoys larger GDP/capita than all of the new countries in nominal terms and only Czech Rep., Slovenia and Slovakia are better of in PPP terms. (If I am mistaken, it is a close call). So understandably, there was little “solidarity” with the poor Greeks. This was viewed as “blocking any compromise” from the old EU countries. Greek officials managed to slip some pretty outrageous remarks on this topic.

* Migrant crisis. Without the pervasive culture of political correctness, the new countries dared to openly question the wisdom of inviting millions culturally incompatible migrants. Now, this was viewed as extremely racist and islamophobic because one cannot say that the entire culture is essentially incompatible with western values. Of course, only as long as said culture predominantly consists of colored people. It is perfectly acceptable to dismiss new EU countries as having bad bigoted racist culture tainted by decades under communism. Now, as Germany and friends realized that they cannot handle the current level of “cheap labor force” influx they decided that the best solution is to redistribute said “cheap labor force” among the new EU members. The new countries insist that whatever redistribution scheme will not solve the issue of too many immigrants. However, they are just called racist while Germany is the nice welcoming country. Germany is angry how little “solidarity” these Eastern Europeans show (especially while they so gladly take all the German money).

* Ukraine crisis. Now this one was not completely botched up by the EU but one cannot overlook that is mostly the American military protecting the “eastern front” of NATO.

71 Hoosier January 18, 2016 at 6:48 pm

I give Tyler credit for criticizing populists governments on the left and right- he was harsh on Greece and now he seems to be worried about Poland. I’m with him. We need more moderates, but the world doesn’t seem to be going in that direction unfortunately. What’s the end game?

72 Urso January 19, 2016 at 3:12 pm

Yes Tyler is very consistent in skewering all people who don’t want to be ruled by a small cadre of self-appointed economic and social “technocrats”, all of whom just happen to look, sound, and talk exactly like Tyler Cowen.

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