Tuesday assorted links

by on January 26, 2016 at 12:10 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 cheesetrader January 26, 2016 at 12:16 pm

#3 – clearly England has become a dairy violent culture.

2 Ann K January 26, 2016 at 2:31 pm


3 dearieme January 26, 2016 at 3:41 pm

Yoghurt … culture: quite a decent joke, all considered. Accidental, presumably.

4 cheesetrader January 26, 2016 at 5:19 pm

Whey would you say that?

5 JWatts January 26, 2016 at 6:10 pm

Holy cow these comments curdle my blood, they’re quite cheesy.

6 The Anti-Gnostic January 26, 2016 at 12:25 pm

#2 – If we abolish HHS and HUD and their state, municipal equivalents, we can probably afford Guaranteed Minimum Income.

7 JWatts January 26, 2016 at 12:53 pm

I was curious so I did the math. I used the budgets for the US HHS & HUD (ignoring the state and municipal departments). Total combined budget of $1.066 Trillion divided among 318 million Americans.

This would provide everyone (including children and retirees) a check for $280 per month (or $3,355 annually). If you restrict it to adults between 18 and 65, it would amount to $385 per month (or $4,616 annually).

8 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly January 26, 2016 at 12:56 pm

Except you can’t plausibly restrict it to those under 65 since they would have just lost their Medicare.

9 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly January 26, 2016 at 12:53 pm

Excluding entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, the combined budgets of HHS and HUD comes out to around $133.1B, which wouldn’t be enough to send each American a check for even $500. Eliminating state and local equivalents isn’t going to move the needle much, either, given how many state/local agencies are funded largely through federal assistance.

10 Brad January 26, 2016 at 3:27 pm

Government health spending across all three levels is $1.39T. Direct Housing assistance is another $.81T. (That’s dwarfed by indirect assistance, like the tax benefits and backstopping the GSEs, but those aren’t run through HHS). The adult population of the US is 245M. That’s under $9k per person.

If you really want to do it through spending cuts you also need to cut back on social security (old people welfare), education (middle class people welfare), and defense (merchant of death welfare).

11 Brad January 26, 2016 at 3:29 pm

That should be .081T for housing ($81B) which makes the number close to $6k/year/per adult.

12 The Anti-Gnostic January 26, 2016 at 3:34 pm

I’m perfectly happy with paying for it by ending SS, education and ending all overseas military deployments.

13 Cooper January 26, 2016 at 4:40 pm

The median senior citizen gets about $10K/year in Medicare and $15K/year in Social Security.

You can’t take away $25K/year from seniors and give them a check for $10K/year in exchange. They just won’t vote for it under any circumstances. Period. End of sentence.

Any UBI program that involves significantly reducing transfer payments to today’s seniors is dead on arrival.

14 Brad January 26, 2016 at 5:15 pm

You can if you can mobilize the Millennials which is finally a bigger generation than the most selfish generation ever.

15 Roy LC January 26, 2016 at 7:45 pm

All those millennials have parents

16 Cooper January 26, 2016 at 8:30 pm

If you cut my grandma’s Social Security check, I’m going to have to give my Universal Basic Income check to her so she can pay for groceries.

The majority of voters in presidential elections are now older than 45. In non-presidential years, it’s probably well over 50.

In the 2014 California midterm election, less than 10% of people aged 18-24 voted compared to 50%+ of those over 75.

The Left has the votes of the young and opposes cuts out of ideology. The Right has the votes of the old and opposes cuts out of electoral practicality.

We’re living in a gerontocracy. That’s why there will never be any meaningful entitlement reform.

Believe me, I wish that things were different. The last chance we had to privatize Social Security was 2005 and it went down like a lead balloon.

17 Brad January 27, 2016 at 10:02 am

Parents of millennials are by and large Gen X’ers, though there are some late baby boomers.

Look at the net worth tables, your grandma is probably sitting on a very valuable house. She well also be getting an absurdly generous pension of the type that workers can’t even get any more. In any event if she is starving in the street it’s your parent’s problem not yours.

Getting the young out to vote is a big problem, but UBI is a big carrot to dangle. A more realistic option may be student loan forgiveness which seems to be part of Bernie’s strategy. One I wholly endorse.

18 Chris S January 26, 2016 at 4:35 pm

I am sure building favelas and supplying five different types of heirloom beans, plus a chromebook with wifi, could be accomplished on that modest budget. What more is needed, minimally?

19 Harun January 26, 2016 at 4:42 pm

I think you need corn to make a succotash.

20 8 January 26, 2016 at 12:29 pm

2. This is also fueling anger in the United States, which is much stronger since the money isn’t seen as free, but as coming out of other people’s pockets, particularly the high and rising ACA premiums and deductibles.

21 The Anti-Gnostic January 26, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Well, it is coming out of other people’s pockets.

22 cheesetrader January 26, 2016 at 12:40 pm

One man’s subsidy is another’s tax hike

23 rpenm January 26, 2016 at 1:12 pm

Did you even read the article? It’s about transfers from outside groups to poor Kenyans/Malawis, not intra-communal transfers. Average wealth increased, so the negative effects on neighbors’ life-satisfaction were surprising. I’d suspect a short term “keeping-up-with-the-Joneses” effect at work.

24 Thomas January 26, 2016 at 1:51 pm

Is inner-city Chicago or rural Alabama part of the Northern California community? Not in any meaningful way.

25 rpenm January 26, 2016 at 2:50 pm

Still missing the point. Alice and Bob are poor neighbors. Carol gives some cash to Alice. For some reason this has a negative life-satisfaction effect on Bob. The studies aren’t about Carol’s life-satisfaction.

26 Thomas January 26, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Earlier you claimed a distinction between foreign and national transfers. My objection was that our nation is large and Manhattan and Western Texas may as well be different countries for the community they share.

27 rpenm January 26, 2016 at 4:15 pm

RTFA. This is about how to best spend NGO money on development. The article is about a possible downside to direct cash aid.

You seem to be trying to bend this discussion into a domestic political debate it has nothing to do with.

28 inertial January 26, 2016 at 12:46 pm

4. It’s pretty sad that the North Koreans are about the only ones in the world still able to create this kind of art.

29 So Much For Subtlety January 27, 2016 at 2:33 am

Yes. I am sure the people of South Korea are heart-broken about that.

But on the plus side, America wraps things. Like the Grand Canyon. Hard to beat that

30 Magnus January 26, 2016 at 1:09 pm

#3 ‘culture’ that is Dorset. Nicely done.

31 Edward Pierce January 26, 2016 at 1:21 pm

#2 – I don’t know why this point isn’t made more often: Inequality is a problem not because anyone becomes materially worse off, but simply because it violates people’s implicit notion of “fairness” — think here of the banking commercial where the new kid in the room gets an ice cream cone, while the existing kids get nothing.

Try as economists might — regaling people with parables of pies and their sizes — I’ve yet to see an effective counter-argument, in the wild, to the naive contention that inequality is bad because “the rich get richer while the middle class get the shaft, and that’s not *fair*”

32 Thomas January 26, 2016 at 1:54 pm

“Try as economists might — regaling people with parables of pies and their sizes”

Is there an argument that redistribution increases the size of the pie – that efficiency and equality are one in the same?

Without having read the Vox article, I’ll assume that this is simply more: “people who don’t like transfer payments have emotional problems”, which is such a common theme from the left. What is wrong with Kansas, anyway? Vox and the left knows: they are idiots or mentally ill else they’d be a Vox-lefty (minus the upper-class birth, Ivy League education, and Manhattan cocktail parties).

33 a Fred January 26, 2016 at 4:04 pm

Not to be rude, but what do you get from commenting on an article you haven’t read?

34 Hazel Meade January 26, 2016 at 3:21 pm

Is the unfairness the inequality, or the fact that some people got something they didn’t deserve/earn?

The article tells us nothing about whether the other people in the villiage (non-cash-recipients) were better off than those receiving the windfall.
If they were, the cash would have reduced inequality. Inequality went down, but that made those who didn’t get the cash unhappy. Presumably because it wasn’t “fair” that their neighbors got something for free that they had to work for.

Fairness is a lot more complex than inequality. This particular experiement is even a special case givne that the case comes completely from outside, and it comes as a windfall. Now try to imagine how the other villiagers would feel if the cash is taken from someone else in the villiage. Or if it is distributed based on merit.

35 a Fred January 26, 2016 at 4:02 pm

Ever read “Envy” by Schoeck? He takes envy as a given about humans and looks at how different societies deal with it.

36 Chris S January 26, 2016 at 4:38 pm

After a recent business trip, I brought my daughter two small gifts (a pen and a tiny doll) and my son a larger gift (a London bus toy). He was upset she got two gifts and he got one; she was upset he got a big gift and she got little ones.

Some things never change.

37 Harun January 26, 2016 at 4:45 pm

Without data, would anyone notice inequality, really?

Probably not that much.

38 Roy LC January 26, 2016 at 7:46 pm

in a village or small town they sure would

39 anon January 26, 2016 at 6:55 pm

Is this information really hard to come by?


If median income is falling AND inequality is rising, then it isn’t really true that no one is worse off.

40 Colin January 26, 2016 at 7:05 pm

I suspect you are right about fairness being the reason many people are upset about inequality. I think for a lot of people inequality is wrong simply because it feels unseemly. Saying that we need to tax and redistribute, however, to satisfy some people’s particular notion of fairness or to reduce this unseemliness, however, isn’t likely to win many public policy debates. This is why the inequality doom-mongers constantly search for actual demonstrable examples of harm arising from inequality, which from my perspective they have struggled mightily to produce.

41 anon January 26, 2016 at 7:10 pm

What if the whole thing is many more millions of years old than we commonly think?


42 Hazel Meade January 26, 2016 at 11:22 pm

This research is really out of date.

In the ultimatum game the cash is always a windfall. More recent research has shown that older children tend to grow out of the idea that “fairness = equal distribution”. The equal distribution norm really only holds when the cash is a windfall. It does not hold when the cash must be earned in some way.
You make the amount of money dependent on some sort of task that a group of children must accomplish and very quickly the children will figure out that it is “unfair” to distribute the earnings equally if some children did more work than others.

43 anon January 27, 2016 at 4:57 am

I think it is much more important that sharing is observed in primates than that it is modified by learning.

It frames sharing and fairness as something that arises in social species. It might even be why “social” works as a biological innovation.

44 Hazel Meade January 27, 2016 at 11:13 am

Inequality is not incompatible with sharing.

Ancient Rome worked on a patronage system in which the wealthy families (Patricians) would be very generous with the community around them, thereby developing a client network, which of course also served as their base of support. Hence the concept of a patron-client system. High inequality plus lots of sharing.

45 Donald Pretari January 26, 2016 at 2:09 pm

#6…”Guest: I think it’s a very important discussion which people just ignore. And I think it’s become politically convenient for many people to argue that we’re getting declining real wages.

But not vice versa? How did I know he was going to say that?

“There are a lot of issues that arise with randomized trials. So, I think the issue of randomization–it’s a good idea: extra source of variation is good. But you’ve got to be careful. And I think people aren’t. And I think that’s been a problem with the interpretation of this data.”

“The second thing is that if you look at the Card and Krueger analysis and a lot of the subsequent analysis that came from that line of work, I think some of it was fairly casual. To put it mildly.”

Basically, when he likes the results, they’re well done, and, when he doesn’t like the results, he implies they’re not rigorous enough.

“So, people will say, ‘Let the facts speak for themselves.’ But in fact, the facts almost never fully speak for themselves. But they do speak. So the question is just to be, you know, sensitive to the facts and to interpret them in ways that allow us to be more robust. So I’d say in a lot of areas of economics, we have less knowledge than we think we have. So I think there is a pretence to knowledge. ”

Let me guess who he thinks those economists are. I really don’t get it. It’s as if some people think that acknowledging certain problems or seeing that issues involve more than one over-arching incentive will prove a free-market economy unsound. If you believe free markets are that susceptible to refutation, maybe you should rethink your position. I do not see any evidence that a planned economy would serve us better than a free market economy. Rather, I see some issues that need to be addressed within a free market economy. To me, that’s very clear.

I did get a book out of this post. I looked up Richard Quant and ended up buying If Dogs Could Talk by Vilmos Csányi.

46 Cliff January 26, 2016 at 4:01 pm

You don’t get that some studies are better than others?

47 Donald Pretari January 26, 2016 at 5:55 pm

I think you need to be careful. I think you need to be sensitive to the facts. I don’t think you should be casual, to put it mildly. I think you need to be robust. Sadly, Cliff, the people who disagree with me…aren’t. It really pains me to say this.

48 Cliff January 26, 2016 at 11:51 pm


49 Ed January 26, 2016 at 2:18 pm

I love their bolded policy prescription: “Just give everyone money.”

Like, yeah, whatever.

It leaves me wondering: From whom do they plan to take money?

50 cheesetrader January 26, 2016 at 2:22 pm

@Ed – everyone they just gave money to….duh

51 rpenm January 26, 2016 at 2:58 pm

Donors. They’re NGOs

52 Harun January 26, 2016 at 4:46 pm

So, NGO’s don’t get any governmental funding?

Its all private individuals?

53 rayward January 26, 2016 at 2:38 pm

2. That phenomenon applies to any benefit, public, private, or otherwise. That’s why it’s a real bad idea to provide an employee benefit and then take it away. Or to allow junior to drive the Corvette and then take it away. Tying the phenomenon to a public benefit confuses the behavior that it reflects.

54 Faria January 26, 2016 at 2:43 pm
55 rpenm January 26, 2016 at 2:59 pm

I immediately thought of that comic 🙂

56 JasonL January 26, 2016 at 9:08 pm

The heckman interview was good.

57 daguix January 27, 2016 at 2:17 am

#1: Being African and not understanding how Africa works… Their business is doomed from the start, their governments and bureaucrats will not allow it to grow. They are putting their “shypmates” at risk of getting stolen by customs, even end up in jail. Good luck for them.

58 Jeffrey Deutsch January 27, 2016 at 11:07 am

#2 — No surprise to me. Even putting aside the psychological effects*, the distinction between absolute and relative poverty blurs when it’s real income we’re talking about.

Think of non-universal cash transfers as gentrification. Now ask some DC old-timers how that’s working out for them.

[*] And, in turn, putting aside the possibility that such psychological effects evolved as a contrived incentive for individuals to fight for their share of the pie long before we became sophisticated enough to understand things like real income and being priced out of a market. Much like, say, we evolved an allergy to mosquito saliva so we would “know” to fight off mosquitoes long before we figured out things like disease and bleeding out.

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