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Tuesday assorted links

by on March 21, 2017 at 12:25 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

Monday assorted links

by on March 20, 2017 at 12:34 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

What should I ask Jill Lepore?

by on March 20, 2017 at 6:22 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

I will be doing a Conversation with Tyler with her, podcast only no public event.  She is one of the best known historians, teaching at Harvard, the author of numerous books, and also writing a column for The New Yorker.  Much of her work is on 18th century America, though since then she has become an Americanist more broadly.  Perhaps her most popular book is on the history and origins of the Wonder Woman character.  Here is Wikipedia on Jill Lepore.

So what should I ask her?

What are we doing

We are devising a way to hack direct democracy into representative without changing the rules by building two things: 1) A web-based platform for Danish citizens to vote on all legislature put forth in parliament. 2) A political party to vote according to the general vote on the platform.

Why are we doing it

We believe that the current representative democracy holds a faulty incentive structure for politicians making it inefficient. We follow politics closely and see a need for reform. Giving back decision making powers to the public makes it impossible to block legislation that citizens want and pass legislation that they do not. By taking agency out of the equations, everyone shares a common goal.

Here is the link.  Wouldn’t it be funny if this party did not win every election?

The annual Public Choice Outreach Conference is June 16-18th, at the Hyatt Arlington in Rosslyn, VA! Submit an application and please do encourage your students to apply. Here’s some more information.

What is the Public Choice Outreach Conference?
The Public Choice Outreach Conference is a compact lecture series designed as a “crash course” in Public Choice for students planning careers in academia, journalism, law, or public policy. Graduate students and advanced undergraduates are eligible to apply. Many past participants of the Outreach seminar have gone on to notable careers in academia, law and business.

Who can apply?
Graduate students and advanced undergraduates are eligible to apply. Students majoring in economics, history, international studies, law, philosophy political science, psychology, public administration, religious studies, and sociology have attended past conferences. Advanced degree students with a demonstrated interest in political economy or demonstrated interest in political economy are invited to apply. Applicants unfamiliar with Public Choice and students from outside of George Mason University are especially encouraged. Download a 2017 application here.

What are the fees involved?
Outreach has no conference fee – it is free to attend. Room and meals are included for all participants. However, ALL travel costs are the responsibility of the participants.

If you have any questions please contact:
Lisa Hill-Corley, Outreach Conference Coordinator
(703) 993-2316
email: lhillcor <at> gmu <dot> edu

Sunday assorted links

by on March 19, 2017 at 4:13 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

Saturday assorted links

by on March 18, 2017 at 12:28 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

A few of you have been asking me about the Straussian readings of The Complacent Class.  One of them refers to Deuteronomy 4:25-26:

“When you have had children and children’s children, and become complacent in the land, if you act corruptly by making an idol in the form of anything, thus doing what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, and provoking him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that you will soon utterly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to occupy; you will not live long on it, but will be utterly destroyed. “

Here is external commentary on the passage: “It may be surprising that the result of complacency is not atheism but idolatry.”

Friday assorted links

by on March 17, 2017 at 11:24 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Siberian barter markets in everything if only they had stabilized nominal gdp.  It might mean less sex.

2. Spatial competition and the Great Divergence.

3. Steve Keen turns to crowdfunding to pay his salary.

4. Noah Smith responds on empiricism and humility.  Many good points, though I think who is “ideological” is not as simple as this seems to indicate.  Even if no one person acts or feels like an ideologue, a system that is not asking all the right questions is in fact highly ideological.  When was the last time there was a significant study of child satisfaction with school vouchers?  How much attention is given to the economics of animal welfare?  And so on.

5. The federal agencies and programs Trump wants to eliminate.

6. 49:45 for my riff on deathbed regrets.

7. Me on Facebook Live, Monday 7 p.m., EST.  Here is the Facebook event page.

A Patriot missile – usually priced at about $3m (£2.5m) – was used to shoot down a small quadcopter drone, according to a US general.

The strike was made by a US ally, Gen David Perkins told a military symposium.

“That quadcopter that cost 200 bucks from Amazon.com did not stand a chance against a Patriot,” he said.

Patriots are radar-targeted weapons more commonly used to shoot down enemy aircraft and ballistic missiles.

“Now, that worked, they got it, OK, and we love Patriot missiles,” the general said.

Here is more, via Ray Lopez.

Addendum: The Chinese are experimenting with a radio wave gun to bring down drones.

Ballycastle was named the best place to live in Northern Ireland in a list compiled by The Sunday Times in 2016.

Link here.  77.7% Catholic, with a lovely 18th century church.  The downtown is thriving and intact, with no real signs of hollowing out.  Virtually all of the shops are not major chains.  People seem to be friendly and helpful.

The town sits on water’s edge, with lovely views.

bally2

It has one of the most scenic golf courses in Northern Ireland.  Here are further photos, including of the castle.  Here are photos of downtown.

bally3

Reasonable, well-ordered homes, only a few minutes drive from the sea, can be had for not much over one hundred thousand pounds sterling.  As my father used to say “What are we waiting for?”

Northern Ireland remains an underrated region.

Thursday assorted links

by on March 16, 2017 at 11:49 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

I don’t quite agree with this as stated, as the experience of enjoying a bargain can make it more pleasurable, or at least I have seen this for many people.   Some in fact enjoy the bargain only, not the actual good or service.  Nonetheless here is the abstract:

Prices are typically critical to consumption decisions, but can the presence of price impact enjoyment over the course of an experience? We examine the effect of price on consumers’ satisfaction over the course of consumption. We find that, compared to when no pricing information is available, the presence of prices accelerates satiation (i.e., enjoyment declines faster). Preliminary evidence suggests price increases satiation by making the experience seem like less of a relaxing break and something to financially monitor. We rule out several alternative explanations for this effect and discuss important implications for marketers and consumer researchers.

That is from Haws, McFerran, and Redden, “The Satiating Effect of Pricing: The Influence of Price on Enjoyment Over Time.”  The original pointer was from Rolf Degen.

Wednesday assorted links

by on March 15, 2017 at 2:25 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

Here is a Noah Smith post on those topics, and here is Adam Ozimek, both responding to Russ Roberts.  Rather than adjudicate the varying points of view here, I will stress some points of my own:

1. The political process does not select for humble versions of empiricism.  Those end up with virtually no political influence, whereas some of the more dogmatic form of empiricism may find some traction.

2. A lot of the bias in empirical methods comes simply from which questions are asked/answered.  Post Trump and De Vos, I see plenty of commentators and researchers reporting “vouchers don’t raise test scores” and virtually no “vouchers increase parental satisfaction.”  Is that empiricism?  In isolation, maybe.  In terms of reflecting the broader spirit of science, not so much.  It is also not humility.

3. I also see bias in terms of framing and contextualizing.  One empirical result is “over a short time horizon, a $15 minimum wage in Seattle hasn’t destroyed many jobs.”  Another empirical result is “rises in the prices of inputs virtually always lower input demand, with larger effects over longer time horizons.”  There is also “non-pecuniary factors of jobs adjust downward, in response to wage minimums, thereby removing the benefits for the workers from the wage hike.”  One side claims the mantle of empiricism with #1, the other side claims the mantle of empiricism with #2 and #3.  Overall the course of that debate does make me more skeptical about “empiricism as we find it,” though not about proper empiricism.  And note that the scholarly division of labor does in fact give any particular individual a sufficient excuse not to be doing the task of overall synthesis.

4. I find a very common pattern among both researchers and commentators.  They first form broadly empirical judgments about social systems, based on overall views of history, current politics (too much), and some of their relatively general empirical judgments, such as whether elasticities are large or small, or the relative crookedness of politicians vs. businesspeople, or the relative competence of voters, and so on.  Those are empirical judgments, though usually in non-formal, non-directly testable ways, and also inter-smushed with ethical judgments, for better or worse.

They then view very particular empirical debates through the broader lenses they have chosen.  For instance, views on politics used to correlate with views on the interest elasticity of money demand.  Today views on politics correlate with views on minimum wage elasticity, and so on.

It’s the kind of empiricism outlined in the first paragraph of #4 that has the greater predictive value for beliefs.  Furthermore it is sometimes (not always) the more important form of empiricism for settling many questions of policy.

5. I am sympathetic with the view that the broader empiricism outlined at the top of #4 is overused.  Yet many of the critics of that broad approach simply wish to protect the presuppositions of the academic status quo from being disrupted by the possibility of other broad paradigms.  In other words, I worry that criticizing “ideology” is too often a means of cementing in the dominant ideology in academia (and journalism), rather than an actual critique of ideology.

6. Most generally, humility is always scarcer than one might think.  Perhaps that should be one of Cowen’s Laws.