Geek vacation

1. Starring us, Alex is (correctly) judged the best dressed.

2. WSJ review of Bryan Caplan

3. Linguistic abilities of the Presidential candidates; lots of Spanish but not just.

4. Half the bottled water in Beijing is fake?

5. Heterodox economics, covered by the NYT; like Don Boudreaux I am still waiting for someone to defend trade barriers across the 50 states.

6. Bet on whether women really do talk more than men


Re 5: I remember from living in Austin that there was a "Buy Greater Austin" movement that encouraged people
to buy goods only from the Greater Austin area. So, there they were defending a sort of domestic
protectionism. Of course, you've gotta laugh at that -- even from the *name* you can see how shaky the
ideology is. I mean, why buy *Greater* Austin? It's like when formulating the platform, they were thinking:

"Oh, we're not like *those* weirdo cranks who think you should *only* buy from within the Austin city
limits. That would just be ridiculous! To only buy from that narrow little region at the exlcusion of
the surrounding communities! We *completely* understand the case for only buying from *Greater* Austin ...
but not an inch outside!"

I'm still waiting to see an explanation by a libertarian about how the issue of poor quality and dangerous products from China fits into the theory that firms self interest prevents this from happening and that there is no need for safety and health regulations.

OK Spence, you answer Tyler's question and then we'll get around to the issue of Chinese product safety. I think the libertarian argument about product safety is that if firms are selling poison then consumers face strong incentives to avoid those firms. Therefore those firms tend to go away unless they shape up. I guess you could have some sort of super faith about government regulation of food and product safety in general but for me Ill stick with Whole Foods and Underwriters Laboratories. Why so cranky Spencer?

Naturopaths tend to be "shut out" of medical schools. Maybe there are reasons for the inability of the heterodoxies to get a hearing...

Here is quote from the WSJ article on Caplan:

"For him, democracy fails because it doesn't produce the most economically efficient results. He would prefer to see independent experts shape policy or to put more power into the hands of the unelected solons on the Supreme Court.
Such a strategy might be more efficient, but then again, American democracy has never been about efficiency. Hamilton and Madison (conspicuously absent in "The Myth of the Rational Voter") consciously set out to create an inefficient system that let one faction counter the other."

So, does the critic not realize that he's conflating two different concepts of efficiency. Caplan is complaining that democracy fails because it doesn't produce economically efficient results. (Presumably he's talking about something along the lines of Pareto-efficiency.) The critic responds by talking about how Hamilton and Madison wanted democracy to be inefficient. But the sense of "inefficient" here isn't "non-Pareto-optimal", but something "slow and difficult in getting legislation passed".

I can't believe this crap gets posted in the WSJ when it wouldn't merit a C in a high school social studies class.

I would have really liked to see a picture of Tyler's office...

Maybe someone will defend them once someone calls for them

Quote from the article on Heterodox Economists...

[Dani Rodrik, an economist at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, for instance, said, “I fall into the methods of the mainstream, but not the faith,† which he defines as the belief that more markets and free trade are always good and government regulation is always bad...]

That statement disappoints me, because I feel it’s a gross exaggeration. I don't think I've ever read or heard an economist say that more markets are always better than government regulation. I learned about the concept of market failure in Econ 101... doesn’t everybody? I’d be shocked if 99% of economists didn’t concede that there are at least some cases in which a government solution may prove optimal.

There’s a big difference between the statements “market solutions are almost always superior to government regulation† and “market solutions are always superior to government regulation†. I think the former is much closer to what the Economists I’ve come in contact with believe.

I understand the point, Tyler, but there is a very, very big difference between free trade within a nation and free trade globally.

1) Relatively standard environmental and labor regulations
2) Free movement of labor across states
3) A country is (rightly or wrongly) seen as a "community"

The economics certainly supports free trade globally, but I don't think it's inconsistent to oppose free trade across nations and argue for free trade across states.

Two Words. Bond Traps.

No, Mister Bond. I expect you to suffer hyperinflation.

On the one hand the NYTimes sez:

David Card and Alan B. Krueger, an economist at Princeton, found that contrary to what free-market theory predicts, employment actually rose after an increase in the minimum wage.

And on the other:

“Economics is insufficiently scientific,† Alan Blinder said. “Mathematics may be useful, but mathematics is not scientific. It doesn’t generate refutable hypotheses.†

I assuming that he means the mathematics economists use. Otherwise, the second half of the quote is a non-sequiter of numbing grossness. But But but!!! How is both possible for free-market theory to make predictions, as indicated in the first quote, while also at one and the same time be incapable of generating "refutable hypotheses." Heterodoxies! It's gotta be one or the other. It can't be both. Even though it makes your case look stronger.

"David Card and Alan B. Krueger, an economist at Princeton, found that contrary to what free-market theory predicts, employment actually rose after an increase in the minimum wage."

I guess the NY Times forgot this part

"They also found that the AER published the paper, which turned out to suffer from massive sample selection issues due to the survey technique that Card and Krueger used. Coincidentally, the editor of the AER at the time had an office right next to Krueger's."

They may be great economists for other reasons, but Card and Krueger are full of it on this one. They pretend to be outsiders when they actually got a very poorly done paper published in the top professional journal precisely because of their insider status.

Beware a man with two first names.

re: the fake water in China. As I learned on a recent visit, the same thing holds true in India, where a sip of the wrong tap water means a few days of violent sickness. What was interesting was that it finally dawned on my why Aquafina is popular. It's mildly popular in the US, but wildly so in nations with poor tap water. Aquafina has a distictly chemical/chlorine taste -- exactly the last thing American's want in their pure mountain spring h2o. But in India, that chemical taste is a sign that the water is "good" e.g. not counterfeit and not likely to make you sick.

Of course, this still doesn't explain why this stuff sell even a single case in North America.

On the language thing. Hillary also speaks Southern and Black Vernaculars and puts on a new england lilt from time to time.......

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