Assorted links

1. Don’t fire John Yoo

2. Income inequality, from Greg Mankiw

3. How much appearing on Colbert helps your book

4. India’s "brain gain"


"Don't fire John Woo"

An admirable sentiment, but probably not what you intended.

Regarding the third link about the Colbert bump, I believe that those were rather misleading statistics because there were 3-4 obvious outliers that skewed the colbert bump average.

"From 1980 to 2005, the earnings of the 90th percentile full-time male worker increased 49 percent more than the earnings of the 10th percentile worker. Among full-time female workers, there has been a similar divergence between high and low earners."
- Mankiw

Actually the female divergence is much lower.

An interesting potential driver of this recent divergence of high and low earnings of male workers is refusal of high skilled visas. Non-immigrant entry has dropped, while visa applications soar. The H1B visa cap was recently dropped again.

I don't have data for all of 1980-2000 right now, but I know a few things: the majority of high skilled visa occupations are male dominated; when applicants are turned away, demand rises for the Americans in the same occupation and drives up their wages; when companies cannot find a worker in that field for an affordable price, their demand for complementary (lower skilled) employees drops, reducing demand and wages for them.

If this trend in capping high skilled entry has been ongoing from 1980, the bidding up of high skilled American workers (and coincidentally reducing demand for the low skilled worker) would drive a wedge in wages of the two groups.

Just a thought, and for more (plug!) a paper on H1B capping, of which I am co-author, will be coming out next week on

I agree with JW. The Colbert Bump article is flawed by grouping a whole bunch of books into certain categories and then giving the mean for those categories, when in reality it looks like a very few books get a large Colbert Bump.

Another issue I was thinking about is that authors go on book promotion tours, and they usually do many interviews within a rather short period of time. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that the ones that seemed to get the biggest bump were also giving several other interviews during the same week or even day.

There may yet be a Bump for a selected few authors, but I am far from convinced by the seemingly convincing article.


Farming is not the road to escaping poverty, it itself is poverty. The brains that are returning are creating new well paid support jobs for countless others, starting new companies that employ huge numbers of well paid people, and personally spend money on local services that would've been spent on locally in Califronia or London or elsewhere outside of India. Those local services also provide better paying jobs than that of the poverty stricken farmer.

You really need to get over your socialist framing and realize that the key to bettering the poor in India is destroying insanely huge number of regulations that hinder employing poor Indians outside of the farm.

I can't help but notice that the biggest reforms are all aimed at helping those who are already the cream of India's crop do even better, while the laws that make manufacturing and 21st century retailing extremely hard to move to India are dramatically retarding potential progress for the poorest Indians.

I squarely lay the blame for this on continued socialist thinking of the type which you (GVV) showed in your post.

I'm not a John Yoo expert, but based on everything I've read by him, people are accusing him of directly *advocating* things like testicle-crushing and so forth, when he seems to just be explaining his views of the Constitutional basis for the executive branch's exercise of certain implicit powers.

And frankly these "enhance interrogation techniques" aren't torture. Don't insult the victims of real torture by calling threats, loud noises, sleep deprivation, and other psychological games and frat hazing tactics to real torture. Jeepers, we do worse than that to our own soldiers, when they have to do that tear gas exercise.

we do worse than that to our own soldiers, when they have to do that tear gas exercise.

Could this sort of argument be permanently retired, please?

It is one thing to do something to our own soldiers who:

a) Are volunteers
b) Know that it is part of training and will stop before they are harmed
c) Know that it will not be done repeatedly

and quite another to do it to prisoners who

a) Are obviously not volunteers
b) Cannot be sure the process is limited
c) Do not know how often they will be subject to this or worse treatment

In other words, the circumstances surrounding the activity are an important part of defining whether it is torture.

Think of this. If a man grabs you and slams you to the ground he has committed a crime. But not if he's tackling you in a football game. The fact that the tackle is not a crime does not mean the assault isn't one either.

Bernard, it's a point used mainly for illustration. And I think part of the point of interrogation is that you *don't* know how long it is going to go on or how far it could go. It's one thing to wear down a person's resistance by being irritating, not letting them sleep, frightening them, using psychology, etc., it's another to pluck out eyes and crush bones, dunk people in boiling water, etc. That's *real* torture. It's categorically different from the "enhanced interrogation techniques."

And there's a difference between an innocent person ambushed by a criminal and a terrorist or militia member who knowingly undertakes a risky enterprise.


Take your blinders off. Did you actually read through the whole article? It's not left wing propaganda and it does distinguish between skilled and unskilled workers- that's the whole point of the article!

Bernard, it's a point used mainly for illustration.

To illustrate what?

It's categorically different from the "enhanced interrogation techniques."

Actually, it's not. Waterboarding and sleep deprivation, among other things, are generally understood to be torture. To dismiss things like that as "frat hazing tactics" is simply inaccurate.

And there's a difference between an innocent person ambushed by a criminal and a terrorist or militia member who knowingly undertakes a risky enterprise.

You've missed the point entirely. The context in which one commits an act affects the morality and legality of the act. The whole "frat-boy" argument completely overlooks the critical issue of consent. It's exactly like arguing that there's no such thing as rape because some peopel have sexual relations voluntarily.

Besides, many of the detainees are neither terrorists nor militia members. Even though some are, there are laws governing our treatment of them.

Mankiw rights:
But neither is education irrelevant. If Mr. Blankfein had left the New York public school system and gone directly to work, instead of attending Harvard College and Law School, most likely he would not be the head of a major investment bank today.

If the Clintons had been content with high school diplomas and not attended Georgetown, Wellesley, Oxford and Yale, they most likely would not have reached the White House and Senate, and it is a good bet that they would not now be getting multimillion-dollar book deals and $100,000 speaking dates. A top education is no guarantee of great riches, but it often helps.

This seems a very weak analysis to me. If not Mr. Blankfein or the Clintons then it would have been someone else. Now if you gave everyone a college degree, and believe me it could be done, the value of the degree would be reduced to next to nothing. IMO it is not what is learned that is valuable in the diploma but that it show ability and even more so relative ability.

I see a few things contributing to the gap. The return on capital is rising, I think that some of this is due to decelerating inflation. A more rapid replacement of labor with capital. Growing complicity of systems that increase the demand for intelligence, btw some of these are due to complexity created by government like tax code and building codes. Returns to licenses, in medical industry, medicine is up to 17 percent of GDP and it is an industry with a high return to having a license.

jorod--when the Indian government gives food away within India it has to buy the food from other countries. This may keep domestic food prices low and discourage domestic crop production. But it does not discourage food production in other countries.

Would you care to explain how you reached your conclusion. It appears to me you seem to believe the food the India government gives away is a free good.

Even US food aide is not a gift. Rather, it is financed through a long term loan from the US government.

Foreign aide to India has always been used to finance irrigation, fertilizers,pesticides, improved seeds, etc..

Even at the peak of US food aide in the 1950s and 1960s when India actually suffered famines, India imported less food grains then was consumed by rats within the country.

I keep trying to think of a single statement in your comments that had any relationship to reality. But I am hard pressed to think of a better example of concentrated ignorance.

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