Ithaca assorted links


Roissy made a clever reference to you by name in the comments section

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It's always just assumed that teens take "too much" risk. None of the data I've seen about accidental deaths (including things like falls, poisonings, car crashes) seems to support the notion that teens take more risks than any other age group.

And what's with the sloppiness of (paraphrasing) "teens weigh the costs and benefits even more rationally than adults, but then take risks anyway because they think the costs outweigh the benefits" preceded/followed by, "and that's stupid". Wha?

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Benefits outweigh the costs, rather.

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Bob Frank: EVERY year at tax time, libertarians indignantly denounce government income transfers from rich to poor.

They do? Man, I could have sworn that the EITC/negative income tax was a libertarian idea championed by Milton Friedman.

I'd also challenge the idea that trading elevated status for lower pay is both a stable preference among the most productive and that it is a universal standard operating procedure among industries and organizations. It's not hard to come up with a list of industries where 'stars' are paid according to their value (and much, much more than mediocre performers). One would have to include entertainment of all kinds, professional sports, finance, law and accounting (partners make many times more than new associates) and...academia (where universities lure stars away from rivals with big packages).

I also doubt that highly productive people accept lower-than-deserved pay in exchange for status as much as they do in exchange for security. So, in professional sports, it is common to pay stars 10x as much as ordinary players. But it is also common to dump those stars and their big contracts when their productivity tails off. So I suspect that in many jobs people accept their pay not rising to their highest level of productivity in exchange for not being let go or having their incomes cut to match lower productivity at other times in their careers (the typical pattern seems to be younger workers not paid as much as they're worth and older workers being paid more than they're worth -- younger workers grudgingly accept this because they recognize they'll be older workers eventually).

And then, of course, even in industries where it is not typical to pay stars their full value, it is often common for highly productive workers to strike out on their own. Oddly enough, they willingly trade their position in their previous hierarchy in exchange for being paid what they're worth. My sense is that many more people would like to do this than actually take the plunge and what holds them back is definitely NOT the prospect of losing gold-star, employee-of-the-month status boost opportunities, but security. I've known of many people who've given up their businesses and returned to the corporate fold--but always for reasons of security and not because they missed their perch in the org chart.

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Re: Greece default.

1. How much shorting is there?

2. Here's the plan. Greece defaults. The price falls to E.30. EU or whatever "central bank" buys at E.30 and gets Greece to pay them at E.32. Voila!

Never happen. The banks (everything is a bank) and bondholders need to be protected. What about the children!!!

But that would kill two birds with one stone. Greece debt problem resolved. And, the socialists in Greece (and probably Italy, Portugal, Spain, Ireland) won't soon again run up a nation-busting tab.

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Also from Bob Frank: If the most productive workers in a group are paid less than the value of what they produce, why don’t rival employers just lure them all away?

I would say the answer is 'lack of information'. In those industries where worker productivity is publicly available information, rival employers absolutely DO lure away workers by paying them according to productivity. Professional sports are the perfect example here -- all the performances are public as are most of the important statistics are freely available. Contrast that to a highly productive engineer working at, say, an auto-parts supplier. Do rival companies in the automobile business know just how valuable that guy is? No -- how would they?

So the prediction would be that if the productivity of individual workers is public, then compensation will track productivity. But where information about individual productivity is private, compensation won't track productivity closely -- but it's not because everybody's happy to take status in lieu of cash.

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...that is why I find the current conservative/libertarian flap over the point that 47% of households pay no federal income tax so hard to understand.

The problem is that nowhere near 47% of the American population can be considered 'poor' by any reasonable definition of the term.

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His conclusion is like saying that the more people give to charity, the more they should be taxed, because they obviously like giving.

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John Thacker, you may be completely right. I do not know. But note that I did not say that it was due to anything in particular. I just noted that in general libertarian/conservative web site and other media outlets like CNBC have treated it as a bad thing without any analysis like yours that talked about high marginal tax rates. I have seen many comments about the 47% number and yours is the first I have seen that blamed it on a specific item in the tax code.

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It is not downtown, but the Taughanock Farms near the falls (highest east of the Mississippi)
has quite good food. About a 15 mile drive out of town up west side of Lake Cayuga, however.
If Johnny's Big Red Grill were still open in College Town, I would say go there, but it has
been closed for years, evne though last time I went through they still had the sign for it on
the building with this goofy looking bear holding a beer.

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And on 5, I think the problem has little to do with status, and a lot with the fact that while an employee has little trouble showing his skill level to his current employer, it's quite a bit harder for most of us do to the same thing to other employers. Anyone doing any hiring for an office knows that, in the end, hiring is a slightly educated crapshoot.

There's also the transaction costs of hiring a new worker: In some positions, a new worker can cost a year worth of salary, both in the search and the specific training required for the specific position. So firing someone that is batting a bit under what he's paid, and chances are you'll only be back in the black after three years or so.

Make it easy to rank workers objectively across companies, and you'll see more salary differentials. But that's only doable in places where every worker's productivity is available, like in professional sports. And even then, don't we all know about free agent busts?

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Try the Thai Cuisine (that's its name) on Route 13 across from Wegmann's for great Thai food. Or drive out to Suzanne's in Lodi on Seneca Lake. It's well worth the drive... and is the best restaurant in the area.

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Is Collegetown Bagel still open? I was always mighty fond of them. They are in my very top rank of bagelries.

You know, we have a depressing amount of that very same Greek problem ourselves. The biggest source of the problem, of course, isn't unions, but - feel free to check - GOP Presidents starting with Reagan. You can see that deficits have spiked hugely under GOP Presidents since Reagan and shrunk under Dem Presidents. The last generation of Democrats was negligent with benefits, but the GOP's been worse both in terms of immediate deficits and benefits. If Bush' SS plan had passed, it would've made the red ink still worse.

The GOP's lied about deficits and government size and taxes, of course. The reality is that there is no small-government national party, but at least we Dems pay alot more of our tab with those higher taxes; and that's the best fiscal choice you get in DC.

There's also no shortage of corruption, currently most concentrated in Congress, on both sides of the aisle.

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A gist-based approach to decision making results in simple, black-and-white conclusions of good or bad, safe or dangerous, she and Dr. Farley wrote

Yeah, long live sheeple!

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