Assorted links


Should the West have governed South Sudan?

Better question: Should the the West have worked so hard to split up Sudan in the first place?

Bingo. The bleeding hearts always seem to make things worse when they get involved.

Of all the possible ways for the west to meddle with other countries, encouraging secession would not come anywhere near my list of practices considered harmful.

yes, because it is not like the North Sudanese weren't killing the South Sudanese. Since that war was religious as well as ethnic it had less chance of being resolved.

Had Sudan not split, we'd be looking at a prolonged invisible genocide instead of a global media accessible not yet Syria class horrific civil war in which the factions to the dispute have some reasonable prospect of reconciling.

South Sudan met the standard for emancipation of a minor - having no parent was better than having one intent upon abusing you.

I always thought July 4th should be on a weekend every year.

You may want to indicate that #7 is NSFW due to language (domain name).


'Should the West have governed South Sudan?'

Only if the oil revenue would have been worth it. Is this a trick question?

Especially considering that Sudan is a major source of oil for the world's second largest oil importer? (oops - world's largest - )

We should have restored Sudan to being an Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, with the USA playing the "Anglo" role.

"4. Panasonic to begin mass production of powered exoskeleton. The powered suit will be priced at a relatively low price of 500,000 yen (around US$4800). Panasonic says that in over a year, around 1000 of these suits will be produced. "

That will be neat if they actually do produce and sell 1,000 suits, but I'm a little skeptical that it will happen.

At $5000 they will be in the range of yuppies who want to show off. But unlike an iPhone they take up a lot of space.

I wonder how well it's suited for yard work.

Also, unlike iPhone's, yuppies won't look that cool using their new exo-skeleton.

Shades of the Segway

It seems to me that there may be a huge demand for these in industrial and construction work. Have you ever tried to operate a bobcat or backhoe? These things can be maddeningly imprecise. I can image it is the same for small scale crane operators, etc. Simply extending a mechanical physiology we are already accustomed to could greatly improve productivity at the right sites.

Excellent point.

One of the commenters on #3 doesn't seem to believe that those could be $34k in losing tickets. He seems to think the $34k loss claim must be based on failing to win a large prize or something ("I lost $25k because I didn't win the jackpot!"). Doesn't seem to be the case at all. They're probably all $20-$30 tickets.

Using them to claim gambling losses would clearly be tax fraud (seller is part of it too - could have at least tried to be more circumspect about it by selling them as a "collector's item"). Not sure of the probability of the fraudulent filer being caught. I assume the probability of an audit with such claims is high (though maybe not: if some dude wins $50k on a scratch off, I wouldn't be surprised to see that they lost $34k on scratch offs in the same year, with many purchases coming after the win). After that, I don't know: even if we assume, say, that the sales location of all of the tickets could be tracked (no idea if true), would the investigator do so? Or would he just look at the stack and say "okay yeah that's a lot of losers"?

I think this scheme is actually for money laundering. Let's say I have $10,000 from something illegal. Then, I purchase a winning $10,000 ticket for $10,100 and $10,000 of losing tickets for $100. Voila! For $200 I wash $10,000. To the IRS, it is presented as winning $10,000 offset by losing $10,000.

#5 was floated in the comments thread to your earlier piece, Mr Cowen. Since Mr Walsh has read the piece, he's presumably read the thread. Does he credit it? He does not.

#2 the broken window theory still holds merit. even many New York liberals support stop and frisk as a first step to crime prevention

#6 so far up 40% on my bet against turkey's currency. should be effortless $

I'm shorting Bitcoin. Let's see who wins.

"#2 the broken window theory "

"Violent crime dropped 51 percent in New York City in the 1990s, and homicide dropped 72 percent. These impressive results gave both the broken windows theory and the policies it inspired the sheen of unassailability."

"others say there’s no evidence it lowers crime anyway, regardless of how fair it is."

I understand how the drop in NYC isn't proof in and of itself of the broken window theory, but to claim that it's not even evidence is just ridiculous.

#2 Deceitful. There have been randomized clinical trials proving the broken window theory, see for example Keizer et al, Science, 322 (5908) pp. 1681-1685, 2008

From the abstract: "We generated hypotheses about the spread of disorder and tested them in six field experiments. We found that, when people observe that others violated a certain social norm or legitimate rule, they are more likely to violate other norms or rules, which causes disorder to spread."

Proving? How about "supporting".

Agreed, I used the wrong word, replace "proving" by "showing evidence of"

The broken window theory might be an exaggeration, but what I have observed several times is that a clean painted wall is generally respected by graffiti painters.

#2 This writer seems to think that increasing the spending of Americans is a good goal to have. I would suggest that this is really only a good goal for retailers to have. The 4.5% that was not spent on Christmas this year, can be spent (or invested) in other portions of the economy.

I assume that you mean #5, not #2. I had similar thought, though more tongue-in-cheek. Since economists generally agree that non-cash gift-giving is inefficient, we should move Christmas to a day that *minimizes* consumer spending, assuming all days are equal with respect to "non-pecuniary values", "interpersonal relationships", and "signalling regard and demonstrating social ties" [].

#5: I'm continually impressed with just how rapidly American is losing any interest in Christianity. Belief is instead channeled into new stuff like earth worship, weird social arrangements and faddish economic theories. Within my lifetime, the idea of moving Christmas would have been impolite. The religious aspects of the holiday were prominent, even in public schools. Now it is just about erased from public view so much so we can forget all about the Christian elements of Christmas and simply treat it like a postal holiday. It is a reminder that the culture can move quickly and unexpectedly.

Christmas won't be moved within your lifetime. There are still plenty of Christians in America and obviously this idea didn't come from one of them.

I agree on the moving of Christmas, but the purging of all Christian aspects will be complete within a decade. Withing a few decades, Christianity will be wiped out, except for a few isolated outposts. Something similar is happening with Judaism. The reformed are our crossing and dropping the faith, while the ultra-orthodox are breeding and keeping the faith and moving to remote parts of the country.

And the modern orthodox are keeping the faith and moving to remote parts of the OT...

The difference is that non-religious Jews still tend to strongly self-identify as Jews, while non-religious Christians are expected to have nothing but derision and contempt for believing Christians.

It isn't as if we didn't have a sneak preview. The United Kingdom experienced almost precisely the same thing, faster, a generation earlier.

1. Japan and Germany are the clues.

2. Broken windows unambigously help the glaser.

3. Gambling losses offset wins. It is fraud and could be easy to prove if the tickets came from somewhere you neither lived nor traveled to. $35K is enough to draw some scrutiny, and the IRS requires a detailed diary. Most gamblers have little difficulty finding legitimate offsets. :)

5. Did GDP get a boost from the years of higher Christmas sales indicating greater velocity, or were retail sales offset by declines in consumption elsewhere? The two variable chart doesn't seem to control for income at all. Broken window and ceteris not paribus.

On #3, how detailed of a diary is required? Like, "bought $40 in tickets on 3/14, won $0" - a specific accounting of the net results of each day any gambling occurred?

My mom still keeps losers in a drawer all year in case she wins big. Maybe at lower amounts they'd be more likely to just let a big stack of lotto tickets be good enough. Or maybe I should advise her to stop wasting the space.

The tax tips say only that you need a diary, but it doesn't state the level of detail. This is when the auditor's discretion comes into play. If you don't prove your deduction, you can lose it or, worse, get fine for a fraudulent return.

Lotto tickets have dates, so those are easy. Scratchers do not have dates, so you need a purchase log for each. If you buy them and aren't careful to use only games that were running during the tax year, you might get caught. Revenue officers can be bright and some take pleasure from catching tax cheats. They will put the burden of proof on you.

$500 is about 6% of the value of the deduction ($34,000x25%) if audited and not caught cheating. The penalties if caught are large.

Professional gamblers keep daily logs showing (grossly underreported) net profits. Their buy ins are COGS, so they can net winnings over the entire year. Amateurs don't have this capability.

I recall a time when the maximum gambling loss allowed was $3000, and a high roller could win that and lose it in one hand/roll. Doesn't make any sense to keep a running tally. Still, one bad session could exhaust that deduction.

I have no idea when the offset became unlimited. No one was more surprised than I to read that.

Discussions of colonialism and similar #1-related topics usually fail to acknowledge a simple point: people are intensely tribal and hate hate hate being ruled, governed, administered, trusteeshipped, or whatever, by an outside people and will violently resist. Quality of governance really doesn't matter.

I'd say there's little doubt that most countries in the world would be better off if governed under English or US law, but maintaining stability there would require an unacceptable level of oppressive violence, which is why colonial powers have historically outsourced that violence to Saddam Hussein types.

To the contrary. Europe and United States are moving forward to prove tribalism is a social construct. Their people will embrace diversity as a strength and gladly submit to being rules by people not from their tribe. I suggest we round up the Davos Men and plop them down in South Sudan. They will have the place humming in no time.

Agreeing on common consumer product safety regulations is one thing. But look at the German-Greek enmity that's erupted in the wake of Germany insisting on substantive reforms as a condition of bailout money. They actually wanted Greece to fire some government employees. Imagine the horror!

I am aware you're being sarcastic, for the record, but I do think that even the non-sarcastic version of what you're saying has some merit.

If people hate being ruled by outside people, they are in trouble. Because Nigeria alone has almost 200 different ethnic groups. India is even worse.

It is the fate of all mankind (with very few, mainly first world, exceptions) to be ruled by others.

And no, they don't care. They don't care one bit. Intellectuals, especially those educated in the West, care. But ordinary people? No. Which is why you can find a lot of people across the Third World wishing the British were back. And why British rule was so cheap and light in terms of military occupation. The Soviet Union taught those intellectuals how to create temporary feelings of anger and violence. Which is why you are right - the violence now has to be outsourced. But it doesn't last.

"It is the fate of all mankind (with very few, mainly first world, exceptions) to be ruled by others."

Not if you break things up and decentralize. I'm happy to engage in the political process with others in my county, not so happy being ruled by New York and LA. This is what the American Revolution was fought over, if you'll recall.

(As to your exception, for the past 8 years White Americans have been ruled by a government that they voted 60% against.)

+1 Well said.

5. Now we know how economic understanding can progress. We quit using data from before 2000. Imagine all the new ideas that can be generated!

Russell Jacoby is right about one thing: the LRB is more faddish than the NYRB.

But the NYRB will endeavour to catch up, I predict with some sadness.

#2: And remember, you don't have to be literate to enjoy the New York Review of Books. Just look at the amusing caricatures of Gore Vidal and Susan Sontag.

#1: Even if you believe South Sudan is incapable of self-governance, why should it be the West who controls it? Why not China, for example, which is actively investing in South Africa and which does not have a history of colonizing and enslaving Africans?

I suspect (although don't have any data) that many of the people who instinctively supported Western trusteeship would balk at that idea.

"[China] does not have a history of colonizing and enslaving Africans."

"The Javans sent 30,000 black slaves as tribute to the Ming Dynasty in 1381"

And for that matter if the criteria for governing South Sudan is a historical legacy of being free of African slaves, than certainly self-governance should be ruled out. After all Africans utilized an order of magnitude more African slaves than Westerners ever did. Not to mention they were the very ones that did the actual enslaving, whereas Europeans just bought them at the ports.

But hey let's continue a cartoon understanding of history where white people were the only ones who ever did anything bad. While all the people of color lived idyllic, peaceful lives until the evil Europeans came along. How many millions of third world peasants have to get hacked up by machetes so that ivory tower progressives can feel smug subtly implying how any actually constructive plan is subtly racist?

630 years ago, the Chinese were given a gift of slaves, whereas Europe had colonies in Africa in living memory. And obviously people of all races have had slaves. But in the 20th century, almost all of Africa was colonized by a Western nation. That matters, and most black Africans don't want another Western country to administer over them.

And they're doing a bang-up job.

How do you know what most Africans want? I would think that there would be substantial groups in every former British African colony that would want the British back. Certainly there is in Zimbabwe. I would expect South Sudan is not much different.

And why do you think Africans give a sh!t about slavery? There was, and in, precisely no interest in Saudi Arabia which only freed its African slaves in 1965. There is less than that in Mauritania which 1. keeps abolishing slavery and 2. clearly has not. If Africans gave the slight little bit of a damn about slavery the AU and the UN would have dozens of condemnations of Mauritania and Sudan for slavery.

I challenge you to find one.

Your obsessions are not necessarily theirs.

In which cartoon is Java in Africa?

Just what a corrupt post-colonial dictatorship needs - a corrupt communist dicatorship puppetmaster.

Considering that the black homicide rate is much lower in NY than in any other northern state I am shocked at how much opposition their is for the policy among the black "leaders" I see on TV.

Stop and frisk and the broken windows theory may not be the cause but I would be afraid to push a change to hard too fast.

Comments for this post are closed