Assorted links

1. Explaining how the Mini-Med plans are possible under ACA.

2 The absence of net neutrality in some developing economies.

3. Rizwan Muazzam Qawwali (video, intense).

4. Volokh Conspiracy will join The Washington Post.  And a few articles on Ezra Klein and all that stuff, here and here and here and Krugman here.

5. What is on the horizon for ACA?  Read especially the second part of the post on potential crises to come.

6. Dube on the minimum wage and poverty.

7. Good update on North Carolina and unemployment insurance, good graphs too.


#4 While I'm thrilled that the VC bloggers will get more exposure, some of my most valuable moments as a non-lawyer on the VC website came from watching the well-informed lawyer-commenters interact with the bloggers and each other. I fear that that will be lost now that they've gone mainstream [hipster alert].

I used to enjoy the VC, but (about six?) months ago I decided it had become tedious. Rather like, but presumably for different reasons, the arts section in the Saturday FT becoming so dull that I cancelled the paper.

Hopefully it wasn't because of Stewart Baker, and his fairly pathetic attempts to defend the American surveillance state throught his 'Privy' awards.

Don't think of it as going merely mainstream - think of the glory for another arm of GMU to achieve broad respectability. Not only did Prof. Cowen become a columnist at the NYT, now the Conspiracy has become part of Bezos's premier newa property.

What, you weren't aware of just how important GMU is to the Federalist Society, and just how common both of their funding sources are?

Even John Derbyshire found another outlet for his work in record time (whatever you think of its quality). Surely so would VC's contributors, if the Volokhs were so hellbent on being invited to the right parties that they'd allow Bezos to purge anybody who looked like they were on to his pals in the Stonecutters?

Maybe, just maybe, someone convinced Bezos that VC's work and brand were in enough demand to make giving VC a good home a good investment.

Unpossible! Anyone who succeeds and is slightly libertarian is part of a grand Koch conspiracy. Prior has proven this on a number of occasions with such techniques as prior declaring it to be so, and prior snarking at TC, and prior frothing at the keyboard about GMU/TC/MRU and everything related to it. With such iron clad facts and arguments at his disposal, who are you to argue that there could be something else at work here?

The world of political sponsoring is much bigger and older than the Kochs - why people here remain so fixed on them is beyond me, considering how the Federalist Society is a Republican creation in the main, not a libertarian one (assuming one can make such a distinction in terms of how the money is handed out).

And yet, it is interesting to keep looking at how things actually are -

'The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation (LHBF), formerly known as Allen-Bradley Foundation, was established in 1942, describing itself as "a private, independent grantmaking organization based in Milwaukee."[1]. According to the foundation's 1998 Annual Report and a 2011 report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation gives away more than $30 million per year.[2][3] In November 2013, One Wisconsin Now and the Center for Media and Democracy reported that the Bradley Foundation had given over $500 million to conservative "public-policy experiments" since 2000.[4]

Harry Bradley was one of the original charter members of the far right-wing John Birch Society, along with another Birch Society board member, Fred Koch, the father of Koch Industries' billionaire brothers and owners, Charles and David Koch.[5]

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “from 2001 to 2009, it [Bradley] doled out nearly as much money as the seven Koch and Scaife foundations combined.'

Fixating on the Kochs is a good way to miss out on what is really going on, and to be unaware of how long.

"The world of political sponsoring is much bigger and older than the Kochs – why people here remain so fixed on them is beyond me,"

Is this some kind of performance art? A form of satire that is lost on me? *You're* the one who is constantly frothing about the Koch 'connection'. *You're* the one who is so obviously fixated, is this latest post an indication that you have finally become aware that donations happen all the time and across the political spectrum, or just a prelude to more GMU/Koch/TC blather?

No, mofo, it's plain old trolling. And you have to tip your cap, p_a is one of the best I've ever seen.

The Bloomberg article, particularly second half, is excellent.
ACA has been 90% politics so far, because it really doesn't strongly affect that many people. It's when and if it hits the chunk of the population on previously little affected programs that it will become real for most people.

Obamacare affects 100% of US citizens by trying to mandate the status quo for 80% of them.

Megan is arguing that the 80% population status quo mandate can't possibly work because medical costs can not be controlled other than by death panels which decide who dies based on people being worthless.

Employer health benefits is according to Megan unsustainable.
Individual insurance is unsustainable.
Medicaid is unsustainable.
Medicare cost increases are unsustainable.
Forcing people on Medicare into private insurance can't be done without making its costs even more unsustainable.

Megan is arguing that 100% of the US health care is unsustainable because trying to include the last 5% or 10% or 20% into the existing US healthcare status quo can't be done.

If I were an advocate of the PHP plan, which I'm not, I would use Megan's argument to argue that PHP is the only solution - the status quo can't possible be the solution so radical change with takes away everyone's current health care status quo is the only option, and that Obama was wrong to try to preserve the status quo disaster of failed patchwork system.

She may argue on those points somewhere, but I see none of that in the referenced article.

What I find of great interest is her timeline of upcoming changes, which are very specific and seem hard to dispute.

mulp, you apparently read another article than the one Tyler linked to.

Megan did not argue that in the article, but the US healthcare system was unsustainable before Obamacare - the ACA makes it worse. I'm not sure what you mean by PHP plan. There are a number of solutions from a savings-based payment to approach to very strong supply-side controls which could make the system sustainable.

I'm not sure what the net neutrality debate has to do with economies where there is barely a net. The article has nothing to do with net neutrality.


tl;dr : the FCC could reclassify ISPs as utilities instead of information providers.

Exactly. If someone's giving me free content and free access to that content, I wouldn't have any right to complain. However, I am - and many people like me are - paying $160+ per month for internet (+ crappy cable and unused VoIP, bundling be damned).

Are you "Why don't you have a seat over there" Chris Hansen?

You're paying over $160 a month for internet? Wow! You sincerely have my sympathy, that stinks.

Yep. I pay about the same. The USA really lags the developed world when it comes to broadband coverage...

No, he's paying $160 per month for a Cable/phone/Internet access bundle. I pay $50 per month by not paying for the crap and specifically requesting the cheapest internet access plan.

For that matter you can get high speed satellite internet over all the continental US for around $40 per month:

Thanks - that's an interesting alternative. I wonder if the coverage is ever spotty.

In my bundle, I don't need the VoIP, but the basic cable - crappy as it is - gives me more (crappy) options than an HD antenna. One of these days I'll just bite the bullet and install one and go with just the internet. Then again, with this net neutrality junk, if you're relying on your internet connection for entertainment - movies, TV, other web-based streaming content - consumer-borne costs might start skyrocketing in the near-term future.

If you want cable and internet access together, you'd be better off looking at DishNet which now bundles them both together. There are three significant drawbacks, first the monthly data cap is 10GB for the cheapest plan, and second, latency is high, which will limit some types of online gaming and thirdly you will lose coverage for brief periods of time during heavy rain.

$60 a month for decent internet and basic cable + a limited sports package (no ESPN, but NFL and NHL network) with RCN in Greater Boston. Pretty bad customer service, but that was true of Comcast as well.

It has *something* to do with net neutrality. The people involved are clearly getting a non neutral Internet. Now, you say that is better than unaffordable Internet in a poor country, and I agree.

So are you saying that if you got a free (say like old Netzero) Internet connection, but it had better speeds to "sponsored services" that were paying the bills to the ISP, and even blocked competitors, you'd take it? Or that at the least, such things should be legal for people who want that? Because they'd be banned by strict "Net neutrality," if instead of a pure walled garden you could access some Internet sites but not others.

I think it's a very relevant question for net neutrality. People who think that it doesn't apply at all are conceding that they're not purists on Net neutrality.

I'm certainly no net neutrality purist. I see the concept narrowly as trying to protect consumers from monopoly rents. An advanced economy should be able to provide the equivalent of net neutrality through some combination of the market and (if necessary) regulation. It's a difficult issue because imposing a net neutrality standard on each carrier separately means less capital expenditure on infrastructure. On the other hand, the vast majority of Americas have few choices with the fastest carriers (cable) being the most hurt by net competitors. I have 3 choices where I live; 1.5mb DSL, 15mb cable and 10-15ish mb 4G. The DSL and Cable are pretty cheap (I pay 55 bucks a month for a service that hits 15mb maybe half the time and averages about 6). The 4G is prohibitively expensive.

You need to debundle and use a cablecard.

#2 How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? It seems we're talking very weak correlations & statistical significance. Adjusting for concomitant factors such as booms and recessions, raising the minimum wage will do little to make a dent in poverty.

The Lira continues its spiral into oblivion despite attempts to stabilize the currency / Disclosure: I'm short the lira

ANALYST: Here's The Chart That Should Worry The World's Elites In Davos:

The deficit hawks have a really poor track record at predicting hyperinflation to the extent they should simply be ignored.

Here is the newest update of the list of MR posters who care about your portfolio:

Always funny.

I'll probably keep at it as long as he does.

#5: I can't help but admire how the Right keeps hope alive, despite losing every battle for a hundred years running. I probably should not say the "Right" as libertarians keep the dream alive as well. ObamaCare will never be repealed or even significantly curtailed. Every year it will tangle itself more tightly into the lives of the citizens. It should be renamed AnacondaCare. The Democrats, out of spite and ideological fervor will fight any changes to the last man. The Republicans are too afraid of the Left to do anything other than symbolic gestures.

ObamaCare will be with us until the money runs out.

The money's already run out.

Yes, ACA will never go away. It's one of its features, it is designed to be a parasite whose corpse will poison you if you kill it.

And the insurance companies wouldn't have it any other way.

No, they wouldn't.

Not quite getting this new defense of ACA -- "ACA, It's Good For The Insurance Companies!".

ObamaCare could literally result in a zombie apocalypse and the lunatics would either blame it on some bogeyman or claim it is an improvement over what would have happened if not for ObamaCare. We're dealing with religious fanatics. facts and reason are unimportant in matters of faith.

Well, on my part, that wasn't a defense. It was a straight out attack, illustrating a central reason why America's health care system is so expensive.

#7 What is the typical "story" that connects shorter unemployment benefits with people leaving the labor force? "My benefits run out" ---> "I stop looking for work" doesn't make sense to me.

I thought you had to be 'actively seeking work' (i.e. in the labor force) in order to collect unemployment benefits.

That implies that those who dropped out of LF after benefits run out were only seeking work to obtain the unemployment benefits, with no intention of actually getting back to work.

For at least some of them, sure. There is a cost to dropping out of the labor force while eligible for UI that disappears when the UI ends.

A related phenomenon is that some people look and look and look for work, without success, while collecting unemployment, and then, when UI ends, they quickly find jobs.

Thinking on it a bit more, what does it mean for someone whose UI has expired to be, or not be, in the labor force? Apart from collecting UI benefits, I'm not sure it has any meaning. It's not like "Damn, this guy was gonna offer me a job, but he found out I'm not in the labor force anymore."

I think it would be "My benefits are running out, I'm out of time to find my alternative and have to move to it now."

Folks who stop looking for work don't lay down and die. They go to plan B. That might be disability. That might be early retirement. That might be going to stay at home parent, moving back home. Selling your home and going to rentals so that you can live off one income instead of two. That sort of thing.

If you're on unemployment, it might give you some wiggle room, some space of time where you think you might be able to get back in the game.

Or Plan B could be, "I start looking for a job," so that's not really an answer to my question.

No, that's usually Plan A, believe it or not.

So for the folks for whom Plan A doesn't work, ending benefits earlier means going to Plan B earlier, which is dropping out of the work force earlier.

These are very likely the folks who would have dropped out of the work force eventually no matter what, right? Essentially, the unemployable in their market and in their situation?

E.g. the 55 year old with advance MS that had been kept on board at her job even though her productivity was way down. When she gets laid off in a downturn she's never going to find a new job, so she goes on the disability she would have "qualified" for five years earlier but that she's been avoiding. If she's got unemployment benefits, she might hold out looking for a job until they run out, hoping something might come up since she doesn't want to drop out and go on disability.

That sort of thing. Might not be an accurate answer, but I think it's a reasonable one.

QUOTE: "These are very likely the folks who would have dropped out of the work force eventually no matter what, right?"
---Then what is the justification for subsidizing them to stay in and look for work they will never get?

I didn't say it was justified. I was just answering your question of why some people would sincerely look for employment but then drop out of the labor force entirely when UI ends.

I agree it's not efficient. UI is in many ways just a shell game. That's not the fault of the people drawing it, though -- you play the game set in front of you.

I think for most people Plan B is "I start seriously considering jobs, that I've rejected previously". There are fast food places near me with "Now Hiring" signs on the door and (at least one) said they were looking for 40+ hour per week positions that started above minimum wage.

Current unemployment benefits: $275 per week
Minimum wage: $290 per week

Most people aren't going to work for 40 hours to make $15. However, when the minimum wage checks stop coming the calculation changes drastically.

I agree, but that should not induce people to leave the labor force.

Yes, that's very true for some.

But the question was why some folks would stop looking when UI runs out. Sure, there's lots that weren't really looking in the first place and there are many that will look more seriously or drop their standards. But I think there are also some that will stop looking for jobs only once they aren't being, essentially, paid so that they have the "luxury" of continuing to look for a job. Just that niche is what I was referring to.

6. Dube: "... The popular support for minimum wages is in part fueled by a desire to raise earnings of low and moderate income families more broadly..."

Actually, the "liberal" popular support for higher (minimum) wages is to increase consumption by the low and moderate income families.

Money is not the end, but the means.

I am baffled at how effectively economists have disconnected consumption from labor.

Conservatives now treat consumption as an economic activity with no relationship to labor. Consumers are not laborers in any of their economic theories or models, but merely agents who materialize when the supply exists.

In this model, government and labor are burdens restricting supply and that by eliminating government and all labor, production would soar along with profits, and consumption would explode to consume 110% of production, generating capital gains.

I have yet to see any conservative or libertarian argue that labor, people, individuals MUST consume a minimum amount, unless they are "creatively destroyed" or "uncreatively" destroyed. People like machines have minimal costs. If a machine is not worth more than its costs, it is dismembered and sold off. If you don't either make sure that the minimal costs are covered for every individual by either aid or by employment, then you are calling implicitly for their destruction.

We do not live in Locke's time when he saw the "common" to be so vast that anyone without means could simply go into the vast American common to hunt and gather a living, or could carve out a free chunk of the common for his own by his improvement to the land. That idyllic past with "no government welfare" depended on "free land" for the taking. Where is the "free land for the taking today" for the unemployed?

Actually, the “liberal” popular support for higher (minimum) wages is to increase consumption by the low and moderate income families.

Money is not the end, but the means.

Hear, hear. Totally agree that money is not the end, but the means. However, I've seen a surprising amount of "liberal" popular support for the idea that the EITC is really corporate welfare, and it allows corporations to employ people at lower wages, and that's why they support the minimum wage increase. (Doesn't that imply that the subsidies for the health exchanges, especially with the employer mandate suspended, would be corporate welfare as well?)

I don't think that any of the facts justify that assertion, even though it could be plausible under certain (highly unrealistic in most situations, but perhaps true in a monopsony company town where people can't move away) assumptions.

And yet when the discussion turns to inequality liberal focus is almost always on income rather than on consumption.

I'd like to see one extra graph in the North Carolina and unemployment article, the number of people with jobs (or similar employment percentage), even though it can be calculated by backing out the change in the workforce from the unemployment statistics.

I think under any theory the change in unemployment is going to be some from column A, some from column B.

They do say that jobs have grown about 22,000 in NC between June and November to 4.3 million, a 0.5% increase, which is in the same ballpark as the nation as a whole. So...inconclusive?

#7) It's a shame that when articles are written about things like EUI they have to be filled with so many presumptions and loaded words.

Since the end of 2010, the continued rise in "People Not in Labor Force" has been totally unrelated to "Want a Job Now" or "Discouraged" categories. In fact, the "Want a Job Now" category has recently plummeted.

Comments like this: "In part, that is because more jobless workers are connecting with work. But an even greater number of workers have simply given up on finding a job." are careless. This is a product of the author's personal narrative, not the data, and this is an article, presumably, that is trying to start with the data. I suspect the author would tend to be less sloppy with her presumptions on topics where the sloppiness didn't serve as a public display of concern. I don't fault the author. It's probably impossible to be a successful journalist without doing it, but it's too bad that it clouds the public discourse on this kind of topic.

Here's where the data can be found (in the A tables)

NC seems to have had one of highest take-up rates for private insurance through the ACA exchange:

Might there be a relationship between UI and ACA enrollment?

Ah Krugman is such a modest soul:

"Wonkblog has generally come off as liberal-leaning, but that’s just because the facts have a well-known liberal bias."

So, is does he actually believe that the universe has a liberal bias or is he just blatantly pandering to his audience?

There is only one belief that ever goes through the head of the Former Enron Adviser: "If I keep blatantly pandering, I keep getting large checks."

One of the core functions of liberalism is to make the liberal feel morally and intellectually superior to those around him. Things like 'facts' exist only to further that function.

He may actually believe that. I know a lot of smart people who apparently believe it. If you live in enough of an ideological bubble, have some belief in the existence of journalistic objectivity, and aren't big on questioning your own priors, it is the kind of belief that can last a lifetime.

"have some belief in the existence of journalistic objectivity"

No, even that wouldn't work. You've got to believe in the journalistic objectivity of journalists that agree with your biases, but ardently believe all the journalists that don't agree with your biases are stupid and/or lying.

Which I guess suggests the causal arrow going in the other direction: start by believing reality has a (my ideology) bias, find outlets expressing my ideology, consider them to be the standard for objective journalism, let the feedback loop continue.

The only antidote, then, might be a willingness to question the validity of one's own opinions. The tendency to do this likely lessens after winning a big fancy prize.

"The only antidote, then, might be a willingness to question the validity of one’s own opinions. The tendency to do this likely lessens after winning a big fancy prize."

I don't think you can blame the Nobel Prize for it, or even the column in the NYT. There are plenty of other Nobel Prize winners and columnists who are willing to consider the validity of their opinions.

And while there are plenty of people of all stripes who live in a bubble, seldom do you see it reach the level of posting comments such as: "but that’s just because the facts have a well-known liberal bias." in a column sure to be read by millions of people. Frankly that kind of statement reminds me of the infamous "Let them eat cake" quote. It speaks of a complete disconnect and contempt of most of society.

Net neutrality is a data carrier pricing issue. The article is about services like Facebook; not the same thing.

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