Assorted links


Fortunately the Koch brothers stuck with the Mercatus Center even after they failed with the Tea Party, isn't it?

"failed with the Tea Party"

Did I miss that the government stopped sucking?

Apparently you missed the 2012 elections.

The IRS was certainly aware of them.

When did their targeting of tea party groups kick in?

At the same time or after the targeting of liberal and progressive groups began. Original IRS documents here:

Yet conservative groups were actually looked at in depth at a 100-1 ratio.

Was that the one rand Paul became one percent of the senate? I don't follow politics.

Jan, this is your opportunity to reel off the names of liberal groups were repeatedly audited and had their non-profit designations delayed.

This will be interesting.

Michael, Michael. Do you know that when you say Koch brothers, all you are doing is advertising your stupidity? You have a point of view, maybe some insight on some things. Stop demeaning yourself by parroting stupid political spin.

Pointing out the facts of who is bankrolling Tyler is "stupid political spin"? Seriously?

George Mason? Government? Other things we call funding sources?

The new York times editorial board? Textbook publishers? Ad sense? Amazon? Whew! Conde nast? Financial times? Speaking fees? Whew? Houghton mifflin? Random house? Whew! Harvard press,

As someone who's written and published a textbook, I can assure you that almost no one writes those textbooks for the revenue (and the less cutting edge they are, the more money they make; you don't get rich using a book that's read in 400-level seminars).

The Kochs are Cowen's bread and butter; all of those sources of income you mentioned are the jam.

It is called funding.

You might have taken a wrong turn if you thought you were somewhere people think government funding is perfect or even preferable.

You guys never make your actual claims. Do you think they tell him what to say? Wrong. You think they are trying to raise his status or he is to raise theirs? Or maybe they just see eye to eye on some things. Like how Soros agrees with the established people he provides funding to. Like whoever us funding Krugman his inequality fad title.

My point, andrew', is that Tyler doesn't and can't have the lack of bias that a tenured endowed chair would have in a university funded through a more conventional method. Academic freedom and the distance between funding sources, tenure decisions, and so on are very important. These distances exist in public and private institutions, but not in the Mercatus Center.

You obviously know very little about university administration or about how Cowen's think tank works, and I see little value in trying to explain it to you. Go do your own research.

ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem

"can’t have the lack of bias that a tenured endowed chair would have in a university funded through a more conventional method"

Quite possibly the biggest howler I have ever heard.

“can’t have the lack of bias that a tenured endowed chair would have in a university funded through a more conventional method”

Yeah, that was hilarious. Tell us another one!

So what policy does Tyler support that you disagree with? Gay marriage? Are you opposed to that, because I think Tyler supports it.

Everyone here comes with priors of some kind. How about addressing the argument instead?

In my experience I have run into a number of well educated idiots, and what characterized them was their desire to put everything into a nice tidy little slot. It was elegant and wonderful, except they were wrong and did damage when they were wrong. I asked one of them what he would do when he figured out he was wrong. He didn't like that, I suppose he didn't know, he wasn't smart enough.

I think you are smarter than that.

It isn't a policy disagreement, which is a one-dimensional and simplistic way to look at the matter. The issue is that Cowen cannot possibly have true objectivity, because he doesn't have real academic freedom. He is literally paid to not understand certain things.

I still don't know why you insist on someone being non human. Everyone has priors. Everyone has blind spots, no one is objective. Freedom of association implies that we will associate with people freely.

If you have a point, make it. Where do you disagree with Tyler and why? Do you disagree with his stance on global warming? On gay marriage or gay rights? On immigration? On minimum wage? Inequality? How about stimulus or QE? Or the Euro and the future of Europe? What about his ideas on stagnation. He has written extensively and thought quite a bit about it. What about food?

I can't quite figure out why it is necessary to create imaginary boogeymen when there are very real problems that need figuring out. None of the issues I mentioned are simple binary problems. In fact I would suggest that those of the more libertarian bent by definition believe that there isn't a solution, only a structure where experimentation with quick feedback loops or a structure where different ideas can be pursued without constraints. Free markets and individual liberty.

As for being paid not to understand things, great. A pretty good gig if you ask me. I don't understand lots of things and no one is paying me. My contribution to the universal lack of understanding is a free gift to posterity.

derek, worse than not getting paid for that comment, your going to experience a theft of that little nugget of intellectual property, by me. I am actively stealing it for use elsewhere, against stupider people than myself, and a few clever ones, who are nonetheless less clever than you. Unfortunately for you, there is no readily available easy to use method for you to extract any monetary value from me, although it would be an interesting experiment to discover how much that nugget was worth to me. Of the hat I would give 20-50 cents for it. Otherwise, you can rest assured it will be put to good use. I already have an brother-in-law in mind that i'm waiting to unleash it upon at the next family function.

Oh by the Way.. THANKS!

P.S. Derek,

I will ascribe it to you... although derek who? the inevitable question, will be met with vague references to a commenter at MR.

Of course. Everybody already knows and it doesn't mean what your objective in repeating it insinuates.

Not sure how long you've read this blog, but everyone knows who bankrolls Tyler. prior_approval has already told us this 1.7 billion times. Actually I'm not sure where PA is ...

Wait ... prior_approval, is your first name Michael? The Clark Kent/Superman revelation ...

Seriously. The moment someone barks "Koch brothers" you've been signaled that logic has left the building.

Koch Brothers Derangement Syndrome

But your link is almost completely irrelevant to the discussion. OpenSecrets is a great data source and, along with that greatness, comes refreshing transparency about the limitations of their data. From the description at the very top of the link you provide:

"For example, this list does not include casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. He and his wife Miriam donated nearly $93 million in 2012 alone to conservative super PACs — enough to put him at No. 2 on this list. Similarly, the list excludes former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has donated more than $19 million in the past two years, largely to groups that support gun control. Neither Adelson nor Bloomberg — or the organizations they report as their employers — qualifies as a "heavy hitter" under our current definition. It's also important to note that we aren't including donations to politically active dark money groups, like Americans for Prosperity, a group linked to the Koch brothers, or the liberal group Patriot Majority — because these groups hide their donors; see a list of top donors that we've been able to identify to such groups."

Long before the Kochs were noticed by the mainstream media, they were already well-known among informed people for funding a network of ostensibly non-partisan think tanks and advocacy groups through a combination of individual contributions, funding through their various family foundations, and contributions through Koch Industries. Some of these contributions are in turn doled out to smaller organizations. That they exercise considerable influence on the libertarian right isn't really open to serious dispute.

Yup. Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom, from 1960, was underwritten by the Kochs, I'm pretty sure.

Brian, check your reading comprehension. Herbert Spencer, Albert Jay Nock, Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises and others had already been advocating libertarian ideas by 1960 -- something nobody has disputed.

Charles Koch helped found the Cato Institute and served on the board in 1974 according to Wikipedia and was 39 years old at the time so he does indeed have a long history of financial support and control over libertarian think tanks.

5. My experience with ag extension says that farmers are right to be worried. The lock in issue in particular, the data collection is far from transparent. There are some real pricing issues as well.

I have been suspecting for a long time that big data consulting simply offers a low return on investment for most industries. The consultants are quite expensive and the upside is rarely obivous. The only guys ready to shell out the big bucks for big data appear to be the banks.

I worked in Big Data way back in the 1980s for the first marketing research company to exploit supermarket scanner data. Much of the recent talk about Big Data Changing Everything strikes me as overblown.

@#5 - US farmers, despite being automated, actually have *lower* yields for some crops (specifically wheat) that are farmed by more labor intensive ways in China. Source: Joe Studwell "How Asia Works". If true, then indeed Big Data can help US farmers and there is more to learn. The farmers are Luddites.

Us wheat farmers have higher yields per amount of rainfall than any on earth, it is just a significant amount of US wheat land is incredibly marginal. Areas such as the wheatland districts of Montana and Wyoming have terrible yields per acre, but mechanization and the huge size of farms there make them profitable. The highest wheat yields on Earth are in the Palouse and Walla Walla of Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

It is not intensity of cultivation that it is the limiting factor but water availability, since the vast majority of wheat is dry farmed.

@Roy, thanks, that clarifies what was puzzling in Studwell's book, which is biased towards a thesis that government sponsored autarky is good (though it is an interesting read). I was wondering why Studwell would make such a statement, but in view of your comments he must be comparing apples and oranges. Still, as the article linked by TC says, there is room for improvement even in the mechanized US farming sector.

3. I saw the Tea Party as just a new variation on the reactionary movement that elected Bill Clinton in 1992 - Clinton didn't win, but simply lost less than Bush and Perot.

And having grown up when tax rates were much much higher, I find the entire message of the Perot and Tea Party movement to really be:

"When will the tax cuts make me rich and pay for themselves and pay off the Federal debt?!?"

Since 1980, conservatives have been offering free lunch political economics.

Eliminate or cut the gas taxes and the free market will invest the money in your pocket more wisely than government in google roads that are high speed and free because they are paid for by ads.

When highways are turned over to the private sector, no US corporations are stupid enough to seek the contracts so the concession go to the Spanish and Aussie capitalists. Wall Street is happy to handle the deals, but not to invest, because after all, a toll road is not going to have capital gains - how can an asset that can be replicated increase in price above a competitor. Plus, customers will go out of their way to not pay tolls, something the New England "liberals" learned by 1830.

And the other effect of the lower tax rates is that building a factory or hiring workers now takes a 100% cut out of profits - when you have dodged all taxes, hiring a worker or building a factory means you have no reduction in taxes from paying wages and benefits, or from the depreciation of the capital assets. The result is that businesses now demand government pay the corporations to hire or build factories.

This is most common in the Red States and it is the conservatives who call for paying corporations to hire workers.

Hey, tax cuts were supposed to create jobs because the profits not taxed will be used to hire workers. Tax cuts were supposed to create more investment in capital assets because profits will now be available to pay the depreciation on new assets.

Taxes have been cut, but the free lunches that were supposed to follow never appeared.

That's why the screams of Obama's crushing taxes imbedded in the stimulus which was heavily tax cuts led to the Tea Party when the Federal tax burden was 25% lower than in the 90s at 15% of GDP. Lower than the 18% when Reagan was president.

Of course, contrary to the myth created by conservatives, Reagan got the economy going by tax and spend at the peak of unemployment, when he hiked the gas tax 125% to more than double the number of people doing construction.

Screams are on taxation of the rich, with marginal rates over 50% in several populous states.

Taxation on the poor and middle earners remains low since the Bush cuts.

Effective tax rates are about the same on anyone below the top 1%.

The Laffer Curve is a mathematical identity. No, most of us don't want the government to get more revenue even if they did so by cutting taxes.

You know, there also might have been one or two other variables in addition to unrealized marginal tax incidences over the last 3, oh, HALF the planet adopting capitalism.

The Laffer Curve is a mathematical identity.

How is that?

It isn't. It relies on the assumption that slaves are less productive than Swedes. After you make that assumption, you have your identity.

Unless you believe that money in the hands of the person who earned it has absolutely no or negative societal utility, the optimal tax rate is less than the revenue-maximizing tax rate.

Of course, the liberal half of the congregation believes exactly that, that when a wealthy person gets to keep some money that's a bug, not a feature -- perhaps an unavoidable problem because if you don't let them keep some of their earnings they won't earn, but a bug nonetheless.


I've now read so many pages reviewing Picketty that I'm having an awful time getting the interest to finish the book. Should I have read the book first? Usually reading reviews doesn't influence my own reading of a book. I know this isn't a major topic, but someone might free me from my obsession with finishing this book.

The reviews are one of two types:
(a) what a scholar is Thomas! and how timely is this topic! *applause*

(b) *yawn* this has been said before, and in any case it's different in the US, so wh...zzz

Complete with a Dave Weigel (!) quote complaing the tea party is hard to define because the media does a piss poor job of defining it.

No wonder so many people get things bass ackwards.

Of course they are anti-establishment and the establishment wants to co-opt them. Why is this hard?

"Perhaps it’s time to discourage the use of “tea party.” Or, at the very least, not to capitalize it as The New York Times and some other media organizations do. "

Whoa there bucko. We don't do that until the man upstairs, Ezra, says it's okay.

"The Tea Party Caucus no longer exists in a substantive way in the House. A group that called itself the Senate Tea Party Caucus did hold a meeting at some point last summer. The attendees included McConnell and McCain — those establishment stalwarts — who are therefore now listed as former members of the Tea Party Caucus at Wikipedia."

what must the people who gave $ to these tea party-named organizations must be thinking now?

Is this a serious question?

Re #2 - Greg Mankiw, early on, made the same point as Ray in a simple post of two or three sentences.

And here's the real Ray on Debraj, who says: "It is the assumption [in Piketty's r > g law] that capital income owners save a higher fraction of their income! " - but this is supported by the empirical data: indeed the rich ('capital income owners') do indeed save more than the poor. That's one reason some support Keynesian economics, which attempts to use the money illusion to get the poor to spend again, since the rich are hoarding money and not spending it. Indeed, Ray Debraj ends up supporting Piketty later, and admits the same, and ends up in total agreement with Piketty: D. Ray: "In other words, is there a long-run, secular trend to inequality? I believe that there will be, for a few important reasons. " What a waste of time reading this guy...

#3: Nate is interesting when he discusses sports or poling, but he shows his lack of reading when he wanders into other areas. His ideological blinkers are his biggest obstacle when it comes to these sorts of topics. The Tea Party was nothing like the Left imagined. They need bogeymen so they tend to put human faces on social trends. I guess it makes it easier to aim the jackboot. Still, the Tea Party was a ham handed way to monetize a well described trend in American political culture.

Sam Francis described the modern incarnation back in the early 1980's in an essay called Message from MARs. The "MARs" being Middle American Radicals. The idea that an anchor within Western nations exists that yanks the ruling class back from whatever fads are current goes back a long way.

Anyway, here is the essay from Sam Francis:

Silver's analysis of the Tea Party here seems spot on. He is basically saying the Tea Party is ill defined, with unclear boundaries between them and other Republicans. What is wrong with that?

In fairness, the "crazy TP candidates" that liberals mostly talked about (in the name of aiming jackboots and all) were the ones who explicitly identified themselves as part of the movement.

It only took him six years to add a question to his snipes.

Where would we be without these geniuses?

He could have just asked me. Someone who just observes.

Or you know, better yet, someone actually knowledgeable.

"Occupy is still an enigma. Are they actual activists or being co-opted by the establishment left?"

See now?

"Still, the Tea Party was a ham handed way to monetize a well described trend in American political culture."

How does this represent a substantive disagreement from anything Nate Silver said? The trend in American political culture you describe was documented much earlier by Richard Hofstadter in "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" and "Anti-Intellectualism in American Life."

Did Nate silver say anything?

His title is something and his graph shows the opposite and a bunch of handwaving in between.

If it has to be explained, you'll never understand it.

It's somewhat remarkable for me to hear - several times now - a Canadian or Brit here in asia describe a person or idea as Tea Party when they clearly haven the faintest clue of the TP.

These ad hominems - like Kochs - emerge and spread through the ideology web like vibrations from a trapped flys wings.

But with the difference that no one has ever seen a fly.

HEAPS of curiosity about the Koch Bros in the this thread


Oh wow. I had not realized things have trouble. They even don't spend Christmas! That is so interesting!!
Is NPR aware of this juicy scoop?

The problem with golf is that the ball goes so far that it takes up too much acreage. A modern course designed for where the typical player can hit the ball about 250 yards on a good swing uses about 200 acres. If the ball only went 125 yards, only 50 acres would be needed. But, nobody wants to downsize to a dud ball that only goes 125 yards.

Then they wouldn't be able to rent golf carts.

Lots of other problems with golf Steve. Firstly it is really intimidating for newcomers, there are lots of rules, customs and ways of doing things that are a real turn off to any one who might be casually interested in golf, people are afraid of embarrassing themselves. Secondly it is really expensive to test out if you like golf, the learning curve is steep to get halfway decent, just to get on a course as a non-member is expensive, even public courses are expensive for a single round. Thirdly, playing golf as a newcomer is really humiliating, you can spend half the round duffing the ball or slicing. Next you need at least four people to synchronize their schedules for half a day to go for golf, who has such an easy schedule now that they can do that? The final trend that is killing golf is the puritanism in business about corporate entertainment, which is also being fostered by tax audits and anti-bribery legislation in Europe. Golf is also not school friendly, can you imagine a public school organizing golf lessons, like they do soccer or baseball?
Of course the snobbery factor remains, I notice that people are still impressed when I mention I played golf at the weekend. So that will keep the sport alive for now, but that market is fairly small given the other headwinds.

It strikes me that none of this true. Twenty years ago I learned to play golf from a co-worker who was a former pro. He knew someone at the Bear Creek Country Club and got us on during the day. I rented clubs and he patiently taught me the game. I probably spent $200 counting club rental, beer and lost balls. But, I was capable of playing on a weekend with other hacks after six hours of training.

I went down to K-Mart and spent $100 on a set of clubs and started playing with friends on public course. $25 was typical, but some were a little more. Still, it was a cheap three hours, not counting the beer. As hobbies go, you don't get much cheaper. By the time I got tired of it, I was breaking 90 on most days. Most of the people I saw on the links were working class slobs like me so snobbery was not an issue.

Frankly, your post reads like it was written by someone who has never picked up a club.


The best thing about golf is that beginners can play with pros and it still works pretty well. Try that in tennis or soccer or even running.

It is true that it's hard to be good at golf, relative to other mainstream sports. The same amount of effort makes you look better in sports that don't require the degree of athleticism golf does.

The mere fact that there are 1000 middle aged men playing golf for every one adult male playing soccer or basketball or softball tells me it is very accessible. As the Boomers age off, the golf industry is suffering, but that's demographics. That's why tennis was popular in the 70's and 80's and then disappeared. The Boomers got too old to play and switched to golf.

I agree. As you point out, another great thing about golf is that you can still play when you're older. The format is extremely forgiving. I'm a middling player and in the past year, for example, I've played comfortably with an eight-year-old and with a guy who could have been a tournament pro. I do think there's an economic and speed-of-play rationale for more modest length courses.

My second paragraph above just meant that it's hard to be a scratch golfer relative to other mainstream sports accomplishments.

And your post, Z, reads like someone who hasn't heard of inflation and how it might affect the costs of golf over 20 years.

@Z - hey I do play golf (badly) most weekends. And I didn't mean that golf is a bad game for people to try, once they get over that initial hump. I was trying to explain the relative decline in golf clubs in the reference article. I don't think it is simply because of the end of the baby boomers - the thing to remember is this is a relative thing - the absolute numbers of 30 to 50 year olds in the US is the highest ever. Of course the ethnic mix of this cohort is changing, there are many more minorities than in the past. And these are the people that golf must find a way to attract to the game otherwise the decline will continue.

@Finch - I agree you can play golf with elite players once you have gathered a couple of years of experience. Try it on your second day out and you will look pretty silly. Soccer or running, maybe you can't play with the elites but you can have a game of soccer once a year (if you stay reasonably fit) and not embarrass yourself. Running is even easier, you can do that on your own. Thi s link mentions the most populur sports for people in the 25 to 44 range, it is things like hiking, biking, working out with weights, fitness classes and basketball. The thing that these have in common is that they are realy easy to start, no significant investment in time or money and even a real novice can feel like they are doing ok. Note the national golf foundation was a member of the council but I don't see golf mentioned at all.

I misunderstood your post. Private clubs are certainly struggling. Even around the Imperial Capital local clubs are struggling to maintain memberships. Outside of a few places for the royal class, all of them have been lowering rates and conjuring gimmicks to attract new members.

One issue that's a little complicated is that the major improvement in clubs in recent years comes with the big toaster-sized drivers, which are a blast to whale on the ball with. So, everybody wants to hit driver off the tee instead of a four-iron, but that means you need a course that's both long and has wide fairways. Add in environmental zones that can't be bulldozed and the average acreage per ideal course has gone up considerably. But there are a lot of existing courses that are too short or, especially, too narrow for today's flog-it-and-find-it playing style. Some of those courses can be improved by chopping trees down, but the ones with condos on the side of the fairway aren't really updateable.

#2 I have thought from the start of debate that Piketty was saying the savers will become rich and come to dominate the economy in the long run.

Now I could see a down side to this if I look hard enough, that would be that rich savers tend to be smart and productive people when they work but that if their savings are large enough they may forgo employment denying the rest of use of some production.

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