Wednesday assorted links


2. Daily Mail? Highly speculative?

Such self-awareness of what one is linking to is unexpected.

Well, to be fair, overly optimistic pieces on the rosy future an independent Scotlandia (you pronounce the "ia" just like in Catalonia) will have are also highly speculative, if not highly highly speculative.

The author of the piece, Alan Massie, is a distinguished historian, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a long time commentator on scottish public affairs. This is not your usual journalist writing about stuff based on a couple of google searches and a chat with a friend of a friend, like most of the Daily Mail pieces. Definitely worth reading for insight into the challenges that would result from a yes vote.

Allan Massie writes very well on the sport of Rugby Union weekly in another Unionist rag, The Scotsman. This article is fanciful but somewhat tongue in cheek.

Earlier in the week, The Sunday Herald (one of Scotland's 2 Sunday broadsheets) became the first newspaper to formally back independence. The editorial is here and is worth reading, especially given the almost universally negative links on the subject posted on MR thus far in the debate:

The Herald piece presents a view much more representative of what I have seen in England - amicable negotiations that set Scotland free to go its own way, some distance to the left of England+remaining N.Irish/Welsh influence. Massie's piece is unusual in actually considering the possibility that a post-independence England will no longer feel a responsibility for the joint welfare of both England and Scotland, and will grab what it can for itself. Because comparisons between England and Scotland after independence could also be seen as a judgement on right-leaning vs left-leaning governments, I believe that an English+ government will _not_ be particularly keen on an amicable division of anything. I wonder if was one of the things on Massie's mind.

I'm surprised that more reference is not made to the experience of Ireland, or at least the two thirds of Ireland that became independent. After 1922 the process of separation was fairly amicable, and there are both positive and negative implications for Scotland that can be drawn from the Irish experience.

I've always thought that the unionist argument was stronger, though not by much. Scotland has the popuation and geography to be a successful small country, similar to Denmark, Ireland, and New Zealand, and has a distinct history from England. But its very hard to make a case that they are treated unfairly within the union. The Scottish electorate is somewhat to the left of the English electorate, but by definition most regions within a polity will be off kilter from the median. There has been no problem with Scottish born and Scottish based politicians achieving high office within the UK, including three Scottish born Prime Ministers since World War II, two of which represented Scottish constiuencies.

The case with Quebec is anologous, though with Quebec there is a language issue that supports succession, and the natives have an interest in making sure that immigrants can speak French. The other parts of Canada would be more damaged by Quebec secession than the rest of the UK by the Scots leaving, and have made more accomodations to prevent it.

If Scotland does vote for independence, and the English don't want to pay ball, they can at least make sure that Scotland gets stuck with Northern Ireland.

#6 bifurcated inflation

4. Interesting summaries of the policy views of all Nobel winners. It's particularly interesting that Becker sees a binary world: socialism vs. markets (he acknowledges being a socialist when he entered college, but reformed his views - in large part due to the influence of Paul Samuelson, of all people). I suppose Becker's view is the slippery slope view, that any deviation from markets is a slippery slope to socialism. Here is a quote from a 2009 interview in the WSJ regarding the recession: "What I have always learned to be the Chicago view, and taught to be the Chicago view, is that free markets do a good job. They are
not perfect, but governments do a worse job. Again, in some cases we need government. It is not an anarchistic position. But in general governments do a worse job." I would point out that markets do a good job correcting excesses. Does that mean government should not intervene in the event of a financial crisis, instead allowing markets to do the job? Of course, if markets had been allowed to do the job in 2008-09, the value of capital would have plummeted, correcting the excesses but imposing lots of pain on the owners of capital. It was not to be, as those previously committed to markets and the Chicago view chose government intervention, saving the owners of capital from enormous losses (who suffered losses for sure, but nothing like the losses if markets had been allowed to correct the excesses) but in doing so preserving the inequality that markets are trying their best to correct but government won't allow. Becker was right about markets.

You're presuming an awful lot about the crisis. In an economy where the government has an enforced monopoly on currency production, it's questionable that the collapse of nominal values is a result of the market "doing the job".

Keep in mind that in their September 2008 meeting, when the Fed's own head trader told them that interest rate futures prices reflected a bimodal set of expectations - (1) interest rates would remain where they were or (2) catastrophic economic collapse, the FOMC based their policy decision mainly on inflation concerns.

3: "We demonstrate that if labor supply decisions are concentrated along the intensive margin and employment is efficiently rationed, a minimum wage rule can be socially beneficial by serving as a tagging device that targets benefits to the deserving poor, defined as low-skilled workers exhibiting a weak taste for leisure."

This same analysis could be applied to EUI. EUI solved an information asymmetry problem for employers by creating a signal for the "taste for leisure". Workers willing to seek sub-optimal employment in spite of the reduced incentive to do so were able to signal a bias for work to future potential employers, leaving long term EUI beneficiaries with a relative stigma. It's obviously a very imperfect signal, but the circumstances created a much better signal than had been available before.

Not to speak ill of a man just dead, but on reading the document about Becker, it appears that he was a Rockefeller Republican who would be happy to be a spokesman for the Petersen Institute for Privatization Social Security and Koch Brother's Forum for Pollution of the Atmosphere.

I'm sure this goes over well in the hive, but around normal people it sounds very crazy. I mean like throw a net over you crazy.

While we are compiling a list of shills for the Koch Bros, shouldn't we throw in J.S. Mill, David Hume and Lord Acton as well? Becker certainly seems to have mixed with that cast of shady characters . .

I imagine his policy position on climate change was a carbon tax like other mainstream economists

#6 - This makes me think about the relationship of inflation to inequality. Seems to me decades ago, when me were all more equal, inflation used to make TVs more expensive while simultaneously shrinking rich folks bank accounts. Perhaps inflation is the great equalizer?

@6. I think it would be more accurate to say government and government-regulated services expensive, everything else cheap. Child care, for example, has become increasingly costly as child care has become more heavily regulated:

I think it would be more accurate to say government and government-regulated services expensive, everything else cheap

I think it's: globalizable or internet-able => cheap; human-intensive ==> more expensive.

Lasik eye surgery, dental and breast implants are not 'globalizable' or 'internet-able' and yet prices for those procedures have all declined. It's amazing what can happen when you have a competitive market and customers spending their own money.

Just remember, if you go for one of these three procedures, you can only do the first two a little at a time. The third is done in pairs.

Why not simple a supply and demand explanation? They raise the college prices and the suckers keep coming like lemmings. Why not raise the prices more? It seems the customers see no alternatives to high prices.

I wonder why students do not hack the system by enrolling to a prestigious university in the US and then go a couple years to a prestigious university in Germany, Belgium or Switzerland. You only need 50% of the total credits to get a diploma at home, you save a lot of money, you learn a new language and get international experience. What a bargain!

I asked a butcher why lamb was so expensive when it's just the meat of a dorky sheep. He said, "We keep raising the prices but people still keep buying the lamb."

"deserving poor, defined as low-skilled workers exhibiting a weak taste for leisure"

I wonder how one measures a weak taste for leisure?

Revealed preference, given by how much less you work when your wage is decreased but consumption stays constant. But of course it is hard to measure it directly, which is why there is a value in policies which make people voluntarily reveal their type.

To me, the best thing about the link to the Becker profile was finding a single file of ALL 71 of the the profiles that I could download now, and savor over the coming weeks.


You need to get out more.

Thanks for the tender thought, but I get out plenty. The collection of Nobel ideological profiles is superb and very revealing.

That Bach thing is very cool. Not that I know all that much about classical music, but what a cool concept. Also I am once again reminded that to my continued bewilderment the rest of the world does not seem to place as great value on having straight white teeth as the US does. if you are a Bach organ fan.

"Free downloads of the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach, recorded by Dr. James Kibbie on original baroque organs in Germany, are offered on this site."

Quit this moralizing in economics regarding deserving poor.

Implement Freidman's negative income tax, and be done with all of these baseless, aimless, and useless discussions.

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