Sunday assorted links


Sadly under-rated to my provincial mind are the Five Basic Laws of Human Stupidity as elucidated by the late Carlo M. Cipolla:
1) Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
2) The probability that a certain person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.
3) A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while he himself derives no gain and even possibly incurs losses.
4) Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular, non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.
5) a] A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.
b] A stupid person is more dangerous than a bandit.

Add on 6. The most destructive people are the stupid that think they're smart.

Smart people are much more dangerous than stupid people.

Following Swift's lead (J. Swift to A. Pope, 29 Sep 1725), I don't take intelligence or rationality as innate characteristics of any person's mind: Swift would not permit any man to be termed "animal rationale" but only "rationis capax".
Likewise, as Cipolla noted, while we do often exhibit consistency or persistence in one direction or another, all of us wander and stray from time to time (he offered helpful charts with requisite X and Y axes to plot distributions).
Somewhat contrary to Swift's views on the distribution of rationality or intelligence, though, Cipolla seems to've thought that many of us are, if not innately stupid, then highly consistently so, enough so to plainly inveigh against "stupid people" as a reliably large class on any given day, thus he supplies no specific or minimum value to the symbol "sigma".

I hold the opposite view. Despite how stupid I may think the general population is, I'm impressed with how few really bad drivers there are. On the whole, people seem to be rather good drivers, considering how demanding a task it is.

If there's one unexpected thing I've learned from my many hundreds of transactions on eBay, it's how honest people are. The number of dishonest people I've dealt with could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

If you calculate the number of hours people spend driving I think it is hard to come away impressed by their skill levels in general.

One of the great achievements of western civilization is the elevation of the truly stupid to a role beyond that of just a few centuries ago. Formerly, the dull were consigned to unrewarding tasks like shepherding or grubbing turnips. Now they not only survive but prosper in a way as effective members of the consumer society, using the generally meaningless public education they receive to perform mundane duties that are rewarded sufficiently to allow them to own their own homes and cars and take international vacations. It's a great world we're living in.

Shepherding is actually a pretty complex task, and requires considerable talent and ability to perform adequately, it also involvesconsiderable discipline and self motivation, coupled with personal bravery and an understanding of when to cut losses. Once any sort of complex economy becomes involved it becomes evdn more demanding. There is a reason that so many folk heroes are supposed to have been shepherds.

From personal experience, while many shepherds are addled, I have never met a successful one who was an idiot, not something I can say about any class of engineers.

Finding skilled shepherds has always been difficult, at least in the western US. Part of the problem is on the "pay" side rather than the "marginal product" side: it's an unpleasant job unless you like being alone and cold (or hot) for days at a time. But beyond that, skilled shepherds had a big impact on the survival rate of lambs. Sheep ranchers eventually discovered that Basque immigrants had both the shepherding skills and the tolerance for the working conditions and whole immigrant communities sprang up in California around the sheepherding centers.

But as the immigrants assimilated into American society (and economic conditions in Spain improved) it became harder to find Basque shepherds. For awhile sheep ranchers turned to Mongolians, another group of people used to tolerating brutal weather in isolated conditions. But due to fewer language difficulties, Peruvians have recently turned out to be a better choice.

Being a bad driver has great personal costs. It's easy to be stupid about things that have no or low personal costs.

2. Britain today seems to produce far fewer notable economists relative to its dominance of two generations ago. The best ones seem to rail against the prevailing consensus, i.e. they are precisely Marxists or libertarians, or at least post-Keynesians or Thatcherites. Even within their own country, economists are a minor part of contemporary debate, supplanted by media-savvy lobby groups, spokespeople for entrenched bureaucracies/trade unions, and the kind of "think-tanks" that long ago gave up research in favour of PR.

In re: 7, note that the observation in McCarty, Poole and Rosenthal (2006) and following work that income inequality and polarization are highly correlated could explain this as well, especially if polarization is asymmetric.

in re: 3 even in 2015 vapid faux-sophistication is still what moves units. happy to see slanted door that high on the list (excellent cookbook); bemused to see kowloon (route 1 through saugus is as close as we'll get to time travel). other'n that it's overpriced steaks'n'seafood all the way down.

There is probably some bias towards trendy coast spots to the list. There are several restaurants in my hometown OKC, notably Cattlemans which is not fancy, that turn over $10,000,000 plus and didn't make it. If you adjust for PPP it would be much higher.

They key to hitting highest grossing is having a big restaurant and keeping it filled (with drinkers!) seven days a week. It's no surprise that the list is dominated by tourist spots.

Sure, that explains the space needle restaurant. But does Salty's on Alki (NOT that big a place) really gross more than Ray's Boathouse? (Both Seattle area establishments for those wondering.)

I'm inclined to agree that their data sample has to be somewhat limited, there's 0 representation from Texas, New Orleans, limited representation from California, their results just seem a bit unlikely.

7. Of course, seniors are in the group most opposed to redistribution. What!!! Inequality is an economic issue, not a social issue, something those content with a high level of inequality will dispute to the very end - indeed, the very end. Where's Boettke?

Seniors are the second most wealthy cohort, right after those about to retire.

It is probably not a coincidence that as people age, they become wealthier AND more conservative.

They are also the biggest beneficiaries of current redistributionist polices. Why rock the boat when the status quo is so much in their favor.

Isn't the turn around of the job market in 2014 the main reason against income inequality? I don't remember a whole lot of income inequality back in the 1990s.

#3: Not surprising that New York and Las Vegas dominated the list, but it's at least somewhat surprising (to me) how under represented Los Angeles seems to be. I only noticed one place from Beverly Hills that made the list.

Surprised that NoVa's Great American Restaurants did so well. Mike's, Sweetwater, Jacksons, and Coastal Flats on the list. Pretty impressive.

I could have sworn that I read the other day that Bottega Louie (downtown LA) grosses$22 million a year, and yet no mention here.

#3, relatedly from the same site there's the top-grossing nightclubs in America. On a list of 100, San Francisco shows up only once for a club called Temple. Strange for a metro bursting with SO much money. But then it's a nerdy money bunch, not hardcore partiers.

Dare I say that #3 is based on too little and too uncertain data to be very useful.

So left to their own devices, modern economists and perhaps scientists more generally, would construct their own 10,000 commandments. Very sad, and very telling. Remember that next time someone demands that you respect scientific consensus.

Seriously, the juxtaposition of #2.

I can say of Joe's - "Nobody goes there's too crowded."

If any billionaires are reading, I have some spare attention.

#7 - one problem is that "redistribution" often seems to mean "tax the well off who likely created my job, and give the money to the very not well off who don't actually do any work" - given that this "middle group" doesn't see any personal gain from redistribution ("you are going to give money to the people who don't work, or who I beat out to get this job") and might see loss ("you are going to punish my boss/employer....")

Every time I hear the "job creator" talking point, I imagine some billionaire reaching out to a mere mortal like the Creation of Adam. Fiat opera!

#7. The redistribution discussion always seems to assume a direct, one-to-one transfer from wealthy people to poor people, with neither administrative middlemen nor inefficiencies. In fact, the middleman is a giant, sprawling, self-interested, voracious bureaucracy fed by taxation of the wealthy. The redistribution is from high earners to government, which then decides to whom the largesse will flow. And much of the flow is toward politically-connected, influential high earners.

A pleasure to read about New Zealand. In 1984 . British Columbia implemented serious government reforms at the same time, the second province in Canada to do so. Low commodity prices, high debt and very high interest rates, and profoundly uncompetitive export industries as well as the real threat of debt downgrades and inability to deficit finance forced their hands and the social democratic ways were rejected.

Interestingly one of the reforms in British Columbia was to abolish all municipal development plans that limited growth, keeping land prices lower than otherwise.

I'll just add to #5: Too much of a good thing is too much.

Anyone else uninspired by the Tufte quotes?

#7 People were never that interested in it in the first place.

Exactly right. But the Government, as a rent-seeking middleman, has always been critically interested. As have the statist cheerleaders who work for the New York Times.

Kudos to the Times for inserting "because they are racist" into the anti-redistribution camp credos. I didn't see that one coming. Silly me.

I've been to 9 of those restaurants (that I can remember), none of them all that good. I'm surprised at two from "Lake Buena Vista" Florida (i.e., Walt Disney World)

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