Saturday, June 30, 2012

How to Discredit Yourself

This article by John Aziz illustrates why I do not trust economists like Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong, and a few others.

If you read their op-eds or non-academic articles you notice one theme (now, in your most solemn, mechanical yet snobbish voice (with nasal sounds, throat clearings, and heavy exhalations through the nose)), increase government spending on...insert any project you or your ill-informed drinking partner, next door neighbor, etc can think of. 

These economists will say anything to get the government to spend more money.  There is never a reason to spend less, never a reason to limit the power of labor over consumers.  Perhaps my least favorite attribute these individuals possess is their sense that no one on earth is anything...ever, except for them.  I used to think that about myself...when I was three. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Preliminary Thoughts on Supreme Court Decisions

Put simply, I'm not sure what I feel about it.  I haven't had much time to analyze the details.  My initial reaction was "But the government didn't say it was a tax, they argued they have the right to mandate that the public purchase insurance under the commerce law."  So, I was pretty surprised by the decision, as were most people notwithstanding whether they lean left or right.

As a primer to learn more about the decision and the law, here is a link to Tyler Cowen.  He also links to several other comments.

More to come.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Education and Option Value from Bryan Caplan

Education and Option Value: A Conversation With Virgil Storr

This conversation cheered my soul. I have a lot of issues/objections/whatever with/to education in the US.  Primarily, every day, it seems, I learn about a new field that I didn't even know existed.  And I say, "Wow, if I had any idea that a person could do this for a living I would have started from day one."

This isn't 100% the fault of our educational institutions.  But, who would have thought that a field like evolutionary psychology (link) existed?  I sure didn't.  I didn't hear about it until a few years ago.  Honestly, before the internet, people may have gone their whole lives without hearing about the field.

Our schools need to upgrade and move away from training students in language and arts.  The focus should be on skill development, career awareness, or just a flat out apprenticeship for people that know they want to work in computers.

Plenty would argue against this, saying kids are too young to make decisions.  Fine, then just develop their skills in areas that allow them access to the widest array of careers possible such as math, computer science, economics :), electronics, accounting (boring), law, anything besides literature, painting, speaking a random language, etc.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ayn Rand vs. Evolutionary Psychology

Rand vs. Evolutionary Psychology: Part 1, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Is it appropriate to say that you love something like Evolutionary Psychology?   It's probably fine, but it doesn't make much sense.  So, instead I'll say that I find the field informative in the way that makes me want to start school over and dedicate my life to the field...sometimes.  Since that's not an option, I'll just continue to use it to inform my beliefs about economics (broad category).

I also enjoyed reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.  Some of her non-fiction resonated as well, most of what I've read actually.  So I hate to see Rand and Ev. Psych in conflict.

When the two fight, I'd have to side with Ev. Psych. 

To Frack or not to Frack

From Marginal Revolution's Alex Tabarrok, see here. 

Opponents of hydraulic fracturing often quote the contamination of groundwater as a worthy reason to stop the technique.  But, a simple cost-benefit analysis shows that fracking is worth around $100 billion to US consumers and the contamination of groundwater costs around $250 million.  In other words, fracking makes more than enough money for the US economy to pay for the contamination it causes 400 times over. 

The value to US consumers is certainly greater once you consider that "cleanliness" of natural gas versus other energy sources.

So, frack away.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Numbers Don't Lie...people do.

One of ESPN's Sportscenter episodes from June 23, 2012 extolled the virtues of Title IX.  An anchor points out that some opponents of Title IX argue that it takes funds and participation away from male sports.  She then segued to male reporter who proceeded to cite numbers showing increased participation rates in both male and female sports.  The conclusion from the reporter and the anchor was that Title IX increased participation rates in sports for males AND females because numbers "don't lie."

We could follow the same logic.  Suppose there is a two parent household with one male child on whom they can spend $100/month.  Then, they have a second, female, child but their income remains the same.  Will they spend more than $100/month?  No, they can't afford it.  They must split their spending on each child.  The male gets $50/month as does the female.

The increase in male and female participation reflects the increase in popularity and profitability of collegiate sports.  There is no question that athletics departments with finite resources must take income away from the lowest revenue producing male sports and reallocate income toward the highest producing female sports.  Also, this reallocation reduces the number of scholarships for males but increases those available for females.

Bottom line: yes, diverting money from male sports and toward female sports does reduce the number of male sports and participants.  But, that IS acceptable because it provides opportunity for female athletes that wouldn't exist otherwise, or at least did not exist in the past.

ESPN should be confident that their audience understands this fact rather than presenting numbers, claiming that numbers don't lie, and then lying about what the numbers mean.