Monthly Archive for April, 2011

Quote Of The Day

“The crack-cocaine sentencing disparities result from racial bias.”   In fact, black leaders were the first to sound the alarm about the drug.  In 1986, Queens congressman Alton Waldon called on his colleagues to legislate against crack: “For those of us who are black this self-inflicted pain is the worst oppression we have known since slavery. . . . Let us . . . pledge to crack down on crack.” The bill that eventually passed, containing the crack/powder distinction, won majority support among black congressmen, none of whom objected to it as racist.” —SecularRight blog

Obama Supporter Wakes Up From A Coma

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6NxpP7mweY&feature=player_embedded]

Famous Economists Time

Years ago, I was given the opportunity to meet Milton Friedman in person. It had always been a dream of mine and a picture with him would have been something I would have cherished forever. There was only one problem: it would have cost me $10,000. Even at that price, I still considered it. When he died, a year or so later, I look back on the lost opportunity and second guess myself. Maybe I should have just paid it!

Some of my (not so very economically inclined) readers might balk at the idea of an economist charging for his time. But that never really bothered me. Some of these people are so famous and so sought after that if they’d give their time away free they wouldn’t have any time left for anything else. And more importantly, I would have less of a chance of ever actually meeting them. Time is money, and everybody has priorities. If you want your place above certain priorities, it should be mutually beneficial.

In fact, I believe in this so much that I have often suggested it to other economists. For example, in a discussion with a knowledgeable opponent, you may reach a point where you don’t know what to say next. Does the data fit your intuition? Are his points stronger than yours? What does the “mainstream” economist believe? But while you may not have the answer, you are certain someone else would. Only problem is: how do you get it from them? Sure, an email sometimes works. But oftentimes it doesn’t. In the past, I’ve suggested to the more famous bloggers that they should have an “hourly rate” posted somewhere on their blog. A means that guarantees access to them. For example, I would easily pay $100 for an hour of back and forth discussions with, say Scott Sumners. Or Tyler Cowen. Or especially Bryan Caplan. Even Paul Krugman, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein would be on my list (sometimes you want to know what the real, thought out, opposing view is). But alas, they don’t have that option – so most emails go unmet.

Lucky for us though, many famous free-market  economists have already thought about this idea and made it public. Bloomberg reports:

Becker, a University of Chicago professor who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1992, will be selling his time on ExpertInsight.com, a website offering one-to-one video chats with leaders, which opened yesterday. He’ll join people such as economics professors Jeffrey Miron of Harvard University and Laurence Kotlikoff of Boston University, “Freakonomics” co- authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, poker celebrities Patrik Antonius and Tom Dwan, and tennis coach Jeff Salzenstein.

“The idea is to bring this coaching model to everything,” said Brandon Adams, Expert Insight’s 32-year-old founder and chief executive officer.

I think this is a great idea and hope it becomes the norm. This is a great step in the path towards a smarter and more knowledgeable citizenry. I’m excited!

Quote Of The Day

Now we learn that on an income of $1.7 million, the Obamas paid $450,773 in taxes, taking full advantage of the Bush tax cuts. I think it is fair to ask: If the President believes that people like him ought to be paying more, then why didn’t he pay more? There is absolutely no rule against sending in more money than you owe.” — Steven Landsburg, professor of economics on Obama and Taxes

Update: For readers interested, more on this discussion here.

Quote Of The Day

“European governments know they can rely on US military might and taxpayer dollars to subsidize their security needs and prevent them from actually investing in a more robust security apparatus. And when European leaders like Sarkozy decide to talk tough they can count on America to provide the military muscle to back up their words – as has been the case with Libya. The bottom line is that as long as the United States continues to feel that it has an obligation to underwrite European security needs . . . it will continue to underwrite European security needs. And European countries will continue to free ride off of US security guarantees and not develop the “right equipment” and strategy to protect and further their own interests. In the world’s most most stable and prosperous region we have created a bizarre situation where US resources and arms are underpinning a security structure that could quite easily be taken over by the inhabitants of that region!” — Michael Cohen

Quote Of The Day

“Here we see the fundamental differences between the parties: One believes in spending more and allocating that spending via central planning.  The other believes in spending less and harnessing individual choice and competition to ensure that the money is spent wisely.” — Greg Mankiw, professor of economics at Harvard on the difference between the Ryan plan and ObamaCare

Quote Of The Day

“Nuremberg, lest we forget, was a military tribunal with civilian lawyers and it offered far fewer protections to the Nazis in the dock than the military commissions at Guantánamo will give to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his co-defendants in the 9/11 attacks. Military justice worked then and it can work again today.” —WILLIAM SHAWCROSS, son of the chief British prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials on military tribunals writing in the New York Times

Quote Of The Day

“Kristof has his historical facts precisely backwards. From 1929 to 1932  federal spending increased by 50% in nominal terms, doubled in real terms, tripled relative to national income. Judged by that measure, Herbert Hoover makes Barack Obama look like a fiscal conservative.” — David Friedman, rebutting NYT journalist Kristof’s claim that Herbert Hoover was a president of austerity

DC Vouchers Back!

News reports are a buzz about the ‘last minute deal that averts shutdown’, but the more important news, atleast to me, is that thanks to the very hard work and arm twisting of Republicans, Democrats were forced to agree to reauthorize the DC voucher program:

Re-establishes a school voucher system for the District of Columbia, a longtime cause of House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio). The program provides low-income children with vouchers to attend a school of their parents’ choice.

Kudos to the GOP for making this a top priority. More here.

Quote Of The Day

“Leaving the specific details aside, Ryan’s and Obama’s health care initiatives are complementary, not competitive with each other. Without a functioning individual insurance market, you can’t voucherize Medicare. And without pushing most individuals into the individual insurance market, that individual market won’t really be the giant risk pool you need to drive the health care system in a more efficient direction. Obama’s plan nudged beneficiaries of private, employer-sponsored insurance into the national pool. Ryan’s proposal shoves the beneficiaries of government-provided insurance into that same pool.” — Noah Millman, writing at The American Scene Blog

Quote Of The Day

“Over the next few days you will read a lot of “downgrade and dismiss” directed at Paul Ryan and his plan and indeed it is quite possible his proposal is not a workable one (I haven’t read it yet).  But don’t fall for the downgrade and dismiss bait, keep on returning to the question of how much individual choice should be allowed into health care cost control.  Why not divvy up the cost control work between the Board and some degree of individual choice across Medicare benefits?  You don’t have to combine that choice with the cost-increasing aspects of Medicare Advantage-like plans.” — Tyler Cowen, on the benefit of giving consumers more choice in Medicare

Quote Of The Day

“Expect there to be a lot of angry back and forth over this in the next week or so.  But one thing to keep in mind is that this Medicare plan is not effectively very different from what the Democrats claim ObamaCare is going to do:  which is to say, cap the amount of money spent on providing health benefits to those who are not rich enough to opt out of the public system.  The Democrats want to do so by having a central committee of experts decide what our health dollars get spent on; the GOP wants to put those decisions into the hands of consumers.  But this is not an argument about who loves old, sick people more.  Both parties are promising to halt the rapid growth of government health care expenditures, which is definitionally going to fall hardest on old, sick people.” — Megan McArdle on the Paul Ryan plan

Quote Of The Day

“It has taken two years for the Obama administration to snap out of its never-never land approach to national security.   But by announcing a reversal on their plans for civilian trials of terrorists including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, they are implicitly confessing that their campaign attacks on the Bush administration were wrong and that decisions like opening Gitmo and military commission trials are the best balance of security needs and protections for liberty.  Military courts will provide a fair trial and allow the United States to protect intelligence secrets, which are the most important weapon in this war.  I still believe, however, that the administration has yet to prove that it can run terror trials successfully, and until thy do, the best choice is still to capture more al Qaeda leaders rather than kill them, and to detain them while exploiting the information that they have.” — John Yoo, regarding Obama’s decision to try KSM via military courts

Quote Of The Day

“Last year, I blogged about some research that Michael Heaney and I were doing on the anti-Iraq War movement. I found that the antiwar movement quickly collapsed after Obama’s election.  Smaller crowds, less attention. The big finding is that Democrats stopped showing up after Obama’s inauguration…In other words, once a Democrat gained power, Democrats stopped showing up to antiwar protests.” — Fabio Rojas, Associate Professor of Sociology at Indiana University

Quote Of The Day

“So my question is, does that decision not lay a moral obligation on the US to lend support to the effort of its allies? British, French, Canadian, Danish, and Norwegian fighter jets flying over Libya are coming under anti-aircraft fire from the minions of Col. Qaddafi. The United States had the most robust ability to take those anti-aircraft batteries out, which it largely did. Should the United States have said, well, too bad, we are not getting involved over there? Had Washington responded in that way, and had NATO allies lost jets to Qaddafi’s rockets, would not the allies have had a legitimate grounds for absolute fury?” — Juan Cole, a supporter of the Libyan intervention posing a question to Glenn Greenwald,  who is generally opposed

Rand Paul And Choice

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAn1FWInBi0]

This is why I’m a big fan of Rand Paul.