Links: 9-21-10 + The Hendersons

My morning read has been (temporarily?) replaced with the use of a laptop with WiFi.  Hence, a post during my morning commute.  And with that, the links that caught my eye yesterday.

The Best
1) Ever consider buying a term paper, instead of writing it yourself.  Very bad idea.  Plus, it won't even work. (Dan Ariely)

The Rest
> Is the 'Tea Party' movement a net positive or negative for the GOP? (FiveThirtyEight)
> Let's say you believe lying is always wrong.  Do you think you'd turn in Anne Frank to the Nazis if they showed up at your door? (James Downie)
> How to eat a muffin while walking (The Incidental Economist)
> Of course, Palin can win (A plain blog about politics)

The Hendersons
There were a number of posts yesterday from bloggers on "The Hendersons", a Law Professor's family living in Chicago.  The whole thing is in reaction to a post which Mr. Henderson wrote for his own blog over the weekend, where he complains about his taxes going up.  He's taken the post down, likely due to the attention it received.  But, here's the full post (link) due to the magic of google's cache.  And here's reaction from Ezra Klein (link), The Reality Based Community (link), and Bradford DeLong (link).  There is much more written on this.  I love the issue.  Income/wealth is a positional good for those with means.  You can feel the dismay that Mr. Henderson is feeling at his perceived shrinking (relative) position to his peers. Here's a great quote from his piece:

We pay about $15,000 in property taxes, about half of which goes to fund public education in Chicago. Since we care the education of our three children, this means we also have to pay to send them to private school. My wife has school loans of nearly $250,000 and I do too, although becoming a lawyer is significantly cheaper. We try to invest in our retirement by putting some money in the stock market, something that these days sounds like a patriotic act. Our account isn’t worth much, and is worth a lot less than it used to be.

Boy, life can be tough.  Despite his economic situation, he's also in the top 1% of households in the US, which his critics do a great job of calling out.

Just because it's my blog, I'll give Paul Krugman the final word (link) on the matter.

Links: 9-20-10

Just a quick post before entering the usual grind of the day.

The Best:
1) Dog poop never felt so good (Wired Science)

The Rest:
> Oops, we didn't want that to get out (Techdirt)
> Rally to Restore Sanity (Jon Stewart)
> March to Keep Fear Alive (Stephen Colbert)
> They really do want to take your money (Jonathan Chait)
> More deflation indicators (Calculated Risk)
> My favorite reason: pampering of the 'stinking rich' (The Daily Dish)
> Who cares about the deficit when we're talking about tax policy? (FireDogLake)

9/16/10 Links

I'm completely psyched to writing this from my new laptop.  I'm sure this thing will feel old in about 6 months, but I'm going to enjoy the 'Brand New' feeling while it lasts.  I took a few days away from blogging to deal with work, which continues at its usual grinding fall pace, a little earlier than usual.  But with a 'share on twitter' button on my googlebar, I'm having no trouble grabbing and keeping links.  Hope there a few in here that you find interesting.  Enjoy!

The Best:
3) Because where I come from $250k a year is a lot of money (Modeled Behavior)
2) Contraceptives increase the value of "Erotic Capital" (Prospect)
1) Palin's staff thinks she's in it to win it (Jonathan Chait)

The Rest:
> Value is an over-rated strategy (Felix Salmon)
> A few stats to remind you that things aren't good yet (The Big Picture)
> Consistency doesn't really matter in political arguments (Paul Krugman
> Why do they hate Keynes? Most of their policy up until now has been justified by using his thinking (Dana Milbank
> Who thinks we should 'make permanent' the Bush tax cuts (The Big Picture)
> 2/3 chance of house takeover (FiveThirtyEight)
> Housing usually comes to the rescue.  Not this time. (Calculated Risk
> US corporations don't really need a healthy US to be profitable (Robert Reich)
> Is Forbes mainstream? (Kevin Drum)
> Is a compromise on tax policy a good thing? (Ezra Klein)
> Nice chart on how the US is viewed in the Middle East (The League of Ordinary Gentlemen)
> This year's 'excited' voter makes sure to get their daily dose of Fox News - nice chart (Kevin Drum)
> Corn syrup has a branding issue, but I guess sugar is a-ok. (Yahoo News)
> There have been times when deflation wasn't so bad - not now (Macro and Other Market Musings)
> Rep. John Boehner is full of nonsense on spending cuts (Kevin Drum)
> The winner-take-all economy (Marginal Revolution)
> Nice time-series chart showing what's keeping small business owners up at night (Paul Krugman)
> Saying you are serious about the deficit is not the same as being serious about the deficit (Ezra Klein)
> Seeing a little Palin in O'Donnell (Jonathan Chait)
> Brian Williams defines 'risk-averse' (The Daily Dish)
> Sentences where there should never be a 'but': Our goal is not to shut down the government... (TPM)
> ... but, we have to do, what we have to do (Capital Gains and Games)
> Cook's senate scorecard (The Cook Political Report)

Brady's accident - The 911 call

Thanks Lori!

9/10/10 Links

Horribly busy day in the office today.  Many more to follow.  Ah, the joys of budget season.  Here are the links that caught my attention today.  Enjoy!

The best:

2. Link to survey on morality for Dan Ariely, a prominent behaviorial economist, with request that the link be sent to as many people from different countries as possible (Qualtrics)
1. A new low.  Actually running on shutting down the government.  I mean who needs government services anyway? (Weigel)

The rest:
> Income inequality doesn't appear to have been caused by skill-biased technological change (Kevin Drum)
> Calculated Risk sees unemployment rising to double digits in the near-term (Calculated Risk)
> Men, your waist size may be bigger than you think (The Daily Dish)
> As Jon Stewart would say, "Ahh yeah" (TPM) Note: I haven't seen the video yet
> Health care spending is supposed to go up with the ACHA? (Health Affairs)
> No, not really (Ezra Klein)

Concerned about the current account deficit?

Here's Matthew Yglesias on another good reason for a high gas tax (Link):

In my view the biggest source of drag on net exports that’s amenable to a clear policy fix is our unusually high per capita gasoline consumption. Higher gasoline taxes to finance increased transportation infrastructure spending could, especially if the spending was front-loaded, boost employment while helping the environment and laying the groundwork for a more dynamic future economy. China’s currency peg is another significant drag on net exports, but while it’s not clear to me which US policy steps (as opposed to Chinese policy steps—that’s easy) would address it effectively.

Are there limits to the market?

Long awaited link post - 9/9/10

I think I'm beginning to find these posts boring.  I haven't done one in about 10 days.  That said, here are the links you have been so anxiously awaiting.  Enjoy!

Top Three
3. Airline prices do go up (NYT
2. Did you know that social networks (Like Facebook) can be used to fight crime? (The Economist)
1. A great graphic showing the real danger of deflation - timely (The Big Picture)

The Rest (Most recent links at the bottom)
> Krugman trusts the writings of the ancients (NYT)
> Thank the heavens.  The like her; they just don't want her to do anything. (PPP)
> I never liked Gary Bauer (The Daily Dish)
> Don't worry, things will be better when we take over (FrumForum)
> Krugman does not think the stimulus package was represented Keynesian policies (NYT)
> It's a fair expectation that the temporary Bush tax cuts will be extended (McClatchy)
> Ron Paul is very conspiracy-minded (Bruce Bartlett)
> Mixed drinks are not IP, for now... (Liquidity Preference)
> Sabato sees good things for the GOP this fall (Larry J. Sabato)
> A decade of GOP policy implementation... In ONE chart (Ezra Klein)
> What do you call using language to mask conflict: Corporate-speak (Marginal Revolution)
> The NAR is a propaganda outlet (The Big Picture)
> Krugman wants some inflation now, and doesn't see it coming (NYT)
> Some great economics blogs that you need to bookmark (Bruce Bartlett
> So Beck and Palin are going to help us remember the lessons of 9/11.  Yea, that seems on the level. (Weigel)
> Student loan debt is larger than credit card debt with fewer protections for the borrower (The Big Picture)
> Krugman argues against the idea that stimulus policies has been proven ineffective (NYT)
> The best charts and initial reaction to the August employment numbers are here (Calculated Risk)
> It's not about federal budget policy, it's about economic policy (FrumForum)
> Is Krugman saying that we'll need WWIII in order to get out of the economic slump? (NYT)
> A community college professor talks about his students (The Daily Dish)
> Inflation would really hit elderly savers hard (Seeking Alpha)
> Singing as a way to get voters to the polls (The Daily Dish)
> Belgian content owners open up a front against the DVR (ARS Technica)
> My bet is the that the GOP plan wins.  Maybe we should call it the "like deficits" plan or the "pretend I care about deficits" plan (TPM)
> Pictures from random places in the world - Thanks Rob! - (Globe Genie)
> Deconstructing a class warfare propaganda piece (Kid Dynamite)
> The writer of the original 'Jump the Shark' episode defends himself (LAT)
> The growth of income inequality makes the more tax brackets argument seem pretty reasonable.   (Kevin Drum)
> Andrew Sullivan asks what good are checks and balances when they paralyze. Strange that he would forget the role of tyranny in shaping our system of government. (The Daily Dish
> When they say 'It's ObamaCare', remember that rates have pretty much been doing this all along (Kevin Drum)
> Another reason to believe that it has absolutely nothing to do with the deficit (Kevin Drum)

A Fantasy World

Having recently finished Andrew Sullivan's book The Conservative Soul wherein "conservatives" represent all that good in politics and economics and living (and religion and civilization), I'm really enjoying the Karl Smith blog entry, titled A Pessimist Manifesto (Link).  Here's a key quote:

Partially , however, I think it is that many modern Conservatives intuitively base their analysis of the world on a philosophy is that anathema to my worldview. Their view is that if you take a responsible, measured, well-reasoned approach to the world things will work out. Failure is thus a sign that you have not done that. My sense is that this is fundamentally crap.

First of all things are not going to work out. You are going to die. Your friends and family are going to die. Everything you care about and everything you ever worked for will be destroyed. This story, our story, only has one ending and it is death and destruction.

If you don’t recognize that, you are living in a fantasy world.

Oh my god.  Paul Krugman may have to move over for my new favorite blogger.  Fanboy Wiebe has a new crush.

A bad idea

Here's what NOT to do when remembering 9/11 (link):

A small evangelical Christian group in the southeastern U.S. state of Florida on Saturday plans to burn Korans as a protest against violent Islamic extremists. The day marks the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.

I should probably steal a propaganda line from those 'against the ground-zero mosque' and ask hypothetically whether just because this is within their constitutional rights whether it's a good idea.  Instead, I'm just going to call this a bad idea.  A really bad idea.  I'd throw the word stupid into the mix, but I'm trying to keep my kids from using that word.

I changed my mind.  This is a stupid idea that is within their constitutional rights.  Go ahead and have your crazy book burning, but do expect me to call you an idiot.

Coming soon...

I'd say I'm behind, but I'm not really sure what it means to be 'caught-up' with a personal blog.

Labor weekend came and I mostly put down the keyboard.  But...  I do have a ton of twitter links and expect to make a blog entry with far too many links.  Over the past month, I've been posting links chronologically, but I'm thinking of adding something like a top three/five links concept.  I like the way the link-post consolidates the 'good stuff' I find on the web, but fear the posts may overwhelming because they include too many items. Thoughts on how to make link posts more interesting/useful are welcome.

Note: I also finished Andrew Sullivan's book and need to post my thoughts.  Plus, I think I'm far enough into Red Faction to post my thoughts on the game.  If work doesn't interfere too much with my personal life, then this has the potential to be a heavy posting week (But don't hold your breath).

Happy 'Back to School' , 'End of Summer', 'Nearly Fall' !!!

Best economic piece I've read all summer...

Here is Karl Smith with his Blog piece Rome is Burning:

We have very low capacity utilization (75%) and very high unemployment (10%).

That is, we have factories sitting idle for lack of workers – low capacity utilization. At the same time we have workers sitting idle for lack of factories – high unemployment.

There are machines waiting to be worked and people waiting to work them but they are not getting together.

The labor market is failing to clear.

This is a fucking disaster.

Excuse my language, but you have to get that this is a big deal. This is not a big deal like the GOP doesn’t appreciate public goods. Or, Democrats don’t understand incentives. Or some other such second order debate that could reasonably concern us in different times.

This is a failure of our basic institutions of production. The job of the market is to bring together willing buyers with willing sellers in order to produce value. This is not happening and as a result literally trillions of dollars in value are not being produced.

Let me say that again because I think it fails to sink in – literally trillions of dollars in value are not being produced. Not misallocated. Not spent on programs you don’t approve of or distributed in tax cuts you don’t like. Trillions of dollars in value are not produced at all. Gone from the world entirely. Never to be had, by anyone, anywhere, at any time. Pure unadulterated loss.

Time and time again I see people speak about recessions as if they are a bad harvest – an unfortunate event wherein we have to figure out how to go with less. Some say we should all sacrifice – some say the sacrifice should be based on X or Y. Some say each family should take their lumps as they come.

However, they are all getting the basic idea wrong. This is not a bad harvest. The problem isn’t that there is less to go around. The problem is that we are creating less, building less, making less.

We have people who would be working but are instead watching Judge Judy. We have machines that could be spinning but are literally rusting for lack of use. This is a coordination disaster.

Great writing and insightful analysis.  There are few paragraphs I haven't clipped in and the charts in the blog posting tell the story very well.  Worth a click through.  Here's that link again.