13 Nov 2014

Anything but water

  1. This article on the performance revolution in athletics ends with a plea to spend the same effort on education. Good idea, but some governments prefer "bread and circuses" to an educated population

  2. Richard Branson's Virgin Group makes money off the name "Virgin" not running good businesses. That's why he's always doing stunts

  3. The Living Wage Foundation recommends GBP 9.15 per hour ($14.50; the official minimum is GBP 6.50). The curious part is that the 1,000 companies that are members of the LWF implement that suggestion. That's good for workers and does little harm to the companies (their competitors are also LWF members), so the cost is passed along to customers. Clever

  4. Conservatives and liberals "disagree with science" when they dislike the policy implications. I guess that means finding a conservative message on why taxes can go up and a liberal message on why spending can go down. Ask your local libertarian for help

  5. The Dutch vs. other Europeans:
    Yes the Brits and the Dutch share a love of fast food, deep fried sludge and ready meals. If it wasn’t for the constant cycling, the Dutch would be suffering from similar rates of obesity that now exist in the UK.


  1. Ha ha, you think libertarians pay more attention to evidence than others. That's a good one.

  2. I found this tidbit alarmngly unhelpful: "When the policy solution emphasized a tax on carbon emissions or some other form of government regulation, which is generally opposed by Republican ideology, only 22 percent of Republicans said they believed the temperatures would rise at least as much as indicated by the scientific statement they read."

    The authors of this study don't even know the difference between regulations and taxes!

    Also, I agree with the poster above. Other than a few economists, libertarians are overwhelmingly against pigouvian taxes.

  3. @Anon -- libertarians -- like vegans -- can be ideological to a fault. They do have the advantage of needing to consider both D and R positions, whereas many Ds or Rs don't bother to think more than "R right, D wrong.

    @Naor -- I agree that regs are diff than taxes. The point is that they discard "science" in conjunction with such "solutions." Oh, and I'd recommend calling them "Pigouvian fees," since lots of people (many econ students) fail to see their REDUCTION in DWL.

  4. Interestingly, one of the questions on my AP Micro exam was to graph the DWL for an externality with and without a tax (see number 3: http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/repository/ap11_frq_microeconomics.pdf).

    I would imagine that every congressman has had this explained numerous times, but they are more interested in opposing taxes and heroically saving the dying coal industry. To the extent that Republicans do listen to economists on the environment, they pay attention to the extremists at the Institute for Energy Research, Heartland Institute, and other conservative think tanks.

    The most positive response to the climate change agreement comes from Lindsey Graham: "When it comes to climate change, here's the question: Is this Chinese agreement ... will it help create jobs in America?" Not a single one of the ~300 GOP legislators set to take office in 2015 is on the record supporting a carbon tax to correct an externality. Consider that none of the "fiscal conservatives" even voted for bill that would make a hypothetical carbon tax deficit-neutral: http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=113&session=1&vote=00058. I'm no fan of regulations, but there are no other options.

    As far as ideologies, how about politicians just listen more to economists :P. They tend to mostly align somewhere in between Democrats and libertarians.

  5. @Naor -- great comment. I'm happy to talk to anyone, and I find that people who do not apply labels to themselves (R, D, Libertarian, etc.) tend to be the most open-minded about fixing problems. The Rs have definitely gone away from that. I think it's the result of "blink" forms of marketing to "gut" voters. Sadly, they cannot often see beyond the headline ("Patriot Act") of what they're supporting. This phenomenon -- not the brilliant idiosyncrasies of many Americans and migrants -- is what makes me despair for "my country." I've left (mentally) b/c the lunatics are running the asylum, and they've changed the rules to keep it that way :(


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