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EIght Things Worth Reading, Mostly Economics, for April 2, 2010

  1. SantaFeMarie: "Erick Erickson... threatened violence against census workers... 'ERICKSON: This is crazy. What gives the Commerce Department the right to ask me how often I flush my toilet? Or about going to work? I’m not filling out this form. I dare them to try and come throw me in jail. I dare them to. Pull out my wife’s shotgun and see how that little ACS twerp likes being scared at the door. They’re not going on my property. They can’t do that. They don’t have the legal right, and yet they’re trying.' at Think Progress notes that according to the Census Bureau, response to the ACS "is required by law (Title 13 , United States Code, Sections 141, 193, and 221)." So yes, they do have the legal right. Erickson reiterated his comments on RedState this morning, with the added whine that: 'naturally the left is out today saying I was on the air advocating killing census workers.' Congratulations, CNN, this turd is now all yours. I hope you'll be very happy together."
  2. CP: "The committee’s chair, Phil Willis, Member of Parliament (MP), said in a press conference: "We do believe that Prof Jones has in many ways been scapegoated as a result of what really was a frustration on his part that people were asking for information purely to undermine his research." The CBS/AP story headlines, “Climategate Researchers Largely Cleared: Investigation Finds No Evidence Supporting Allegations of Tampering with Data or Peer Review Process. The UK’s Times Online story opens: “The climate scientist at the centre of the row over stolen e-mails has no case to answer and should be reinstated, a crossparty group of MPs says..”"
  3. Bayerstein: "RNC staffers were running up very questionable expenses--like thousands of dollars worth of "office supplies" and "meals" from trendy boutiques; and hundreds of dollars worth of "office supplies" from wineries in New England and liquor stores in D.C.. You can read the whole RNC booze and threads story at AlterNet..."
  4. Shirky: "Joseph Tainter wrote a chilling book called The Collapse of Complex Societies.... Romans, the Lowlands Maya, the inhabitants of Chaco canyon. Every one of those groups had rich traditions, complex social structures, advanced technology, but despite their sophistication, they collapsed... [not] despite their cultural sophistication, they’d collapsed because of it.... [A] group of people... finds itself with a surplus of resources. Managing this surplus makes society more complex.... Early on, the marginal value of this complexity is positive... but over time, the law of diminishing returns reduces the marginal value... [eventually] additional complexity is pure cost. Tainter’s thesis is that when society’s elite members add one layer... too many, they end up extracting all the value from their environment... when some stress comes, those societies have become too inflexible to respond... there is no way to make things a little bit simpler..."
  5. Krugman: "The solution, say people like Mr. Volcker, is to break big financial institutions into units that aren’t too big to fail, making future bailouts unnecessary and restoring market discipline. It’s a convincing-sounding argument, but I’m one of those people who doesn’t buy it.... it’s perfectly possible to have a financial crisis that mainly takes the form of a run on smaller institutions. In fact, that’s precisely what happened in the 1930s, when most of the banks that collapsed were relatively small... the wave of small-bank failures was a catastrophe for the wider economy.... Breaking up big financial institutions wouldn’t prevent future crises, nor would it eliminate the need for bailouts when those crises happen. The next bailout wouldn’t be concentrated on a few big companies — but it would be a bailout all the same.... So what’s the alternative to breaking up big financial institutions? The answer, I’d argue, is to update and extend old-fashioned bank regulation..."
  6. Konczal: "I’ve just read two books that each add a new layer to the story of the financial crisis we find ourselves in, and I’d like to talk about them quickly. I’m terrible at reviewing books, but I do want to talk about what each of these books add to the conversation. 13 Bankers, Simon Johnson and James Kwak.... The book walks us backwards through time for a history of the United States’ relationship with banking.... It also brings us through 2009.... I think it is one of the few (only?) books that brings up campaign contributions from the financial sector.... Econned by Yves Smith Again, it is very likely you read Naked Capitalism, and again you should read this book.... Rather than something that happened at some point in the 1990s, Yves works the history back to the 1960s and 1970s and shows how a new type of financial market started to show up...
  7. Rosen: "What say you? Is "the information was available, if you looked" the right metric for health care coverage? TNR says: yes! http://jr.ly/2yi8"