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February 2014

Unprecedented Attack On Evolution 'Indoctrination' Mounted In Missouri: Live from The Roasterie LXXXXXII: February 21, 2014

Dylan Scott: Unprecedented Attack On Evolution 'Indoctrination' Mounted In Missouri: "A Missouri lawmaker has proposed what ranks among the most anti-evolution legislation in recent years, which would require schools to notify parents if 'the theory of evolution by natural selection' was being taught at their child's school and give them the opportunity to opt out of the class....

State Rep. Rick Brattin (R), who sponsored the bill, told a local TV station last week that teaching only evolution in school was "indoctrination."... The bill is one of several anti-evolution proposals that have already appeared in statehouses across the country.... Unsurprisingly, the proposal has drawn criticism from... science teacher organizations.... [Glenn] Branch.... Evolution inextricably pervades the biological sciences; it therefore pervades, or at any rate ought to pervade, biology education at the K–12 level. There simply is no alternative to learning about it; there is no substitute activity. The value of a high school education in Missouri would be degraded"...

And:

Willy K: Show Me Progress: The Evolution of Rick Brattin's obsession with evolution...


Liveblogging World War II: February 20, 1944

Vere Hodgson: Few Eggs and No Oranges: The Diaries of Vere Hodgson 1940-45:

Had a busy week. Awakened by the guns on Friday night. Had not heard the Warning. Stuck it for a bit, but as it was so noisy I hopped out of bed and into dressing gown. The whole sky was light as day, festooned with three magnicent red star flares which threw amazing colours all over Campden Hill. Shots going for the flares — occasionally little bits of them fell off and dropped like falling stars.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: February 20, 1944" »


Yes. The Administration of Bob Jones University Is a Cabal of Evildoers. Why Do You Ask?: Live from The Roasterie LXXXXX: February 20, 2014

Richard Perez-Penafeb: Christian School Faulted for Halting Abuse Study:

For decades, students at Bob Jones University who sought counseling for sexual abuse were told not to report it because turning in an abuser from a fundamentalist Christian community would damage Jesus Christ. Administrators called victims liars and sinners.... Former students and staff members who said they had high hopes that the Bob Jones brand of counseling would be exposed and reformed after the university hired a Christian consulting group in 2012 to investigate its handling of sexual assaults.... Last week, Bob Jones dealt a blow to those hopes, acknowledging that with the investigation more than a year old and nearing completion, the university had fired the consulting group, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment, or Grace, without warning or explanation....

Continue reading "Yes. The Administration of Bob Jones University Is a Cabal of Evildoers. Why Do You Ask?: Live from The Roasterie LXXXXX: February 20, 2014" »


Brad DeLong: A Review of Keynes's Tract on Monetary Reform: Wednesday Hoisted from the Archives

Brad DeLong : A Review of Keynes's Tract on Monetary Reform: Hoisted from the Archives: A REVIEW OF KEYNES'S TRACT ON MONETARY REFORM: HOISTED FROM THE ARCHIVES

I wrote this eleven years ago. I still like it:

John Maynard Keynes, A Tract on Monetary Reform (London: Macmillan, 1924)

This may well be Keynes's best book. It is certainly the best monetarist economics book ever written.

What do I mean by monetarist? Consider the book's preface, where Keynes writes:

[The economy] cannot work properly if the money... assume[d] as a stable measuring rod, is undependable. Unemployment, the precarious life of the worker, the disappointment of expectation, the sudden loss of savings, the excessive windfalls to individuals, the speculator, the profiteer--all proceed, in large measure, from the instability of the standard of value.

It is often supposed that the costs of production are threefold... labor, enterprise, and accumulation. But there is a fourth cost, namely, risk; and the reward of risk-bearing is one of the heaviest, and perhaps the most avoidable, burden on production....[T]he adoption by this country and the world at large of sound monetary principles, would diminish the wastes of Risk, which consume at present too much of our estate.

The belief that monetary instability--inflation and deflation--is the principal, or at least a principal, cause of other economic evils; the hope that sound monetary principles can be identified and, when identified, would greatly diminish uncertainty and risk; the focus on the job of the public sector being to provide the private economy with a stable measuring-rod and a stable environment--all these are core ideas of whatever we choose to call monetarism. Keynes believed these ideas very, very strongly in the mid-1920s. And his Tract on Monetary Reform is a review of economic theory and a look at the economic problems of post-WWI Europe through this set of monetarist spectacles.

The first chapter--"The Consequences to Society of Changes in the Value of Money"--may still be the best summary of the many and varied effects of deflation and inflation--on the distribution of income, on economic activity, on attitudes toward risk and reward--ever written. From our present-day standpoint, it could use a little more focus on the differing effects of "anticipated" and "unanticipated" inflation and deflation. But a great deal is packed into a short space.

The second chapter--"Public Finance and Changes in the Value of Money"--may also be the best of its class. It provides an extremely lucid introduction to the idea of the "inflation tax"--that inflation is most importantly seen as a way for governments to levy a hidden tax on holdings of real money balances, and that governments almost inevitably find themselves resorting to this tax, whether by accident or by design.

The third chapter--"The Theory of Money and the Foreign Exchanges" is in its firsts part a rapid introduction to the so-called "Quantity Theory of Money". It contains what must be Keynes's most famous line--in the long run we are all dead--which is embedded in the following discussion:

It would follow... that an arbitrary doubling of [the money stock], since this in itself is assumed not to affect [the velocity of money or the real volume of transactions] ... must have the effect of raising [the price level] to double what it would have been otherwise. The Quantity Theory is often stated in this, or a similar, form.

Now "in the long run" this is probably true. If, after the American Civil War, the American dollar had been stabilized... ten per cent below its present value ... [the money stock] and [the price level] would now be just ten per cent greater than they actually are.... But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the strom is long past the ocean is flat again.

In actual experience, a change in [the money stock] is liable to have a reaction both on [the velocity of money] and on [the real volume of transactions]...

The second part of the chapter is a rapid introduction to exchange-rate determination--the purchasing-power-parity theory of exchange rate movements, and why there might be substantial and persistent deviations from what purchasing-power-parity would suggest.

Chapter four--"Alternative Aims in Monetary Policy"--sees Keynes shift from analyst to advocate: he comes down, in the context of Western Europe in the 1920s, on the side of devaluation to bring official currency values in line with relative national price levels rather than of deflation to force national price levels into consistency with pre-WWI exchange rate parities. He argues that when you are forced to choose between maintaining a stable exchange rate and maintaining a stable internal price level, choose the second. For avoiding fluctuations in your internal price level avoids a host of evils:

We see, therefore, that rising prices and falling prices each have their characteristic disadvantage.... Inflation is unjust and Deflation is inexpedient.... [I]t is not necessary that we should weigh one evil against the other. It is easier to agree that both are evisl to be shunned. The Individualistic Capitalism of today, precisely because it entrusts saving to the individual investor and production to the individual employer, presumes a stable measuring-rod of value, and cannot be efficient--perhaps cannot survive--without one...

He argues against return to the gold standard, on the grounds that modern central banks run by clever people like him can do a better job of maintaining price stability if they are not tied to gold. Keynes's arguments in chapter four look very good: current opinion among economic historians, exemplified by Barry Eichengreen's Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression, is that attachment to gold did a large part of the work in preventing central banks from stemming the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The last chapter contains Keynes's "Positive Suggestions for the Future Regulation of Money". Keynes's suggested policies are the same as Irving Fisher, or indeed as Milton Friedman: spend money to construct a good price index, and then tune monetary policy so as to stabilize internal prices. As Keynes wrote in his preface:

We leave Saving to the private investor.... We leave the responsibility for setting Production in motion to the business man.... [T]hese arrangements, being in accord with human nature, have great advantages. But they cannot work properly if the [value of] money, which the assume as a stable measuring-rod, is undependable...

The implicit point of view is that if the value of money is dependable then leaving saving to the private investors and investment to business will work well. The magnitude of the Great Depression of the 1930s would destroy Keynes's faith in the proposition that stable internal prices implied a well-functioning macroeconomy and small business cycles. But from our perspective today--in which the Great Depression is seen as a unique disaster brought on by an unprecedented collapse in financial intermediation and in world trade, rather than as the largest species of the genus of business cycles--it is far from clear that Keynes of 1936 is to be preferred to Keynes of 1924.

Besides, Keynes of 1924 writes better: his prose is clearer, less academic, less formal; his argument is more straightforward, linear, easier to follow; his style is as witty.


Econ 2: Spring 2014: Week 5: When We Can't Make the Market Work Optimally...

What We Do This Week:

Continue Problem Set 2... Read (or reread) Essentials, chapter 9 "Externalities and PubliC Goods"...


Yes, Gun Background Check Save Lives: Live from La Farine LXXXXIX: February 19, 2014

Igor Volsky: This New Study Proves That Background Checks Save Lives: "Missouri’s decision to repeal its law requiring all handgun purchasers to obtain a 'permit-to-purchase' (PTP) verifying they passed a background check led to a 16 percent increase in the state murder rate, a new study from Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research has found....

State legislators eliminated the permit requirement in June of 2007, as part of a larger firearms bill granting criminal and civil immunity to homeowners who use deadly force against intruders.... Removing the licensing requirement contributed to an “additional 55 to 63 murders per year in Missouri between 2008 and 2012.” The increases occurred in the first full year after the repeal, during which the state saw “large increases in the number of guns diverted to criminals and in guns purchased in Missouri that were subsequently recovered by police in border states that retained their PTP laws.” The analysts controlled “for changes in policing, incarceration, burglaries, unemployment, poverty, and other state laws adopted during the study period that could affect violent crime,” a press release for the study says....

Continue reading "Yes, Gun Background Check Save Lives: Live from La Farine LXXXXIX: February 19, 2014" »


Liveblogging World War II: February 18, 1944

NewImage

Operation Hailstone:

A massive naval air and surface attack launched on February 16–17, 1944, during World War II by the United States Navy against the Japanese naval and air base at Truk in the Caroline Islands, a pre-war Japanese territory.

Truk was a major Japanese logistical base as well as the operating "home" base for the Imperial Japanese Navy's Combined Fleet. Some have described it as the Japanese equivalent of the US Navy's Pearl Harbor. The atoll was the only major Japanese airbase within range of the Marshall Islands and was a significant source of support for Japanese garrisons located on islands and atolls throughout the central and south Pacific. The base was the key logistical and operational hub supporting Japan's perimeter defenses in the central and south Pacific....

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: February 18, 1944" »


Sexism and Aggression Online: Rabid Weasels Department

Sean Fodera: Favorite Newsgroups:

It just occurred to me that MRK seems to be deeply involved in this whole anti-sexism matter. I remember seeing her posing with Hines and Scalzi on one of their very scary cover parodies, and I know she chimed in with a snipe at the petition signers on the Radish thread.

I find it very funny and ironic that she would jump on this bandwagon. For a long time, her website featured an array of photos of her in a diaphanous white outfit, posing on a beach. No metal bikinis or such, but they were not innocuous writer headshots either. One of them, with her recumbent on the sand with legs exposed, made her somewhat attractive. I also recall she's fond of wearing tight-fitting gowns and plunging necklines when she attends cons and award ceremonies.

I'll have to add "phony" to "incompetent" and "arrogant" in the mental tags I've assigned her.


Let's turn the microphone over to Mary Robinette Kowal:

Mary Robinette Kowal: Me, as a useful representative example: "For those of you who haven’t been following this, and I’m glad you haven’t, here is an article from The Daily Dot for backstory.

The short form is that some people said some not nice things about me in a public space, and the story has been picked up as an example of sexism in part because one of the people saying those things works for my publisher.... It wasn’t news for me. For years, I’ve known that there was a segment of folks on sff.net that profoundly did not like me, and that they were saying unpleasant things about me. I knew that a guy in contracts hated me. But I’d decided to ignore it because, honestly, he’s a professional and he did his job. The fact that he didn’t like me… Sad, but not career-damaging.

So, on a personal level when comments like these come to my attention, I just laugh and move on. I don’t waste my story-brain on constructing a narrative about how they’ve wronged me and what I can do about it. They are well within their rights to dislike me and to say so... mostly I’m just laughing.” And this is the part that I feel I should draw attention to — I was “mostly” laughing.

Continue reading "Sexism and Aggression Online: Rabid Weasels Department" »


The Republican Party Continues to Dig Its Own Grave via Attempted Voter Suppression: Live from La Farine LXXXXVIII: February 17, 2014

Peter Beinart: Why the Republican Push for Black Voters Is (Mostly) Doomed to Fail:

Republican efforts to curtail early voting... disproportionately hurt racial minorities.... The problem, of course, is that limiting Democratic voting means limiting African-American voting. And in a country that for much of its history denied African Americans the right to vote, pushing laws that make it harder for African Americans to exercise that right touches the rawest of nerves. As long as many African Americans feel the GOP doesn’t want them to vote, it’s unlikely anything the GOP says to African Americans is going to have much positive impact.

The good news for Republicans is that changing their views on early voting, voter ID, and the voting rights of ex-prisoners doesn’t mean changing their stated ideals.... When it comes to... members of the military serving overseas, Republicans are quite happy to defend the principle that it should be easier to vote.... The choice Republicans must make isn’t ideological. It’s strategic. They can either keep trying to make the electorate more white, or they can begin, seriously, to try to make the GOP more black (and brown). In the short term, the former is a safer bet. In the longer term, given the way America is changing demographically, it’s suicide. So far, for all their much-hyped African-American outreach, Republicans are still choosing door number one.


Liveblogging World War II: February 17, 1944

The London Irish Rifles at Anzio:

At 0700 hours on February 17 the London Irish and the rest of the brigade moved forward into the sector held by its parent division. The battalion occupied a reserve position, this time west of the Anzio-Albano road in flat country below Buonriposa Ridge. In a direct line they were less than four miles from the sea. The flatness of the country was deceiving. It was interspersed with wadis and ditches which, though invisible from more than a few yards away, were very deep and steep, with a mass of tangled undergrowth at the bottom. That they were there had been obvious from the map, but that they were such considerable obstacles to movement or helped to conceal movement was not realised until later. German tactics showed that they knew the ground well.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: February 17, 1944" »


Monday Nick Kristof Smackdown: Yes, There Are Political Science Public Intellectuals! The New York Times Is Hiring Some!

Over at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth: Perhaps the Single Most Puzzling Thing Published Over the Weekend: The Peculiar Blindness of Nick Kristof: Monday Focus: February 17, 2014: I think: The New York Times claims a Sunday print circulation of 1 million. The Sunday New York Times costs $4. If Kristof gets 1/2000 of the time spent on the Sunday New York Times--three seconds, if the average copy is read for 2 hours--1000 hours are spent reading Nick Kristof's column, and if the average wage of a reader is $100,000/year, an additional 40 hours are spent earning the money to buy the right to read Nick Kristof’s column in print.

And I think: That level of engagement (and revenue!) on the part of readers would, one would think, lead to a substantial infrastructure supporting marquee columnists to make sure that their columns were the best columns possible. I mean: readers are spending a substantial fraction of a year of income plus attention on this, and if the New York Times spends 10% as much in resources on it as its readers, that would be 104 reporter and editorial person-hours backing up each 750-word column.

And so, one would think, in the twenty-first century, that Nick Kristof would, as he wrote his column, know what his own newspaper announced just two days ago:

Meg Sullivan: Vavreck to help fill void in New York Times left by popular blogger Nate Silver: “UCLA political scientist Lynn Vavreck is joining a team of reporters, analysts and other contributors who will be posting to a new website on politics and policy in The New York Times that will launch in the spring with a focus on demystifying politics, economics, health care and other issues with data. Read More


Liveblogging World War II: February 16, 2014

HISTORY IN IMAGES Downfall Slow Decimation Of The German Army Battle Of KORSUN CHERKASSY

Battle of the Korsun–Cherkassy Pocket - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

On the evening of 15 February the 105th Regiment again, using its last reserves and with two assault guns, secured Khilki, defeating a Soviet counterattack supported by armor.... The pocket had "wandered" south and half-way toward its rescuers and rested on the village of Shanderovka. The settlement was heavily defended by the Soviets; had been captured by 72nd Infantry troops, was retaken by units of the Soviet 27th Army and recaptured by the Germania regiment of 5th SS Panzer Division. By nightfall on 16 February, III Panzer Corps fought its way closer to the encircled formations, the spearheads were now seven kilometers from Group Stemmermann.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: February 16, 2014" »


Noted for Your Lunchtime Procrastination for February 15, 2014

Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog

Plus:

And:

Alyssa Rosenberg: 'The LEGO Movie' Is An Amazing Critique Of American Mass Culture |

Continue reading "Noted for Your Lunchtime Procrastination for February 15, 2014" »


Janet Yellen's Humphrey-Hawkins Testimony: Weekend Reading

Janet Yellen: Humphrey-Hawkins Testimony:

Chairman Hensarling, Ranking Member Waters and other members of the Committee, I am pleased to present the Federal Reserve's semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress. In my remarks today, I will discuss the current economic situation and outlook before turning to monetary policy. I will conclude with an update on our continuing work on regulatory reform.

Continue reading "Janet Yellen's Humphrey-Hawkins Testimony: Weekend Reading" »


Liveblogging World War II: February 15, 1944

William Heard of the 7th Battalion Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry at Anzio:

The Battalion had moved into new battle positions, in a wadi, during the night. At dawn, the enemy, spurred on by Hitler’s orders that the Allies must be swept from the bridgehead into the sea, launched a full scale attack. We were vastly outnumbered.

Machine guns swept ‘A’ Company’s position and the mortar bombs, which fell relentlessly, took a heavy toll. However, the Germans were also suffering heavily, as we were determined not to be pushed back. Suddenly, we realised that the clatter of the machine guns was also now coming from the rear. The Company was surrounded. Despite our best efforts, sheer weight of numbers had carried the enemy through. The wireless operator reported to Battalion Headquarters – “We are surrounded just forward of the wadi”. Then silence.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: February 15, 1944" »


Liveblogging World War II: February 14, 1944

MY DAY by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 14, 1944:

WASHINGTON, Sunday—A letter came to me the other day, a part of which I want to give you. It expresses the feeling so many of us have in our hearts better than I could:

It seems to have been necessary for both of my sons to give their lives in this war. I am willing, and able, to take it, if their deaths and those thousands of others who are dying far away from home, can be justified by a better and more equalized world when this war is over. If we get anything like the 'status quo' or 'back to normalcy,' it can be nothing but a hideous waste.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: February 14, 1944" »


The Last Thursday Idiocy: Karl Rove

Jon Chait: Rove: Obama Has Ruined Bush’s Paradise:

Karl Rove is most famous for being architect of one of the worst presidencies in American history and then a Superpac strategist/delusional Romney campaign-night dead-ender. I’m a Rove junkie, and just as a snobbish fan of any popular band must have some obscure album he finds superior to the band’s most popular work, the Rove career function I find most delightful and rewarding is his work as a Wall Street Journal op-ed columnist.... Today’s column begins with Rove’s bizarre belief that the health exchanges in Obamacare are a “single-payer” system, reflecting his apparent confusion about what this term means. (The single-payer in a single-payer system is the government, not the insurance companies in the exchanges.) But the main point is the Orwellian proposition that “Mr. Obama's pattern is to act, or fail to act, in a way that will leave his successor with a boatload of troubles.”

What kind of president would bequeath a boatload of troubles to his successor? Oh, the irresponsibility.

Continue reading "The Last Thursday Idiocy: Karl Rove" »


Thursday Idiocy: CNN's Gingrich Has A Bizarre Email List

Eric Hanonaki: The Illuminati, "Obama's 'Secret Mistress,'" And Cancer "Cures": CNN's Gingrich Has A Bizarre Email List:

Subscribers to CNN host Newt Gingrich's email list are receiving supposed insider information about cancer "cures," the Illuminati, "Obama's 'Secret Mistress,'" a "weird" Social Security "trick," and Fort Knox being "empty."... CNN has been helping Gingrich build his list by not only employing him, but also by promoting Gingrich Productions and its website.... Gingrich Productions has sent at least 15 sponsored emails for Stansberry & Associates since June 2013. Stansberry is a disgraced financial firm that was fined $1.5 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission for engaging in "deliberate fraud" and profiting from "false statements." The firm sells financial products by pushing conspiracies about the Obama administration.... Gingrich's team previously claimed to distance the former speaker from Stansberry after questions surfaced about a sponsored email suggesting Obama would win a third term....

Gingrich is part of a movement where, as MSNBC's Chris Hayes noted, "much of conservatism is a con and the base are the marks."... The New Republic's Ben Adler wrote in a piece about Gingrich and fellow hucksters Herman Cain and Mike Huckabee that they "are pioneering a new, more direct method for post-campaign buckraking. All it requires is some digitally savvy accomplices--and a total immunity to shame."...

The following are the subject line and quotes from some of the sponsored emails Gingrich Productions has sent to its list in the past six months.

  • "American Doctor Releases Cancer Cure Before Government Spies Find it." An August 29, 2013, email from Health Revelations claims that "cancer was cured back in 1925," and "the annual flu shot is nothing more than a BALD-FACED SCAM." The email takes readers to a page claiming that "Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease and Alzheimer's" have been "DEFEATED" but suggests the government is covering up such cures.

  • "The Illuminati [Secret Society] Puts a Deathgrip on America." A December 31, 2013, Wall Street Daily email claims that the "Illuminati was behind every consequential wealth event of the past year" including bitcoin. The Illuminati is a frequent player in conspiracy theories. 

  • "Obama's 'Secret Mistress' Exposed." A December 12, 2013, email from Laissez Faire Club claims that "President Obama has made painstaking efforts to keep his 'secret mistress' hidden from the American public, and he has succeeded brilliantly... until now."

  • "WhistleBlower: 7 Deadly Drugs the Government Wants You to Swallow." The Health Sciences Institute claimed in a November 19, 2013, email that an "insider near Washington D.C. has just blown the lid off the 7 Deadly Drugs the U.S. Government can't wait for you to swallow." The email assured Gingrich readers that it's not a conspiracy theory since the "whistleblower has concrete evidence 'the powers that be' are shoving pure poison down your throat... and laughing all the way to the bank."

  • "Weird Trick Adds $1,000 to Social Security Checks . . ." A September 12, 2013, Newsmax Media email claimed that they've "stumbled upon this weird trick that can add $1,000 to monthly Social Security checks." (For more on this email claim, see here.)

  • "Fort Knox is Empty (the Gold's Missing...)." An August 20, 2013, Wall Street Daily email claimed, "Whispers are swirling around Capitol Hill that Fort Knox is empty" and "the U.S. government has been shipping gold to nations like China (as collateral for a weak dollar)."  

  • "New Scandal in the White House?" A cryptic July 11, 2013, Stansberry & Associates email claimed that there's a "big new scandal brewing in the White House" and "when this scandal is ultimately exposed, it's going to have major implications not only for Barack Obama, but also for our entire country."...


Jon Gruber Does Some Intellectual Garbage Collection and Cleans Up Some Thursday Idiocy: Casey Mulligan Knows No More About Health Economics than He Knows About Macroeconomics Edition

Jon Gruber: Obamacare Critics Still Tell Just One Side of the Jobs Story:

Instead of addressing a subtle and complicated issue with (at least!) two sides, the law’s critics keep turning it into a single-sided moral diatribe about the work ethic and the supposed damage Obamacare is doing to it. A perfect illustration is a recent New York Times Economix column by Casey Mulligan.... The genesis of Mulligan’s article is the surprisingly famous appendix to that CBO report—the part where the agency predicts that the Affordable Care Act will be associated with a reduction in the workforce of the U.S... voluntary job leaving by those who have been “locked” into their jobs by fear of losing health insurance... those who are deterred from working by higher marginal tax rates....

Continue reading "Jon Gruber Does Some Intellectual Garbage Collection and Cleans Up Some Thursday Idiocy: Casey Mulligan Knows No More About Health Economics than He Knows About Macroeconomics Edition" »


Noted for Your Evening Procrastination for February 13, 2014

Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog

Plus:

And:

Continue reading "Noted for Your Evening Procrastination for February 13, 2014" »


Thursday Idiocy: Stephen Williamson

Stephen Williamson: : What's a Central Bank Good For?:

Prescott is quoted....

It is an established scientific fact that monetary policy has had virtually no effect on output and employment in the U.S. since the formation of the Fed....

Everyone else simply says: "Prescott is wrong: that's not an established scientific fact at all."

But Williamson, somehow, cannot say that. He cannot say: "water is wet." He cannot say: "the sun rises in the east". Instead, he says that people like Prescott who say that water is dry or that the sun rises in the west are deep thinkers, serious scientists, and have a definite point--that water is dryish and the sunrise is westish if you look at it from a properly-sophisticated point of view.

This isn't just: "opinions of shape of earth differ". This is: "if you are a deep thinker, the world really is kinda flattish, isn't it?"

Ed... is a very deep thinker, and a serious scientist....

Continue reading "Thursday Idiocy: Stephen Williamson" »


How Key Was the Seventeenth-Eighteenth Century Commercial Revolution to the Eighteenth-Nineteenth Century Constitutional-Government Revolution?: Thursday Focus: February 13, 2014

Over at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth: How Key Was the Seventeenth-Eighteenth Century Commercial Revolution to the Eighteenth-Nineteenth Century Constitutional-Government Revolution?:

I have been thinking about Mauricio Drelichman and Hans-Joachim Voth’s Lending to the Borrower from Hell: Debt, Taxes, and Default in the Age of Philip II. And I just finished ranting about all this over breakfast at Rick and Ann’s to the patient, good-humored, and extremely intelligent Joachim Voth.

So it is only fair that I inflict on the rest of the world what I inflicted on him:

The point at issue is Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson, and James Robinson’s “Atlantic Trade” paper, which is… not wrong, exactly... but rather which makes things too simple. Read More


Thursday Complete and Total Idiocy: This Takes the Cake! Mike Allen and Politico

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

Hunter Walker: Wednesday morning's edition of Mike Allen's popular Politico Playbook newsletter included an item that simply said, "HOT HASHTAG: #VoiceTheRule."

Eagle-eyed readers quickly noticed that the "Hot Hashtag" in Playbook hadn't actually been used by anyone on Twitter.... [Mike] Allen explained....

It's a reference--figurative, not literal--to how the debt-ceiling vote went down last night. By adopting the rule on voice vote, they avoided a potential procedural detour or roadblock. People who had been at the Capitol for the vote were buzzing about it at dinner afterward, and jokingly suggested that hashtag. Part of what makes D.C. so D.C.!

Playbook was delivered at about 9:22 A.M. Wednesday. The first tweets using the "hot" #VoiceTheRule hashtag appeared a little over 20 minutes later and expressed confusion.... As of this writing, all eight tweets on the #VoiceTheRule hashtag came from authors who were wondering what it all meant.


Liveblogging World War II: February 13, 1944

File Bundesarchiv Bild 101I 277 0846 13 Russland Panzer VI Tiger I jpg Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Battle of the Korsun–Cherkassy Pocket - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The Soviet attack started on 24 January when Konev's 2nd Ukrainian Front attacked the salient from the southeast. Breakthrough was quickly achieved, and the penetration was exploited by the 5th Guards Tank Army and the 5th Guards Cavalry Corps the following day. Despite the awareness of German 8th Army's staff that an attack was imminent, they were surprised by the appearance of the 1st Ukrainian Front's newly formed 6th Tank Army. The 6th Tank Army, with 160 tanks and 50 self-propelled guns, was inexperienced and took longer than expected to penetrate the western flank of the salient. A "mobile group" from 5th Mechanized Corps' 233rd Tank Brigade, under the command of General Savelev, with 50 tanks and 200 sub-machine gun armed infantrymen, occupied Lysyanka and moved into the outskirts of Zvenyhorodka by 28 January. Here, these troops of the 6th Tank Army met the 2nd Ukrainian Front's 20th Tank Corps. Over the next three days, the two tank armies formed a thinly manned outer ring around what was now the Korsun Pocket while another, inner, ring was formed by the Soviet 27th, 52nd, and 4th Guard Armies.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: February 13, 1944" »


Econ 2: Spring 2014: Week 4: Monkeying with the Market

What We Do This Week:

Begin Problem Set 2... Read Essentials, chapter 9 "Externalities and PubliC Goods"



Documents:


Hoisted from the Archives from March 2000: Communication: In Which a Professor Claims We Should Not Write to Be Understood...

I had forgotten about this. It made me laugh at the time. It makes me laugh now:

Email: Communication: Should We Write to Be Understood?:

Context:

Well, again I think the problem is a very simplistic and monocultural perspective on communication and meaning. I would think that editors would want articles with a communicational genre that relates to their purpose and audience. The style and organization would vary accordingly. Anything on the forefront of a particular area, particularly social theory would confront what Michael Shapiro calls the "dilemma of intelligibility". That is, at stake in the writing process is the confrontation of creativity with intelligibility. To communicate "effectively" is to sacrifice creative distance in order to produce understandable frames of reference. Communication operates within cultural bounds working constantly to restrict meaning in order to increase circulation.

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And Now "National Review" Hates CostCo too...: Live from The Roasterie LXXXXV: February 12, 2014

Alicublog: New Realities: "Remember when conservatives considered Costco as American as cheeseburgers and credit default swaps?...

The basic idea was [that] large stores selling large lots at large discounts... excited the Common Man and that was what conservatism was all about. (Rick Santorum tried to split the difference in his last Witchfinder General campaign by calling his chosen people "Sam's Club and Costco folks.")... NROniks like Jennifer Graham sneered at a feminist who didn't want to have kids and wind up shopping at Costco.... Larry Kudlow protested John Kerry's NAFTA stance as "trade protectionism" that "undermines the living standards of the near 135 million Americans who shop at Wal-Mart, Kmart, Costco, Target, Home Depot, and Best Buy." This schtick persisted into the early Obama era... added Costco to the honor roll of big companies "in Obama’s crosshairs" for high socialist taxation.... Mitt and Ann Romney went shopping at Costco and gushed about all the stuff they'd bought and would keep in a shed till the election was over and they could quietly get rid of it.

But this week, National Review's Alec Torres headlines,

Costco: The Arugula of Chain Stores

Arugula--the most dreaded of conservative curse-words!

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Washington Center for Equitable Growth: Frequently Asked Questions About CBO’s Estimates of the Labor Market Effects of the Affordable Care Act

Washington Center for Equitable Growth: Afternoon Must-Read: CBO: Frequently Asked Questions About CBO’s Estimates of the Labor Market Effects of the Affordable Care Act:

Q: Will 2.5 Million People Lose Their Jobs in 2024 Because of the ACA?

A: No.

We would not describe our estimates in that way. We wrote in the report: “CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor.”…

Because the longer-term reduction in work is expected to come almost entirely from a decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply in response to the changes in their incentives, we do not think it is accurate to say that the reduction stems from people “losing” their jobs.