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Showing posts from June, 2010

Tea Party Critics: Mixing and Matching

The following mixes and matches several quite different groups, confounding Tea Party activists will a long list of varied demographics:The Very Angry Tea Party
By J.M. BERNSTEINhttp://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/the-very-angry-tea-party/In a bracing and astringent essay in The New York Review of Books, pointedly titled "The Tea Party Jacobins," Mark Lilla argued that the hodge-podge list of animosities Tea party supporters mention fail to cohere into a body of political grievances in the conventional sense: they lack the connecting thread of achieving political power. It is not for the sake of acquiring political power that Tea Party activists demonstrate, rally and organize; rather, Lilla argues, the appeal is to "individual opinion, individual autonomy, and individual choice, all in the service of neutralizing, not using, political power." He calls Tea Party activists a "libertarian mob" since they proclaim the belief "that they can …

Academic Groupthink = Political Homogeneity

Reflections on:Groupthink in Academia
Majoritarian Departmental Politics and the Professional Pyramid
February 11, 2009
Daniel B. Klein, Charlotta Stern
The Independent Review, Spring 2009http://www.independent.org/publications/article.asp?id=2434I have two reactions to this article and, admittedly, my views are at odds on the surface. 1. We hire people like ourselves and seek to work in a place that mirrors our views.
2. Universities should be different and attempt to encourage debate and discussion.I don't know how to bring these two views into alignment. I would, however, draw a distinction between the humanities and "hard" sciences / engineering. The humanities are dominated by political theoreticians, while the differences in math, science, engineering, and medicine are less "political." This does not mean there are not serious intellectual differences that shape every discipline; from computer science to physics there are debates about which lines of research …

Do Economists Change Their Tune on Budget Deficits?

The Subject: When the White House Changes Party, Do Economists Change Their Tune on Budget Deficits?

Econ Journal Watch 7(2), p 119-156, May 2010
http://econjwatch.org/articles/when-the-white-house-changes-party-do-economists-change-their-tune-on-budget-deficits
This paper investigates selected economists, to see whether their tune changes when the party holding the White House changes. Six economists are found to change their tune—Paul Krugman in a significant way, Alan Blinder in a moderate way, and Martin Feldstein, Murray Weidenbaum, Paul Samuelson, and Robert Solow in a minor way—while eleven are found to be fairly consistent. The good news is that 11 economists were consistent in their theories and writings. Of course, situations change and economics is not a science -- no matter what practitioners claim. Economics is a historically grounded art of sorts, a matter of interpretations and hypotheses. Still, consistency appeals to me.

I also don't mind the four economists note…

Politicians Cause Downsizing

I suggest reading this article:Politicians Cause Downsizing
“It was an enormous surprise, at least to us, to learn that the average firm in the chairman’s state did not benefit at all from the increase in spending,” says Coval. “Indeed, the firms significantly cut physical and R&D spending, reduced employment, and experienced lower sales.” -- Let's hear it for stimulus spending… The fact scholars were surprised that government spending does not result in improvements to a local economy is pretty sad. Most business owners could have explained this basic of Econ 101: government takes resources from the private sector, whether it is money (taxes) or intellectual capital (employees). Governments compete against the private sector and when the government is losing it can change the rules.

Consider the U.S. Postal Service. Each employee of the postal service is also a potential UPS or FedEx employee. But, laws prevent private competition in standard mail delivery. You can buy a mailb…