A recent WSJ ($$$) has an article describing Alan Blinder's evolved concern over trade with other countries. The gist is that Blinder, while still abhorring full-out protectionism, believes losses from trade will be larger than most economists believe since technology lets English-speaking people from other countries perform services for Americans. In the third to last paragraph, we are given the prescription:
Mr. Blinder says there's an urgent need to retool America's education
system so it trains young people for jobs likely to remain in the U.S.
Just telling them to go to college to compete in the global economy is
insufficient. A college diploma, he warns, "may lose its exalted
'silver bullet' status." It isn't how many years one spends in school
that will matter, he says, it's choosing to learn the skills for jobs
that cannot easily be delivered electronically from afar.
I realize Professor Blinder is arguing for more job-specific
training (not general education) to help workers displaced by trade, and not for restrictions on trade. But what types of jobs would qualify as "jobs that cannot be easily delivered electronically from afar"? Since Blinder is looking ahead, another important question is what types of jobs are likely to stay in the US in the future - say in 5 years? In 10 years? In 25 years? In 50 years? Of these, which are going to be most important and who will make this decision?
Moreover, why worry about substitute resources that happen to be humans in other countries? Why not focus on developing skills for jobs that can't be easily replicated by computer programs or by some other form of capital here in the US? Arnold Kling notes:
However, I do expect that in another decade there will be tens of
millions of Americans in different occupations than they are today.
Technological progress will be far more important than trade in causing
these shifts. More churning in employment will be caused by computers
and robots than by trade.
As a child, I used to dam the roads' gutterred runoff with piles of snow to create lakes in which my friends and I could float our boats. But the damned water continued to seek the deep and it always found a way around/through my dams.
Pat has a layer of cardboard beneath him, a wool blanket on top of
him, two paperbacks found in a dumpster in his hand and the promise of
$80 when he wakes up.
“I’m a lucky guy,” the 40-year-old homeless man said, from one of the most coveted spots in town these days.
Pat was first in line at the Fort Street passport office lineup
yesterday. He claimed his spot at 1 p.m. the afternoon before, and
slept out on the sidewalk with about 15 other homeless people who have
put themselves to work holding space in line for those a little more
When teaching material on price ceilings, I mention the array of non-price rationing systems that crop up when prices cannot adjust to clear the market - one of which is queuing. I mention that those willing to wait the longest are those who get the good. I also mention that it is not clear that the lucky ones will have lowest opportunity cost of waiting (the poor) because those with higher opportunity costs who also want the good can pay those with lower opportunity costs to wait in line for them. Life imitates econ.
The NBA's ugly stepchildren are rearing their heads again:
Conspiracy theorists love this time of year because the draft matters way
more in the NBA than in major league baseball, even more than in the NFL, and
more this year than most. It's one of the deepest in a while and likely will be
topped by Ohio State's Greg Oden and Texas' Kevin Durant, two guys who need
seasoning but could dominate for a decade.
..."I don't want to accuse anyone of anything. I would say to take away any
possible conflict of interest, everyone should have an equal chance at the top
pick all the way down. That way there would be absolutely no question by anybody
"If it's better for the game, they should do it," Van Gundy added. "I
never quite understood why losing is rewarded, other than (for) parity."
Corn prices have already begun to soar. A rush to turn more acres
into corn production could decrease supplies of other commodities,
driving up prices of them as well.
Ag land has alternative uses. When the return earned from producing one commodity is bolstered by subsidization, farmers will, all else equal, plant more of that commodity and less of another commodity when the amount of land used in agriculture is fixed. Another possibility in areas like mine (a small, growing midwestern city surrounded by farmland) is that property values, and the prices of new homes, could be pushed up as subsidization raises the return from using land for agricultural purposes.
The resulting higher market prices could then dampen the public's
support for government subsidies that are designed to help farmers reap
profits when markets are down.
I'll believe subsidy decreases when I see them.
Sunding envisioned a scenario in which price supports for farmers
are replaced by another government program — one to purchase food to
keep prices affordable and prevent hunger.
There's nothing quite like mestastizing government policy.
let them explain: "We agreed that we want to take part in shaping the
children's understandings from a perspective of social justice. So we
decided to take the LEGOs out of the classroom. The children were
building their assumptions about ownership and the social power it
conveys — assumptions that mirrored those of a class-based, capitalist
society — a society that we teachers believe to be unjust and
Teachers at a Seattle day care center decided to ban LEGO
building blocks — those colorful little bricks kids use to build such
creations as robots, monster trucks, space ships and vast futuristic
cities. The Hilltop Children's Center bills itself as a nationally recognized, non-profit, non-religious facility. So why did the teachers toss the LEGOs?
So the teachers use their power to impose their beliefs on the children rather than let the children play and figure things out for themselves. Just who, exactly, is being oppressive and unjust?
Here's an essay on why the teachers banned Legos. For the record, the teachers have allowed the Legos back into the center, but with a few conditions. An excerpt of that says a lot of their worldview:
From our conversations, several themes emerged.
Collectivity is a good thing:
"You get to build and you have a lot of fun and
people get to build onto your structure with you, and it doesn't have
to be the same way as when you left it.... A house is good because it
is a community house."
Personal expression matters:
"It's important that the little Lego plastic person
has some identity. Lego houses might be all the same except for the
people. A kid should have their own Lego character to live in the house
so it makes the house different."
Shared power is a valued goal:
"It's important to have the same amount of power as
other people over your building. And it's important to have the same
"Before, it was the older kids who had the
power because they used Legos most. Little kids have more rights now
than they used to and older kids have half the rights."
Moderation and equal access to resources are things to strive for:
"We should have equal houses. They should be standard
sizes.... We should all just have the same number of pieces, like 15 or
A couple of months along and I bought the James Gang’s Bang
album with Tommy Bolin on guitar. Tommy freaking Bolin. When I heard
Tommy the first time all the searching for the perfect rock guitar
approach was resolved. Tommy’s tone raised the hair on the back of my
neck, and he had a high degree of technical ability. From the beginning
of a song to the end of a song, his playing would be interesting and
inspiring all the way through, always standing out without hurting the
music or interfering with the other players. He rarely played anything
that didn’t make sense, and that was a big deal to me. To this day
Tommy’s still my main guitar hero, even as I developed my own musical
The emphasis is mine. This reminds
me of the best writers: they never use nonsensical or unnecessary
words. They say in a word or two that which others need more to
My composition and rhetoric professor at Morningside had students perform an excercise meant to teach them how to use words efficiently. Students read an article and summarized it in 200 (or so) words. Then they summarized the same article in 100 words, then 50 words. The point was, of course, to get students to think about how to say something with as few words as possible.
President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that his administration plans to
create "collective property" as part of sweeping reforms toward
socialism, and that officials would move to seize control of large
ranches and redistribute lands deemed "idle."
The Venezuelan leader, speaking on his television and radio program
"Hello President," said the government was "advancing quickly" with a
concept of "social, or collective, property" to be included in
forthcoming constitutional reforms.
"It's property that belongs to everyone and it's going to benefit
everyone," said Chavez, who vowed to undermine capitalism's continued
influence in Venezuela.
I wonder if everyone will be allowed into the presidential residency and if Chavez will confiscate his own property and make it collectively-owned.
The following is unsurprising given that Chavez is, in essence, squelching Venezuealans' incentives to provide for one another:
"If Mr. Chavez really wants to help Venezuela's poor farmers, he must
offer them technical assistance and sufficient financing because land
doesn't become productive without investment," said opposition leader
Alfonzo Marquina. "We're only seeing increasing shortages and more
This will do little good if farmers' produce is collective property. Forced altruism (nor collective agriculture) does not work well.
And lest we think things will change democratically:
The leftist leader also plans to slap new luxury taxes on the wealthy
and do away with presidential term limits that would otherwise bar him
from running again in 2012.
In Sports Economics today we talked about some of the perverse incentives created by instituting a reverse order draft. Here is a post by Dave Berri at the Wages of Wins blog on such perverse incentives in the NBA.