Friday, September 4, 2009

Damn Imported Bald Eagles

It's a sad day when the US has to import bald eagles... or a happy one that there is an abundance somewhere else that allows us to!

More on the similarities between Presidents Obama and...

Nixon?

Yup, I've covered it before: Nixon was a self-proclaimed Keynesian; Nixon proposed a "negative tax" that would effectively reform welfare and still help the poor. Now, I've seen it all. Nixon favored a national health program that offered universal coverage. Here's proof. The principles of it:
First, it offers every American an opportunity to obtain a balanced,
comprehensive range of health insurance benefits;
Second, it will cost no American more than he can afford to pay;
Third, it builds on the strength and diversity of our existing public and
private systems of health financing and harmonizes them into an overall system;
Fourth, it uses public funds only where needed and requires no new Federal
taxes;
Fifth, it would maintain freedom of choice by patients and ensure that
doctors work for their patient, not for the Federal Government.
Sixth, it encourages more effective use of our health care resources;
And finally, it is organized so that all parties would have a direct stake
in making the system work--consumer, provider, insurer, State governments and
the Federal Government.

If Tricky Dick were running for his old senate seat today, he'd probably either have to run as a democrat, or he'd lose in the primary to someone who has no shame in calling him a socialist. Interesting how the political tides in the Republicanist party have shifted to the extreme.

The Consumption Bubble

Thursday, September 3, 2009

More on the benefits of globalization

Economic History and the Variety Gains from Trade

Free Exchange highlights this from a new VOX paper on economic history and pre-industrial revolution welfare improvements:

Tea reached Europe from China in 1606, spreading to France in 1630, and finally to England in 1650...Coffee spread through the Middle East and arrived in Europe in 1615. Sugar, available before 1500 in limited quantities, only became affordable once production centres developed in the Caribbean starting in the mid 17th century.

By the end of the period, sugar, coffee, and tea constituted 7.2% of an average English household’s budget, and roughly 10% of their food expenditure...To put this in perspective, personal consumption expenditure on personal computers in the US in 2004 was only 0.6% of consumption expenditure, meaning that, by at least one metric, the average Englishman valued sugar more than the average American values his or her computer...

Prior to 1700, the average European consumed 182 kg of bread and 182 litres of beer per year...Half of all spending was on beer and bread, and fully three-quarters of all calories came from these two sources alone. The reason for massive beer consumption was simple – water was often contaminated. This was especially true in the cities. Brewed beer was safe. It is hence not surprising that it was consumed throughout the day, often with breakfast, and in all forms – including as beer soup in the morning...

Minivans, satellite TV, the internet, and mobile phones have made life better. The single biggest addition to welfare comes from the introduction of personal computers, credited by Greenwood and Kopecky with a gain of 3.5-4% of consumption expenditure. Compared to these figures, the gains for coffee, tea, and sugar look very large.

The thing to highlight here is the importance of TRADE. Without expanding trade, it is doubtful that tea, coffee, and sugar could have ever become available. Hence, variety gains from trade. It only took until 1980 for Krugman to formalize it in the trade literature.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Some Links

Not much time to talk about these, but they're interesting:
Bayesian analysis of support for school vouchers; it would be interesting to see for health care.
When supply is low, the price is high: Womens' attitudes towards monogamy and the relative supply of marriagable men.
Probability is the oil of rationalization: "To rationalise a choice you want to make, you choose costs and benefits that lead to your choice seeming like the rational conclusion."
And to complement the previous: Ice versus soda cost-benefit analysis.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009