Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fossil Fuel Subsidies

This graph from David Roberts is somewhat misleading (for example, it's hard to tell if magnitude is measured as radius from the origin or total area and I'd like to see a breakdown per BTU or something), but it has a powerful point: We subsidize "dirty energy" more than we subsidize "clean energy" in the aggregate. Why not, before getting into a big brew-ha-ha over cap-and-trade, remove the implicit and explicit subsidies for making the environment worse-off?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Incentive to Die?

I remember a humorous story from Parentonomics about a policy in
Australia (which had been facing unusually low population growth) that
awarded new parents a couple thousand bucks to have a kid during a
specified period (let's say ending June 30 because I can't remember the
exact dates). Well, the story went, there were an unusually large
number of births on during the last week of June that year, and
especially on June 30 (along with a correspondingly low number during
the first few days of July). There were lots of theories about this,
including: (1) fraud, getting doctors to put June 30 for a baby born on
July 1; and (2) inducements and/or cesarian sections scheduled before
the deadline.
Bush (W, not HW) put through a law that would
decrease and eliminate the estate tax by 2010, but with a rebound to
pre-Bush levels in 2011. How did no one accuse Bush of creating a death
panel?!? Wouldn't this promote some combination of fraud or worse,
euthanasia? Part of me says, "Let's leave it that way and see what
happens - it would be a neat experiment on the limits of tax
evasiveness," but that wouldn't be ethical. Instead, something needs to
be done to either make sure it is slowly phased back in, or not
reintroduced depending on your political fancy.

Sleep in the Age of Rational Expectations

From MR:
Lately I've developed a new theory as to when I sleep especially well (in general I sleep well so the variance is not so large).  I believe that I sleep especially well when I end up going to bed at exactly the same time I expect to be going to bed.  On the unusual occasions when I don't sleep well, it is because I have been winding down my body and mind before I actually have the opportunity to fall asleep.  Somehow when the later chance to sleep comes, it is too late for that sleep to be deep.  Or so it seems to my mental econometrics; it would be interesting to measure it.
Interesting, yes. Testable? Hmmm.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Thank you Captain Obvious (Ron Jaworski)

"They [the Dolphins] don't want any negative plays under Coach
Speranno." As opposed to all those previous coaches who were
strategically trying to lose yardage?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Faith-Based Uncertainty?

From Regent University's graduate course catalog (p. 226):
GOV 601 Quantitative Analysis (3) Skills for quantitative data gathering, measurement, policy analysis and program evaluation. Research and sampling design, surveys, data collection and data reduction and display. Review of basic statistics through multivariate analysis, z-scores, regression through the use of statistical computer package (SPSS), and a Judeo-Christian perspective on the use of statistics.
What? HT: AG.

Just a Boring Note on Sampling....

From Nate Silver at
...[T]he Investors' Business Daily poll purporting to show widespread opposition to health care reform among doctors is simply not credible. There are five reasons why:
1. The survey was conducted by mail, which is unusual.
2. At least one of the questions is blatantly biased: "Do you believe the government can cover 47 million more people and it will cost less money and the quality of care will be better?"
3. ...The IBD/TIPP polling operation has literally no idea what they're doing. ... For example, I don't trust IBD/TIPP to have ... selected ... a random panel, which is harder to do than you'd think.
4. They say, somewhat ambiguously: "Responses are still coming in." ... Professional pollsters generally do not report results before the survey period is compete.
5. There is virtually no disclosure about methodology.