August 16, 2015, 10:30 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Via Streetwise Professor, it seems that Izabella Kaminska is also a skeptic of Elon Musk (our highest-paid government employee), like him, and me. As an added bonus, I even understood this Kaminska piece (usually I find them incomprehensible, I presume because they go over my head).

John Cochrane damns Larry Summers with high praise, which is like catnip for me.

Sometimes it’s gotta be tough to be progressive. For example they’re clearly tempted to point to a shrinking budget deficit (‘shrinking’ from a large number, that is) as a sign that Obama has done good stuff or whatever (?). They better be careful doing that however, because some people might notice that adds up to an argument for lowering taxes. And we can’t have that! (Ever!)

Kevin Drum diagnoses Donald Trump with ‘ADHD’. REMEMBER: KEVIN DRUM IS A SUPER NICE GUY

MILLENIAL WATCH: “20-somethings plan to get old, marry and have kids”. They ‘plan to get old’, guys! (The piece to its credit is being snarky about typical ‘millenial’ commentary)

Oldish news but still great headline: Gov’t recommendations on breakfast were based on basically nothing, probably wrong

Hillary Clinton’s student debt plan will help families, but it’s going to cost taxpayers a lot. It will ‘help families’ ‘but’ ‘cost taxpayers’. Not that ‘families’ are taxpayers or anything.

Increasingly-sophisticated analysis
August 13, 2015, 7:48 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Good Bryan Caplan post but even better first comment:

The fact that increasing sophistication of analysis often causes one to flip back and forth tells us that (1) we should be suspicious when our complicated tools allow us to return to what we wanted to believe anyways and (2) we should decrease our confidence in this process at all, since even at the highest levels of sophistication available we might expect yet higher levels to change our opinion.

Shorter: All Large Calculations Are Wrong.

P.S., on a totally unrelated note (or maybe not?), I’m voting for this guy:

Smart People: the finances are fine, but we gotta raise taxes to fix the finances, but the finances are fine
August 12, 2015, 1:24 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

All Smart People know that government finances are basically fine, and that anyone who expresses concerns over the financing of the large national pyram^H^H^H^H^H social programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) is an economic ignoramus, a neanderthal, and probably (to employ a highly-advanced and -technical econ term) a derp.

All Smart People are also constantly on the lookout for ways to raise taxes, citing the large national social programs as justification.

This despite the fact that, as I have explained several times, there is logically no reason for Smart People to want to raise taxes at all, on anything, in the first place, and (if one relies on Smart assumptions) not even any technocratic or practical argument for doing so.

You might wonder then why on earth we would even need to consider raising taxes ‘because of Social Security’. Isn’t it fine? Remember “There Is No Crisis”? By way of justification, someone frets about the ‘trust fund’:

Many liberal experts on Social Security argue for raising the limit on taxable earnings as a way to bring more money into the program, helping to ensure that benefits will be available for future generations of American retirees. Social Security’s main trust fund will be exhausted around 2032, the Congressional Budget Office projects, at which point the system would no longer have the money to pay benefits in full.

I don’t know who these ‘liberal experts’ are but they sound very confused. Who cares about the ‘trust fund’, ‘the program’, ‘the system’? Social Security is the US Government. Why wouldn’t the US Government just continue to pay benefits in full? If that required more expenditures than ‘the trust fund’ would support, the US Government could and would simply issue debt to make up the difference. What, are you saying they’d default? (Smart People all know that the government not-paying checks and stuff is a default.) The only assurance that benefits will be available for future generations of American retirees that anyone should need is the full faith and credit of the US government.

So we have this seeming paradox, if you listen to Smart People: government finances (including Social Security) are simultaneously (a) totally fine, yet (b) always seem to require ‘hard choices’ involving raising a bunch of taxes.

Sure doesn’t sound totally fine to me then. Yet if you say that, you’re not Smart. Because there is no crisis, remember? But oh by the way, we gotta raise your taxes (we have no choice, because of the crisis). Even though there’s no logical or fiscal reason to even do that, because government could always just issue more debt and debt is totally fine. (If you say it’s not, you’re not Smart….)

So many paradoxes. Easily resolved, of course, by stipulating that Smart People mainly just like to raise taxes, for whatever made-up reason, as much as they can get away with.

A totally fair analogy by a guy who creates respectable arguments, fairly
August 4, 2015, 7:41 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I haven’t watched The Walking Dead since somewhere around season 2, when I figured out that they were not ever going to try to tell an interesting story. You know, like why there is a zombie virus in the first place? What’s happening elsewhere?

I guess I also stopped watching because it was so stupid.

But apparently now the Walking Dead gang (whatever’s left of them at this point), in their endless repetitive meanderings, have come to a place called Terminus where cannibals lure innocent people to eat them. Bryan Caplan says they’re an extreme form of citizenists.

Is it fair to use Terminus as a reductio ad absurdum of citizenism? Maybe.


Because, you see, it’s hard to morally distinguish (a) luring innocent people to your land in order to imprison, kill, and then eat them, from (b) not printing at least one faraway stranger who wants one a travel-pass to enter your country, but otherwise leaving him completely unmolested as long as he doesn’t try to cross your territory (which is, after all, not his to claim in any sense whatsoever), leaving literally the entire rest of the world for that person to make his efforts to find a place to pursue happiness in. Yeah, that’s a hard distinction.

Hard for Bryan Caplan, anyway.

Poor Bryan Caplan.

Paul Krugman, stop trying to make ‘derp’ happen
August 2, 2015, 5:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A recent post by alleged-grownup (and, I am given to understand, onetime economist) Paul Krugman, actually begins with the (non-)word ‘Derp’.

That post is not to be confused with the various other Paul Krugman posts and columns in which some variation of ‘derp’ appears in the post title, such as

Urp Versus Derp
Regions of Derpistan
Inflation Derp Abides
This Age of Derp
This Age of Derp, Kansas Edition
Paranoia Strikes Derp
Derp Pirate Roberts
Moral Derpitude
Fly the Derpy Skies
Fighting the Derp

and (possibly my favorite)

I Do Not Think That Derp Means What You Think It Means

(Because it means nothing and Paul Krugman doesn’t know that?)

For what it’s worth, Google’s spiderbots think the word appears on his personal blog site about 186 times:


That’s just his personal blog. We can try other searches to get at the full extent of Paul Krugman’s infatuation with this (non-)word:

+derp – 3000+ hits
+derp -krugman (i.e. do any non-Krugman NYT writers use this word?) – 372 hits
+derp -krugman -“van derp” (to exclude the surname Van Derp) – 0 hits

If you’re anything like me, the first thing that comes to mind here is: Is Paul Krugman okay? No seriously, does he need help? But the second is:

Paul Krugman, stop trying to make ‘derp’ happen. It’s not going to happen.

Will no one around him break it to him? Are people just going to let him keep embarrassing himself?

It’s about time for Paul Krugman to, well, grow up. The (apparently requisite among catty insecure economists) salt-and-pepper beard is just not up to the task of hiding his actual mental/emotional age, which from all appearances is approximately eleven years old.

July 28, 2015, 8:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yeah, being scared to talk about race is pretty white.

Sounds like a pretty gay hobby.

Congress seems to be scrambling for tricky ways to ‘pay for’ highway projects by raising or not-cutting revenue on other, unrelated stuff. I don’t get it, it’s almost as if Congress thinks more debt is bad. Shouldn’t Smart People call them derpy?

This piece on whites and Asians self-segregating in California schools rings true and also so what? One might suggest that perhaps this is more troubling.

Ok fine I guess I’ll admit there’s someone smarter than I am. You didn’t think I’d ever do that did you.

Chipotle is America’s favorite ‘healthy’ [sic] food. Money quote:

“The fact they’ve convinced consumers that the product is healthy is incredible,” Darren Tristano, executive vice president at food industry research firm Technomic, told Business Insider. “We’re talking about 1300 calorie burritos.”

Unsurprisingly, millenials were mentioned:

“Millennials care less about calories and more about where their food comes from,” he said.

While previous generations counted calories, millennials care more about food being “fresh, less processed and with fewer artificial ingredients,” Morgan Stanley writes.

Riiight. (Especially love this insight into what millenials ‘care more about’ from spreadsheet jockeys at Morgan Stanley.)

I guess not all science fiction authors are nice, well-adjusted individuals. I mean, Marion Zimmer Bradley & her husband, for example, sound like they were real jerks.

Scott Sumner doesn’t get why the Fed would want to raise rates anytime soon:

I’ve spent my entire life studying monetary economics, and especially the Fed, and yet even I would not be able to explain to an economics student what the Fed is trying to achieve with the forthcoming rate increase.

One word: credibility! Also, I think they need to raise rates at least like 25bps so that they’ll be able to lower rates 25bps later (if and when they should later decide, for equally inexplicable reasons, that they should need to lower rates). Clear enough?

Vladimir Putin is the richest person in the world.

A point I have tried to make myself.

The facts and science and argument of these highly intelligent celebrities have convinced me of the greatness of the #IranDeal (whatever the hell is in it, because hell if I (or they for that matter) know), how about you?

What makes ‘progressives’ happy
July 24, 2015, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I guess it’s already time for one of my least-favorite Presidential election traditions:

  1. The candidates each come out with various ‘plans’ for fiscal and taxey type things, and
  2. Everyone proceeds to analyze these ‘plans’ as if  a President’s ‘plan’ is somehow automatically enacted lock stock & barrel on inauguration day – even though everyone knows very well that’s not how our system works.

I don’t get it. I didn’t get it in 2008 or 2012 and I still don’t get it today.

But nevermind, let’s do it again! Hillary announced a ‘plan’ to alter the capital-gains taxation schedule guys, so we better analyze it! I suspect this by Jordan Weissman is going to be a typical entry in step 2 of the tradition. And overall it is a reasonably balanced and descriptive of the ‘plan’ and its pros/cons (real and political).

Let me just single out this then:

It might work. It might not. But, ultimately, it’s a progressive tax increase on investment income, and that should make many progressives happy. Regardless of whether it changes investors’s behavior, it will raise some money from the wealthy

Fascinating, right? Whether it ‘works’ or not, it ‘should make many progressives happy’. Why? Because it will ‘raise some money from the wealthy’.

This is exactly right and a good description of what it means to be ‘progressive’: who cares about the actual real practical effects, what they want to do – all they want to do – is to tax the weatlhy, to ‘raise some money from’ them. If a policy does that, and nothing else, it ‘makes progressives happy’.

This, despite the fact that there is no good reason for them to even want the government to ‘raise money from’ the wealthy or anyone else in the first place! Logically, taking their economic arguments at face value, most ‘Progressives’ shouldn’t want to tax anything at all – there is simply no need. ‘Raise money’? What for? The government prints the money, it makes up fiscal deficits whatever they are by issuing debt, and ‘progressives’ think that’s all just fine and dandy and if you disagree you’re a Derpy McDerperson. Just read their actual arguments (in other contexts)!

So despite all that why does raising taxes on the wealthy, raising money from them, ‘make progressives happy’? I doubt even they could explain it. It’s just something psychological. Seeing money garnished from others, in and of itself, ‘makes them happy’. ‘Progressive’ is just the word for the mass phenomenon that occurs when this bitter, passive-aggressive impulse is translated into the political sphere.


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