Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Left goes hysterical over Trump, giving him a free ride as President

I think the main lesson the left learned from the last election is still that only if they had called out a few more people as racists, they would have won enough votes back from the deplorables for Clinton to win rather than lose the rust belt.

Listen up deplorable sounds to them to be an excellent way of asking for a vote.

Fabius Maximus website

Summary: The Left’s hysterical reaction to Trump’s win is good news for him, since doubling down on what failed in the election eliminates them as an effective opposition. It’s bad news for America, allowing Trump enact unpopular far-right policies and rolling back years or decades of hard won progress.

Odd that these fears didn’t defeat Trump.

Donald Trump's nuclear threat

We face a new stresses as Trump moves into the White House, one of America’s least qualified Presidents. The Left has gone hysterical, which is bad news for America — guaranteeing that Trump will have little effective opposition.

For example, I respect the professors who write at Guns, Lawyers, and Money — but they’ve lost their minds. Erik Loomis (asst prof history, U RI) — whom I greatly respect — says he expects to be put in a concentration camp (e.g., here, here, and here). Meanwhile, the posts at LGM (and…

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The Constitution Unit Blog


On 24 January the Supreme Court ruled that the government requires parliament’s consent to trigger Article 50 of the EU Treaty and hence begin formally negotiating Brexit. This requires a bill, and the government responded with the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – on which debates in the Commons begin today. Meg Russell asks how parliament could respond to the bill – both procedurally, and in terms of the political dilemmas facing members.

In the form it was introduced, the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill is a very short and simple measure. With just two clauses, it authorises the government to ‘notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU’, stating that this is notwithstanding the 1972 European Communities Act or any other existing statute. Yet its simplicity clearly belies its importance; the decision to trigger Article 50…

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Teen Idols

Dogs and Avocados


Teen Idols.  Their appeal is mysterious; even to them.  They are teen idols, but not necessarily teenagers.  They usually have lots of hair on their heads, and a face as smooth as the knee of a 12-year-old Romanian gymnast.  As a matter of fact, excessive body hair is a deal breaker.  They typically have a nonthreatening, androgynous look to them.  Teen idols are adored by pre-teen or teenage girls whose hormones are causing them to scream uncontrollably, as well as occasionally lose consciousness.  These young girls are not looking for any sexual encounter.  Nothing of the sort.  They just know that SOMETHING is making them feel like a lunatic.

CUTE is the word.  It’s got groove.  It’s got meaning.

Everyone involved does the dance.  The girls freak out and the teen idols run…and run…and run.  Just like in A Hard Day’s Night where it seemed like The Beatles spent half…

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[VIDEO] Dershowitz: Acting AG ‘Made a Political Decision, Rather Than a Legal One’ on Trump EO, ‘Serious Mistake’ 

About the only area where there is likely to be a successful legal challenge is for green card holders because this residence of the USA they are likely to have due process rights guaranteed by the Constitution under a 1990 Supreme Court decision defining who are the people for the purpose of the Bill of Rights.

pundit from another planet

On Monday’s broadcast of CNN’s “OutFront,” Harvard LawProfessor EmeritusAlan Dershowitz reacted to Acting Attorney GeneralSally Yates’ announcement that the DOJ will not present arguments in defense of President Trump’s immigration order by saying Yates made a “serious mistake” and has “made a political decision, rather than a legal one.”

Sally Yates, during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee to be Deputy Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice. March 24, 2015. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.

Dershowitz said, “Yates is a terrific public servant, but I think she’s made a serious mistake here. This is a holdover heroism. It’s so easy to be a heroine when you’re not appointed by this president and when you’re on the other side. She made a serious mistake. I think what she should have done is done a nuanced analysis of what parts of the order are constitutional, what parts are in violation of the statute, what parts are perfectly lawful. There’s an enormous distinction between green card holders on the one hand, people who are…

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What is Virtue Signalling?

Wandering Near Sawtry

“Virtue signalling” is a phrase more de riguer among political pundits than “YOLO” was among the youth. Apparently coined by James Bartholomew in the Spectator it has since been deployed by everyone from the Daily Mail‘s professional overexposer Liz Jones to Radio 5’s resident chinscratcher Nicky Campbell. It describes, states Bartholomew, “the way in which many people say or write things to indicate that they are virtuous”. When a famous person dies, for example, one is liable to feel that one should express sadness even if one is unmoved because it might look good to others.

Bartholomew was not as original as he might like to think. The idiosyncratic economist Robin Hanson has explored the concept of “signalling” for years, going so far as to suggest that it determines most human behaviour. From posting on Facebook to selecting a new pair of trousers, we spend our lives conveying our…

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How to Regulate: An Overview

Truth on the Market

So I’ve just finished writing a book (hence the reason for my long hiatus from Truth on the Market).  Now that the draft is out of my hands and with the publisher (Cambridge University Press), I figured it’s a good time to rejoin my colleagues here at TOTM.  To get back into the swing of things, I’m planning to produce a series of posts describing my new book, which may be of interest to a number of TOTM readers.  I’ll get things started today with a brief overview of the project.

The book is titled How to Regulate: A Guide for Policy Makers.  A topic of that enormity could obviously fill many volumes.  I sought to address the matter in a single, non-technical book because I think law schools often do a poor job teaching their students, many of whom are future regulators, the substance of sound regulation.  Law…

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Information costs in the labour market

Every worker, even the low-paid worker, is alert to their opportunities and take the best jobs that come to their notice but it is gaps in their information is the sand in the wheels of this search. As Manning (2005) observed in his superb Monopsony in Motion:

That important frictions exist in the labor market seems undeniable: people go to the pub to celebrate when they get a job rather than greeting the news with the shrug of the shoulders that we might expect if labor markets were frictionless. And people go to the pub to drown their sorrows when they lose their job rather than picking up another one straight away. The importance of frictions has been recognized since at least the work of Stigler (1961, 1962) (Manning 2005, p. 4).

The left has a certain view of how the labour market works and how to best move workers into better paying jobs. Standing against this are arguments that it is a want of information rather than weak bargaining power is what slows workers down from moving to a better job. As Stigler (1961, 1962) argued, information is costly to obtain in the labour market:

No worker, unless his degree of specialization is pathological, will ever be able to become informed on the prospective earnings which would be obtained from every one of these potential employers at any given time, let alone keep this information up to date. He faces the problem of how to acquire information on the wage rates, stability of employment, conditions of employment, and other determinants of job choice, and how to keep this information current (Stigler 1962, p. 94).

The left accepts that low-paid workers respond actively to news of better paying job opportunities. They do this by arguing that a living wage improves the quality of recruitment pools. More workers apply for the living wage vacancies on the news of a living wage policy. Fewer employees quit and they work harder in response to a living wage.


Activists should mind how they go by stressing an inequality of bargaining power but also letting through the door even one market discipline such as a sensitivity of wage offers and profits to job turnover rates:

Let us consider the extreme case of highly specialized, non-versatile labor. If we consider (a) the continuous replacement of personnel who gradually leave through competing employment openings, retirement and death, and (b) (in an expanding industry) the recruitment needed for expansion, we must recognize that the probability of the workers’ exploitation is remote. The observable labor turnover between firms suggests indeed that collusive action to reduce the price of labor has virtually never been regarded as profitable (Hutt 1973, p. 4).

But not every worker knows there are better paying options which may be even just a few steps away from their current job. Information costs are a better explanation than pinning everything on an inequality in bargaining power. This is because information costs have a profound impact on labour market workings (Stigler 1962; Alchian 1969; Alchian and Allen 1967, 1983). For unequal bargaining power to keep the wages of the low-paid down, collusion must succeed between a great many employers recruiting across many industry and occupational labour markets (Hutt 1973, Alchian and Allen 1983).

More insight is gleaned from the fact that job seekers do not initially know the location of suitable vacancies, the wages for various skills, differences in job security and other factors. They must find this knowledge, keep it current and forecast whether better vacancies may open soon. Employers must learn the location, availability and asking wages of suitable applicants.

Long-term contracts arise to share risks and curb opportunism over sunken investments in specialised human capital. These factors lead to queues, unemployment, spare capacity, layoffs, shortages, inventories and non-price rationing in conjunction with wage rigidity (Alchian 1969; Alchian and Allen 1967, 1983). Labour market analysis must stay within McCloskey’s maxim that

Every piece of economic analysis is not complete until everyone is earning only normal profits, or at least the analyst can identify a reason why not (McCloskey 1985).

The labour market has good and bad jobs, the jobs that can pay more than or less than the going rate, resulting from the costs of job search and matching. These good and bad jobs arise from the element of chance in every job search and job match rather than betting it all on an enduring employer conspiracy to keep wages down. Some workers are paid less than the going rate because they are down on their luck rather than under the thumb.

ABA Antitrust Section Transition Report: A Respectful Critique

Truth on the Market

The American Bar Association Antitrust Section’s Presidential Transition Report (“Report”), released on January 24, provides a helpful practitioners’ perspective on the state of federal antitrust and consumer protection enforcement, and propounds a variety of useful recommendations for marginal improvements in agency practices, particularly with respect to improving enforcement transparency and reducing enforcement-related costs.  It also makes several good observations on the interplay of antitrust and regulation, and commendably notes the importance of promoting U.S. leadership in international antitrust policy.  This is all well and good.  Nevertheless, the Report’s discussion of various substantive topics poses a number of concerns that seriously detract from its utility, which I summarize below.  Accordingly, I recommend that the new Administration accord respectful attention to the Report’s discussion of process improvements, and international developments, but ignore the Report’s discussion of novel substantive antitrust theories, vertical restraints, and intellectual property.

1.  The Big Picture: Too…

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