Economists vs. The Public

Excellent essay

Notes On Liberty

Economics is the dismal science, as Thomas Carlyle infamously said, reprising John Stuart Mill for defending the abolishment of slavery in the British Empire. But if being a “dismal science” includes respecting individual rights and standing up for early ideas of subjective, revealed, preferences – sign me up! Indeed, British economist Diane Coyle wisely pointed out that we should probably wear the charge as a badge of honor.

Non-economists, quite wrongly, attack economics for considering itself the “Queen of the Social Science”, firing up slurs, insults and contours: Economism, economic imperialism, heartless money-grabbers. Instead, I posit, one of our great contributions to mankind lies in clarity and, quoting Joseph Persky “an acute sensitivity to budget constraints and opportunity costs.”

Now, clarity requires one to be specific. To clearly define the terms of use, and refrain from the vague generality of unmeasurable and undefinable concepts so common…

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The minimum wage induced spur of technological innovation ought not be praised

Notes On Liberty

In a recent article at Reason.comChristian Britschgi argues that “Government-mandated price hikes do a lot of things. Spurring technological innovation is not one of them”. This is in response to the self-serve kiosks in fast-food restaurants that seem to have appeared everywhere following increases in the minimum wage.

In essence, his argument is that minimum wages do not induce technological innovation. That is an empirical question. I am willing to consider that this is not the most significant of adjustment margins to large changes in the minimum wage. The work of Andrew Seltzer on the minimum wage during the Great Depression in the United States suggests that at the very least it ought not be discarded.  Britschgi does not provide such evidence, he merely cites anecdotal pieces of support. Not that anecdotes are bad, but those that are cited come from the kiosk industry – hardly a neutral…

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Groom of the Stool


Vintage Potty from the Privy ChamberIt’s Casual Friday again (okay, it’s Saturday morning…just blame my ISP), and this week we’re going to take a look back in history at a Cool Job that no longer exists. I first read about this job in a wonderful book by Allison Weir called Henry VIII: The King and His Court, and it has intrigued me ever since.

The Groom of the Stool was a position in the court of Henry VIII bestowed upon a favored confidante and close friend of the King: it came with a title, a tidy sum of yearly compensation, and an “all access VIP pass” to the King’s Privy Chamber where decisions affecting the future of England were made. Due to his proximity to the King’s person (more about that in a moment), the mere word of a Groom of the Stool “was evidence of the King’s will”, according to British historian David…

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Legal Succession: Elizabeth I of England & James VI of Scotland: Part 4

European Royal History

We have looked at all of the people in line to the succession to the throne of England. The fact that James VI, King of Scots was eventually chosen as successor to Elizabeth I demonstrates two ideas. First and foremost is the fact that male prefered primogeniture had become the tradition if not the law by this time. The second point is that the monarch still had power to name their successor. Although by the late 1590s it had become treasonous to talk about the succession to the queen herself there were those that knew the issue had to be raised eventually.

The queen’s chief minister was Sir Robert Cecil who at one point supported the succession of Lady Arabella Stuart to the throne. He eventually shifted his alliance to the King of Scots and in 1601 began secret correspondences with James promising him the throne of England. The action toward…

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Legal Succession: Elizabeth I of England & James VI of Scotland: Part 3

European Royal History

Before I move on to what made the advisors of Elizabeth I to choose James VI, I want to discuss another possible claimant to the throne, James’s cousin, Lady Arabella Stuart.

Lady’s Arabella’s claim to the English throne stemmed from her descent via Henry VII of England. Henry VII’s daughter, Margaret Tudor married, as her second marriage,  Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, and this union produced a daughter, Margaret Douglas,  Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, this union produced two son Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley and Charles Stuart, 5th Earl of Lennox. Henry Stuart, lord Darnley married his cousin Mary, Queen of Scots. As you recall Mary, Queen of Scots was a descendent of Henry VII via Margaret Tudor’s first marriage to James IV, King of Scots. Charles Stuart, 5th Earl of Lennox secretly married Elizabeth Cavendish in 1574 and this greatly angered Queen Elizabeth I because it was done…

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#OTD 1957: the knocker-up job still existed in Britain

15 U.S. Cities Identified as Anti-Vaccine “Hotspots”

Green Jihad

A new study published in the Public Library of Science Journal suggests more children are vulnerable to contagious diseases resulting from a number of metro areas nationwide that have large amounts of non-medical exemptions for vaccination.

According to USA Today, 15 metropolitan areas in 12 to eighteen states (like Arizona, Minnesota, North Dakota and Utah) where the number of un-vaccinated children is growing. Unfortunately, as the manuscript points out, as the number of non-medical vaccine exemptions increases, so do the number of children not protected against contagious illnesses such as measles, mumps and rubella, small pox, and even chicken pox.

USA Today also points out this is the first in-depth research of states with non-medical exemptions. With an increase of the population of people refusing to vaccine, the likelihood of disease outbreaks, including sicknesses once thought to be eradicated (such as small pox or polio).

The increase in non-vaccinated…

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Why German football team has players mainly from west part of Germany: Capitalist vs. communist football

Mostly Economics

Interesting piece by Prof Per Urlaub.

Football in East Germany was visible till unification. Post-unification, there are hardly any players from East. Why?

What happened? Why – with the exception of Kroos – are none of the other players on German’s current national squad from the Eastern part of the country?The answer lies in economics.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the East’s best players immediately left to join the clubs in the West that could pay them higher salaries. Meanwhile, like the economies of other former Soviet countries transitioning from communism to capitalism, the rapid reorganization of East Germany’s economy led to the collapse of entire industries.

East German clubs felt the pain. Not a single club from the East managed to establish a permanent presence in the Bundesliga, Germany’s top professional league. No longer receiving government funding – and unable to attract the steady flow…

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IG Report: Clinton’s Use Of A Personal Email System Led To The Interception Of Classified Information By Foreign Powers


Hillary_Clinton_Testimony_to_House_Select_Committee_on_BenghaziI ran a column yesterday on the release of the report of the Inspector General’s report and its implications. Much of the report was anticipated.  However, among the most notable elements, was the final confirmation that the Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal server for State Department business not only contained classified information but was successfully intercepted by at least one foreign intelligence agency. That finding directly contradicts Clinton’s repeated denials through the campaign.  The media however has barely noted the finding despite widely repeating Clinton’s prior denials of both classified content and any interception by foreign powers.

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Florida Man Takes Drugs To Police Station To Confirm Authenticity . . . Police Confirm and Then Arrest Him


180613214452-douglas-peter-kelly-exlarge-169Douglas Kelly, 49, can rest assured that he was not ripped off.  Kelly was convinced that a dealer had sold him fake drugs so he went to police to bring charges.  He gave the police a bag of meth that he said did not feel right. The police tested the meth and found it was genuine . . . and then arrested Kelly.

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Resilience is most common response to major trauma