11 Aug 2015

Seattle Green Groups Say Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax Is a Joke

Climate Change, Shameless Self-Promotion 3 Comments

Specifically, they reject “standup economist” Yoram Bauman’s drive for a revenue-neutral carbon tax in Washington State. Although the story doesn’t mention it, I am pretty sure they think I’m funnier, too.

Details here.

10 Aug 2015

It Takes a Village to Point Out Krugman’s Problem

Krugman, Shameless Self-Promotion 23 Comments

Ah, see everybody? Look at how much better this post was, since Waldek stepped up to the plate. One man can make a difference.

But seriously, click this link. What would Krugman say? I’m thinking he would go with, “Oh please, another ‘gotcha.’ Don’t these guys have anything better to do?”

10 Aug 2015

Krugman Bask

All Posts 12 Comments

[UPDATE: To clarify, the one I have in mind isn’t a chart with just a single line, which you see in Bush vs. Obama years. Rather, the chart has two different series on it, one representing spending in the Bush recovery and the other in the Obama recovery. So you can see, quarter by quarter, that the relevant metric of government spending grew faster under Bush than under Obama.]

I must be losing my touch. I just spent 20 minutes looking for an old Krugman blog post but can’t find it.

I can distinctly remember Krugman writing at least one (and possibly several) posts, circa 2010 – 2013, showing some measure of government spending and how it had grown much more by that point in the George W. Bush years than it had in the Obama recovery. (It might have been something like total government consumption and investment expenditures as a share of potential GDP or some such tomfoolery.)

Krugman’s rhetorical purpose was to slam everybody talking about the “big spending” Obama, to show that actually by this point after the recession bottomed out, George W. Bush’s Administration was spending a lot more because of all the austerity under Obama.

Can anybody find such a post? I have found a few that make similar points verbally, but I know I saw one where Krugman had a chart, and I can’t find it now…

09 Aug 2015

Who Killed Jesus?

Religious 38 Comments

I was talking with my son about this (we had just read about Pontius Pilate infamously pilate-wash-hands-300x225“washing his hands” of the affair) and thought it might be interesting to pass along…

==> At the most direct level, the Roman soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross (plus the one who speared Him) killed Jesus.

==> But the soldiers were of course “just following orders,” which had been issued by Pontius Pilate. There’s a legitimate sense in which we don’t really walk around horrified at the Roman soldiers who killed Jesus, just as we matter-of-factly talk about how many people Hitler or Stalin “killed.” And yet, they actually weren’t shooting people personally. (I don’t want to derail this post, but I just note that this is a big dispute over strategy when it comes to libertarian activism–some people think focusing on police should be paramount, whereas others think that’s small potatoes.)

==> As the picture (and link above) indicate, Pilate didn’t want to give the order to execute Jesus. He knew Jesus wasn’t guilty of anything worthy of death. But, he was afraid the Jewish crowds would riot, thereby jeopardizing his position (and generally just being a pain to deal with).

==> So were the Jewish people chanting, “Crucify him!” and asking Pilate to free Barabbas to blame? This after all is the basis for certain strands of anti-Semitism. (Note this verse in particular.)

==> Well no, because crowds are fickle. The mob was singing hosannas to Jesus just earlier that week when He entered Jerusalem. The chief priests and their cronies were the ones who deliberately riled the crowd up against Jesus.

==> Note that the person historically considered to have been the worst individual in this whole affair was Judas. And yet, Judas in a certain sense was far less responsible than anybody described above. But of course, it was the fact that he had been a close friend and then betrayed Jesus–and for mere money–that placed Judas at the bottom of Dante’s Inferno.

satan-consuming-judas-from-dantes-inferno

(If you don’t remember Judas’ fate in Dante’s vision, it’s pretty awful.)

==> Is it completely Judas’ fault? Well, Satan entered his heart and tempted him to betray the Lord.

==> Oh, so the whole thing is really Satan’s fault? Well no, God is in charge of everything that happens. Satan can only attack humans with the express permission of God. Jesus asked on the cross of His father, “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?

==> OK, so the whole thing happened because God designed it that way from the beginning of time? Well, He also wanted us to have free will, and He is a just God. So faced with the choice of sending everyone to hell or having His Son die for us, God chose to sacrifice His only Son.

==> Thus, our sins ultimately killed Jesus, and we have no basis for wagging our fingers at anybody who participated in those events.

==> The core doctrine of Christianity is either horrifying or gorgeous, depending on your perspective: God takes the greatest crime in history, when humans try to murder their loving Creator, turns the other cheek, and transforms it into our salvation that reconciles us to Him.

Jesus-leaves-tomb

09 Aug 2015

Atheist Libertarians Like Homesteading, Except for God (Redux)

Religious 44 Comments

I came across this interesting passage (Jeremiah 27:5):

“With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please.”

What’s very interesting is that some of the same people:

(1) Consider themselves staunch libertarians.

(2) Think it is obvious that “pro-choice” is the correct libertarian position, because it’s a woman’s body to do with as she pleases, and therefore abortion isn’t murder, whether or not we consider the fetus a human being.

(3) Think the God of the Old Testament is a murderer and that no self-respecting libertarian could possibly respect such a Being, putting aside the question of whether He exists or is a fairy tale.

I am merely going to point out that (2) and (3) above are mutually inconsistent.

08 Aug 2015

Stigler Bask

All Posts 3 Comments

Can anyone find a non-gated version of this article?

Stigler 1955, “The Nature and Role of Originality in Scientific Progress,” Economica, New Series, Vol. 22, No. 88, pp. 293-302

Note, I am not asking to break IP laws.

08 Aug 2015

Potpourri

Krugman, Potpourri, Tom Woods 33 Comments

==> I don’t know this guy personally, but he is a “colleague of colleagues” and his story about typical police treatment of a black driver certainly sounds quite sincere. Interesting reading.

==> Can anybody confirm that this charge against Rand Paul is correct? (They are saying he deliberately quoted the Ayatollah out of context in order to bang the war drums.) This is the worst thing I’ve heard about him, so I don’t want to file it away as true in case the translation is dubious or whatever.

==> Tom Woods has two recent guests (1 and 2) taking shots at me. It’s lonely up here at the top.

==> Mark Perry flags a really good gotcha on Krugman regarding the minimum wage. Just read the comparison of Krugman’s views from 1998 vs. 2015. In particular, the writer notes that Krugman today (while applauding Hillary Clinton for making higher wages part of her agenda, I note) wags his finger at those dastardly free market economists who won’t budge, even in the face of evidence like Card-Krueger. And yet, back in 1998–four years *after* the Card-Krueger paper was published (and five after the working paper was posted)–Krugman at that time said of their paper:

So what are the effects of increasing minimum wages? Any Econ 101 student can tell you the answer: The higher wage reduces the quantity of labor demanded, and hence leads to unemployment. This theoretical prediction has, however, been hard to confirm with actual data. Indeed, much-cited studies by two well-regarded labor economists, David Card and Alan Krueger, find that where there have been more or less controlled experiments, for example when New Jersey raised minimum wages but Pennsylvania did not, the effects of the increase on employment have been negligible or even positive. Exactly what to make of this result is a source of great dispute. Card and Krueger offered some complex theoretical rationales, but most of their colleagues are unconvinced; the centrist view is probably that minimum wages “do,” in fact, reduce employment, but that the effects are small and swamped by other forces.

What is remarkable, however, is how this rather iffy result has been seized upon by some liberals as a rationale for making large minimum wage increases a core component of the liberal agenda…

Note, the point of this is NOT that, “But Bob, if we control for blah blah blah…” It is that Krugman’s current stories about what an openminded scientist he is, following wherever the evidence may lead, are extremely self-serving and far from accurate.

(Also note, I think the author at the link is a little off himself. He is taking Krugman to be endorsing the Econ 101 logic full-throatedly, but Krugman is in fact being more nuanced, even back then.)

07 Aug 2015

Gold Prices Prove Krugman Wrong

Gold, Krugman, Shameless Self-Promotion 41 Comments

My latest at Mises CA. An excerpt:

However, what happened since early 2014? Gold prices have bounced around in a tight zone, even though 20-year TIPS yields dropped almost a full percentage point. Back in early 2012, when the blue line was at a comparable level, gold prices were above $1,600. And in any event, Krugman’s baseline theory says that there should be a permanent upward drift in the price of the resource, as its exhaustible supply flows into difficult-to-recover uses (like dentistry). That means that if the interest rate comes back down in 2015 to where it was in 2012, then the spot price should be higher than it had been three years earlier–certainly not $400 (25%) lower.