13 Jan 2016


Potpourri 6 Comments

==> I realize I am trained at this point to perceive tension between our popular Keynesian writers, but isn’t there a problem reconciling this DeLong piece with this Krugman op ed?

==> This Vox piece is happy to report that (apparently) employers aren’t penalizing full-time work in response to ObamaCare mandates as many analysts (including me) warned would happen. Yet look at this part in particular:

But [the study] also tries to dive a bit deeper and look not just at the overall economy but at very specific subgroups that seem more likely to be affected. This includes people who work just above 30 hours per week and don’t get insurance at work, who might see their hours cut to dodge the employer mandate. Or workers who gained Medicaid coverage — and might be less inclined to keep their job now that they have an alternative source of health insurance.

But Simon says that neither of those groups showed a clear employment pattern. Take the group that worked just above 30 hours per week and didn’t have insurance in 2013, right before Obamacare hit. Their hours went down a little bit in 2014, but bounced back in 2015 to 2013 levels.

“These are the people right on the margin, and we’re not showing any clear trend,” Simon says.

This is really incredible. To their credit, the people associated with the study–and others quoted in the article–are being very guarded about the results.

But in light of the gleeful tweets from people like Noah Smith, I have to ask those who ridicule people warning about minimum wage/ObamaCare: Suppose the federal government said employers had to pay an additional $5,000 for every racial minority on their payroll. Would it be crazy for civil rights groups to get upset about that? Would you say we need to go run some regressions a few years after the experiment?

6 Responses to “Potpourri”

  1. Harold says:

    ” Suppose the federal government said employers had to pay an additional $5,000 for every racial minority on their payroll. Would it be crazy for civil rights groups to get upset about that?”

    The thing is, it would be justified to get upset even if it had no effect on employment

    I don’t think the only objection would be that employment of minorities would go down. There would be an outcry (I hope – but maybe not in Trump land) if Muslims had to wear a yellow label in public, even though studies might not show an effect on employment.

    The intended outcome of the Obamacare is supposed to be good. I understood that the objections were that the unintended consequences were going to outweigh the benefits.

    • Tel says:

      The intended outcome of those yellow labels was supposed to be good as well. It was done by the government after all, and it’s hardly as if any government would intentionally do bad stuff.

      *shakes head slowly*

      • Harold says:

        Yes, I had to think about this. The distinction is more difficult to pin down than I first stated.

        1) We may not agree with what the Govt says is good. Labelling minorities may be good if you believe they are less important than the majority. If you think everybody equally important, then your definition of a good intention may differ.

        2) The Govt may have a different definition of good, but lie about the intended outcome. If we think they are telling porkies, we will also object. “Executing Muslims is good for them”, for example. We would notbelieve they really believed that.

        3) If we agree with their definition of a good outcome and it seems plausible that they believe the outcome will follow from the policy, only then will we object on efficacy. Will the policy work?

        It seems to me that Obamacare (and minimum wage) falls into category 3, and charging employers $5000 for minority employes falls into 1 or 2, depending on the stated purpose. We can justifiably object to it without reference to outcomes.

        • Tel says:

          1) No because intention is in the mind of the actor, and because it’s impossible to see inside someone’s head, the visible part of that intention is whatever propaganda is delivered at the time. No politician ever declares themselves to be evil.

          2) Well gosh, if government can lie, why does anyone trust what they say or do? Are we to believe that all those historical governments who did bad things and told lies (and that’s a lot of them) are now replaced by a clean and honest government of the present time? But we regularly discover lies from our present government too… the weapons of mass destruction that required us to go to war, the spying that they said they never do… endless promises about balanced budgets that just can’t happen today, real soon now though.

          3) In the case of the minimum wage legislation, if you trace the history of it, early campaigns (generally pro-union) were claiming the feature that it would keep blacks out of work, so they wouldn’t compete with unionized white workers. At the time that was considered a very positive thing to make a feature of. In modern times they don’t talk about that any more… but they still support the same legislation, along with a claim that it WON’T keep blacks out of work.

          What you are left with is outcomes… the purpose of a system is what it does. The Buddhist notion is cause and effect… if you are responsible for the cause, the you have also claimed responsibility for the effect. That’s the opposite to the Henry Kissinger doctrine by the way, who claimed we should just ignore the effects of our actions because if we have to worry about what happens it would all get too difficult and nothing would get done.

          • Harold says:

            Lets make it simpler. There are two reasons to object:
            A) You do not agree with the stated policy outcome.
            B) You do not think the policy will achieve the stated outcome.

            Charging employers $5000 to employ a minority worker falls under A. Minimum wage falls under B for a lot of people.

            Therefore lots of people require analysis of the outcome for minimum wage to decide if they should object. They do not need this for the hypothetical minority charge.

            Also the minimum wage history you describe is only for the USA. Minimum wage type laws pre-date those you describe elsewhere in the world. These seem to be intended to help the poor and are not discriminatory in purpose. Perhaps the events you describe tell us more about the USA than about minimum wage laws.

    • Tel says:

      Slightly off topic but here’s intentions for you. So Ted Cruz is making his run for President, and it just happens that his wife has a senior position in Goldman Sachs and somehow swung him a large loan from her bank. Nothing weird there, Cruz can easily show he has the means to pay it back, and his wife no doubt knows where to find him if he missed a payment or something.

      Anyhow, there’s this campaign finance disclosure thing where candidates are supposed to help the voters understand what they stand for by disclosing their financial backers. Seems Cruz filled in the forms wrong (easy mistake to make) and didn’t report this to the required standard. He says he thought it had been disclosed plenty of times, including when he ran for senator, so his intention was perfectly good.

      Not sure why he didn’t hire a professional to fill in those forms correctly, but there you go.

      If the standard of the rest of the field was a bit higher, I’d say such carelessness would set back his chances. But the standard of the rest of the field is abominable.

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