Archive for August, 2005

One more reason I hate Windows

Saturday, August 27th, 2005

I was fooling around on the win side of my laptop this morning with fireworks, trying to make some headway one a homepage as my last one was pretty pitiful and dearly out-of-date, when low and behold I find my C:\My Shared Folder stuffed with programs/warez/video/DAT files. Somehow and somewhere there was a nice little piece of software installed and now I have the glory of wiping my partition and starting over. I’d really just get rid of it, but I need the VPN to get onto Northwesterns’ wireless – and I’m too lazy to work out the bugs in OpenVPN.

Medicare Law

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

Well, I guess complex legislation is one way to keep the unemployment rate low.
“To keep track of the new Medicare rules and to decipher their meaning is a full-time job for hundreds of lawyers and lobbyists”, from the NYT. (login: thesaddle, passwd: thesaddle)
Medicare Law Prompts a Rush for Lobbyists

Published: August 23, 2005

WASHINGTON, Aug. 19 – The new Medicare law has touched off explosive growth in lobbying by the health care industry, whose spending on advocacy here far exceeds that of consumer groups and other industries like defense and banking.

Almost every week the federal government issues new rules or guidelines to carry out the 2003 law, which provides a drug benefit starting in January. To keep track of the new rules and to decipher their meaning is a full-time job for hundreds of lawyers and lobbyists, who regularly seek changes advantageous to their clients.

With hundreds of billions of dollars at stake, health care providers, insurers, drug makers and pharmacies are continually trying to influence rules for the drug benefit and other initiatives authorized by the law…..

Development and Property Rights

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

The Economist has taken survey of the uproar since the Kelo vs. New London decision.

Property rights and eminent domain

Hands off our homes
From The Economist print edition

A Supreme Court ruling that allows the government to seize private property has set off a fierce backlash that may yet be as potent as the anti-abortion movement

IF YOU ever doubted the importance of the Supreme Court, consider the fuss about Kelo v New London. The five-to-four ruling by the court on June 23rd, apparently giving the government the power to bulldoze homes on flimsy grounds, has set off fiery protests across the country.

Americans used to believe that their constitution protected private property. The Fifth Amendment allows the state to seize it only for “public use”, and so long as “just compensation” is paid. “Public use” has traditionally been taken to mean something like a public highway. Roads would obviously be much harder to build if a single homeowner could hold out forever or for excessive compensation. The government’s powers of “eminent domain” have also been used to clean up “blighted” slums.

Wouldn’t D.H. be proud, an eternal braid

Thursday, August 18th, 2005

Joanna Lahey, a recent graduate from Texas A&M and now postdoc fellow at the Natlional Bureau of Economic Research, tells us her story about how she learned to just stop worring and to really really like economics. Seemed fitting as I start my own five years in about a week.
How I Learned to Love Economics

In my economics department, the third week of July always hits like an anvil. It’s at that point that advisers all over the department descend on hapless fourth- and fifth-year doctoral students demanding, “Where is your job-market paper?” or “Which one is your job-market paper?” or “You need a draft of your job-market paper.”

The puzzle:

Thursday, August 18th, 2005

Find these names – then read whats left.

Allais, Arrow, Becker, Buchanan, Coase, Debreu, Fogel, Friedman, Frisch, Haavelmo, Harsanyi, Heckman, Hicks, Kantorovich, Klein, Koopmans, Kuznets, Leontief, Lewis, Lucas, Markowitz, McFadden, Meade, Merton, Miller, Mirrlees, Modigliani, Mundell, Myrdal, Nash, North, Ohlin, Samuelson, Scholes, Schultz, Selten, Sen, Sharpe, Simon, Solow, Stigler, Stone, Tinbergen, Tobin, Vickrey,Von Hayek

Comfirmatory Bias and the Media

Thursday, August 18th, 2005

Stefano DellaVigna and Ethan Kaplan of UC Berkeley have released a paper looking at media bias and its effect on voter behavior. Interestingly enough, the economists show that the Fox News Channel has had little effect on the voting preferences of the viewing population. Chalk one up to the mind being sophisticated enough to rule out media biases and that we tend to filter out everything except what we want to hear.

relative income and happiness

Monday, August 15th, 2005

The latest coming from the field of happiness economics is saying relative income does make a difference in the overall levels of satisfaction in the long term (lifetime) view. For years I have been arguing that poverty is a relative issue. We have poor in the United States that are considerably better off than say the poor in Africa/South America/Latin America/Asia/Middle East if you look at the bundle of goods/services available to them. Even with adjustments like PPP, the comparisons are misinformative as they rarely take into account psycological effects which can be just as much as a trap as poor growth.

Although I’m no fan of the happiness index, these results shouldn’t be too suprising. If what you encounter on a daily/weekly/monthly basis is your neighborhood of experience, then obviously it would only really matter where you sat in relation to that environment.

The Worst Museum in Chicago

Friday, August 12th, 2005

Really, the Museum of Science and Industry has got to be the all time bigest waste of time/money/effort/space I’ve ever come across. A friend who was in town suggested we check out the Body Worlds exhibit. Sounded great! I still haven’t seen it although I did catch the slightly less artistic Chinese knockoff a few months back when I still resided in the Bay Area. We had almost 4 hours to kill before the run to the airport, and of that time we spent all but 1.5 hours in a line. lines to get in, lines for exhibits, lines for exhibits when you get tired of waiting in the other lines and you bail out for something else, lines for the bathroom etc.(really it goes on and on) This was my favorite part of what I did see, from the science of yester-year.