Daily Archives: 03/05/2011

Wisconsin Humor Fest


First, Jon Stewart on the teacher versus Wall Street pay logic (hat tip reader Scott via Jesse):

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c

Crisis in Dairyland – For Richer and Poorer – Teachers and Wall Street


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Second, a new and improved Downfall parody which, according to Josh Marshall, is vastly better than an earlier attempt (not being a connoisseur of the genre, I’ll take his word. Hat tip reader Scott A):

Wisconsin Humor Fest
Yves Smith
Sat, 05 Mar 2011 04:28:34 GMT


Average Income in the United States (1913-2006) | The Big Picture

A pre NFP look at the really long term growth of average income in the USA, via Visualizing Economics:


Average Income in the United States (1913-2006)

Average Income in the United States (1913-2006)

via Average Income in the United States (1913-2006) | The Big Picture.

Peter Nelson Compiles Donald Rumsfeld’s Emails

Why this loon wasn’t sacked in the first three months of the Bush Administration tells us some more very bad things about George W. Bush and his chief of staff Andrew Card:

Peter Nelson: Best Rumsfeld Emails to Condoleeza Rice:

The “My Time Is More Valuable Than Yours” Note

October 26, 200l
TO: Honorable Condoleezza Rice
FROM: Donald Rumsfeld
SUBJECT: Schedule
It isn’t possible to have a 7:15 a.m. phone call, an NSC meeting and then two PC meetings in one day. That takes most of the day. I need time with my staff. Let’s try to figure out a different way to do our business…

The “Do You Think You’re On Entourage?!” Note

December 13, 200l
TO: Honorable Condoleezza Rice
FROM: Donald Rumsfeld
We just had the Principals Committee meeting on Iran and Russia. At the last minute, we were told not to bring the “plus one.” I arrive, and I see you have Steve Hadley, Bob Joseph, Robin Cleveland, and Al Gonzales there-and I am like a one-armed paperhanger.
I am going to start bringing “plus one” to my meetings at the White House, unless there is just an enormously good reason not to. I sure cannot imagine what it would have been on that meeting, particularly since there were so many people in the room anyway…

The “You’re Terrible At Your Job And You Can’t Even Explain Why, Dumbass” Note

May 20, 2002
TO: Honorable Condoleezza Rice
FROM: Donald Rumsfeld
SUBJECT: Moscow Proposals
I just saw this article from the London Times saying, “President Bush will propose . . . that Russia and the United States join forces to develop the controversial Star Wars missile defense system . . .”
What is that about?
Second, I have asked repeatedly for a copy of these other documents that are supposedly going to be dealt with by President Putin and President Bush in Moscow. I still haven’t seen a copy of anything other than the treaty. I need to see them. Please get them over to me.
Thank you.

The “She’s Either Dumb, Deaf, or Secretly British, and Therefore, an Obtuse Asshole” Note

August 22, 2002
TO: Paul Wolfowitz [Deputy Secretary of Defense]
FROM: Donald Rumsfeld
Call Condi Rice. She said to me that we have got to get the detainee mess sorted out, that nobody is able to get answers. I think she is getting this from the UK. Call her and find out what she is talking about. She always comes in with these cryptic messages as thought [sic] the Pentagon is messed up, and I don’t have any idea what she is talking about…

The “You’re Such an Idiot You Can’t Even Run a Schedule” Note

October 4, 2002
TO: Honorable Condoleezza Rice
FROM: Donald Rumsfeld
SUBJECT: North Korea
I thought you told the President in my meeting that there werent going to be any meals at the North Korean event. I notice they had one or two dinners.

The “How I Subvert Your Time-Sucking Meetings” Note

October 30, 2003
TO: Honorable Condoleezza Rice
FROM: Donald Rumsfeld
We have an NSC meeting scheduled for Monday with no subject. I like to be prepared for meetings, but if we don’t have the subject of the meeting a working day ahead of time, then there is no way for us to be prepared…

The “You’re Not Early Enough For Us, Slackass” Note

November 5, 2003
TO: Honorable Condoleezza Rice
FROM: Donald Rumsfeld
SUBJECT: Agendas and Schedules for PC and NSC Meetings
…If you want people from DoD to do something, please tell us that, not in the meeting, but the day before—and we will do our best…

The “And By Tactical Errors She Means ‘My Bad Hair Days'” Note

April 04, 2006
TO: Stephen J Hadley [National Security Advisor]
FROM: Donald Rumsfeld
I think we better get some talking points on what Condi thinks she meant when she said we have made “thousands of tactical errors.” I keep getting asked the question, and I don’t know the answer. I don’t know what she had in mind.

Grasping Reality with Both Hands

via Peter Nelson Compiles Donald Rumsfeld’s Emails.

Banks to big? – Boston Review — Jonathan Kirshner: Business As Usual

How big is too big? It’s hard to say, but today’s numbers fail the “write it down and push it across the table” test. You can always find someone who will look at the status quo and find it reasonable. But had that person been asked ten or twenty years ago to write down what number would have been “too big” and slide that paper across the table, chances are the figure would be well below what we see now. The same exercise can be performed today. Goldman Sachs grew from $178 billion in assets in 1997 to over $1.1 trillion at its peak; Morgan Stanley went from $302 billion to $1 trillion. Is that too big? Johnson and Kwak propose that no financial institution should be worth more than 4 percent of GDP (about $570 billion) and no investment bank more than 2 percent (Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley passed this threshold in the late 1990s); at that point, they argue, the systemic risk is too great.

via Boston Review — Jonathan Kirshner: Business As Usual.

China Takes Giant Step Towards Making Yuan the World’s Reserve Currency

I think is probably correct, and it will reduce the flexibility we have for our own monetary policy.  But I think it’s being portrayed a little direly in many places as well.

The Big Picture

via China Takes Giant Step Towards Making Yuan the World’s Reserve Currency.

Wisconsin Followup at Steven Landsburg | The Big Questions: Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas from Mathematics, Economics, and Physics

Steve Landsburg argues in effect, I think, that lower salaries for public servants are efficient in reflecting the lower value of output in the public sector.  I think this is not (necessarily) a correct use of economic theory.  In microeconomics, value is ultimately subjective, not objective, based on tastes under a given set of economic opportunities.  I don’t think that the subjective value of public versus private services can be taken as given as Professor Landsburg does.  But before I go on here maybe Professor Landsburg can speak for himself:

Wisconsin Followup at Steven Landsburg | The Big Questions: Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas from Mathematics, Economics, and Physics.

I want to emphasize this. The main reason to hold down public salaries/benefits is not to save money for the taxpayers. I have no a priori reason to care any more (or less) about the taxpayers than I do about the public employees themselves. Instead, the main reason to hold down public salaries/benefits is to avoid drawing the “best and the brightest” away from more productive careers into public service.

The argument for holding down public salaries made hinges on what one sees as the value of those services.   As public goods they have to be chosen and consumed collectively, not privately where we can choose separate options based on our particular tastes.  I like pears and buy those while you like apples and buy those.  For some things, like getting into a war we make societal choices, that many of us are inevitably going to be unhappy with but we all pay for them and “consume” them.

As a democratic society we make those judgements democratically, thus tend toward the median voter. Anyone with a higher value for education of small kids (that is all small kids not just their own) versus better cellphones and more sophisticated ways of killing people (that the engineering career may lead to) can argue and try to persuade the median voter of her views, that we should all feel this way and argue for how that’s an economically efficient outcome for “reasonable” tastes.  There is no way of showing one’s values in this regard are right or wrong, just that they aren’t the beliefs of the majority, so far.   Those who value the output of teacher more highly aren’t wrong, they just aren’t necessarily the value of the democratic majority.

My point is those who value for higher teacher salaries, can I think be said to be trying to change tastes to value universal education among other things more highly.  If indeed you can change tastes and raise teacher salaries, that’s an economically efficient outcome.  Though if you raise the taste for war and spending on weapons that is too economically efficient.  Economic efficiency doesn’t mandate one result or the other.