Monthly Archives: December 2011

Check out this Econlib page

I thought you might be interested in Klein on Knowledge and Coordination | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty. You can view it at

Gingrich Weeps at Des Moines Town Hall

Little Green Footballs

via Gingrich Weeps at Des Moines Town Hall.

Thor Heyerdahl

Funny Quote of the Day

via Thor Heyerdahl.

Oh! Merry Christmas!!!

Santa Is Watching You

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

via Santa Is Watching You.

Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse make the case against Santa Claus:

The trouble with Santa’s surveillance is that it affects our motives. When we know that we are being watched by an omniscient judge looking to mete out rewards and punishments, we find ourselves with strong reasons to act for the sake of getting the reward and avoiding the punishment. But in order for our actions to have moral worth, they must be motivated by moralreasons, rather than narrowly self-interested ones. In short, under Santa’s watchful eye, our motivations become clouded, and so does the morality of our actions.

I’m kind of surprised that the Dish doesn’t elaborate here. I believe morality, a mature morality, should not be based on doing what right in order to get something or avoid punishment. Doing the right things should be a reward in and of itself.

Unfortunately, much of the populace never gets beyond “better not, because you’ll get caught” morality.


Debate Heats Up on Travails of Baby Boomers


The Wall Street Journal’s page-one article Monday about four million Baby Boomers aged 55 to 64 who can’t find full-time jobs seems to have hit a nerve.

The hundreds of comments posted about the article, both on the website and on other sites where the story has been reprinted, suggest that readers have deep feelings on the issue.

Associated Press

Some write of their anger toward Baby Boomers, blaming them for borrowing too heavily and saving too little, creating a debt problem that will be carried by future generations. They accuse Boomers of being lazy and self-centered and complain that, because they are such a large group, the government is too concerned about their wellbeing.

Others decry an economy that allows people to be fired from jobs just as they reach their mid-50s. That is a time when they normally would be earning peak incomes and fattening their retirement savings. Instead, many Boomers without well-paying jobs are spending their late 50s and early 60s running down their savings just to cover the costs of daily life.

The comments, which in some ways track the national political debate, show a deep disagreement about who is at fault, what should be done and what the consequences will be for the nation’s future. One likely consequence: This will be a political issue for years to come.

The number of comments and their content reflect a simple fact: As the Baby Boom generation, numbering close to 80 million people, begins marching to retirement, the national consequences will be enormous.

In part because of improvidence and weak wage growth, in part because many have lost jobs and in part because of the severe recession, Baby Boomers as a group are unready for two or even three decades of life after they stop working.

Because there are so many of them, this is a subject of national importance and one that evokes strong feelings, both among Baby Boomers themselves and in the broader public.

One interesting thing about the comments is their quality. Of course, some are self-serving, malicious or simply vehicles for a political view. But many are thoughtful, empathetic or at least pegged to the article’s theme.

Here is a link to Monday’s article, Oldest Baby Boomers Face Jobs Bust, and to the hundreds of comments.

Debate Heats Up on Travails of Baby Boomers
E.S. Browning
Tue, 20 Dec 2011 18:08:59 GMT

What to do with an Apple


Not Happy News for a Repubican

Seems like most Republican candidates either are running away for or embracing some kind of soft prejudice.


You Can’t have Your Own Facts, but Man How Folks will try

Amazing story this.  It’s got some one facing life in prison, over compiling statistics.  It’s got politicians wanting to hear what they want to hear, their technocrats enabling them.   Some of the more amazing parts are highlighted.

Sadly, I think I’ve seen this a lot.  Reports that should just be facts are always subject to review.  The review can be said to be to ensure the best methods are used and all possibilities considered.   There is always a desire to spin, soften the impact of or at worst falsify facts though.

From NPR’s Planet Money

Andreas Georgiou is the technocrat charged with running the Greek statistics office — the same office that, in the years leading up to the financial crisis, produced wildly distorted reports of Greece’s finances.

"My goal is to make this a competent, boring institution and not to be in the limelight," Georgiou told me recently. "Not to have to give an interview like this one."

So far, though, his efforts have been met with resistance, strikes and a criminal investigation that could lead to life in prison for Georgiou.


His first priority after he was appointed was to figure out how big Greece’s deficit really was back in 2009, when the crisis began. He looked through all the data and concluded that Greece’s deficit that year was 15.8 percent of GDP — higher what had previously been reported.

Eurostat, the central authority in Brussels, praised Georgiou’s methodology and blessed the number as true. The hundreds of Greek people who work beneath Georgiou — the old guard — did not.

"Everybody said, ‘Oh, what number is this?’ says Konstantinos Skordas. "We expected to discuss this matter."

Skordas sits on a governing board for the statistics office. His board wanted to debate and vote on the deficit number before anyone in Brussels was allowed to see it. Georgiou, the technocrat, saw that as a threat to his independence. He refused. The number is the number, he said. It’s not something to be put up for a vote.

This was not a popular decision.

Georgiou’s email was hacked, he says. Statistics workers went on strike, picketing outside the building. And a Greek prosecutor began investigating Georgiou for allegedly acting in cahoots with Eurostat and deliberately trying to make Greece look bad by inflating the deficit number. If Georgiou is charged and convicted, he faces life in prison.

I asked Skordas why Greek officials can’t work together with Georgiou and the European statistics service.

"Eurostat is not our boss," he said. "Each country is independent!"

This is not how a technocrat thinks.

"To me there is no Greek statistics versus European statistics," Georgiou says. "It is all European statistics. And we have to follow the European rules. There is not us and them. We are not sitting on opposite sides of the table."

For the euro to succeed, people like Skordas will have to buy into Georgiou’s vision. All Europeans sitting on the same side of the table: the technocrats’ side.

KimJung Un should have such problems!

He doesn’t have principles students telling him, on a final exam, that, for instance, the “shoe-leather costs” of inflation stem from “the rising price of leather” Or that hoary and hardy perennial, that the alternative to monetary policy is “physical policy” – carried out, no doubt, by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness.


via KimJung Un should have such problems!.

It’s the Great Recession, Not the Great Vacation, That’s Responsible for High Unemployment

Grasping Reality with Both Hands

via It’s the Great Recession, Not the Great Vacation, That’s Responsible for High Unemployment.