29.1.04

GREEN BAY CHILI. Herewith the Cold Spring Shops entry in Sgt. Hook's Chili Competition.

Pour the contents of a 12 oz can of beer and half the can of water into a two quart crockpot. Stir in 1/2 Tbsp. paprika, 3 Tbsp. chili powder, 1 Tbsp. Accent, 1 Tbsp. garlic powder, 1 Tbsp. ground cumin seed, 1 tsp. ground white pepper, and 1 tsp. ground cayenne pepper. Turn the crock pot on low and toss in a 1 oz unsweetened chocolate square.

In a skillet, brown 2 lb. coarsely ground chuck (or 2 lb. stewing beef cut into cubes). Saute 1 medium onion chopped with the meat. Drain the grease and add the cooked meat and onions to the crock pot.

Chop fresh hot peppers to taste. (My most recent batch used six jalapenos and 4 habaneros.) Stir the chopped peppers into the crockpot. Cover and let it cook at low heat for 3 or 4 hours.

Serve over cooked chili beans or elbow macaroni.

Real Wisconsin chili comes with a vinegar dressing. Drop 3 or 4 cayenne peppers into a cruet, and pour vinegar over the peppers. Keep on hand for your chili feeds.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE? Opinion Journal snarks at etiquette experts, but it would be mannerly of you to read the article cited.
CROSSOVER VOTING. It's been Instalanched, but read Citizen Smash's discovery of the requirement to declare a party identity in order to vote in the California primary. It is worth remembering that the primaries are primarily a party function, and citizens who skip the primaries are not presumptively derelict of their civic duties. The parties go to great length to prevent crossover voting, the phenomenon of voting for the candidate you least like in order to enhance the chances for the candidate you most like. The Making of the President 1960 (details or compare prices) has some rather colorful passages about the effects of crossover voting.
CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES NO. 71 visits the frozen tundra at The American Mind.
PROFITING BY OTHERS' IGNORANCE? Invented spelling might mean some bargains to be had by those entrepreneurs sufficiently alert to opportunities to buy the goods and sell them at auctions where the item has a correctly spelled name. Hat tip: Marginal Revolution.

28.1.04

IN MEMORIAM. Elroy Hirsch, 1923-2004. Some readers might have heard the legend about Mr Hirsch buying beer for everybody wearing red in some bar. It really happened. I was there. We're talking about the 1978 college hockey finals (none of this Frozen Four silliness) in Providence, Rhode Island. Heavily favored Wisconsin lost first to Boston University and then to Bowling Green -- a harbinger of the Midwestern axis of evil? -- to the disappointment of numerous Wisconsin students who had made their spring break trips to Providence rather than the usual sunny climes. After the third-place game many of the faithful retired to a nearby bar (no, I don't remember the name) where the drinks were on the house. Mr Hirsch had laid $500 on the bar and instructed the staff to serve anyone wearing red.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE. And if the village has all the redeeming features of a hippie commune and a trailer park, it's tough to be a government school. O'Donnell Web, Reform K-12, and Number 2 Pencil say, STOP WHINING.

It may be piling on to add my own observations, but the concluding paragraph of the essay bears further scrutiny.
You would use public school dollars to construct new forms of theocratic education, yet the U.S. General Accounting Office national survey showed that a third of my buildings are dangerous and unsafe – yet no help is forthcoming. Do as you will, but for me, I will stand proudly in my neighborhood, America’s last egalitarian institution, my arms embracing the finest educators, administrators and support personnel in the world – dedicated to helping our children realize the American dream.
As if trendy environmentalism, mushy multiculturalism, and fuzzy constructivism are not theology per se. As if there is anything egalitarian in celebrating sports and ignoring chess. As if there will be any realization of the American Dream on a foundation of invented math, invented spelling, and nobody fails because nobody is challenged.
CHOICES AND CONSEQUENCES. Reason's Ronald Bailey is unimpressed with arguments that too much choice is unsound.
PROCESS, NUANCE, FAILURE? Academic Game reports that the University of Saskatchewan, home to the Ace of Diamonds, Peter MacKinnon, will review safety and security. Don't drop those martial-arts courses just yet.
The review will include: an assessment of the effectiveness of current safety programs and activities on campus; a review of the timelines, adequacy and mechanism for seeking feedback and advice from the university community on safety issues; an assessment of staffing levels in security and the appropriateness of their training and preparedness. There will be University-wide consultation with advocacy groups on campus including the Student Union Women's Centre.
How shall I fisk thee? Let me count the ways. First, check that totally unnecessary colon introducing the elements. Second, get a load of those Silent Generation therapeutic words, assessment, mechanism, appropriateness, and preparedness. Evidently nobody gets kicked out or imprisoned. Third, note the pandering to special interests. Look forward to mandatory "Take Back the Night" and Eve Ensler's talking privates for everybody.

On the bright side, this is Canada. The university is less likely to have to take a hard look at its athletic programs, as the recruitment of unsocialized louts and the concomitant provision of fixers to look the other way when said louts expect to have their way with the ladies as a matter of right has not yet become par for the course in Canadian intercollegiate athletics. Likewise, the university is less likely to have to consider the likelihood that recruiting students out of rough neigbourhoods so as to achieve greater diversity will bring to campus the habits, including criminal activity, that keep those neigbourhoods rough.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? A thought experiment: consider a National Organization for Women chapter with a male president. Or a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter with a non-colored president. Under the usual tenets of progressive intolerance, wouldn't these situations be anomalies crying out for some consciousness raising?

Now consider a Christian organization with a Christian president. Clearly an anomaly that requires re-education. Gonzaga president Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., has been recommended to Messrs. Schneider and Schwartz for inclusion in the sheepshead deck. (Hat tip: Milt's File.)
REWARDING MISBEHAVIOR? An amnesty for illegal immigrants is undesirable because it rewards people for sneaking into the country illegally, nicht wahr? Per corollary, a tax amnesty is undesirable because it rewards people for evading taxes? Yes, but how expensive is it to catch all the tax evaders? Sometimes the amnesty brings in more revenue.
A BOWL OF RED. Via Black Five (going to have to ask that man about that name), Sgt. Hook's Chili Cookoff, which includes some audience participation. Given the commitments of this weekend, I'm unlikely to be able to test and comment on one of the other recipes, but I do intend to melt the internet later tonight. Yum!

23.1.04

PRIMARY ON THE PRIMARIES. Atlantic Blog has put together responses by some of the Democratic hopefuls to a set of questions the Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe put to all of the active candidates. I like Is there any serious problem in American society that you do not believe calls for some kind of government response?
THE CRISIS OF CAPITALISM? Bob Herbert recalls Michael Harrington (The Other America is out of print??) Mr Herbert sees only the class struggle. Some additional words from Adam Smith seem pertinent:
The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same as that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.
BRIEF IMMIGRATION ROUNDUP. Sneakeasy's Joint has been following the story, with five posts devoted to the debate.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Better to be known for doing something in your life other than sneaking out the night before the big game." That's Packer super-substitute Max McGee, who put on a great show at the first Super Bowl (which was anything but super) despite breaking training the night before.
PEOPLE RESPOND TO INCENTIVES. The Wisconsin Senate has approved a tax deduction for expenses people incur in the course of donating organs. (It is a curious world we live in, in which I link to a New York Times article datelined Chicago.) The bill has passed the Assembly, and the Governor intends to sign it. There is, however, a potential conflict with the National Organ Transplant Act. The good news is, there are still job opportunities for economists.
"When you get as high as $10,000 you start to wonder what that means to people and if there is some coercion that goes on with that," said Howard M. Nathan, president and chief executive of the Gift of Life Donor Program, a nonprofit agency in Philadelphia.
Yeah, Northern Illinois University coerced me in 1986 by beating Wayne State's counter-offer by $6,000. Offer me more duress like that, please.
But State Representative Steve Wieckert, a Republican from Appleton who sponsored the bill, said it was not intended to offer cash for human organs. Instead, the tax credit would help remove an obstacle that prevents people from donating, he said.

"We want to be very careful that we are not getting into the business of selling organs but to encourage organ donation," Mr. Wieckert said. "No one, rich or poor, would receive any additional money for donating. All they would do is lose less money."
Huh? Sometimes, you just have to go back to the original sources.
But man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour, and show them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them. Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind proposes to do this. Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. Nobody but a beggar chuses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow-citizens. Even a beggar does not depend on it entirely.
That's from The Wealth of Nations (details or compare prices.)

22.1.04

IT'S A GUY THING, YOU WOULDN'T UNDERSTAND. Newmark's Door finds a Dave Barry column subtitled "Problem solving, guy style." It's all in fun, but there is a serious point. I have taken some heat for insisting that the term "gender" be expanded to include the option, "Non-Quiche-Eating Real Guy." Want some more anecdotal evidence? (Of course you do, that's why you're reading this, nicht wahr?) Last night I caught the first spring semester recital by the Vermeer Quartet. At intermission I was chatting with a colleague from my department, and her husband, and another colleague from another department, and his wife, and I made a comment about the Vermeer being good for the university even if the BCS was not, and everybody else reacted, Huh??

Even more seriously, Number 2 Pencil and King of Fools react to a Marshall Poe essay in the latest Atlantic noting a growing educational achievement gap between boys and girls. (Boys' test scores may have historically exceeded girls' test scores on average as the less academically inclined boys selected out of writing the College Boards.)

One point in the article is worth further commentary:
But boys' educational stagnation has long-term economic implications. Not even half the boys in the country are taking advantage of the opportunity to go to college, which has become almost a prerequisite for a middle-class lifestyle. And languishing academic attainment among a large portion of our population spells trouble for the prospects of continued economic growth. Unless more boys begin attending college, the nation may face a shortage of highly skilled workers in the coming decades.
Perhaps the recruitment of more male teachers, or the provision of a less-girly curriculum, or a reluctance to treat high-energy behavior as something to be medicated away will help. It's also worth considering that highly-skilled is not equivalent to college-educated in many cases (start here, look here, and play this golden oldie for details) and the decision of schools to offer fewer shop and other skilled trade classes will only have the effect of raising the incomes of those relatively few people who discover those opportunities.
TODAY'S IMMIGRATION ROUNDUP. Milt's File suggests that Victor Davis Hanson has made the case against partial amnesty regularization of some illegal immigrants. Perhaps. Mr Hanson is correct to point out that some illegal immigration is with the expectation of receiving public assistance, although the optimal policy for the host country might thus to be to stretch out the time interval between amnesties, so as to obtain more cheap labor subsidies from the underground economy, or to quell the temptation to migrate solely in expectation of public benefits. He is also correct to suggest that the presence of cheap illegal labor affects innovation in industries using that labor. That is a great thesis topic.

Mr Hanson also returns to the debate between assimilation and acceptance, a point Econ Log also addresses. (The articles on a potential caste system more rigid than the underground economy and a proposal to create a market in work permits, both recommended therein, are also worth a look.)

The assimilation debate is nothing new. Think about this: the identity-politics weenies (yes, that is a technical term) use an aggregate, "white," that includes Germans, Italians, Georgians, Badgers, and Californians alike. This essay hints at the emergence of a melting pot in some high-technology sectors.
THE FATAL CONCEIT, AGAIN. Let me see if I understand Barry Schwartz:
Finally, increased choice forces people to take personal responsibility for all choices that turn out to be less than perfect. With so many options available, there is no excuse for anything less than perfection, and when less than perfection is what you end up getting, the fault must be yours.

While a life without any freedom of choice would not be worth living, it appears not to be true that more choice inevitably leads to more freedom and greater happiness. Indeed, there may be a point when choice tyrannizes people more than it liberates them. The implication of this news, both for individuals and for government officials, is that sound social policy simply cannot consist of throwing an ever-greater menu of options at the American people
OK, fine, but does it follow that expanding the opportunities for people to manage their pensions will lead them to make worse choices? What evidence does Professor Schwartz (who is on Messrs. Schneider and Schwarz's short list should he ever become an academic administrator) have that a limited menu of choices designed by Congress or by other experts is superior to the evolution of a small set of preferred choices from among a large menu offered for people to select among? (Sorry about that Germanic sentence.) Captains Quarters, who brought the essay to my attention, has further comments.
MAKING THE CASE FOR A CARD. Pitzer College President Trombley continues to receive recommendations for a spot in the deck of cards, possibly as the eight of hearts. King at SCSU Scholars, who attended one of the Claremont colleges, puts her position in a broader context. (No, it is not sufficient to dismiss Pitzer as not a BCS program.) Joanne Jacobs surveys the commentary and offers the quote of the day: "The problem is not with the measuring system. The problem is that some students who want to go to college are poorly prepared for higher education."
TRANSPARENCY. Academic Game would like to see more of it in the academy.

This Timothy Burke post, on the peculiar economics of the academic journals (via Apartment 11-D) is also worth a read.
THE BASILICA OF CONSTANTINE, ANYONE? Live from the Third Rail links to coverage of the design for the new World Trade Center tube station at Hudson Terminal. The designer is Santiago Calatrava, who conceived the racing sailboat (?) at Milwaukee's lakefront Art Center. The article reports that the design will shine natural light down to track level, 60 feet below the street. Mr Calatrava could do worse than to pay tribute to the trainshed at Penn Station, which in its original form had lots of natural light down to track level.
STORMY, HUSKY, BRAWLING, CITY OF THE BIG HAGGIS? I heard the news on the radio last night. Knowledge Problem picked it up. (Lynne, we'd expect a Pittsburgher to be au courant with head cheese and czarnina.)

Not to be outdone, Tightly Wound finds the concept of a vegetarian haggis (What would you use for the wrap? Some questions are better not asked.) amusing. And some readers apparently can't tell a haggis from a hodag.
IT'S GOING TO BE A CHARACTER BUILDER.
No big surprise to visitors from the Northern Alliance, but I don't want to hear any whinging from more temperate regions about how cold it is there. You want cold? We've got cold.

21.1.04

CASUAL WEBLOGGING. On a scale of 0 to 100, that's what 36 gets me. (Hat tip: Betsy's Page.)
TAVERNS FOR TOTS. Write a loophole, expect somebody to exploit it, notes Tyler at Volokh Conspiracy.
STRATEGIC VIEWPOINT IMBALANCE? Suppose university students take a conservative stance as a transgression against an academic establishment that pretends to be transgressive? Kathy at On the Third Hand suggests the best strategy for adult conservative activists might be to carp less about the lack of viewpoint diversity in the faculty.
OLD TRADITIONS DIE HARD. In yesterday's public utilities class, I asked students why some people might equate being rich with being evil. One student offered that the person might have become rich by making others poor, which is certainly the case with Roman tax collectors at the beginning of the current era, although Adam Smith discovered the power of trading for mutual gain.

Something similar might be at work in international trade, in this Common Sense and Wonder commentary on yet another Arnold Kling column. Perhaps many people's attitudes toward trading reflect long-evolved practices of sharing the misery, rather than trading for mutual gain. I'm unlikely to retire the parable of Wilmette and Waukegan anytime soon.
REGULARIZATION, NOT AMNESTY. President Bush sought to distinguish regularization of some illegal workers doing jobs no legal resident or citizen would do from amnesty and the legal track to residency and citizenship. It's a distinction without a difference.
FOR SERIOUS POLICY WONKS ONLY. Via OxBlog, a Compendium of State of the Union speeches since Woodrow Wilson (figures) brought back the annual speech in 1913.
I AM NOMAD. Carnival of the Vanities No. 70 beams down to Poli Blog.
HEY, BIG SPENDER! The current President Bush matches only Gerald Ford in the rate of expansion of federal spending. The opposition? See you and raise you.
IT'S THE UNANTICIPATED PROMISES THAT MATTER. Perhaps it matters more that the President, with a little help from our fellow citizens in uniform, has smoked the terrorists out of their holes, got them running, and brought them to justice, than that he hasn't perfected the common schools. Here's an Australian observer's impression.
SOAK-THE-RICH? Doesn't help to raise tax rates in the top bracket if people migrate, and individual States, even the People's Republic of California, cannot collect exit taxes. Details at Dynamist.
ANOTHER CANDIDATE FOR THE DECK OF CARDS? Pitzer College president Laura Skandera Trombley nominates herself, by trashing the entire Scholastic Aptitude Test on the basis of one question.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We value fast success, easy money and easy sex---everything material—and shut aside the things that are important to our lives and happiness—such as education, hard work, and self-respect." Charlie Sykes posts an excellent winner of Milwaukee's Martin Luther King Day student speech contest.
ESTABLISHING PROPERTY RIGHTS. Arnold Kling notes that the most effective Social Security lockbox is your own account. He demolishes the argument that setting up private accounts will impose transition costs on taxpayers.

The teachable moment in his essay is a recognition of the laws of conservation in economics. Milton Friedman once made the same point this way: suppose the government issued savings bonds to each citizen with value equal to each person's expected pension as of that date. The observed national debt would increase, but a large contingent liability to the government would vanish.
NOTICE OF EMBARGO. Invisible Adjunct announces a two-week embargo on posting; contemplates longer suspension of service. Best wishes.

20.1.04

DISPLAY SIGNALS AND RUN AS FIRST AND SECOND NO. 19. There are some updates to yesterday's posts. That's likely it for tonight, as the stack of held mail from the Post Office includes the most recent issues of Backtrack and Railway, and it looks like the Small Prairie Tank model has arrived. (There is a State of the Union tonight, but I'll let the usual suspects cover it. If President Bush says anything about immigration reform, I'll be on it for you.)
FOURTH TURNING ALERT. Morton Kondracke, via Drudge:
A Bush campaign official said, "It's called the theory of political socialization. Who are the most Democratic people in America? It's the over-65 age group. Why? Because the two presidents they knew best were Franklin Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover. And who are the most Republican? People in their 40s, who came of age in the last two years of Jimmy Carter and the first two years of Ronald Reagan. If your politics were being formed during the last two years of Bill Clinton and the first two years of George Bush, there's a fairly good chance that we'll have your support."
Process, nuance, failure, good-bye!

Mr Kondracke is on somewhat less solid ground in his continuation:
Kondracke writes, "It seems impossible that a generation reared on free-love television and rap music, a generation far more tolerant of ethnic diversity and homosexuality than its elders, could support the GOP, whose base in anchored in the religious right. In fact, Democratic theorists such as Ruy Teixeira, John Judis and Stan Greenberg look upon the expanded role of minorities, cosmopolitan regions and diversity-minded young people to produce an 'emerging Democratic majority' through the force of demography.
Not quite that simple. It was the hippies and other "cosmopolitans" that engaged in free love and aborted the unintended products of conception. The uncool people, who didn't get the publicity, deferred gratification and cherished the children that came along. Those children are more likely to have grown up comfortable with Republican (possibly of the South Park stripe) ideas. There's a research project waiting to be done here. (Hat tip: Shot in the Dark.)
A NATION OF ENTREPRENEURS? Or is it Temp Nation? Hobbs Online points to a growing statistical discrepancy between employment levels as estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics's Payroll Survey, and the Joint Economic Committee's Household Survey. The post also has proper scorn for those individuals who view self-employment as somehow not a real job.

Some of the speechifying after last night's Iowa caucuses suggests a statistical discrepancy between Democratic and Republican thinking about the economy. Both Senators Edwards and Kerry sounded very Rooseveltian themes. Perhaps that comes as no surprise.
MORE WORK FOR MESSRS. SCHNEIDER AND SCHWARTZ? King at SCSU Scholars finds a report from Penn State (motto: No Age Discrimination in our Football Program) in which an unnamed "Diversity Advocate" produces a perfect specimen, as if preserved in amber, of 1969-style liberating tolerance. We can't issue a card without a name, unfortunately. InstaPundit finds more crushing of dissent at Alabama (figures, their elephant can't crush a pack of huskies, but dissent is another matter) and this news report provides some candidates for the list, as well as confirmation of our earlier judgement that Auburn's William Walker is well and truly qualified to be the ace of spades.
SUCCUMBING TO FILTHY LURES FROM THE WEST. The European Union discovers what Stalin and Khrushchev attempted to fence in: people who respond to incentives. This time it's Continental academicians. (Hat tip: The Cranky Professor.)
SEX AND THE CITY. Life does not imitate television. (Via Milt's File.)
A TAXONOMY OF STUDENTS, as seen by Drew Moody of the Northern Star. Got some news for you: preppies are not a subset of yuppies, and there are some huskies that run after touchdowns -- the cheerleaders have to be pretty quick to keep up with some of them.
AVIAN RIGHTS CONFLICT WITH PROPERTY RIGHTS. Details at Knowledge Problem, who has returned and offered some good stuff.
CURIOUS GOOGLE SEARCH STRING: Stanley Fish Deck Jack Blog. Despite my best efforts, I'm not the top entry.

19.1.04

SOME ADDITIONS TO THE DECK OF CARDS. The headhunting firm of Schneider and Schwarz have reviewed the dossiers of recent nominees for the Most Unwanted Academic Administrators deck of cards. They report that two nominees have made a good case for status as trump cards, and there are two failed administrators.

The University of Tennessee's John Shumaker, nominated by The Cranky Professor, has been named Jack of Diamonds. That is the eighth most powerful trump, losing to any other jack or to any queen, but nonetheless a powerful card to hold, as it can be used to frustrate an opponent's plans, and in some variants of the five-handed game it can be used to pick the Player's partner (the other three being the Opponents), which Messrs. Schneider and Schwarz noted was fitting for a candidate who pretended to pick a partner in order to obtain a personal amnesty for a nanny.

The Ace of Diamonds is Peter Mackinnon of the University of Saskatchewan, nominated by Academic Game. The aces have the highest point value, and the ace of diamonds is a trump card, although it loses to any jack or any queen. The consultants' recommendation noted that Mackinnon made a strong case for one of the other jacks, in light of CBS's The District recently highlighting the gundecking of crime reports by college administrators as a recruiting dodge, and in light of the Canada-envy (for speech codes, multilingualism, and socialized medicine) exhibited by many in the academy, but recommended him for a higher point value but less powerful card because he is, well, president of a university in Saskatchewan, which is a sparsely-populated version of Wisconsin, but without the Packers.

Former University of Massachusetts President William M. Bulger has earned the status of 10 of Spades. This card can be useful in following a lead to a fail suit, if you are one of the Opponents on defense player and you are confident any remaining Players can follow the lead. It is also a convenient card for the Picker to hide in the blind, should there be some good trumps in the blind. Messrs. Schneider and Schwarz thought that fitting for an administrator who attempted to dig a spider hole for hiding his ties with organized crime.

James Holderman, formerly president of the University of South Carolina, nominated by The Cranky Professor, has been convicted of money laundering and dealing in false immigration papers. Although the Superintendent argued for a higher ranking in light of recent developments in immigration policy, he accepts the consultant's nomination of Mr Holderman for the Seven of Spades, which is accompanied only with the notation, "What a miserable failure."

To summarize the deck, the following cards are now named.

TRUMPS
Donna Shalala, Miami, Florida, Queen of Clubs
Roberta Matthews, Brooklyn, Queen of Hearts
Katherine Lyall, Wisconsin, Queen of Diamonds
Stanley Fish, Illinois-Chicago, Jack of Clubs
Peter Mackinnon, Saskatchewan, Ace of Diamonds
FAIL
William Walker, Auburn, Ace of Spades
William M. Bulger, Massachusetts, 10 of Spades
Timothy Sullivan, Bill and Mary, 9 of Clubs
James Holderman, South Carolina, 7 of Spades.

More nominations are welcome. I can't make all this stuff up myself.
TODAY'S AMNESTY UPDATE. John Leo (via Milt's File) sees the income-distribution effects of augmenting the supply of low-skilled workers, whilst neglecting the possibility of amnestied immigrants becoming business owners, and bemoans the effect of a current amnesty on the expectation of future amnesties, which might be a feature, not a bug. Atlantic Blog links a Theodore Dalrymple column (for subscribers only) that sees some value in allowing asylum seekers (another form of illegal immigration) to work.
ECONOMICS, BAD OR GOOD. Some objections to the Mars mission. Jim Stingl visits a shelter, and hears the expected:
People need health care and housing and jobs and food and better education and help fighting crime in their neighborhoods and help kicking drug habits, he said. It makes more sense to funnel our money that way rather than shooting it skyward.
Wouldn't it take a better education to be a rocket scientist? Bad economics.

Professor Bainbridge invokes the Welfare Economics Paradigm to evaluate the role of government as space-exploration provider.
I don't think you can make the case anymore that space travel is a public good.
That's better.

Andrew Sullivan puts the space proposals in broader perspective and suggests that as a public-choice strategy, the Administration's profligacy is not swinging votes. (Didn't his father make the same mistake, catering to his critics in a way that antagonized his base?)
MORAL RELATIVISM, MULTICULTURALISM, AND LOYALTY OATHS. The Narod'niy Kommissariat Vnutrekhi Del' General Education Committee has reviewed the resubmission of Principles of Microeconomics for general education credit. Their one objection:
The committee thought that, given the nature of the subject matter, much more could be done with multiculturalism. If this is being done, could you document that, and if not, could you explain why?

Multiculturalism is one of the things the committee has been looking at most closely. It is my understanding that the various curriculum committees on campus have been very keen to incorporate multiculturalism as broadly as feasible across the university curriculum, and especially in the general education program.
Review the guidelines for multiculturalism here and judge for yourself how many of the dimensions are empty calories and how many are loyalty oaths.

Joanne Jacobs has more on those empty calories.

SECOND SECTION: King at SCSU Scholars compares and contrasts their general education guidelines with Northern Illinois University's
THERE IS APPARENTLY A CHEDDAR CURTAIN. Illinois ranks among the most corrupt states, Wisconsin among the least corrupt. Details here. (Hat tip: Marginal Revolution.)
MY NAME IN DNEPROPETROVSK IS CURSED. Critical Mass posts a complaint by a graduate student in mathematics suggesting mathematics writing has deteriorated into a Glass Bead Game; two dissenting mathematics faculty comment. Getting results published first has not apparently deteriorated to the level Tom Lehrer once satirized.
ECONOMIC SNAKE OIL? Steven Malanga suggests that catering to the "creative classes" (read hip and bohemian) is not the road to urban development. That does not stop Milwaukee's city fathers from converting a piece of the Beer Line into a bike trail, although officialdom's hopes that the locals will Help Keep Milwaukee Clean seem a bit optimistic.
MEME OF THE DAY: Notitletown. (Via Number 2 Pencil.) Let's see, after P-A-C comes P-A-N, then P-A-T, shouldn't be too hard to pick a favorite for the Super Bowl.
CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS calls at Unpersons.
THE USE OF GOVERNMENT TO KEEP PEOPLE APART. On Martin Luther King Day, Winds of Change recalls the old state-enforced racial classification, and the editorial staff at the Northern Star lament over the new state-enforced racial classification.

RUNNING EXTRA: Number 2 Pencil notes that the absence of an "other" option is fallout from mandates requiring stratified tracking of academic progress according to ethnicity.
SOME THINGS BETTER NOT KNOWN? Mad cow case leads to ban on bovine intestines as bologna, knackwurst, or chorizo casings. Braunschweiger cased in plastic? Ach, du lieber!
SHIFTING TWO CURVES. Apparently, the demand curve for a university degree is shifting right at the same time that the opportunity costs are increasing, notes King at ScSU Scholars, who also has some thoughts on what consumer sovereignty means in a market for credentials. There's a follow-on by Roderick at Liberty and Power. It's also worth recalling that there's a derived demand component in education. Doesn't matter how student-friendly you make the courses if upon graduation said graduates can't find their way to the bathroom, let alone understand the lending policy or reboot the server.

SECOND SECTION: Today's dummies a form of job security for geezers? Details at Joanne Jacobs.

15.1.04

MARKING OFF. Thanks for looking in. Posting to resume Monday.

14.1.04

TODAY'S IMMIGRATION ROUNDUP draws heavily on Carnival of the Vanities No. 69, which this week calls at Snooze Button Dreams. You Big Mouth, You, who sees some inconsistency in the thinking of limited-government types, and who grasps the potential efficiency gains of a periodic amnesty (which under some conditions, by lowering the penalty for turning yourself in, is a Pareto improvement. Libraries seem to get this.) Sneak Easy hasn't posted 99 theses at his joint, but one knows where he stands on the issue. Presto Pundit (source of Company Mail rather than Carnival participant) has been posting on the topic, repeatedly. Just keep scrolling. The facts on the ground might call into question the extent of a cheap-labor subsidy illegal immigrants provide to the rich country.

SECOND SECTION: Milt's File continues to follow the debate, here and here.
THE MAIN STREET OF THE NORTHWEST? Shot in the Dark comments on Minnesota Governor Pawlenty's proposal to obtain funding for a commuter rail line (or not.) Superintendent's Note to Mr. Berg, who writes,
Commuter Rail is not light rail. It uses existing tracks - the same ones that freight trains run on. It uses common, wide-gauge rollling stock - it can even be purchased used (although I'm sure it won't be).
Kindly be advised that, with the exception of the Pittsburgh light rail lines, the Bay Area Rapid Transit, and parts of the Philadelphia rapid transit system, light rail, rapid transit, and commuter rail all use the same track gauge (which San Diego has exploited to help with the operating expenses by hiring out the tracks for freight trains,) and the aforementioned systems use a wider track gauge (in Pennsylvania as a way of protecting the steam railroads against freight competition from the street railways, in San Francisco for engineering reasons that led to more expense in special tooling than the system ever saved in train stability.) Moreover, Minnesota might be wise to consider starting with second-hand equipment, which is how Virginia Railway Express, serving the southwest suburbs of the District of Columbia, got started (trainspotter site here), buying cars from Boston and Chicago when those systems did an upgrade.

Some of the oldest Chicago gallery cars are now preserved. Nothing quite like seeing one's former conveyance treated as a museum piece to make a person feel old.
TODAYS MODEL RAILROADING NEWS
There are some problems, alas with the command control module at On My Workbench. (Via Where Worlds Collide, who unaccountably did not remark on Carnival of the Vanities No. 66. All of your motive power depots are belong to us!)
THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE. The Beeb plans to go off the air for 4 min 33 sec. It's easy enough to play 4' 33" as a piano piece with an orchestra: simply roll a piano onstage.
PROTECTING COMPETITION, OR PROTECTING COMPETITORS. Radio broadcasting used to be regulated in the public interest, so the reaction of the traditional trade association to the emergence of a rival is as expected.
CHURCH OF ST. MARY'S IN A HAZEL HOLLOW .... Brian at Transport Blog visits Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch, which is or is not the longest train station name in the world, depending on whether or not you use a hyphen to set off "church of St. Tysilio by the red cave." The pronunciation guide raises a wicked thought: would the Beatles have been as big a success had they first played in the Red Cave club at Llanfairpwll?

And a quick thumbs-up to Patrick at Transport Blog who notes, "privatisation ≠ fragmentation." Of course not. Look who is billing itself as
North America's Railroad.
ANOTHER RETENTION DILEMMA. Critical Mass notes that somewhere between 50% and 70% of students enrolled in Ph.D. programs never finish. The cause of such attrition is not going to be easy to discover. The retention rate in my department's doctoral program is lowered to some extent by students who discover an aptitude and enroll in a more visible department. Some of them have gone on to successful academic careers upon completion of a Ph.D. elsewhere.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
By far the funniest of these was a young lady from our state, who described herself as a college student and a Republican who wants socialism and doesn't think Bush can deliver it. Medved, obviously amused, asked her what she meant by socialism, and she replied that she wants to go to college for free and thinks everyone else should be able to go without paying tuition, too. Now, obviously this young woman has not yet been schooled in the art of demanding socialism by proclaiming it as a selfless and noble system under which every person is given equal distribution of resources, and so on; she took the breathtaking and refreshingly honest course of telling us it would benefit her directly.
Report to the Captain's Quarters for the full after-action review.

SECOND SECTION: King at SCSU Scholars has commentary and additional linkage. (Raku roku moyet, tavarishch. Spasibo.)
MEME OF THE DAY. "Adolescent screw-you defiance," spelled out at Atlantic Blog.

13.1.04

DOING THE WORK OF ... It has been Instalanched, but check it out all the same!
CANDIDATES FOR THE DECK OF CARDS. It has been a while since any new members of the Most Unwanted Academic Administrators sheepshead deck have been announced. The Cranky Professor has identified some candidates, whose credentials are being reviewed by the headhunting firm of Schneider and Schwarz.
THE SECRET IS OUT. The Superintendent has never had much respect for what the literary types refer to as "theory." How can there be theory without theorems or testable implications? In that spirit, please read and understand this Tightly Wound post linking to some proper introspection among the literary types, about why others might hate them so much.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Now that NIU is the place to be for high school graduates, it’s time to improve academic admissions requirements — instead of packing as many students as possible into classes that already are overcrowded and underfunded.
That's the Northern Star editorial board seeking for ways to distinguish their university from the other compass-direction universities in the state. I love these kids ... they've stayed on this message since the academic year began.
CARTEL MANAGEMENT. There is a governing body at Northern Illinois University called the Greek Life Standards Board that, not surprisingly, rejects some petitions by some national Greek-letter organizations to establish chapters in DeKalb. The Board's advisor noted that eight new organizations were too many to bring to campus at one time. Right. The money quote is deeper into the article. where some existing fraternities feared the loss of dues. Doesn't this sound like motor carrier regulation? The applicant is not competent to provide the proposed service, there is insufficient demand for the proposed service, and existing carriers are capable of providing the proposed service if there is demand for it.
IMMIGRATION AMNESTIES, CONTINUED. Jonathan at Cliopatria provides useful background, noting that the occasional amnesty, or guest worker program, might serve to "keep the mess to a minimum." Tamar Jacoby also notes the attractiveness of the U.S. economy (or the economy of any developed country) to ambitious workers in less developed countries. Whether the amnesty serves to encourage migration by future productive workers or to free resources for enforcement remains to be seen. Mark Steyn suggests, based on past performance, that the Immigration and Naturalization Service is unlikely to be able to cope with the mess, as the illegal immigration problem is a consequence, in his view, of the ineffectiveness of the legal immigration system. (Possibly relevant anecdotal observation: the authorities sure like to mess around with my colleagues when their visas come up for renewal.) This Economist editorial looks at the proposal as a way of redeploying resources to catch the dangerous illegal immigrants, an idea that figures in a previous long post. Lawrence Henry suggests there are other considerations at work, as does David Brooks.

A Wall Street Journal editorial raises a point I wish to return to another day, namely the reward to bad behavior implicit in an amnesty for illegal immigrants. Readers might wish to consider the consequences of not granting an amnesty, while not catching and not deporting illegal immigrants.

For additional links and commentary, or by way of attribution, visit Milt's File, Dynamist, Hit and Run, Betsy's Page, The American Mind, this week's Carnival of the Capitalists, and Patterico's Pontifications.

SECOND SECTION: Econ Log has more on the role of the welfare state in inducing illegal immigration.

12.1.04

REVEREND AWDRY DECONSTRUCTED. Tightly Wound finds serious capitalist exploitation on the Island of Sodor. A pity it is that the Fat Controller apparently never heard of the Electro-Motive Division and the SW1200.
LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS? Marginal Revolution seeks reader suggestions on a $100 million project to "unify, motivate, and inspire" the nation. Am I being too curmudgeonly to think of bread and circuses?
BACKWARD BENDING SUPPLY CURVES? Apartment 11-D wonders if there are sufficiently many people opting out of demanding careers to constitute a counterculture? (Look for even more wage inequality, particularly in the most demanding jobs, if there is.)
LAST RUN. Where Worlds Collide covers the end of on-train mail sorting on British metals.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR. Northern Illinois University enrollments are up, with the freshman slots essentially sold out, and today's student newspaper reports that the football success might have generated some of the student interest. That's the lead article. Below the fold is a story of a team member accused of trafficking in fake I.D. (The student facing charges is a veteran of my introductory economics class. You have disappointed me, my young apprentice.)

Meanwhile, the state appropriation is likely to be lean, again. Doing more with less, what else is new?

8.1.04

AND YET MORE ON OUTSOURCING. It's not just me having trouble grasping what Schumer and Roberts wrote. The New Republic's &c raises some objections, in a somewhat more readable style than mine, while managing to explain comparative advantage properly. Dan Drezner has managed to find some additional commentary, and provides a bit of his own, without stepping into any theoretical minefields, and Econ Log laments the lack of knowledge of general equilibrium among non-economists. (It's hard enough to communicate to economics students, and many academicians including your Superintendent can teach and do research without getting into the finer points of it.)
DISPLAY SIGNALS AND RUN AS SECOND NO. 7. It's been kind of a busy day, and the main topics continue to be immigration and trade. Please visit yesterday's posts on those topics where there are a few recent developments noted.

7.1.04

NO FISHING OFF THE COMPANY PIER, as viewed In the Shadow of Mt. Hollywood.
TODAY'S CHUCKLE: Darwin Awards and Dodos.
AMNESTY BY ANY OTHER NAME. President Bush's proposal to provide legal status to illegal immigrants has inspired a number of columns and posts today, with Cal Pundit reserving judgement, Nick Gillespie at Hit and Run favorably disposed toward it, Ronald J. Watkins disappointed, Michelle Malkin angry, Joel Mowbray unaware of existing research, and Mark Krikorian making a call for further research.

Barry Chiswick of the University of Illinois at Chicago has written a summary of the effects of illegal migration on the host country. The Mowbray essay alludes to a phenomenon that makes amnesty, or some other form of regularization, sensible.
In an election year pursuit of Hispanic votes, President Bush is prepared to embark on the ill-advised path to providing some sort of amnesty to 8 million illegal aliens. Perhaps Bush thinks that enhanced scrutiny and enforcement—things the President will combine with his calls for amnesty—can screen out terrorists from those applying for amnesty. The evidence, however, tells a different story.

As it is, our immigration administrators are swamped. The current backlog of cases awaiting adjudication is over 4.5 million. In other words, we can’t even handle the caseload we have now. Throw in 8 million new people, and you have an instant recipe for an administrative fiasco.

Never mind that 8 million new cases will undoubtedly further slow the process for those who played by the rules and are trying to immigrate legally. Never mind that 8 million illegal aliens will, in all likelihood, get to step in front of those decided to follow—and respect—the law. Focusing solely on security, overwhelming an already overwhelmed system means that cracks will turn into fault lines.
Perhaps, but immigration enforcement is not costless, and resources devoted to locating and kicking out illegal immigrants are resources not available to secure the borders. It's that insight that leads to Gil Epstein and Avi Weiss's unpublished "A Theory of Immigration Amnesties." The paper argues that an amnesty, after which now regularized illegal immigrants are subject only to attention from the usual law enforcement authorities, frees up border patrol resources to prevent subsequent entry of illegal immigrants, whose presence is not desired by the host country. The argument does not follow in full, as illegal immigrants might be desired, at least in the U.S., as household servants, packing house workers, and field hands. The broad argument, however, does go through, as the issuance of work permits allows formerly illegal immigrants whose primary purpose is to work to cross the border at Customs checkpoints. Thus, there is a stronger presumption that people attempting to sneak into the country (the plot of The Teeth of the Tiger (details or compare prices) involves terrorists using such a route) are terrorists or drug runners, precisely the individuals the U.S. wants to exclude.

The remaining research problem Mr Krikorian identifies is this:
But it's the second part of the response to a tighter labor market that people just don't get. By holding down natural wage growth in labor-intensive industries, immigration serves as a subsidy for low-wage, low-productivity ways of doing business, retarding technological progress and productivity growth.
There is at least one article lurking in there, as I am quite willing to point out to any graduate student casting about for a dissertation topic.

SECOND SECTION: Milt's Filepoints to John O'Sullivan, who argues,
Two specific groups do benefit substantially from immigration: namely the immigrants themselves and those who employ them at lower wages than Americans would accept. The corollary, however, is that some specific Americans lose out: namely, low-paid workers, often minority Americans, who must either lose their jobs or must accept lower wages to compete with the new arrivals.
The corollary is not necessarily true, if the rich country has sufficiently generous welfare benefits. That's the point of this research. And that an amnesty might lead to expectations of future amnesties is not necessarily bad, but that's work in progress at this writing.

THIRD SECTION: Captain's Quarters gets the Epstein and Weiss argument:
You may ask, what if they don't go home? What's the difference between that and what we have now? For one, the workers would be documented, making them a lot easier to track down, and employers would have no more incentive to hire undocumented workers as the lbor cost would be the same and the risk would be much greater. This eliminates the problems of the coyotes who are little better than slavers, taking people across the border in inhumane conditions and forcing them to live in bondage until their debts are repaid. (If you've lived in the Southwest, you know that more than once a year you read about dozens of people dying from asphyxiation in a truck or van that transported people like cattle across the border.) Documentation greatly increases our national security by making sure we have a paper trail for everyone who crosses into the US. Finally, the border patrol can then focus on true security issues rather than being overwhelmed by people who flood the borders to support our own agricultural industry.
Included among the security issues might be a greater success rate for the border patrols, as a greater proportion of the trade for the smugglers would be of individuals whose purposes were something more nefarious than earning a few bucks cleaning houses.
SELF-SELECTION UNTO THE SEVENTH GENERATION? Betsy's Page points to this Richard A. Baehr essay in The American Thinker that suggests political attitudes among the young, and thus the future political balance of power, are changing owing to the greater propensity of adults with secular humanist and leftist leanings to have abortions. As Mr. Baehr summarizes it,
Accepting of course, that children are not obligated to vote as their parents did, I believe that one of the reasons that the numbers in the two parties have moved into balance, and are now trending Republican is because one side is doing a lot better job of reproducing and creating potential new devotees than the other. Republicans in the Twenty-First Century may find themselves enjoying a victory of the cradle.
That a propensity to seek abortion might have effects elsewhere on the population does not come as a surprise. John Donohue and Steven Levitt published, in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, (v116, n2 (May 2001): 379-420), a rather controversial paper titled "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime" with an intriguing abstract:
We offer evidence that legalized abortion has contributed significantly to recent crime reductions. Crime began to fall roughly 18 years after abortion legalization. The 5 states that allowed abortion in 1970 experienced declines earlier than the rest of the nation, which legalized in 1973 with Roe v. Wade. States with high abortion rates in the 1970s and 1980s experienced greater crime reductions in the 1990s. In high abortion states, only arrests of those born after abortion legalization fall relative to low abortion states. Legalized abortion appears to account for as much as 50 percent of the recent drop in crime.
Professor Levitt engages some of his critics in Slate, while this column asserts there are confounding factors the paper did not control for properly. (That's why we call it research, people. If we knew what we were doing, it would be manufacturing.)
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Most traditionalists would agree on one thing--the whole problem began with trying to fix something that wasn't broken in the first place." That's Allen Barra, and although he's writing about the Bowl Championship Series (otherwise known as "slight the MAC") it's an observation that people who would tinker with other practices of long standing might do well to remember.

6.1.04

THE BEST, THE BRIGHTEST, AND THE BODY. Betsy's Page picks up a story that former Minnesota Governor Ventura might become a visiting fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School. That's not necessarily a teaching position; there are case studies to help develop and technical papers that require insights from practitioners to help write. All the same, I wouldn't want to be the first year graduate student who nods off in a seminar where Mr Ventura is present.
LITERATURE REVIEW. Blogalization Conspiracy is a compendium of scholars from diverse disciplines who maintain weblogs. (Those of you who knew this long ago will please forgive a Superintendent who started out with punch cards and was an early adopter of email that involved special sending of files and a logon message that chattered out DO YOU WANT TO RECEIVE YOUR MAIL?)
EARNED LEGALIZATION. News report here. Illegal immigration and crummy job as apprenticeship, earned legalization as journeyman status? You could read about it here first!
OVERWHELMED BY CHOICES? Does that include being overwhelmed by analysis, and not sure where to start? Why not start with a USA Today column by Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice (details or compare prices), reviewed here. In the column, Professor Schwartz identifies four problems with expanded choices: people are more likely to regret their decisions, they may avoid acting for fear of regretting their choice, their expectations may outstrip reality, and they blame themselves for making the wrong choice. He's not the only person fretting over choices. Gregg Easterbrook has written The Progress Paradox (details or compare prices), which appears to be of a piece, and there's a review here. The subtext running through both books, at least as perceived by the reviewers, is that an abundance of choices is not good if it leaves the choosers worse off, and perhaps some choices, such as retirement plans or health insurance (or number of teams in a baseball league, or number of condiments on a hamburger?) ought to be left to experts. (Virginia Postrel smells nostalgia for the best and the brightest, or perhaps for Herbert Croly.) Perhaps the books are as good a reason as any to enter the conversation about the S factor, as a call for experts might be an assertion that nonexperts are, well, too stupid to choose properly. (That's a working hypothesis; the Schwartz column focuses more on hysteresis and buyer's remorse although it suggests people take advantage of the expertise of others. Hmmm ... don't you have to choose the experts?)

So, on to the serious economics. Econ Log's "Case for Paternalism?" post provides some useful research, based on Daniel Kahneman's Nobel lecture. The lecture comes down in defense of experts, citing some George Loewenstein research that introduces the concept of "paternalistically protected idiots." On the other hand, Edward Glaeser has looked at the problem of choices and suggested (to the satisfaction of Newmark's Door) that markets (entrepreneurs as competing experts?) might beat paternalism.
OUTSOURCING AND ADJUSTMENT COSTS. No matter how many times I post on the role of adjustment costs as distinct from the benefits from specialization and trade, there's always somebody who still doesn't get it. Winds of Change, just to start the conversation, complains, "Owners of capital can invest abroad, and can, if they are clever and lucky improve their situation. Owners of labor find themselves in increasingly direct competition with lower-cost labor abroad, or with less-skilled labor which can compete because machines and systems make their skills redundant." Perhaps the trope of bourgeois and proletarians is useful as a point of departure, but it does not follow that in life, owners of capital will redeploy their capital intelligently, or owners of labor will not acquire capital to deploy. Furthermore, to the extent that capital becomes more freely mobile, the opportunities to profitably reinvest it will be acted on and arbitraged away more rapidly. And one of the profitable opportunities might be in enhancing the productivity of less-skilled labor. (That is the secret behind Fordism, enabling people to produce automobiles without first having to develop armies of master craftsmen in sheet metal working, and it persists in enabling fast-food restaurants to employ illiterate people, provided they can correctly identify the picture of the item being purchased.)

There is an interesting Kim DuToit post (that InstaPundit picks up, albeit for other reasons) with some tips on how to use the adjustment costs to your own advantage: find a job that cannot be exported. (There is another reason to consider some of the crafts he recommends: as these pages had been noting for much of October, parents and school counselors are steering promising candidates for the skilled trades away from them out of status anxiety.)

At Max at Common Sense and Wonder is yet another suggestion for how to avoid the race to the bottom: go with the flow. For the past 170 years or so, the U.S. comparative advantage has been in producing leading-edge, technology-using, knowledge-intensive goods. I concur with Mr Jacobs in part and dissent in part with this:
So in conclusion, I think that the trend that Schumer and Roberts are seeing is nothing new, and we have nothing to worry about as long as America continues to be the intellectual and technological powerhouse it is.
Check that subordinate clause. It is going to be difficult to build an intellectual powerhouse with invented spelling and exaggerated self-esteem, or to maintain a technological powerhouse with invented mathematics and reliance on somebody else's calculator or computer programming. That is the most effective way to realize Cal Pundit's fears and tear the working class down.

SECOND SECTION: Truck and Barter has been looking at the same essay by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Hoover Institute's Paul Craig Roberts (doesn't politics make for strange bed-fellows?) that Max addressed. Mr Brancato raises some points that require further discussion. There's one easy one: would a foreign country actively pursue a policy that made Americans better off if it made itself worse off? Happens all the time: that's exactly what comes with export subsidies or weakening your currency relative to the dollar. The real fun begins when Messrs. Schumer and Roberts try their hands at the factor price equalization theorem with multiple resources and multiple products. In particular, the factor price equalization theorem cannot be used to predict the driving down of radiologist salaries to the lowest price prevailing in the world. Consider again the case of a U.S. radiologist earning $125k p.a. and a radiologist in a developing country earning $25k p.a. With resource mobility, you would expect radiologists to migrate from the developing country to the U.S. until at the margin a radiologist in the developing country would be indifferent between migrating and staying home, or a student in either country would be indifferent between doing a radiology degree or taking some other training. But ... and here's where it starts to get messy ... those different wages might also reflect differences in productivity, as Mr Brancato has pointed out? There's also a complication in working out the benefits to consumers. In the U.S., consumers see lower prices, but we don't know whether we also see a deterioration of quality, or perhaps a segmentation of the market in which some radiologists, whether in the States or elsewhere, do the routine screening and others, perhaps in some of the formerly poor countries, do the hard cases. We will see a reallocation of world resources among radiology and other activities. All we can be sure of is that in such a reallocation, resources will flow from high opportunity cost to low opportunity cost uses. (That might mean some radiologists become general practitioners, but the world would lose relatively little radiology in the transition, and consumers would obtain additional consultations for day-to-day ailments.) We're looking at the equivalent of what Paul Krugman refers to as a "Marshallian improvement" that leads to an expansion of output at lower real costs to consumers, albeit with some adjustment costs borne by rich radiologists in the U.S. and poor patients in the developing country. That's no different from moving manufacturing activity from Wilmette to Waukegan, creating a bedroom community where there once were factories, and creating factories where there once were subsistence farms.
THE POLITICAL LEANINGS OF TRANSIT RIDERS? Will at Crescat Sententia passes along a throw-away quote from a review of New York subway station art that includes an erroneous and irrelevant speculation.
After years of untold subway time — spent watching, listening, reading — I would say that large, active systems of mass transit are the main difference between the red and the blue states of the 2000 electoral map (California excepted). People who travel only by private car — most of America — can too easily stick to their own kind and cling to their prejudices and misconceptions without the threat of contradictory experiences.
Mr Baude disagrees with the assertion, as does Patterico. Their posts dealt with the inconveniences of using the L or with the snobbery of the paragraph. Let me pile on by fact-checking it. Clearly the New York Times has not let Roberta Smith get out much. The map of California precincts that voted against recalling their governor looks pretty much like a map that would contain the Bay Area Rapid Transit and the Los Angeles Metro. I'm not so sure about the San Diego Trolley or the CalTrans Coaster, but the fact that the Trolley covers its operating costs just might be too red-state for the hypothesis being proposed. Second, Ms. Smith apparently has not had the contradictory experience of being cut off in traffic by someone of her "own kind," whatever that might mean.
IMAGINE THERE'S NO FAILURE. For that matter, imagine nobody gets a B. Enjoy it. Cold Spring Shops will be here when you get back.
NO FISHING OFF THE COMPANY PIER? Critical Mass offers a roundup of recent developments in the evolution of rules governing professor-student sex. Crescat Sententia offers some thoughts by Amanda, Beth, and Will, who seeks "10 Signs That Your Professor Is Sleeping With You To Assuage Mid-Life Depression and Will Dump You Shortly Afterward."

At Critical Mass, student answers to "What has your college taught you about sex?" are welcome. Submission details are provided in the post.
FOURTH TURNING ALERT from Andrew Sullivan:
When you read a piece like this one by Arthur Miller, you realize that for a certain generation, there's no chance that they will ever get their heads around the horrors of communism... He still longs for a world in which Castro might have succeeded, a world which cannot exist, and which never existed - except in the minds of aging Nation-readers. There is, I think, no chance of persuading this generation. They are lost. But eventually they will die off, and a new realism can take hold.
PARODY DEFIES PARODY. At Bryn Mawr College, "Everyone would think that it’s perfectly normal to charge different prices based on race, ethnicity, and sex," notes John at Discriminations. The administration of The College of William and Mary continues to deal badly with the fallout from its stifling of a parody bake sale. Critical Mass has extensive coverage. Some of the individuals named are making strong cases for inclusion in the academic sheepshead deck, which still has 26 cards to fill.
YES, THERE IS A MORNINGTON CRESCENT. Michael at Transport Blog has pictures. Now a question: if you're playing the international version of the game, and somebody names Randolph and Wabash, is it permissible to respond with Fifth and Greenfield?
WHY ARE ALL OF THE CHILDREN ABOVE AVERAGE? Because they might have to work out some averages without benefit of a calculator? (There's nothing that flummoxes a student quite like a professor working out a sum, or sometimes a product, IN HIS HEAD, faster than the student can work a calculator. Hee hee.)
THE PERILS OF MANIPULATING YOUR EXCHANGE RATE. A weaker currency (your money exchanges for less of someone else's money) makes your exports more attractive to someone else (who, here comes what I refer to as the "economics handstand," is able to buy more of your money and therefore more goods priced in your money). But if you're going to pursue a deliberate strategy of keeping your currency weak, you either have to create more money (can you say inflation?) or hold inventories of somebody else's money, which is under some circumstances a losing proposition, as you forfeit the opportunity to profit by trading that money.
RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL. Reciprocal Switching source Doxagora has been rather busy of late, with in particular a lot of coverage of the caucus and primary scene.
NO WITHERING AWAY OF THE STATE? Henry at Crooked Timber explores ancient and modern isomorphisms between a government and an organized crime syndicate, expanding on a short post by Fabio at Marginal Revolution that placed the subject on the table. Professor Farrell's post notes that the Mob has an incentive to invent some distrust in order to prevent the evolution of competing institutions of cooperation. Today's wicked thought: doesn't e.g. a convoluted tax code accomplish the same thing for a duly constituted government?
CONGESTION INSURANCE. Knowledge Problem expands on an exchange between Mark Kleiman and Steve Verdon on the pros and cons of road pricing (either for the entire road or for restricted use lanes). The Knowledge Problem post is particularly useful at dealing with the misconception that toll roads are only for the rich, and improved transponder technologies are going to reduce the transaction costs of collecting tolls. For example, the Illinois Tollway Authority is now selling the I-Pass machinery in Wisconsin, for commuting Cheddar Curtain crossers.
HOW MANY PASSES WOULD A PACKER PICK, IF A PACKER WOULD PICK PASSES? Enough to win. Sean at The American Mind was at the game. Airport sports bars sometimes come in handy, particularly during those weather delays.

5.1.04

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Already, ownership of fancy goods is less a mark of social status than it used to be." That's Glenn Reynolds at Tech Central Station, anticipating larger returns to service businesses (no McJobs here, move along ...)
CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS is up.
WOMEN GO SHOPPING, MEN GO BUYING? Marginal Revolution offers some evidence and some directions for further research.
BRING THEM UP IN THE RIGHT WAY. At Apartment 11-D, Laura's son discovers the joys of cab rides. But did he learn about the rooster?

1.1.04

MARKING OFF. Thanks for looking in. More posts early next week.
HIGH ACHIEVER. Student is dissatisfied with a 1410 on her College Boards, retakes them, gets the 1600. Her advice to others: "You don't have to be born a genius to do great things. You just have give your absolute all to whatever you do."

Quite so. There are lots of smart people on Skid Row.
AN END TO AGRICULTURAL DUMPING? Dan Drezner, subbing for Andrew Sullivan, notes that a World Trade Organization exemption for agricultural subsidies and tariffs expires effective today. He recommends an Economist analysis of the likely outcomes.
TODAY'S BCS WHINGE. At the beginning of the college football season now ending, Northern Illinois defeated Maryland, and Wisconsin defeated West Virginia. During the regular season, Maryland defeated West Virginia, 24-7. So, of course, Maryland played West Virginia again earlier today, this time winning 41-7, while Wisconsin played Auburn yesterday, losing the game 14-28 after an interception ended a Wisconsin drive that was headed for the go-ahead touchdown late in the game, and Northern Illinois did not play at all.
PEOPLE RESPOND TO INCENTIVES. King at SCSU Scholars finds a news report from Minneapolis with a misleading headline, suggesting that the Minnesota budget woes and stingy pay increase were behind raids on Minnesota faculty, while the main article listed reasons other than salary behind those job changes. The deeper connections require further investigation. Perhaps the salaries at Minnesota public universities are not that much different from those elsewhere. But if those other reasons include resources not available in libraries, or good colleagues leaving, or no paper available for copying articles or for distributing assignments, it is as if the university is cutting salaries. It would however take too many column inches for a newspaper article to explain the idea of "compensating differential."

In a related post, Right Wing News is having some fun with the idea that absent minimum wage legislation, employers would not pay wages. Some commentators (109 comments at this writing) are not buying the idea.