Thursday, August 28, 2014

A police officer answers questions on Ferguson ...

Link here

The whole article is great.  Here's an excerpt:
Shooting events are over far faster than most people think. According to a scientifically-validated study on reaction times, the time from a threat event to recognition of the threat (the decision making process) is 31/100 second. The mechanical action of pulling the trigger is as fast as 6/100 of a second. 
For those who aren't anti-police but are curious about some issues claimed in the Ferguson case, this is great.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Disparate treatment vs. impact

It is so crucial to understand the difference between these two facts.  This includes academia.  Many professors who get upset about supposed discrimination, don't understand this difference.

Pacific Legal Foundation has a nice write-up here.

It starts:
There are two types of discrimination recognized by our various civil rights laws: disparate treatment and disparate impact. The former is conscious, intentional discrimination.  The latter is unintentional, and is demonstrated through statistical disparities.  Here on the Liberty Blog we have often posted on various absurd applications of disparate impact theory.  We have also notedhow the Obama Administration is trying to inject disparate impact into nearly every facet of American life.  Disparate impact is a pernicious doctrine that forces racial balancing, hurts business, and violates the Equal Protection Clause.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Tax inversions - Mankiw's take

Click here for Mankiw's piece on tax inversions.  My favorite excerpt:
The great 20th-century jurist Learned Hand— who, by the way, has one of the best names in legal history — expressed the principle this way: “Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes.”

Negative economic impact of hurricanes

Full paper here

Excerpt from WSJ:
What they found is that the popular idea that disasters stimulate growth and economic losses are made up quickly isn’t true. Storms cause a long-running reduction in per capita real gross domestic product.
The researchers found if during the course of a year each location in a country experienced maximum cyclone wind speeds of 9.4 meters per second (m/s) above average (about an extra 21 miles per hour), this would result in national income being 3.6% lower in 20 years than it would have been without the storm.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Great meme

12 things you need to know about government unions

Link here

5. In recent developments, mothers took on a governor and politically-connected union.
In early fall 2009, Pam Harris, a resident of suburban Chicago and mother of a young adult son with severe developmental disabilities, received a form letter from agents of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn informing her that, as a care provider for her son in Illinois’ Disabilities Program, she now could cast a mail-ballot vote regarding which of two unions would be installed as her monopoly-bargaining agent in her dealings with the state.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Proof that it's not just Democrats that want to restrict freedom ...

Republicans try to "restore" ban on online gambling

It starts:
Republicans generally oppose federal encroachment on policy matters traditionally left to the states. SO why is Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tex) alone among his GOP House colleagues in opposing a federal online gambling ban that would preempt state laws, reward special interests, and curtail an otherwise lawful pastime enjoyed by many Americans?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Article - Boom in Marcellus Shale Continues ...

Link here

Just how has Marcellus continued to grow at such a blistering pace? To start, the industry’s learning curve has been impressive. Marcellus natural gas production continues to grow despite a drop in rig count since 2012. Historically, natural gas volumes have responded to shifts in rig counts. Analysts have argued that it would be difficult for the industry to maintain production with a slowdown of drilling activity. (Fracking) has turned this logic flat on its face.

Best music video - that covers an economics topic?

I'll be showing this to start my first principles of microeconomics course on Tuesday ...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The economics of the ice-bucket challenge

Link here

This why Caitlin Dewey, a blogger for the Washington Post who claims that we should praise the challenge for raising so much money, gets it all wrong. The ice bucket challenge has done one good thing, which is raise $3 million for the ALS Association. But it’s also done a really bad thing: take money and attention away from other charities and other causes. That means that, if we want to know whether the ice bucket challenge has been on balance a good thing for the world, we’ve got to assess how effective the ALS Associations is compared with other charities. If 50% of that $3 million would have been donated anyway, and if the ALS association is less than half as effective at turning donations into positive impact on people’s wellbeing than other charities are on average, then the fundraiser would actively be doing harm.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Learning Economics Through Pictures - Law of Demand and Second Amendment

Economic impact of divorce

Blog post is headlined as "The Economic Impact of Divorce".

When I saw the title, I got excited, as I thought it would actually be an examination of the economic impact of divorce (which, to my knowledge, nobody has researched).  I was disappointed, as it wasn't really an economic impact study, but basically a pitch to use the firm's divorce lawyers.

Several years ago at my church, I was in a small group for couples.  One day the leaders had an exercise they asked all of the couples to go through.  One was to examine how expensive it would be to get divorced. There are financial impacts on the couple, of course, but I'm not certain there are broader economy-wide impacts.  (At least not immediately, here's research on children.)

Here are a couple articles on the costs of divorce to the couple:

Link 1

Link 2

Friday, August 15, 2014

Learning economics through pictures - US medical spending

Picture 1 source here

The conventional story is that the US was horrendously inefficient, much more so than other countries.  While that may be true, these graphs make it appear that it's more likely that we spend far more on elderly care than other countries.  For those under age 60, we don't seem much more inefficient than other countries.  These graphs make it appear that it is not inefficiency, but choices on how much to spend on elder-care, that make our per-capita health care expenses more than other countries.  (Note - these graphs are from pre-Obamacare data.)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Liberty and Economic Freedom Series at Susquehanna University

I am pleased to announce three great speakers are coming to Susquehanna University during the 2014-2015 academic year.  All three are part of our speaker series on liberty and economic freedom.

The three speakers complement each other nicely.  One speaker will discuss national issues, one will discuss issues specific to the state of Pennsylvania, and one will discuss issues related to food and agriculture.

Our three speakers are:

Jayson Lusk :             Wednesday, October 22nd
David R. Henderson:  Wednesday, January 21st
Nate Benefield:           Monday, April 13th

Here's some information on our speakers:

Jayson Lusk. Regents Professor and Willard Sparks Endowed Chair in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University.  
Jayson will be talking about issues related to food, the "food police", and freedom.  Here's (an abridged version of) his autobiography:

I currently serve as Regents Professor and Willard Sparks Endowed Chair in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University and also serve as the Samuel Roberts Noble Distinguished Fellow at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. After earning a B.S. in Food Technology from Texas Tech University in 1997, I received a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Kansas State University in 2000.
I’ve been listed as one of the most prolific and cited food and agricultural economists of the past decade in a variety of outlets including here, here, here, and here, won numerous research awards, given lectures at over 30 universities in the US and abroad, published editorials in outlets such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal,,,, and the Huffington Post, and have made TV appearances on Fox and Friends, the John Stossel Show, and Wall Street Journal Live, among others.

In 2007, I co-authored a book on a consumer research method with Jason Shogren published by Cambridge University Press and co-authored an undergraduate textbook on agricultural marketing and price analysis with Bailey Norwood published by Prentice-Hall. In 2011, I released a book co-authored with Norwood on the economics of farm animal welfare published by Oxford University Press and also co-edited the Oxford Handbook on the Economics of Food Consumption and Policy. My most recent book, The Food Police: A Well-Fed Manifesto about the Politics of Your Plate, was published by Crown Forum in 2013.

David R. Henderson.   Research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and an associate professor of economics at the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy, Naval Postgraduate School, in Monterey, California.

David will be discussing issues related to the national economy, including the benefits of capitalism and economic freedom.  Here's an abridged version of his autobiography:

I’m the editor of The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics (Liberty Fund, 2008). It is now on the web at: It has been translated into Russian and Arabic. My book, The Joy of Freedom: An Economist’s Odyssey, was published by Financial Times Prentice Hall in the fall of 2001, and has been translated into Chinese. I also wrote, with my former student, Charles L. Hooper, Making Great Decisions in Business and Life (Chicago Park Press, 2006). It has been translated into Japanese and Korean.
I’ve written about 200 articles for such popular publications as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Barron's, Fortune, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Public Interest, National Review, Red Herring, and Reason. I’ve testified before the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. I’ve also appeared on C-SPAN, CNN, the Jim Lehrer Newshour, the O’Reilly Factor, and the John Stossel show, and I’ve done radio interviews with NPR, the BBC, KQED-FM and many regional radio stations.

Nathan Benefield.  Vice President of Policy Analysis for the Commonwealth Foundation.

Nate has researched and written on public policy issues including taxes, government spending, education reform, transportation funding, health care policy, and economic development. Nate's work has been featured in the Philadelphia InquirerPittsburgh Post-GazettePittsburgh Tribune-ReviewPatriot News, and Allentown Morning Call amongst others.  Nate frequently provides testimony to the Pennsylvania House and Senate and often lends his policy expertise to WHP 580 and KDKA radio.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

AARP's worst states to retire ...

Link here

The story is a couple years old, but I just ran into it.  (I'm not a frequent reader at

The list and reasons each state made the list:

1) Illinois Poor fiscal health
2) CaliforniaExpensive, and its finances are in disarray
3) New York Very high taxes, including property taxes
4) Rhode IslandWorst-off state in the Northeast from a financial viewpoint; high taxes
5) New Jersey Highest property taxes in the United States; has pension funding issues
6) OhioHigh unemployment and cold winters
7) WisconsinHigh property taxes and frigid weather
8) MassachusettsHigh cost of living and high property taxes
9) ConnecticutTaxes Social Security and has high property taxes
10) Nevada Foreclosure capital of the world

Notice anything about those states?  Let me change the right hand column to the percent of the vote Obama received in 2012 ...

1) Illinois 57% voted for Obama
2) California59% voted for Obama
3) New York 63% voted for Obama
4) Rhode Island63% voted for Obama
5) New Jersey 58% voted for Obama
6) Ohio50% voted for Obama
7) Wisconsin53% voted for Obama
8) Massachusetts61% voted for Obama
9) Connecticut58% voted for Obama
10) Nevada 52% voted for Obama

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Immigration and the minimum wage

Link to source here (

The economic impact of sports teams

This is a nice Q&A that discusses some of the nuances one faces when determining the economic impact of a sports team or stadium.

Baade: The substitution effect is most visible when a new sports venue is built. If the fan base is primarily comprised of local residents, is the time and money that they would ordinarily spend at the mall, movie theater, bar, etc. now going to be spent at the new stadium? In these cases, incoming revenues to the city will simply shift from one source to another. But rarely does it result in new or additional revenue, hence the term “substitution.”

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I am quoted in today's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Link here

Although the optimism of 2004 overshadows the reality of 2014, casino taxes quickly became one of the state's largest revenue sources. The $1.3 billion casino operators paid last year makes gambling money the fourth-largest source of tax revenue collected.

Assorted Links related to Paul Krugman

2.  From Forbes.  Krugman resorts to name-calling.

So a key job economists have is to explain the different views we have about how the economy works before explaining why we prefer our view. 
Simply saying “You’re wrong, I’m right, and, furthermore, you’re stupid for not agreeing with me.” 
3. Via Greg Mankiw's blog: Thomas Sowell's descriptions apply to Krugman.