Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Equal Pay Day

High school dropouts are lobbying for legislative change on April 20th which marks "equal pay day." As Austin Jackson, a sanitation engineer in Owensboro, Kentucky explained, "today marks the day that people like me (high school dropouts) have earned as much since January 1, 2000 as a doctor did in the year 2000."

Critics say dropouts could have continued their education and gotten M.D.s if they wanted to earn more money but the Equal Pay Campaign responded in a press release that "u don't rly believe that shit?" A spokesman explained that tuition at medical schools is approaching an average of $40,000 meaning you have to spend an "asston" of money before you can start earning "a fuckton" in return. Economists call the idea of spending money now to earn more later "investing" and use the technical term "dumbass" to refer to those who don't invest.

In other news, a statistic taken out of context five years ago was successfully put back in context by a team of statisticians at Harvard University.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Red Sox seek to repeal law of supply

The Red Sox announced yesterday that they are funding a ballot initiative to repeal the law of supply in Massachusetts this November. The team hopes the initiative will quell outrage over high ticket prices at Fenway--which have lead the league for the ninth consecutive year--and the lackluster effort shown in the team's 1-5 start after finishing last year on 7-20 run.

The team president explained the economics of the initiative: "The law of supply says if you lower supply it drives prices up. We insist on playing our home games in a 100 year old undersized stadium with about 25% lower capacity than it should have"which leads to "a terrible experience with fans paying more to be packed like sardines" in what "everyone not born within the city limits can see is a complete dump."

Harvard economist Greg Mankiw said he "do[esn't] think you can repeal this kind of law" but cautioned that he "only spent a few years at Harvard Law and did not finish [his] J.D."

Kentucky residents, inspired by the initiative, have filed papers to petition for the repeal of the law of gravity.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Piling on lawyers

Jeffrey Toobin with today's most valuable paragraphs (MVP) including this zinger:
No one expects the Justices to be making health-care policy any more than we expect them to be picking Presidents, which, it may be remembered, is not exactly their strength, either.
Maybe I'm not the only person who thinks lawyers should stay out of policy-making.

The News

The Supreme Court handed down a surprise ruling on the health care mandate today. In a 5-4 decision the court ruled to uphold the mandate and instead strike down President Obama himself. Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, wrote that "the Constitution is clear that the President only counts as 3/5th of a man and this court must obey the Constitution." In a press-conference following the landmark decision Justice Thomas was asked if the ruling imperiled his position on the court, to which he responded "3/5th of a man? ask Anita Hill how much man I am. More like 1 and 3/5ths."

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is speaking out against companies that insist on access to employees' Facebook pages. Sources say that Valentine was miffed that the Red Sox demanded access to his account and his home in order to dig up dirt on him. The Red Sox released a statement saying that they "just wanted to be prepared for the inevitable mudslinging when we blame our problems on him and run him out of town." A spokesman said that "not everyone is Manny Ramirez, who made character assassination easy. We don't want a repeat of the Normar diaster" referring to the fan-favorite shortstop and overall good guy who was traded by the team midseason and repeatedly badmouthed thereafter.

Stuart Green defends arguing over semantics

Stuart Green doesn't like to call file-sharing stealing, offering the alternatives of "unauthorized use, trespass, conversion and misappropriation."

If that sounds like semantics unworthy of NewYorkTimes.com real estate, he disagrees:
This is not merely a question of nomenclature. The label we apply to criminal acts matters crucially in terms of how we conceive of and stigmatize them. What we choose to call a given type of crime ultimately determines how it’s formulated and classified and, perhaps most important, how it will be punished.
I'm not convinced but I'd like to see more arguments from lawyers defending their profession. I think  lawyers play too large a role in crafting laws. Economists (and other social scientists) specialize in modeling how people respond to incentives and designing systems to maximize social welfare (or whatever). They should control the broad outlines of policy-making. Lawyers, in contrast, specialize in turning these systems into laws and arguing over the inevitable details of interpretation. Those things is important to any legal system but it's unclear that expertise qualifies Green to figure out the optimal punishment for a given crime. Obviously I'm not convinced by his argument for as Shakespeare said, an "incentives by any other name affects the cost-benefit analysis just the same."

Monday, April 2, 2012

Jeff Miron on economics

Jeff Miron with the four best paragraphs you will read today.