hard heads soft hearts
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Doctor Science - Joplin
. . .[Jeff] Masters calls it "The most remarkable audio I've ever heard of people surviving a direct hit by a violent tornado". What's notable about it to my mind is how it's *not* like a movie. Yes, people are crying, screaming, praying. But they're also taking care of each other while they're all crammed together in the store's walk-in fridge, trying to make sure no-one is being crushed. Speaking of love.
Echidne of the Snakes - Med school admissions in milieu of reform (by Skylanda)
. . .As it stands today, medical students take four years of undergraduate courses (in any field, though including the core science courses), then complete two years of pre-clinical studies, two years of clinical rotations, and a minimum three-year residency. Of these minimum eleven years of study, you may be surprised to know that fully half (the undergraduate and pre-clinical years) are only tangentially related to what a medical student ends up doing with their life; the rest are an amalgam of requirements and hoops that largely defy any utility to the task of medicine. . .
Catherine Rampell - Once Again: Is College Worth It?
. . .Lots of people (~48%) would have changed their major, or done an internship, or started looking for work sooner while enrolled. Did you notice what category of regrets got the lowest share of responses?
I wonder if that points to the possible desirability of something like a 30-100K all-you-can-learn-buffet, i.e. flat-fee pricing instead of billable units.
Reihan Salam - Garett Jones and Lane Kenworthy on Taxes, Scandinavian Exceptionalism, and Much Else
This seems to me remarkably weak tea. Indian-Americans are more productive than Indians, but no one is suggesting that India's low taxes (~20% of GDP) compared to the US (~30%) has anything to do with that. . .except, perhaps, you could argue that an oligarchic, rentier-based economy, with light taxes on the rich, will do worse than a middle-class based economy, with moderate taxes on the rich.
It seems to me that a good political order is one where everyone has some amount of freedom/security, no matter how poor, and where everyone faces some level of discipline/accountability, no matter how rich. The flaw in laissez faire-royal libertarianism is that it leads to a system of insufficient freedom/security for the poor, and insufficient discipline/accountability for the rich. Socialism is worse, it leads to a state where no one has freedom/security, and where the mechanisms of discipline/accountability are arbitrary and unpredictable. Which is why both socialism and royal libertarianism do not work, while the mixed economy, depending on the specifics, can work.
comment to Reihan Salam's "Megan McArdle and Kevin Drum on the Impact of Marginal Tax Rates"
Kevin Drum has been reading a survey of the literature on the elasticity of taxable income. He draws conclusions that Karl Smith suggests are basically right. Megan McArdle draws different conclusions, which I endorse. . .
Nick Kristof - Raiding a Brothel in India (and comments)
Rick Perlstein - Hubert Humphrey, America's Forgotten Liberal
. . .Segregationist Southerners threatened to walk out, a move that could have paralyzed the entire fragile Democratic coalition and handed the White House to the Republicans. The Democrats’ first presidential defeat in 20 years might have been laid at the feet of this ambitious 37-year-old. . .
Felix Salmon - The Fed’s secret giveaway to European banks
One thing I find infuriating is the way the political system meekly accepted the premise in the AIG counterparty bailout that contracts are sacred, and must never ever be modified or disrespected in any way, or else the whole capitalist system breaks down, yet completely abandoned that principle of the sacredness of contract when it came to government and union worker pensions. My view is that if we can modify government and union pensions (and I think we should be able to, if the circumstances warrant), we should have been able to modify the contracts of AIG counterparties, and made the bailout selective and conditional, rather than an no-questions-asked open-ended raiding of the government till.
Atul Gawande - Cowboys and Pit Crews
. . .When I was in medical school, for instance, one of the last ways I’d have imagined spending time in my future surgical career would have been working on things like checklists. Robots and surgical techniques, sure. Information technology, maybe. But checklists?
(via Ezra Klein)
Karl Smith - Corporate Governance and the Plutocracy
. . .Investors with an interest in actually allocating capital are a key part of this whole capitalism thing. That almost necessitates a concentration of wealth. . .
I guess my two questions for Karl Smith is that 1) Einhorn, the hedge fund manager in the piece, seems to favor shorting as a key money-making strategy. Shorting is a zero-sum activity that's not insurance, so how can it increase welfare? 2) The hedge fund model seems to depend on promising investors a 15-20% return, in exchange for exhorbitant fees. How can that be possible, for a scalably large number of people, using honest means, when the underlying economic growth does not justify those returns? And what are the potential dangers of a system that seems to be based on managers overpromising, attracting lots of capital based on those promises, then (inevitably) either under-delivering or rent-seeking?
Jared Bernstein - This Excess Capacity You Keep Talking About…What is It?
An interesting post by Bernstein, but doesn't seem to answer, at least in so many words, the question of how much money we are leaving on the table, i.e. What are the range of estimates of the gap between what is and what could be?
Karl Smith - You Can’t Overwork Yourself By Smoking Joints and Watching Too Many Episodes of Jersey Shore
. . .This is why it makes no sense to say that a recession is inevitable because we overconsumed. Because we bought too much it is now inevitable that we work less? Why does that make fundamental sense? Surely something is going wrong. Shouldn’t we be working more to pay for all the stuff we bought? . . .
Tyler Cowen - Open entry schools, the university as forum
I’ve been reading the fascinating A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander et.al., a book which I recommend to all urbanists, all architecture fans, Jane Jacobs fans, and Hayekians. . .(The book is in large part about how the organization of space and construction shapes spontaneous orders.). . .
Ta-nehisi Coates - Evolutionary Psychology
One on my favorite essays on the theme of too much reverence for numbers is John Bogle's "Don’t Count On It! The Perils of Numeracy".
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