Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

ACA Blame where it Belongs

October 24th, 2013 Comments off

Ezra says it like it is:

The classic definition of chutzpah is the child who kills his parents and then asks for leniency because he’s an orphan. But in recent weeks, we’ve begun to see the Washington definition: A party that does everything possible to sabotage a law and then professes fury when the law’s launch is rocky.

On Tuesday, Rep. Paul Ryan became the latest Republicans to call for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to step down because of the Affordable Care Act’s troubled launch. “I do believe people should be held accountable,” he said.

Okay then.

How about House Republicans who refused to appropriate the money the Department of Health and Human Services said it needed to properly implement Obamacare?

How about Senate Republicans who tried to intimidate Sebelius out of using existing HHS funds to implement Obamacare? “Would you describe the authority under which you believe you have the ability to conduct such transfers?” Sen. Orrin Hatch demanded at one hearing. It’s difficult to imagine the size of the disaster if Sebelius hadn’t moved those funds.

How about congressional Republicans who refuse to permit the packages of technical fixes and tweaks that laws of this size routinely require?

How about Republican governors who told the Obama administration they absolutely had to be left to build their own health-care exchanges — you’ll remember that the House Democrats’ health-care plan included a single, national exchange — and then refused to build, leaving the construction of 34 insurance marketplaces up to HHS?

How about the coordinated Republican effort to get the law declared unconstitutional — an effort that ultimately failed, but that stalled implementation as government and industry waited for the uncertainty to resolve?

How about the dozens of Republican governors who refused to take federal dollars to expand Medicaid, leaving about 5.5 million low-income people who’d be eligible for free, federally-funded government insurance to slip through the cracks?

The GOP’s strategy hasn’t just tried to win elections and repeal Obamacare. They’ve actively sought to sabotage the implementation of the law. They intimidated the people who were implementing the law. They made clear that problems would be exploited rather than fixed. A few weeks ago, they literally shut down the government because they refused to pass a funding bill that contiained money for Obamacare.

The Obama administration deserves all the criticism it’s getting for the poor start of health law and more. Their job was to implement the law effectively — even if Republicans were standing in their way. So far, it’s clear that they weren’t able to smoothly surmount both the complexities of the law and the political roadblocks thrown in their path. Who President Obama will ultimately hold accountable — if anyone — for the failed launch is an interesting question.

But the GOP’s complaints that their plan to undermine the law worked too well and someone has to pay border on the comic. If Republicans believe Sebelius is truly to blame for the law’s poor launch, they should be pinning a medal on her

The Bystander Effect

October 17th, 2013 Comments off

Does this explain the revulsion of some at collectivism?  That is, does colective action appear to be an instance of the bystander effect?

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Debt-limit denial

October 17th, 2013 Comments off

…is an example of “normalcy bias”.  It’s a cognitive error that will not admit to the presence of impending doom.

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Genetics and Politics

October 2nd, 2013 Comments off

NY Times:

genetics-politicsFig. 1: Summary of relative genetic and environmental influences on political traits from the “Trends in Genetics” report by Peter K. Hatemi and Rose McDermott.

 The chart illustrates the authors’ estimate of the relative proportion of genetic (purple) and environmental (green) influences, and the level of combined (brown) genetic and environmental influences.

Categories: Charts, Economics, politicas, Uncategorized Tags:

Where Does the Money Come From? Taxes…sometimes

September 27th, 2013 Comments off

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It’s worth remembering…

September 18th, 2013 Comments off

From the Atlantic:


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Elasticity Calulator

May 8th, 2013 Comments off

e_{\langle R \rangle} = \frac{\operatorname d Q/Q}{\operatorname d P/P}


Formula :
Price Elasticity (PED or Ed) = Change in Quantity / Change in Price

Change in Quantity = ((New Quantity – Original Quantity) / Original Quantity)
Change in Price = ((New Price – Original Price) / Original Price)


Categories: Economics, Uncategorized Tags:

Kindle Footnotes Live! (At least in one instance)

April 24th, 2013 Comments off

Well, my rant about Kindle and footnotes turnfs out to have been somewhat incomplete. Brad Plumer of the Washington Post informs me that, at least in the case of the WonkBlog Book Club’s choice, Fear Itself,  there are footnotes that are linked to the text.

Footnotes are active links, yes–which is terrific and extremely handy. Not sure about the index. And yeah, the Kindle table of contents had what appeared to be page numbers, but apparently they were all wrong, which is too bad. Normally everything else is just by location.

Categories: Economics, politicas, Uncategorized Tags:

Of Course, Krugman Beat Me To It (re: Robots)

April 23rd, 2013 Comments off

Aha!  Paul Krugman has already noted the Advance of the Robots ()

Smart machines may make higher GDP possible, but also reduce the demand for people — including smart people. So we could be looking at a society that grows ever richer, but in which all the gains in wealth accrue to whoever owns the robots.

And then eventually Skynet decides to kill us all, but that’s another story

And here:

This is an old concern in economics; it’s “capital-biased technological change”, which tends to shift the distribution of income away from workers to the owners of capital….

If this is the wave of the future, it makes nonsense of just about all the conventional wisdom on reducing inequality. Better education won’t do much to reduce inequality if the big rewards simply go to those with the most assets. Creating an “opportunity society”, or whatever it is the likes of Paul Ryan etc. are selling this week, won’t do much if the most important asset you can have in life is, well, lots of assets inherited from your parents. And so on.

I think our eyes have been averted from the capital/labor dimension of inequality, for several reasons. It didn’t seem crucial back in the 1990s, and not enough people (me included!) have looked up to notice that things have changed. It has echoes of old-fashioned Marxism — which shouldn’t be a reason to ignore facts, but too often is. And it has really uncomfortable implications.

But I think we’d better start paying attention to those implications.


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Robots Is Us

April 22nd, 2013 Comments off

When I was a boy (back in the Dark Ages), predictions of the future were bright with the labor-saving devices that would free up our time for happy pursuits: longer vacations overseas, more time at home spent with the kids, leisure to learn about our wonderful new world.

The future is here, and it’s playing out just as predicted: more work-saving devices than had been imagined: in the home there are housework robots (dishwasher, clothes washer and drier, nuker, Rhumba; But especially in the workplace, more robotic gadgets are doing the work that humans used to: welding, inspecting, lifting, sorting, packing, displacing workers at a dizzying clip.  The computer age has brought automation to millions of jobs.  When I was young, to earn money for college I worked summers as a comptometer operator, operating that glorified adding machine, bunching in the keys by hand; today all that would be done by a compter, replacing me and fifty others in that one office.

As more capital is invested in robots and other forms of automation, the produce of the automatons is returned to the contributors of the capital invested.  So, a small minority–the capitalists–accrue a larger and larger share of the wealth produced by the nation.  Meanwhile, the labor ‘market’ becomes disfunctional, creating no jobs, or just barely remunerative ones. Labor can no longer demand wages: it’s more efficient for the capitalist to invest in automation than in those pesky human beings, with their duty-shirking and health benefits.

The problem is, then, what to do about this inequitable distribution of the fruits of production?  Some might say that there is no inequity in this at all: things are as they should be, where capital is rewarded.  I really can’t agree with that: we’re all humans, and if the wealth of the nation is not equitably distributed among the populace, than the system of distribution is disfunctional, and needs revision.

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