Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sunday Reading


I'm working on a blockbuster post, but it won't be ready for another day or two. In the meantime, check out these blog bits:

Greg Mankiw points to a column by one of his Harvard colleagues, Kenneth Rogoff, who warns that
Healthcare pressures may cause the trend towards free-market capitalism to reverse, with a large chunk of the economy reverting to a socialist system.
I like Arnold Kling's prescription for dealing with spam-scams:
Perhaps instead of trying to attack the problem by going after spammers, what we should be doing is going after the woodheads. It is almost impossible to enforce a law against sending spam. So we should try to pass a law against responding to spam.

What I propose is that any American who makes a purchase based on unsolicited email be fined $10,000 and jailed for 30 days. The law would be enforced by undertaking random audits of companies that are successful at attracting business by using spam. The law would be highly publicized by internet service providers and corporate CIO's, who have a strong interest in reducing the volume of spam. Thus, everyone with an Internet account would be on notice that purchasing from a spammer can get you in trouble.

If we can deter Americans from responding to spam, then spammers will stop routing spam to domains in the U.S. That's my solution.
Remind me again why (it is alleged) so many people fear warming. Tyler Cowen points to "Extreme Weather Events, Mortality, and Migration," by Olivier Deschenes and Enrico Moretti. The authors write:
We estimate that the number of annual deaths attributable to cold temperature is 27,940 or 1.3% of total deaths in the US. This effect is even larger in low income areas. Because the U.S. population has been moving from cold Northeastern states to the warmer Southwestern states, our findings have implications for understanding the causes of long-term increases in life expectancy. We calculate that every year, 5,400 deaths are delayed by changes in exposure to cold temperature induced by mobility. These longevity gains associated with long term trends in geographical mobility account for 8%-15% of the total gains in life expectancy experienced by the US population over the past 30 years.
Finally, Jonathan Adler weighs in on the issue of abstinence-only education. Adler and the authors of the studies that he cites are simply barking up the wrong type of abstinence education. Such education, to be effective, must begin at home, must begin around the onset of puberty, and must be reinforced constantly -- at home. It is unsurprising, therefore, to learn that formal, government-sponsored abstinence-only programs are ineffective.

UPDATE (9:30 p.m.): Greg Mankiw offers this:
Perhaps the skills that make a good economist are, for some reason, negatively correlated with the attributes associated with being an agreeable human being. That is, economics may attract people with a particular set of personality attributes, and perhaps these attributes are not the same set of attributes you might choose for your next dinner party.

This is not entirely conjecture on my part. For example, this study
explores the relationship between student's personality types, as measured by the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, and their performance in introductory economics. We find that students with the personality types ENTP, ESTP, and ENFP do significantly worse in Principles of Macroeconomics than identical students with the personality type ISTJ.
What is this personality type ISTJ that excels in economics class? Check out this description, which says in part:
The ISTJ is not naturally in tune with their own feelings and the feelings of others.
Sounds like any economist you know?
Yes, most of them. As in INTJ economist who has suffered many an ISTJ economist, I should know.