"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking" - JMK
- LK has a good post on the 1937 recession.
- Normally I think its bad form to trash feel-good op-eds by non-experts too much, but I do have some critical thoughts to share about this one by Chuck O'Neal in an Orlando paper (also discussed here). O'Neal writes: "Perhaps someday soon we will hear our president say: "A great American leader once issued a challenge to NASA regarding going to the moon. I am before you today to issue a new challenge for this agency to create as many new technologies and new innovations as is necessary to employ every able-bodied person in this country, to use NASA's collective genius to lift this nation out of its current economic trajectory and place it once again on a course to prosperity". This sort of thing is typical from NASA boosters who often act like NASA is a spin-off producing agency. The appeal of the concept of "spin-offs" is somewhat similar to that of externalities insofar as there is an alleged added payoff, but aside from this veneer of attractiveness it's completely wrong-headed. So we get velcro and memory-foam. Fine. Was there a reason why the private sector couldn't do that? Not that I'm aware of. So there's no good reason to pay an aerospace engineer and rig up a space shuttle to get these things. If they are byproducts to doing something that is worth hiring an engineer and building a space shuttle for, that's great. Enjoy the memory foam you get as a byproduct. But too many NASA people point to spin-offs as a justification for the agency, and it's a really bad one. The thing is, there are plenty of externalities and collective action problems that justify a public role in space. Developing spin-offs usually isn't on that list (and if a particular spin-off technology is worth a public investment, have the NSF fund the thing). Spin-offs should be an afterthought for NASA. If you get one, great.
- Wine blogger Lenn Thomson has a great essay on Virginia wines. I think his list of things holding the state back are all good, although I disagree with his point about Virginia producing too much Chardonnay. His attitude seems to be "if you're only producing good Chardonnay, leave it to the Californians". Certainly as the Virginia wine industry grows they're going to have to satisfy whatever demand is out there and if everybody just wants California Chardonnay the production is going to go down. But at this point that's not the market that Virginia wineries face - a lot of it is for demand for local wines.
- Casey Mulligan apparently thinks if you provide details on a version of Keynesianism that doesn't match his caricatures those are not details, they are "exceptions". If he read my 1920-1921 paper he'd probably say that my argument that fiscal policy wasn't appropriate was an "exception to Keynesianism" rather than a "prediction of Keynesianism". Peter Boettke still doesn't understand why so many people he thinks highly of are unimpressed by Mulligan.
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