Saturday, July 7, 2012

Assault of Thoughts -7/7/2012

"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking" - JMK

- Gene on how unaware of the what the rest of us actually think some libertarians really are. This specifically deals with some claims about social contract theory that I do promise I'll post on in the near future... just a little busy to get it down in detail.

- Joe Fetz, frequent commenter, is blogging.

- I really wanted to go to the University of Maryland. When they didn't want me, I comforted myself with the thought that it was just a very competitive year because Carmen Reinhart was in the news a lot from her new book and the U. Maryland pool was very competitive. Now, applicants don't have that excuse - Reinhart is moving to Harvard (congratulations!). And if you haven't read her book yet, you really should.

- Jonathan Catalan takes down Josh Barro on Austrian economics.

- Brad DeLong reposts a great old post on Hicks.

- Blatant discrimination in IT help wanted ads. I've been in contact with the author of this report - she's asked me to write something up on it/promote it. I don't usually get worked up about foreign workers taking our high skill jobs (unless it leads people to embrace bad immigration policy or other bad policies), but this is pretty outrageous stuff.

- Unlearningecon on the bargaining power of capital and its relevance to questions of workplace freedom.

- Institutions and culture matter: Fukushima edition.

- Brad DeLong on the ACA ruling and markets. I think critics have some latitude to argue that the ruling was already price into the markets, but regardless of that issue this appeal to regime uncertainty really needs to stop. Regime uncertainty is a fine argument in theory, but it doesn't fit the data.

- I am of the opinion that the emasculation of American federalism in  the twentieth century has lead to worse policy than would have occured in a counterfactual world. I am increasingly of the opinion that weakened state and local governments have been especially problematic for macroeconomic policy. Would a more robust federalism have made getting through this depression easier? It's tough to say, but I think it's very likely.

- David Henderson shares some important fourth of July thoughts from the great Adam Smith.


  1. - Blatant discrimination in IT help wanted ads....I don't usually get worked up about foreign workers taking our high skill jobs (unless it leads people to embrace bad immigration policy or other bad policies), but this is pretty outrageous stuff.

    Yet another example of our different definitions, Daniel. To me, someone who describes himself as a fan of free markets wouldn't write the above. Instead, you would say, "Hmm, that's interesting. I wonder what is motivating these companies to apparently court foreign workers? I know it almost certainly isn't mere bias, because there are all kinds of market forces that penalize that. Before I fire off a man-on-the-street, indignant response, let me--as a free-market economist--try to explain this as a rational outcome. Maybe it's because of government regulations that place a higher burden on hiring domestic workers?"

    1. I agree - I highly doubt it's bias. I'm almost positive it's that foreign workers are cheaper, which is fine. That's partly a regulatory burden, perhaps (although if these workers are coming in on visas its not clear why that burden wouldn't also apply to the foreign workers).

      It's not the fact that firms are interested in foreign workers that's especially problematic. What is problematic is that they are explicitly excluding American workers from the application process.

      It's like the things you hear about low skill immigrants as well. I think the economist has only one answer to talk of "jobs that Americans won't do". There are no jobs that Americans or Mexicans or anyone else will or won't do. Labor supply is a schedule, not a yes/no question. If the point is that immigrants will do it for less money than Americans, that's one thing. But hiring an immigrant because they accept at a lower wage is a very different proposition from many of these man-on-the-street assertions.

    2. The reason is quite likely to be the visa process. In Engineering that's historically being the reason.

      If you emigrate to the US there are various restrictions on you for a period of time after you enter. These make it difficult to change job, and they make it difficult to have a period of unemployment between jobs.

      The issue is that when people move to a company and an area they find what the local pay rates are - something that people find out later once they've moved. After that natives can move into other jobs in the same vicinity. That's not so easy for foreigners though.

  2. Thanks, Daniel. I was hoping for more of a DL-type blog at first, but you and Gene seemed to have put a stop to that. LOL Also, I am going to be putting up a response today regarding Gene's post (well, actually a series of posts from you, Gene and Mattheus). It seems like everybody has been busy the past 2-3 days, I am no exception.

    1. BTW, I am not complaining. I often need a little pressure to get stuff done, otherwise I'll procrastinate.

  3. "robust" federalism gave us the Civil War

    1. No, the fact that slavery was left unresolved gave us the Civil War. Federalism had very little to do with it. Most of the crisis that lead up to the Civil War (and could have erupted into Civil Wars at earlier dates) involved wrangling at the federal level and entailed unambiguously federal powers (organizing the territories and accepting new states).

      Of course state/federal relations weren't completely irrelevant, but to go as far as your claim is quite wrong. The problem was the failure of the Constitution to deal with slavery such that managing the question regularly threatened a crisis until the issue was either resolved or the crisis occurred.

    2. Daniel

      Slavery was resolved by the Constitution. It was legal.

      Because of robust federalism, there was no way to end slavery in the United States, but for the Civil War.

      Slavery would be the law of the land, today, but for the Civil War. It is the idealized state to which the Kochs and Forbes aspire.

      You worship racists and would support slavery, as would all your libertarian friends, as a property right, in a heart beat, as you support every aspect of control of others by law, now.

      The most robust period of Federalism in the United States was the day after Dred Scott, when states rights and Federalism were at their zenith. You just wrote you long for that day.

      In fact, federalism is a completely bankrupt idea, existing only by accident of history, having no use whatsoever.


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