Friday, October 31, 2008

the psychology of lying and exaggerating

A very interesting article from the ironically-named Benedict Carey in the NYT (hat tip: Linda Christiansen) on a distinction in the academic literature on different types/degrees of lying...

Some tales are so tall that they trip over their own improbable feats, narrative cracks and melodrama. That one-on-one playground victory over Kobe Bryant back in the day; the 34 hours in labor without painkillers; the former girlfriend or boyfriend who spoke eight languages and was a secret agent besides....

Yet in milder doses, self-serving exaggeration can be nearly impossible to detect, experts say, and there are several explanations.

A series of recent studies, focusing on students who inflate their grade-point average, suggests that such exaggeration is very different psychologically from other forms of truth twisting. Touching up scenes or past performances induces none of the anxiety that lying or keeping secrets does, these studies find; and embroiderers often work to live up to the enhanced self-images they project. The findings imply that some kinds of deception are aimed more at the deceiver than at the audience, and they may help in distinguishing braggarts and posers from those who are expressing personal aspirations, however clumsily.

"It's important to emphasize that the motives driving academic exaggeration seem to be personal and 'intrapsychic' rather than public or interpersonal," said Richard H. Gramzow, a psychologist at the University of Southampton in England who has led much of the research....

Psychologists have studied deception from all sides and have found that it usually puts a psychological or physical strain on the person doing the dissembling. People with guilty knowledge — of a detail from a crime scene, for example — tend to show signs of stress, as measured by heart and skin sensors, under pointed questioning....

But a study published in February in the journal Emotion found that exactly the opposite was true for students who exaggerated their grades....found that almost half had exaggerated their average by as much as six-tenths of a point. Yet the electrode readings showed that oddly enough, the exaggerators became significantly more relaxed while discussing their grades....

The grade inflation was less an attempt to deceive, the authors concluded, than a reflection of healthy overconfidence and a statement of aspirations. "It's basically an exercise in projecting the self toward one's goals," Dr. Gramzow said.

In earlier studies, Dr. Gramzow and Dr. Willard found that students who bumped up their averages in interviews subsequently improved their grades — often by the very amount they had exaggerated....

the economics of educational vouchers (for disabled students)

Evidence out of Florida from Jay Greene and Marcus Winters with the Manhattan Institute...

The executive summary:

This study is the first empirical evaluation of a voucher program for disabled students. The report evaluates the impact of Florida’s McKay Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities—the largest school voucher program in the United States—on the achievement of disabled students who remain in their local public schools. Of the various types of voucher programs in the United States, those for disabled students are the fastest-growing.

Using data on public school students in Florida from 2000-01 through 2004-05, the authors found that reading and math test scores of students who were eligible for McKay vouchers but remained in the public schools improved substantially, even as private school alternatives became more available. The largest category of disabled students—those with Specific Learning Disability, a mild form of disability, accounting for 8.5 percent of all students in Florida—enjoyed the greatest gains. The academic proficiency of students diagnosed with more severe disabilities was neither helped nor harmed.

two classic animal videos

One from a video camera operator who was in the right place at the very right time-- a battle between a pride of lions, a herd of buffalo, and 2 crocodiles at a watering hole in South Africa's Kruger National Park while on safari.

And the other, a classic scene in Ace Ventura II. This is the only scene I've seen in this movie-- and I've watched it a bunch of times. I'm told that it is the only funny part of the film. But, man, is it hilarious!


the economics of preventative health care

From David Brown in the Washington Post (hat tip: Linda Christiansen)...

This is reminiscent of many things studied by economists where the benefits are obvious and the costs are larger but subtle-- and so, people have a difficult time weighing the costs and benefits appropriately.

An ounce of prevention may have been worth a pound of cure in households down through the ages, but in the world of health economics the adage, alas, is not true.

An ounce of prevention is sometimes worth more than an ounce of cure (although rarely worth 16 times as much, or the equivalent of a pound). Usually, an ounce of prevention is worth considerably less. Often it is worth (to mix measures) only a gram of cure. Or even just a milligram.

This is a seemingly illogical truth. Most of us naturally assume that preventing a disease is cheaper than waiting for the disease to appear and then treating it. That belief is especially dear to politicians, who often view prevention as an underused weapon in the battle against health-care costs....

Even when prevention greatly reduces future cases of a particular illness, overall cost to the health-care system typically goes up when lots of disease-preventing strategies are put into practice. This is usually true whether treating the preventable diseases is cheap or expensive.

In 1986, a health economist named Louise B. Russell published Is Prevention Better Than Cure?, in which she concluded that prevention activities tend to cost more than they save. Since the book's appearance, her observation has been borne out by studies of hundreds of interventions -- everything from offering mammograms to all women and prescribing drugs to people with high cholesterol to requiring passenger-side air bags in cars and shortening the response time of ambulances.

On closer look, this isn't so surprising. Nor is it reason for despair. After all, you get something from prevention -- less disease, for starters -- which is worth a lot even if it doesn't come cheap.

There are many reasons prevention usually doesn't save money. Perhaps the most important is that prevention activities target many more people than will ever come down with the disease being prevented. The reason (thankfully) is that people tend to stay healthy for most of their lives, no matter what they do.

Take the example of lowering cholesterol to prevent heart attacks.

The vocabulary of cardiac risk uses such terms as "normal," "high" and "very high." But in reality, most people even in the "very high" risk category don't suffer heart attacks over quite long time horizons.

Consider a 50-year-old male smoker whose total cholesterol is in the "high" range (over 240); whose HDL, or desirable cholesterol fraction, is "low" (below 40); and who has untreated moderate hypertension. Sounds like a walking time bomb!

It turns out his chance of having a heart attack in the next 10 years is only 25 percent. For a woman with the same profile, the chance of having a heart attack is 11 percent. Almost nine out of 10 such people will dodge the bullet by . . . doing nothing.

Preventing those heart attacks is expensive because everyone fitting the risk profile needs to get the intervention. Why? Because there's no way to know in advance who the 1-in-4 unlucky men or 1-in-9 unlucky women are.

If the prevention strategy is taking a statin -- a very effective cholesterol-lowering drug -- it will cost $160,000 for every year of life saved among men with the above-described risk profile. For women, it will be even pricier: $240,000 for every year of life saved, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2000. (That total bill includes the cost of physician visits and lab tests.)

It seems like a lot to pay. But who among us would choose 1-in-4 or 1-in-9 odds of having a heart attack if the alternative is to reduce the odds dramatically by taking a pill every day (especially if you don't have to pay for the pill yourself)?

In the answer to that question lies both the appeal of our increasingly prevention-oriented health-care system and the reason why prevention tends to drive costs up over the long run....

Of course, there are situations in which prevention is the economical choice, even if it still adds to the total spent on health care.

Take smoking....

There are also some disease-preventing activities that save money, although they are relatively rare. Childhood vaccinations are the classic examples....

Toward the other end of life, providing a single colonoscopy to men 60 to 64 years old also saves money....

Similar to the finding that prevention rarely saves money is the calculation that people in good health probably rack up higher lifetime medical costs than their less-healthy brethren.

The reason? Healthy people tend to live longer....healthy people incur the most cost, followed by the obese and then smokers, who die the earliest....

Prevention can be a great investment, but it's still an investment. Nothing in the modern health-care economy is cheap. Not even health.

the economics of speeding tickets

Here's an interesting NYT article by Yale Professor of Economics, Judith Chevalier (hat tip: Linda Christiansen?)...

My car had picked up speed coming down a hill, and a police officer pulled me over. As I waited for a ticket, I wondered: Does this town supplement its finances by giving tickets to visitors like me?

I never got to the bottom of the situation in that particular town, but the broader question — whether police officers in some towns are motivated by fund-raising as well as safety when writing traffic tickets — has been examined systematically by others. Michael D. Makowsky, a doctoral student in economics, and Thomas Stratmann, an economics professor, both at George Mason University, studied the issue in a recent paper, “Political Economy at Any Speed: What Determines Traffic Citations?”

They examined every warning and citation written by police officers in all of Massachusetts, excluding Boston, during a two-month period in 2001 — over 60,000 in all. Their conclusion wasn’t shocking to an economist: money matters, even in traffic violations. They found a statistical link between a town’s finances and the likelihood that its police officers would issue a speeding ticket. The details are a little sticky, but they show that tickets were issued more often in places that were short on cash, and that out-of-towners received tickets more often than drivers with local addresses.

First, some background: In Massachusetts, a police officer is given the discretion to decide whether to issue a warning, which carries no fine, or a citation, which does. The fines for the tickets issued in that period by local police officers totaled $1.8 million, with state troopers issuing $1.7 million more in tickets. The study focused on the local police.

Municipal finance in Massachusetts is affected by Proposition 2.5, which in 1980 placed a cap on overall property tax levies and on their rate of growth. It turns out that traffic tickets are affected by the proposition, too — or at least that’s what the study found....

Mr. Makowsky and Mr. Stratmann also showed that out-of-town drivers — especially out-of-state drivers — were much more likely to get citations. A driver from out of town had a 10 percent higher probability of getting a ticket than a local driver, holding speed and other characteristics constant. Out-of-state plates added 10 percent to the probability of getting a ticket....

He and his co-author speculated that the seeming discrimination against out-of-towners by the local police might be explained by two factors: a desire to avoid antagonizing local voters and a preference for ticketing people who were less likely to travel to court to protest a ticket....

With housing prices now flat or down, town governments may try to seek property tax rate increases, and voters may resist. Historically, economists have noticed that when there is a lid on property taxes, towns turn to user fees and other sources of revenue — like speeding tickets — to avoid spending cuts....

Mr. Makowsky and Mr. Stratmann did find that ticketing was modestly lower in towns with high levels of employment in the hospitality industry, suggesting that police departments might consider the effects of aggressive ticketing on local commerce....

There is further discussion of this article at on change

As often as politicians invoke the term "change", this is a beautiful observation-- from

Change on blogging

Hilarious-- and often true!

Just in time for Christmas, more high-brow cynicism from the fine folks at!

Here's what they say about blogging...


IDS overview of the 9th District race

Everything is good in this article by the IDS' Peter Stevenson except his reference to Hill leaning left on Iraq. If Hill's position is "leaning left", then we'll be in Iraq for a very long time.

Hill has done nothing substantive to get us out of Iraq. Period.

behavioral economics and the financial crisis

David Brooks in the NYT (hat tip: Linda Christiansen)...

Roughly speaking, there are four steps to every decision. First, you perceive a situation. Then you think of possible courses of action. Then you calculate which course is in your best interest. Then you take the action.

Over the past few centuries, public policy analysts have assumed that step three is the most important. Economic models and entire social science disciplines are premised on the assumption that people are mostly engaged in rationally calculating and maximizing their self-interest.

Yes and no. Economists-- at least, good ones-- recognize the role of "search and transaction costs": the cost of trying to improve on (highly) imperfect information. The result is a balance between investing more effort in information and doing the best we can with what we have (at low cost). A big chunk of this is judging individual moments by group characteristics-- in other words, generalizing and stereotyping, or what economists call "statistical discrimination". All of us do this sort of discriminating-- from trying to figure who to vote for, to car insurance companies trying to figure out risks and premia for various individuals.

But during this financial crisis, that way of thinking has failed spectacularly. As Alan Greenspan noted in his Congressional testimony last week, he was "shocked" that markets did not work as anticipated. "I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms."

So perhaps this will be the moment when we alter our view of decision-making. Perhaps this will be the moment when we shift our focus from step three, rational calculation, to step one, perception.

Perceiving a situation seems, at first glimpse, like a remarkably simple operation. You just look and see what's around. But the operation that seems most simple is actually the most complex, it's just that most of the action takes place below the level of awareness. Looking at and perceiving the world is an active process of meaning-making that shapes and biases the rest of the decision-making chain.

Here, Brooks is speaking of what I wrote above-- or at least, a close cousin of it.

Economists and psychologists have been exploring our perceptual biases for four decades now, with the work of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, and also with work by people like Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, John Bargh and Dan Ariely.

My sense is that this financial crisis is going to amount to a coming-out party for behavioral economists and others who are bringing sophisticated psychology to the realm of public policy. At least these folks have plausible explanations for why so many people could have been so gigantically wrong about the risks they were taking.

Kahneman won the Nobel Prize a few years back, so there has already been a coming-out party for this crew professionally. But their work may gain more traction professionally and publicly as a result.

Brooks continues by describing Nassim Nicholas Taleb's research as depicted in his popular works, Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan. Apparently, Taleb anticipated the highly interdependent aspect of the financial crisis. (Beyond that, many economists had warned about the dangers of govt intrusion in the housing sector-- especially when subsidies were involved.) And Brooks briefly mentions another popular book, Nudge, by Thaler and Sunstein.

second hour of the debate on Indiana-9 this weekend

Saturday at 8pm


Sunday: the 1st hour will be re-run at 8pm-- with the 2nd hour at 9 pm

wow...the campaign is really catching fire!

Click here to see the news account...

Clarion Review reviews TNRNL

A review of my book, Turn Neither to the Right nor to the Left: A Thinking Christian's Guide to Politics and Public Policy...


Obama's tax cut for 95%: mostly yes, but...

Obama's proposal would extend a variety of refundable income tax credits for those who fulfill certain conditions.

The credits would be applied to income taxes, but in effect, would be compensating for the imposition of payroll taxes on income.

This is wonderful in one sense: it addresses the oppressive burden of payroll taxes. But it does so by going through some back doors rather than dealing with the problem directly.

I wish politicians had the compassion to deal with this issue as well as the courage to do it properly-- instead of ignoring it (the norm) or cobbling together a piecemeal, highly-arbitrary solution (like Obama has proposed).

Ford and its workers finagle money from taxpayers

From Jere Downs with the C-J, an article on the new subsidies for Ford from the taxpayers of Kentucky....

There, we learn that Ford has 5,600 workers and the subsidies will be as much as $180 million over the next 10 years. Instead of lowering taxes for all businesses, Kentucky has decided to target Ford with a subsidy-- pretending that they can manipulate the economy effectively and responding to the entreaties of two interest groups.

Let's look at the per-person benefits and costs.

$180 million
4.25 M people in Kentucky
5,600 workers at Ford in Kentucky

Ford can raise $180 million by taking $170 from the average family of four.

Or Ford can save $180 million by lowering compensation to its workers by $1.60 per hour (working 2000 hours per week).

Which is more equitable and more efficient?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

3rd party presidential debate

Why doesn't a network produce a debate for the third-party candidates on a certain number of ballots?

Wouldn't that (on a single network) get an audience that rivals at least the Vice-Presidential debate (when split between all four networks)?

Critchley on Obama

Excerpts from an interesting essay, based on what must have been a fascinating speech by Simon Critchley to the American Political Science Association, as reproduced in Harpers (making it even more interesting!)...

Critchley is a philosophy professor at the New School in NYC. He provides some combination of provocative observations-- and/or the claims of an armchair psychologist.

He opens with this poignant bomb: "There is something desperately lonely about Barack Obama's universe."

Then after talking about Obama's eloquence in speech and in writing, he writes:

After watching countless speeches and carefully reading his words, I have absolutely no sense of who Barack Obama is. It's very odd. The more one listens and reads, the greater the sense of opacity....I found myself repeatedly asking: Who is this man? I don't mean anything sinister by this. It is just that I was overcome by a sense of distance in reading Obama, and the more sincere the prose, the greater distance I felt. He confesses early on that he is not someone who easily gets worked up about things. But sometimes I rather wish he would. Anger is the emotion that produces motion, the mood that moves the subject to act. Perhaps it is the first political emotion.

This is a different angle on my prediction that Obama would be more talker and actor-- than act-er-- as president.

someone says something nice about Krugman

On related topics, I wrote an entry on economists and their politics (including Krugman), I've posted a piece by Bill Anderson ripping Krugman, and I wrote a piece taking a few pokes at Krugman on gas prices and drilling for oil...

Here, we have the highly-respected David Henderson in the WSJ describing Krugman's Nobel Prize-winning work on international trade. It's not an area of expertise for me, but from what I understand, he did make valuable contributions to that field.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced yesterday that the 2008 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences is Paul Krugman. A professor at Princeton University, Mr. Krugman is known to the American public mainly for his column in the New York Times, which reflects his highly partisan political views -- he hates George Bush and Republicans in general -- more than his solid economic understanding. Nevertheless, he is an original theorist in international trade and economic geography. His excellent book, "Pop Internationalism" (1997), and his popular articles of the 1990s (many of them published online, in Slate), make a strong case for free trade.

But Mr. Krugman's defense of free trade is not what earned him the Nobel Prize. Rather, he was honored for his work in the late 1970s explaining patterns of international trade, and for his work in the early 1990s on economic geography.

In the late 1970s, Mr. Krugman noticed that the accepted model economists used to explain patterns of international trade did not fit the data. The Hecksher-Ohlin model predicted that trade would be based on such factors as the ratio of capital to labor, with "capital-rich" countries exporting capital-intensive goods and importing labor-intensive goods from "labor-rich" countries. Mr. Krugman noticed that most international trade takes place between countries with roughly the same ratio of capital to labor. The auto industry in capital-intensive Sweden, for example, exports cars to capital-intensive America, while Swedish consumers also import cars from America.

Mr. Krugman's explanation is based on economies of scale. Both Volvo and General Motors reduce average costs by producing a large output in particular niches of the market. In presenting his trade model, Mr. Krugman planted the seeds for his later work in economic geography, in which he tried to explain the location of economic activity.

He summarized his basic finding (in "Geography and Trade," 1992) as follows: "Because of economies of scale, producers have an incentive to concentrate production of each good or service in a limited number of locations. Because of the cost of transacting across distance, the preferred locations for each individual producer are those where demand is large or supply of inputs is particularly convenient -- which in general are the locations chosen by other producers. Thus [geographical] concentrations of industry, once established, tend to be self-sustaining."...

Henderson continues by describing Krugman's patience and eloquence in discussing free trade-- before concluding...

That kind of common-sense clarity seems noticeably absent in his New York Times columns, in which he often attacks the motives of people who disagree with him and even calls them "liars." This deserving Nobel recipient could set a better example when it comes to academic -- indeed basic human -- courtesy.

AARP hypocrisy

From World...

63-year-old Bonita Brady...filed a lawsuit in August against the advocacy group saying that despite excellent job reviews, she was passed over for a series of jobs with the nonprofit group because of her age.


From World, news of an environmental yahoo keying someone's car...

Here's the video on YouTube...

Two surprises: those are some big X's and the jerk is an older man.

Bradley Bosworth and his father installed security cameras in their 2008 Hummer H2 after the Southlake, Texas, family had three previous Hummers keyed. The security cameras paid off when they captured James Jeppe using a car key to scratch X's into the side panels of the luxury SUV on Sept. 5 in the parking lot of Bosworth's Dallas-area high school....

Obama's 30 minutes of fame...errr, informercial

Did anyone see it? (I'm especially interested in hearing from someone who is not an Obama-worshiper or someone who really dislikes his policies.)

I didn't see it, but I wonder if seeing him for 30 minutes straight might be too much of a "good thing". Putting it another way, you can talk in generalities and promises for short periods of time more easily than longer periods of time. (Then again, Clinton and then Bush perfected the State of the Union Santa Claus address, so maybe it's not as off-putting to some as it is to me.)


"Death Threat" Elmo this a sign of the apocalypse?

(hat tip: Kristian Naugle)

The Onion spoofs presidential gaffes and their press/blog coverage

From the Onion...

In a campaign gaffe that could potentially jeopardize Sen. Barack Obama's White House bid, the Democratic presidential nominee told nearly 8,000 supporters Tuesday that, if elected, he would be a terrible president.

The blunder, captured by all major media outlets and broadcast live on CNN, occurred when the typically polished Obama fielded a question about his health care policy....

According to sources, before those on hand could fully process what Obama had said, the Illinois senator continued to stumble, claiming that, were he to win the general election, he'd have absolutely no idea what to do.

"My youth and inexperience would definitely make me an awful president," said Obama, whose seven-minute misstep was further exacerbated when he called himself "no expert" on the economy. "To be perfectly honest, I'd be worried about putting me in charge of the most powerful military in the world because I'm not any good when it comes to making important decisions. Also, I'm not sure how much I care about keeping this great nation of ours safe."

"I'm an elitist, I hate Israel, and I want to lose the war in Iraq," Obama concluded, and then, seemingly unaware of the magnitude of his blunder, smiled, gave a thumbs-up to the stunned crowd, and urged his supporters to get out and vote on Nov. 4.

Immediately following the speech, Obama campaign officials released a written statement alleging that their candidate's comments had been taken out of context....

Beltway observers agreed that the gaffe could come back to haunt Obama on Election Day.

"This might very well be the sound bite voters have in their heads when they step inside that booth on Tuesday," ABC political analyst George Stephanopoulos said....

"Also, swing states like Ohio and Florida have historically leaned toward the nominee who thinks he'd be a good president, rather than the nominee who thinks he'd 'probably just screw everything up worse,'" Stephanopoulos added.

An analysis of historical documents supports Stephanopoulos' claim, and confirms that the past 55 winning presidential candidates—with the exception of a dying Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1944—all strongly maintained they would be good or great presidents throughout their campaigns, and never hinted otherwise.

"I think Sen. Obama may have opened up a slight window for John McCain here," New York Times reporter David Sanger said during Wednesday's taping of Charlie Rose. "If the McCain camp can find some way to exploit this miscue, it could have the potential to be a real game-changer."

However, a CNN poll taken moments after Obama's speech revealed that the candidate's misstep may have simply gotten lost amid the 24-hour news cycle. Though most citizens said they would prefer a candidate who thinks he'd be a good president, 23 percent said they would still vote for someone who thinks he would make an okay president. Furthermore, 35 percent of citizens said they would vote for a nominee who promised to be a serviceable, or even a so-so, president. Forty-two percent of citizens polled said that, at this point, a "just plain bad" president would also be good enough.

"I am more certain than ever that I will vote for Obama," Windham, NH resident James Kilner said. "This is the first time I have really connected with a candidate, mainly because I think I would make a pretty bad president, too."

As of press time, the McCain camp has yet to respond to the potentially damaging blunder. However, many feel this is exactly what the Arizona senator needed following a mistake he made earlier in the week when he said that "a vote for McCain is a vote for mass genocide."

The Onion spoofs father, sons and sports

From the Onion...


Former Browns long-snapper Wes Hardigree, 38, took advantage of the lovely autumn weather Wednesday afternoon, picking up his 8-year-old son Ben from school and long-snapping the ball around the backyard of their suburban Cleveland home.

"It's just a perfect Norman Rockwell scene—fall colors, crisp air, the low late light, the glow of Ben's red cheeks, and me looking at it all upside-down between my legs as I get ready to long-snap the ball 12 yards to my boy," Hardigree said....

"Days like these, I'm not ashamed to say that a tear of happiness sometimes rolls right up my forehead," Hardigree added....

"Hey, whoah, don't force it there, big guy! That one nearly took my head off!" Hardigree said as one of his son's wobbly long-snaps glanced off his shins. "Give the old man a break! You don't even know your own strength!"

Like many fathers, Hardigree admits he sees a lot of himself in his boy, saying the temptation to live vicariously through his son's long-snapping must be overcome.

"He may be my son, but he's still very much his own little guy, and he had to discover for himself that he's a long-snapper through and through," Hardigree said....

Hardigree said he was "blessed" to have been an NFL long-snapper during eight of what he claims were the Browns' glory long-snapping years of the mid-1990s, when he worked alongside Browns special-teams greats, making dozens of long-snaps to some of the biggest names in Browns punting history.

"Being a long-snapper might not get you on the field a lot, but you'll always have a job, and you get to watch a lot of great football," Hardigree said. "You can't blame me for wanting that for Ben—every dad wants the best for his kid, after all. And from where I'm bending over, being one of the top 32 long-snappers in the world is the best thing there is."

"It's okay," Ben said later. "Dad's great. My face gets all red from being upside down, though. And Dad says when I'm old enough he's going to start running into me right after I snap the ball. And I wish he wouldn't yell at me so much when I ask him if someday he'll teach me how to throw and catch a football."

5th Anniversary of the demise of VET in Jefferson Co. (and then, Southern Indiana)

On Saturday, we're having a party (and press conference) in Louisville to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the end of “vehicle emission testing” (VET) in Jefferson County, Kentucky in 2003. (Soon afterwards, Clark and Floyd counties in Indiana ended their VET as well.)

I did research on the benefits and costs of VET in Jefferson County, published articles on the subject, and testified before the relevant sub-committee of the Kentucky State Senate.

I found that the money, time, and pollution costs of VET were tremendous when the regulation was imposed uniformly on all vehicles. Newer vehicles rarely failed the test—and so, the dollar and time costs of the program were far greater than the modest improvement to the environment.

I did not categorically oppose all forms of VET, but found that the uniform implementation led to inequities and vast inefficiencies. The “waiver” provision also limited the program’s ability to improve the environment. (Auto owners with failed cars could simply a certain amount of money without improving their car’s performance.)

I also argued that annual, stationary testing is prone to abuse (people can rig their cars to get through the test) and necessarily misses out on problem cars (those who didn’t live in the Louisville metro area and were not tested). Instead, I recommended “mobile (emission) testing” which is far cheaper per vehicle and far more effective in catching high-pollution cars.

Since the government was unwilling to add finesse to its program, they decided to drop it. Although something smaller would have been defensible-- and perhaps optimal-- the world is a better place without the old version of VET.

Update: a blog entry by the C-J's James Bruggers (if that link doesn't work, try this one)

Schansberg and Sodrel reply to C-J non-endorsement

Click here to see both.

Here's mine:

The C-J editorialists didn’t interview me. You can understand why. Talking to an economics professor must sound like nails on a chalkboard to them. (They didn’t even return our campaign’s emails. Classy!)

They didn’t mention me in their endorsement of Baron Hill. The best explanation? Legitimate concern that some of my positions would take votes away from their preferred candidate.

Hill is “progressive”? Please… Hill has “courage” on Iraq?! He continually supports our on-going efforts there and devotes NO energy or advertising to ending it. Hill didn’t condemn the DCCC’s nasty ads against Sodrel. In 2006, challenger Hill repeatedly demanded debates; in 2008, incumbent Hill wanted no debates.

Most voters say they want “change”. In the 9th District, voters have a highly-credible 3rd-party candidate—the only fiscal conservative in the race. Will they embrace change or choose the status quo?

Don’t waste your vote this time; vote Schansberg for Congress.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

C-J defends Beshear's (inappropriate) "rape" reference

From the editorialists at the C-J awhile back (trying to catch up on my files), a bizarre attempt to defend the indefensible.

Over-reaction? Perhaps. Acceptable? No way.

Part of the confusion is that the C-J doesn't understand markets-- and so, easily equates rape with standard, voluntary mutually-beneficial trade.

Beshear apologized and that should be that. But if you're the C-J, you can't rise to the defense of something you would roundly condemn in your political opponents.

Call off the word police

Speaking of unbridled spirit, not to mention unchecked language, did Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear really have to issue a statement to apologize for using the word "rape" in relation to oil companies and jacked-up fuel prices in relation to Hurricane Ike?

In our book, no.

But he did. Chalk one up for the word police.

Last week, in a pique about escalating gasoline prices in Kentucky, the Governor told WHAS-TV that the high prices were similar to oil companies raping the citizens of Kentucky. Some found the analogy demeaning to survivors of rape, and so Beshear apologized.

A couple reasons why he shouldn't have, and didn't need to. Unlike some high-profile boors who've used the word "rape" in a joking sense, which did demean, the Governor was dead serious, and angry to boot, about predatory and opportunistic pricing. And, a quick look at the dictionary finds two acceptable definitions that fit what Beshear described: plunder, and flagrant violation.

Boo Weekley

From Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution...

Is that the name of a professional golfer
something done by a Detroit Lions' fan?

the end of prosperity?

From Arthur Laffer in the WSJ (related to his new book on the topic)...

If not the end, then at least a big hit short-term and the potential for more damage in the long-term...

Financial panics, if left alone, rarely cause much damage to the real economy, output, employment or production. Asset values fall sharply and wipe out those who borrowed and lent too much, thereby redistributing wealth from the foolish to the prudent....When markets are free, asset values are supposed to go up and down, and competition opens up opportunities for profits and losses. Profits and stock appreciation are not rights, but rewards for insight mixed with a willingness to take risk. People who buy homes and the banks who give them mortgages are no different, in principle, than investors in the stock market, commodity speculators or shop owners. Good decisions should be rewarded and bad decisions should be punished. The market does just that with its profits and losses.

No one likes to see people lose their homes when housing prices fall and they can't afford to pay their mortgages; nor does any one of us enjoy watching banks go belly-up for making subprime loans without enough equity. But the taxpayers had nothing to do with either side of the mortgage transaction. If the house's value had appreciated...the over-leveraged homeowner and the overly aggressive bank would never have shared their gain with taxpayers. Housing price declines and their consequences are signals to the market to stop building so many houses, pure and simple.

But here's the rub. Now enter the government and the prospects of a kinder and gentler economy. To alleviate the obvious hardships to both homeowners and banks, the government commits to buy mortgages and inject capital into banks, which on the face of it seems like a very nice thing to do. But unfortunately in this world there is no tooth fairy. And the government doesn't create anything; it just redistributes. Whenever the government bails someone out of trouble, they always put someone into trouble, plus of course a toll for the troll. Every $100 billion in bailout requires at least $130 billion in taxes, where the $30 billion extra is the cost of getting government involved.

If you don't believe me, just watch how Congress and Barney Frank run the banks. If you thought they did a bad job running the post office, Amtrak, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the military, just wait till you see what they'll do with Wall Street....

The stock market is forward looking, reflecting the current value of future expected after-tax profits. An improving economy carries with it the prospects of enhanced profitability as well as higher employment, higher wages, more productivity and more output. Just look at the era beginning with President Reagan's tax cuts, Paul Volcker's sound money, and all the other pro-growth, supply-side policies.

Bill Clinton and Alan Greenspan added their efforts to strengthen what had begun under President Reagan. President Clinton signed into law welfare reform, so people actually have to look for a job before being eligible for welfare. He ended the "retirement test" for Social Security benefits (a huge tax cut for elderly workers), pushed the North American Free Trade Agreement through Congress against his union supporters and many of his own party members, signed the largest capital gains tax cut ever (which exempted owner-occupied homes from capital gains taxes), and finally reduced government spending as a share of GDP by an amazing three percentage points (more than the next four best presidents combined). The stock market loved Mr. Clinton as it had loved Reagan, and for good reasons.

The stock market is obviously no fan of second-term George W. Bush, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Ben Bernanke, Barack Obama or John McCain, and again for good reasons.

These issues aren't Republican or Democrat, left or right, liberal or conservative. They are simply economics, and wish as you might, bad economics will sink any economy no matter how much they believe this time things are different. They aren't....

Twenty-five years down the line, what this administration and Congress have done will be viewed in much the same light as what Herbert Hoover did in the years 1929 through 1932. Whenever people make decisions when they are panicked, the consequences are rarely pretty. We are now witnessing the end of prosperity.

defense spending and defense under Bush/McCain vs. Obama

From Bret Stephens in the WSJ, an essay on Obama's impact on the defense budget....

The article is reasonably interesting, but it's the graph that caught my eye: defense spending as a percentage of GDP since 1940.

What do we see?

-The big boosts for WWII and then increasingly modest increases for Korea, Vietnam, the 1980s Cold War, and the "War on Terror". (Of course, spending may well have increased, but as a percentage of GDP-- the country's "ability to pay"-- the level has grown more modest over time.

-The flip side of that observation is that non-defense spending has risen more and more.

-The Clinton era has the lowest rate of defense spending, part of what allowed Clinton to have smaller budget deficits-- and even, a tiny budget surplus one year.

[Global View]
As for Stephens' comments on Obama, this is the most interesting:

When it comes to defense, there are two Barack Obamas in this race. There is the candidate who insists, as he did last year in an article in Foreign Affairs, that "a strong military is, more than anything, necessary to sustain peace"; pledges to increase the size of our ground forces by 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines while providing them with "first-rate equipment, armor, incentives and training"; and seems to be as gung-ho for a surge in Afghanistan as he was opposed to the one in Iraq.

And then there is the candidate who early this year recorded an ad for Caucus for Priorities, a far-left outfit that wants to cut 15% of the Pentagon's budget in favor of "education, healthcare, job training, alternative energy development, world hunger [and] deficit reduction."

Beyond that, it should be noted that Obama has (sadly) pulled away from his aggressive approach to getting out of Iraq.

And from what he's said, one would expect him to implement a Clintonian form (and significant level) of military activity-- intervening in "trouble spots" around the globe as the world's policeman. I'm not sure how this compares to the Bush years of foreign policy (or what we would experience under McCain), but it is certainly no cause for (great) celebration.

was/is Iraq worth it?


the dollar cost (more debt and a further devaluation of the dollar)


the cost in terms of lives (American, Iraqi, and other)

and given

the unpopularity of our on-going efforts in Iraq...

was Iraq's contribution to the cost of losing Congress in 2006 (and taking what looks to be another beating in 2008) worth it?

For all of those Republicans (and the subset of those who are various forms of "conservative"), that sure seems like a high price to pay...

to which Jesus are we (and should we) pray?

I'll probably blog on this at greater length down the road-- after I've read the following book that I just ordered. But for now, I heard an interesting interview this week with Steven J. Nichols on the Mars Hill Audio Journal about his new book, Jesus Made in America.

The interview starts with a reference in Nichols' book to the prayer scene in the theologically-inspired movie, Talladega Nights. I haven't seen it, but had heard about this moment in the film. (This is lived out among those who want various types of prayer at public events like commencement-- ranging from prayer to Jesus Christ vs. some lukewarm deity.)

In the interview, Nichols and interviewer Ken Myers build on an observation I've made from within the "independent" Christian churches. The good news: we avoid (bad or shallow) tradition. The bad news: we miss out on (good and deep) tradition. For example, we are less prone to pursue God with rituals that can become meaningless, but we are not well-rooted in the history and faith of those who have come before us-- whether theologically-rich creeds or amazingly-faithful heroes of the faith.

Nichols and Myers add two more factors from American history and one more consideration from Protestantism (particularly, its American thread).

First, American history is relatively short and so Americans are prone to historical rootlessness. I don't know if he covers this in the book. But I would add that the classic version of our history has been focused on the Revolutionary War and the Civil War (a revolution of another type). So, we have a history based on revolution-- an anti-history of sorts. And in recent times, the classic version of our history has been undermined by efforts at historical revision of the country's founding as well as a well-documented, generally-diminishing knowledge of history.

Second, democracy implicitly adds to this problem by promoting equality of various sorts-- including the tacit "understanding" that all views and opinions are created equal. So, our individual views of Jesus end up becoming unassailable-- or at least, difficult to assail.

Third, the Protestant emphasis on sola scriptura has often been misinterpreted (especially among Americans, given our individualism) to mean that I can go into a closet with my Bible and the Spirit and routinely come out with a pristine interpretation of the text. Reliance on others for assistance-- or at least a wide range of others (beyond, say, my pastor or a favorite teacher/author)-- is eschewed. Looking back into history for help is fruitless. Learning from the creeds is archaic. And so on. This was never the way it was meant to be. Scripture itself makes this clear-- as those who come later quote those who came before-- in a self-validating, internally-consistent manner.

Finally, I would add that this must be a natural tendency among humans. As many have observed, "God created us in His image-- and we have returned the favor". The biggest dichotomy is probably between those who emphasize God's mercy (or beyond that, His grace) and those who emphasize His Judgment. (See: Isaiah 40:10-11 and Malachi 4:1-2 for examples of the combo.) Another important set of categories: those who approach God largely on the basis of rules, rituals, hoping to receive His blessings, or relationship. Instead, we often worship God as we have put him into a preferred box-- in essence, some combination of idolatry and worship of ourself.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

3rd party efforts

A good article from David Weigel in Reason on Mike Munger in particular-- and more broadly, relatively successful Libertarian candidates this year.

I get a brief mention in the article and it's good to see an old buddy/colleague of mine running a strong race in NC!

on Obama and I Samuel 8

Laura Hollis at with an essay on American idolatry toward politics (hat tip: Ed Basquill)-- and in particular, the strain of idolatry running through Obama's campaign.

Idolatry among Republicans has been diminishing in recent years. (A notable counter-example is the increasingly shrill and partisan talk-radio hosts and their support of Republican candidates, despite their staggering warts.) Ironically, perhaps the reduced idolatry has led to less passion from GOP voters and will lead to Obama's victory this year.

The good news? Assuming he's elected, whether Obama fails or not, the idol will fail.

The question: how will the worshipers respond?

As one who has taught entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial thinking for nearly ten years, I am distressed by the apparently overwhelming sentiment sweeping Americans that they must now be taken care of.... is profoundly immoral to set yourself up as a secular messiah of sorts, assuring people that you will take care of them, eliminate hardship, heal the planet, and hold enemies at bay by the sheer force of your own hypnotic rhetoric....

The bulk of her article is built around the Israelites' idolatry toward politics as manifested in the staggering and yet poignant classic passage in I Samuel 8. Then, she shares these insights...

The comparisons are telling: Americans are understandably fed up with corruption, greed, and perversion of justice in our leaders. But till now, we have asked for no king, because we could take care of ourselves...

And then after listing a number of social ills, she concludes...

This is what we, as a nation, have brought ourselves to. These are problems that no amount of social spending will cure, and any promise to do so is a lie, because no amount of money will change people’s hearts. And yet, instead of reaching deep within ourselves to find the solutions, we now whine and mewl for someone to save us.

And here he comes, Barack Obama, on a “righteous wind.”

As with anyone who would be king, Obama will take our money and our property in ever-larger amounts. Our children will be saddled with debt and beholden to a bloated government that will enslave the very people it promised to help. We will be at the mercy of our enemies. And no matter how bleak or desperate our own lives becomes, the leaders in Obama’s government will always thrive; such people always do. Nor is any of this is unique to Obama; it is in the nature of every king, and every government, which is why our government was originally set up to be limited, both to protect us, and to ensure our own self-reliance.

John McCain will not be a perfect President. But it is not necessary for the leader of a free, righteous, and entrepreneurial people to be perfect. I can support John McCain because he asks only that I vote for him, not that I worship him. And I will vote for John McCain on November 4th, not because he would be a better king, but because he does not claim to be one at all.

Neither McCain nor Obama is a king who will save us; we must turn instead to the only One who can.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Preacher's Son (funny ha-ha)

hat tip: Vic Dufour...

An old country preacher had a teenage son, and it was getting time the boy should give some thought to choosing a profession. Like many young men his age, the boy didn't really know what he wanted to do, and he didn't seem too concerned about it. One day, while the boy was away at school, his father decided to try an experiment. He went into the boy's room and placed on his study table four objects.

1. A Bible.
2. A silver dollar.
3. A bottle of whisky.
4. And a Playboy magazine.

"I'll just hide behind the door," the old preacher said to himself. "When he comes home from school today, I'll see which object he picks up."

If it's the Bible, he's going to be a preacher like me, and what a blessing that would be! If he picks up the dollar, he's going to be a business man, and that w! ould be okay, too. But if he picks up the bottle, he's going to be a no-good drunken bum, and Lord, what a shame that would be. And worst of all if he picks up that magazine he's going to be a skirt-chasing womanizer.

The old man waited anxiously, and soon heard his son's footsteps as he entered the house whistling and headed for his room. The boy tossed his books on the bed, and as he turned to leave the room he spotted the objects on the table. With curiosity in his eye, he walked over to inspect them.

Finally, he picked up the Bible and placed it under his arm. He picked up the silver dollar, and dropped into his pocket. He uncorked the bottle and took a big drink, while he admired this month's centerfold.

"Lord have mercy," the old preacher disgustedly whispered. "He's gonna run for Congress."

C.S. Lewis quote-of-the-week

Lewis talks divorce here-- and it's a great comment-- but it applies to a wide range of topics.

“…for an ordinary layman, the thing to notice is that Churches all agree with one another about marriage a great deal more than any of them agrees with the outside world…All regard divorce as something like cutting up a living body, as a kind of surgical operation. Some of them think the operation so violent that it cannot be done at all; others admit it as a desperate remedy in extreme cases. They are all agreed that it is more like having both your legs cut off than it is like dissolving a business partnership or even deserting a regiment. What they all disagree with is the modern view that it is a simple readjustment of partners, to be made whenever people feel they are no longer in love with one another…”

--Mere Christianity, book 3, ch. 6

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody

From today's dual sermon by Dave and Kyle (hat tip:

This is a little story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job.

Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done

Saturday, October 25, 2008

idolatry is often a painful thing to see and experience

an email my wife received...
we would appreciate your prayers for us and for the emailer...
grace, eric

Tonia: I will say this to you privately because I don't want to say this sort of thing on the loop. Believe me, I know your husband's so called, self-stated qualifications - both economically and 'Christian'. Just because you say something, however, does not necessarily make it so. Teaching the theory of economics is a far different thing than actually starting a business, running a business, hiring and firing people, making that business successful, making a payroll, paying taxes, creating jobs for people so they can support their families and pay taxes, etc. All those things far better qualify someone to talk about and do something about the economy than someone who picks up a book and talks about the theory.

But, the bottom line is this: Eric, as far as I'm concerned is nothing better than any other tarnished politician - slinging mud, casting aspersions, telling lies and slandering and stretching the truth to suit his own gain - or perhaps the gain of someone else? For him to distort Mike Sodrel's unwavering, unabashed, unflinching commitment to the Sanctity of Life - all life - just for Eric's own political gain is at best unconscionable and at worst un Christ-like! And, believe me, I want to hear nothing about you adopting children as proof of your commitment to life. That has NOTHING to do with the abortion issue.

You know nothing about this man and his life long commitment to Southern Indiana - the thousands of families he has quietly, unassumingly helped to gain a fresh start in life, so they would not have to be dependent on the government - I could go on for hours - but I seriously doubt it would matter to Eric Or you in the least. Eric is just having too much 'fun' having 'civil discourse' to be concerned about the true state of our country. Polling data notwithstanding I stand by my comments - and I will answer to God for them - as will all of us.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

sacred spaces and liminality

A new $2 word for you: liminality-- meaning "1.) of or relating to a sensory threshold; 2.) barely perceptible; 3.) of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition".

That was one of many things I learned from my colleague Anne Allen during her presentation last week at IUS, "Sacred Spaces", on the Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals. I'll try to faithfully reproduce what I heard and synthesized from her talk.

She described doors as "liminal" and "transitional"-- between inside and outside. As such, they are often used a metaphor for transition, choice, growth, and so on.

The Romanesque style runs from about the 10th through 12th centuries-- and featured, most prominently Romanseque (rounded) arches. The rounded arches were a wonderful technological advance, but required thick walls for stability. This resulted in fewer, smaller windows-- and thus, a "darker" experience.

The Gothic style runs from the 12th century into the 16th century-- and transitioned toward Gothic (more pointed) arches. This allowed for much smaller walls-- and thus, many more windows. Coinciding with this was the expansion of stained-glass windows. The result was "lighter" and beautiful.

I was struck by the role of eschatology in Anne's presentation.

1.) The boom in cathedral building started or was spurred on by the passing of the year 1000-- and the great non-event of the world continuing.

2.) The Romanesque cathedrals were largely built by monks, dark inside, and their art placed a heavy emphasis on judgment (very pre-millennial in flavor).

3.) The Gothic cathedrals were largely built by cities, light inside and more emphasis on royal and divine power (very post-millennial in flavor). The cities built them, at least in part, as tourist attractions-- trying to attract pilgrims. The latter points toward "civil religion" and its optimism and even utopianism-- the optimism that often accompanies the expansion of State power for explicit or implicit religious purposes.

See the differences below...

Angoulême Cathedral, France.

The western facade of Reims Cathedral, France.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Joe Eszterhas: from Basic Instinct to Basic Faith

I heard part of an interesting interview with Eszterhas last night (on Dennis Prager?).

Anyway, here's a written interview with him by David Yonke in The Toledo Blade (hat tip: Linda Christiansen)...

Joe Eszterhas' latest book is a shocker, but not the kind that made him rich and famous.

The upcoming release from the man who penned dark thrillers such as Basic Instinct and Jagged Edge tells the story of his spiritual conversion and his newfound devotion to God and family.

In Crossbearer: A Memoir of Faith, to be published Sept. 2 by St. Martin's Press, Mr. Eszterhas describes how his life got turned around during the summer of 2001.

He and his second wife, Naomi, had just moved from Malibu to a suburb of Cleveland - where he had grown up; she was from nearby Mansfield. They felt Ohio would be a better, more wholesome place to raise their four boys (he had two grown children from his first marriage).

A month after the move, Mr. Eszterhas was diagnosed with throat cancer. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic removed 80 percent of his larynx, put a tracheotomy tube in his throat, and told him he must quit drinking and smoking immediately.

At age 56, after a lifetime of wild living, Mr. Eszterhas knew it would be a struggle to change his ways.

One hot summer day after his surgery, walking through his tree-lined neighborhood in Bainbridge Township, Mr. Eszterhas reached a breaking point.

"I was going crazy. I was jittery. I twitched. I trembled. I had no patience for anything. … Every single nerve ending was demanding a drink and a cigarette," he wrote.

He plopped down on a curb and cried. Sobbed, even. And for the first time since he was a child, he prayed: "Please God, help me."

Mr. Eszterhas was shocked by his own prayer.

"I couldn't believe I'd said it. I didn't know why I'd said it. I'd never said it before," he wrote.

But he felt an overwhelming peace. His heart stopped pounding. His hands stopped twitching. He saw a "shimmering, dazzling, nearly blinding brightness that made me cover my eyes with my hands."

Like Saul on the road to Damascus, Mr. Eszterhas had been blinded by God. He stood up, wiped his eyes, and walked back home a new man....

He went from doubting if he could make it through life without tobacco and alcohol, to knowing that he could "defeat myself and win."

He and Naomi have been faithfully attending Catholic Mass on Sundays ever since, and as the book title states, Joe carries the cross down the aisle....

Although he is a devout Catholic, Mr. Eszterhas writes bluntly of his disgust for priests who are pedophiles and bishops who have covered up for them. He and Naomi decided they could not, in good conscience, donate a dime to the church because of the clerical sexual abuse scandal.

He also writes about the inner turmoil he felt when he took his boys to catechism classes or other church events and kept a protective eye on them the whole time, making sure they were never alone with a priest.

And he complains about priests' homilies being boring and pointless.

When Mr. Eszterhas visited a nondenominational megachurch, he heard a sensational sermon. But he felt empty afterward, missing Holy Communion and the Catholic liturgy.

"It may have been a church full of pedophiles and criminals covering up other criminals' sins … it may have been a church riddled with hypocrisy, deceit, and corruption … but our megachurch experience taught us that we were captive Catholics," he wrote.

Mr. Eszterhas told The Blade that despite his mixed feelings over the church and the abuse scandal, the power of the Mass trumps his doubts and misgivings.

"The Eucharist and the presence of the body and blood of Christ is, in my mind, an overwhelming experience for me. I find that Communion for me is empowering. It's almost a feeling of a kind of high."...

He was born in Hungary during World War II, grew up in refugee camps, and then moved to the United States and lived in an impoverished neighborhood in Cleveland....

"Frankly my life changed from the moment God entered my heart. I'm not interested in the darkness anymore," he said. "I've got four gorgeous boys, a wife I adore, I love being alive, and I love and enjoy every moment of my life. My view has brightened and I don't want to go back into that dark place."

Mr. Eszterhas' love and appreciation for life was magnified even more last year when his surgeon told him he didn't need to schedule another visit.

"He used the word 'cured,' a word that oncologists generally don't use," Mr. Eszterhas said. "He said I didn't have to come back for any checks, that my tissue had regenerated to the point where you cannot only not tell that there was ever any cancer there, but you can't tell that there had been any surgery there.

"Naomi and I were, of course, overwhelmed when he told us. I think it's truly a miraculous blessing."...

oldies but goodies: back to the Dem Denver convention

Observations from Chuck Muth...

* And what exactly has prepared Barack Obama to face off against the world's worst rogue leaders and dictators? What has steeled Barack Obama for the life-and-death decisions which fall on the shoulders of the Commander-in-Chief? Well, according to Bill Clinton, it was his primary race for president against his wife, Hillary Clinton. No, seriously. And he said it with a straight face.

* Bill Clinton also said that Barack Obama proved he had the judgment to be president by picking Joe Biden as his running mate because of Joe Biden's experience in foreign affairs. Which I'm sure was an unintentional, yet nevertheless subtle admission that Barack Obama himself is weak on foreign affairs. Which is exactly what John McCain (and Hillary and Joe Biden before him) have been saying. Thanks, Bubba.

Again, Obama is roughly equivalent to Palin; Biden is roughly equivalent to McCain-- and I wouldn't give you much for any of them as the next President of the United States!

World Series home field advantage

As far as I know, MLB has always rotated home-field advantage in the World Series between the National and American League representatives to the Fall Classic.

From 1986-2002, after the DH had entered the American League (in 1973), MLB decided to allow the home team to have the additional advantage of playing by the DH (or not) rules of their league. (There were no DH's in the WS from 1973-1975. And from 1976-1985, there were DH's in all WS games-- only during even years.)

I always thought this was unfair-- since it gave a double advantage. To note, why not have the NL rules for AL home games and vice versa? And it seemed to make a key difference in a few series-- most notably those won by the Twins in 1987 and 1991 (since they only won home games on their way to the championship).

After a tie in the 2002 All-Star Game, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig decided to have the winning league in the All-Star Game receive home-field advantage in the World Series-- so that "the game would now matter".

This year, Tampa Bay will be the home team since the American League won the All-Star Game again. Interestingly, the AL's victory came at the expense of Philly closer Brad Lidge. Ironically, in a spectacular comeback year, Lidge had 46 saves without "blowing" an opportunity for a save. But his loss in July leads to the Rays advantage in October.

two thoughts on Obama's campaign financing wealth

1.) Obama should have his campaign coffers taxed and the proceeds given to McCain-- or more to the point, with Barr, Baldwin, Nader, and McKinney. (Hat tip: a caller to the Francene Show on WHAS-840 AM in Louisville)

2.) To Obama's credit, his campaign is privately financed-- not relying on taxpayer dollars, as the major parties do in financing their primaries and the major-party politicians do through public financing. Here, Obama is free-market and fiscally conservative!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Anderson on Krugman

I had written earlier about Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, the distinction between macro- and micro-economists, and how that manifests itself in terms of politics and faith in government.

Now, William Anderson crushes Krugman at from a different angle. intellectual event matched only by the sacking of Constantinople in 1453, the Swedish central bank has announced that Krugman will take his place alongside F.A. Hayek and others as the Nobel laureate. Now, the bank announced that the prize was for Krugman’s semi-discombobulated trade theories, not his incoherent, Keynesian columns that he writes for the Democratic Party, er, the editorial page of the New York Times.

Now, before going on, I must say that most of the people who have received the Nobel in economics actually were economists; this is the first time I have seen a pure political operative receive the prize. However, there is precedence for this outrage: last year, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize for his crackpot movie on Global Warming; this year Gore preaches violence against those who might have different thoughts or who might be economic competitors of his own bankrolled "new technologies."

(If any executive were to call for violence to shut down his competitors, he would be vulnerable to being charged under the RICO statutes; Gore, of course, receives a free pass. That is what a Nobel can do.)

Thus, armed with his Nobel, Krugman almost surely will be able to set forth with his own crackpot economic "theories" and ride this prize to a high position in the upcoming Obama administration. Because he has been front-and-center in the latest debate on the meltdown in financial markets, perhaps it is time to see what Mr. Nobel believes will be our economic salvation.

What better place to start than with today’s column in which he praises the British government for nationalizing the country’s banks?...

As with so many other Krugman howlers, it is hard to know where to begin....However, Krugman saves the best for last. The problem, he declares, is that the Bush administration is too free-market oriented to be able to solve this crisis...

Henry Paulson might be a lot of things, but a clone of Ron Paul is not one of them.

So, Krugman continues to peddle his snake oil, but today he gets to do it as the Nobel Laureate instead of just another partisan hack. Nonetheless, having a Nobel will enhance his stature as a guy who supposedly knows something. However, just as the peace prize does not make Al Gore a man of peace, neither does the Nobel Prize in Economics make Paul Krugman an economist....

Paul Krugman is not an economist. His colleagues in the economics profession and the editorial board of the Times may call him an economist, but that does not make him one.

This is harsh criticism, I realize, so I must explain my views in full. Yes, Krugman has a Ph.D. from MIT in economics, but his writings, both popular and academic, demonstrate that he does not believe in laws of economics. Instead, like most folks with socialist leanings, he believes that the state is both omniscient and omnipotent and simply by fiat can eliminate those pesky little problems caused by scarcity.

Whether it is the discussion of medical care or the nation’s financial system, Krugman believes that the state through edicts and the use of force can eliminate scarcity, a point of view he has not changed throughout the years. The Nobel Laureate, in the end, is just another statist hack and nothing else.

Bush calls for panic

The Onion strikes again...

In a nationally televised address to the American people Wednesday night, President Bush called upon every man, woman, and child to spiral uncontrollably downward into complete and utter panic.
Bush Addresses Nation

President Bush addresses the nation shortly before shaving his head and soaking the Oval Office in his own urine.

Speaking from the Oval Office, Bush assured citizens that in these times of great uncertainty, the best and only course of action is to come under the throes of a sudden, overwhelming fear marked by hysterical or irrational behavior.

"My fellow Americans, the time for running aimlessly through streets while shrieking and waving our arms above our heads is now," Bush said. "I understand that many of you are worried about your economic future and our situation overseas, and you have every right to be. Yet there is only one thing we as a nation can do in times like these: give up all hope and devolve into a lawless, post-apocalyptic, every-man-for-himself society."

"For those of you who have remained resolute in your belief that things will turn around eventually, I urge you to close your eyes, take shallow rapid breaths, and begin freaking out immediately," Bush added....

The president then picked up the telephone from his desk and hurled it through the Oval Office window.

During the address, Bush laid out a historic five-point plan for panic that he hopes will help the American people fall apart as quickly as possible. The plan—which many are calling Bush's most well-thought-out proposal to date—calls for citizens to abandon their daily routines entirely, and engage in a weeklong period of bloodcurdling screaming, arm flailing, dry heaving, and gnawing on one's fingers while rocking back and forth in alternating bouts of maniacal laughter and gentle sobbing.

Under the new bill, Americans are also advised to withdraw all their money from U.S. banks and the stock market, place it in a Maxwell House coffee tin, and bury it in a safe place in their backyard. In addition, Bush has urged the legalization of Americans trampling one another in a mad rush to compete for the nation's dwindling resources, and proposed allocating $3 billion toward a program that would give every citizen a gun and a bottle of 140-proof whiskey.

The final part of the plan calls for the immediate release of all convicted felons and death-row inmates from the nation's prisons.

Immediately after Congress approves his plan, the president said he will order multiple B-2 stealth bombers to fly over America's cities at low altitude. The resulting sonic boom, Bush said, will set off all car alarms and cause all babies to cry uncontrollably, which he believes will promote a real sense of chaos throughout the nation. In addition, Bush intends to release 50 live cobras into the Senate chamber....

Friday, October 17, 2008

IUS MBA nationally ranked again...

This sort of thing used to surprise me. (We get excellent results on standardized tests for our undergrads as well.) But if you combine good students, with small class sizes, and teachers who are effective and enjoy it (vs. those whose passion is research)-- and you'd better get good results!

IU Southeast School of Business ranked fifth in the nation by Princeton Review

NEW ALBANY, IN, (Oct. 8, 2008) – The IU Southeast School of Business has achieved a top five ranking from The Princeton Review.

IU Southeast ranked fifth nationally in Best Classroom Experience and was named one of the top business schools in the country, according to the 2009 Princeton Review guide Best 296 Business Schools.

The MBA program at IU Southeast received high ratings in flexibility and faculty, according to students surveyed by The Princeton Review. A full list of top-ranking schools can be found online at

The Princeton Review rankings are based on its surveys of 19,000 students attending the 296 business schools in the book, and on school-reported data from the 2007-08, 2006-07, and 2005-06 academic years. The 80-question survey asked students about their school’s academics, student body and campus life, themselves, and their career plans.

Among the comments from IU Southeast students were that IU Southeast “offers the best combination of cost and quality of education while still being close to home” and that MBA students are most impressed with the “knowledgeable and caring” IU Southeast faculty, who contribute to IU Southeast’s “quality reputation in the region with area professionals.”

The Princeton Review ranking is the latest accolades received by the IU Southeast School of Business. BusinessWeek magazine ranks the IU Southeast MBA program 18th nationally and third in the Midwest for part-time MBA programs.

For more information on the IU Southeast School of Business and the MBA program, visit or call (812) 941-2364.