Monday, November 29, 2010

Big Bag of Monday

The last several weeks I have been concentrating on finishing the last proofs for our textbook, getting out job applications, and overcoming a Thanksgiving-week stomach flu so that despite increasing work hours 50%, the something that gives is what - let's face it - matters less: this blog. So without even worrying about catching up, this week will just feature some links to other people's interesting thoughts and I'll leave it at that.

Yglesias on TSA: But don’t ask yourself “what amount of hassle and expenditure is worth paying to prevent terrorist attacks,” ask yourself “what amount of hassle and expenditure is worth paying to shift terrorist attacks off airplanes and onto buses”? Much of the resources currently spent on “security” measures would be much better spent on having more police officers.

Wronging Rights on rethinking areas of state failure: I'm struggling to think of any country in history where the police haven't ever effectively ceded large chunks of territory to violent criminal gangs. (Frankly, the list of places where they aren't doing that at the moment is pretty short.) ... In wealthy, developed countries, we expect the police to enforce laws, investigate crimes, and come when someone calls for help. But in places without the rule of law - where the state doesn't have a monopoly on violence, and the state's use of violence isn't constrained by law - that's just not the role they play. There, the police are just another group that uses violence on behalf of the powerful.

Sumner on the monetary union: I get frustrated when I read people arguing the Eurozone problem is that the ECB can’t come up with a one-size-fits-all policy stance.  ... Actually money is even tighter in Europe than in the US.  It’s too tight for every single Eurozone member.   Nominal GDP is well below the levels of early 2008.

Marron notes that housing price decreases make core inflation look lower than it would otherwise ... but it's still respectably low at 1.3% if you take housing out. It's just not as spectacularly low. As I argued earlier, the question is what kind of inflation we are worried about. Changes in food, fuel, and housing prices are important for human welfare, but are not necessarily indicative of the effects of  Federal Reserve engineered increases in the money supply.

Marron on business uncertainty in Afghanistan being a greater concern for businessmen than physical uncertainty.

Cafe Hayek on the double imported "all-American" turkey's Mexican heritage. Speaking of animals, The Economist notes that pets and non-livestock near humans have been growing heavier and more obese over the last several decades as well.

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