Consumerism & Signaling:
We evolved as social primates who hardly ever encountered strangers in prehistory,” Dr. Miller says. “So we instinctively treat all strangers as if they’re potential mates or friends or enemies. But your happiness and survival today don’t depend on your relationships with strangers. It doesn’t matter whether you get a nanosecond of deference from a shopkeeper or a stranger in an airport.”
DATD & Unit Cohesion: Anecdotal, but still interesting. Wonder if this is a representative sample.
They Also Serve: Why not everyone may be cut out for college. And why that’s okay.
Technology & the Financial Crisis: “Models Didn’t Bring Down Wall Street; People Brought Down Wall Street”
I expect one day we’ll have Luddites citing the Gaussian copula & computer modeling as the “root cause” of the crisis. The above would be something to toss back at them. Technology is a tool, usable for good or ill.
Discrimination & Housing Bubble: Why the latter may be harder to detect than one might expect.
Wasted Housing “Investment”:
There have been three big banking booms in modern U.S. history. The first began in the late nineteenth century, during the Second Industrial Revolution, when bankers like J. P. Morgan funded the creation of industrial giants like U.S. Steel and International Harvester. The second wave came in the twenties, as electrification transformed manufacturing, and the modern consumer economy took hold. The third wave accompanied the information-technology revolution. […]
The same can’t be said, though, of the boom of the past decade. The housing bubble was unique, and uniquely awful. Each of the previous waves had come in response to a profound shift in the real economy. With the housing bubble, by contrast, there was no meaningful development in the real economy that could explain why homes were suddenly so much more attractive or valuable. The only thing that had changed, really, was that banks were flinging cheap money at would-be homeowners, essentially conjuring up profits out of nowhere. And while previous booms (at least, those of the twenties and the nineties) did end in tears, along the way they made the economy more productive and more innovative in a lasting way. That’s not true of the past decade. Banking grew bigger and more profitable. But all we got in exchange was acres of empty houses in Phoenix.
Debt & Morality:
“If people really acted as if the choice to default were morally neutral, we’d either lose most of our credit system, or the legal rules would have to be much more punitive.”
This is vaguely reminiscent a line from this Tanta post:
“[Lenders] are afraid that rationalization mechanisms will become so effective that [people ‘walking away’ from mortgages] (which is historically pretty rare in home mortgage lending) will become a significant additional problem (in addition to true distress). And they fear this because, delusions to the contrary, those loans did not have enough of a ‘put premium’ priced into them to cover widespread ‘ruthless default.'”
Dollar Oil Pricing Fallacy: Some stupidies never die….
Oil Prices Redux
Credit Card Reform
Federalism Amendment Redux:
Thoughts re. each proposal:
1. Disagree w/ this; methinks “big government” has more to do w/ shifts in public attitudes (in favor of greater centralization; plus expectations that Fedgov will ensure prosperity). Moreover, there are reasonable arguments for & against each type of tax; I’m not convinced we should be writing the “Fair Tax” into law.
2. Unsure re. this. In theory, I’m sympathetic to the notion of restricting federal power via the commerce clause; OTOH, I wonder if the economy has so fundamentally changed since the Founding that some degree of national-level regulation is now necessary.
3-5. Concur w/ these.
6. Unsure about this. Methinks original meaning should govern constitutionality, not state-level politics. OTOH, this proposal arguably doesn’t grant states any more power than already exists in Article V (whereby 2/3rds of states can call a convention, & 3/4ths can change the Constitution); and in the absence of ideal originalist judges, this provision may be a worthwhile check on federal power.
7. I’d apply this to the House, but not the Senate; and I’d couple it w/ repeals of the 17th & 22nd Amendments. IMHO, the Founders had it right – the President & Senate are supposed to be somewhat insulated from the populace so that they can (inter alia) look to the long term; term limits are inimical to this. The People’s House, OTOH, is supposed to remain close to the populace; so term limits make sense here.
8. I concur w/ a line-item veto; however, I’m not so convinced of fiscal stimulus’s lack of utility that I’d support requiring a 2/3rds majority to execute said stimulus. I’d de-link these two; give the President the power to selectively veto provisions of legislation, and we can debate the utility of balanced budgets at a later time.
9. Void for vagueness. What do all those terms – e.g., “free”, “independent”, “natural, inherent and inalienable rights”, “enjoying, defending and preserving their life and liberty”, “pursuing their happiness and safety” – mean?