URLs du Jour

2009-10-12

  • The Nobel Prize in Economics also went to Barack Obama went to "Ten-Four" Elinor Ostrom of Indiana and Oliver Williamson of UC Berkeley. Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek explains why this was a good call from the Swedes. Alex Tabarrok agrees.

    [Update: Also see Virginia Postrel, also cheerful.]

    [Another update: Tom Smith has a pretty funny joke told by Professor Williamson, used to illustrate agency costs.]

  • At MarketWatch, however, Tom Bemis reacts to the Obama snub.
    The president has worked tirelessly since even before his inauguration to wrest control of the U.S. economy from failed free markets, and the evil CEOs who profit from them, and to turn it over to wise, fair and benevolent bureaucrats.
    Hm, maybe some sarcasm there.

  • I've noted before The Official Progressive Politician's Guiding Philosophy on Tax Fairness and Equity:
    1. You got the money.
    2. We want the money.
    3. So gimme the money.

    The latest example, taxing financial transactions, is analyzed by Kenneth Anderson at the Volokh Conspiracy. It's pretty much ideal, if by "ideal" you mean "a way to pick people's pockets without them realizing it." Anderson's conclusion:

    Does a complex welfare state need taxes? Sure. Transparent, widely shared, everybody pays something and everyone can see what they pay, so that everyone has a stake in the extent of taxing and spending, as visible and little distortionary as possible. Thus almost the opposite direction to where the US tax code has drifted since the 1986 reform and even more so to where current proposals aim to go. They tend to increase the rent-seeking possibilities of the political class and its ability to ‘get the juice’ from economic actors who must navigate the artificial shoals of regulations that aim to benefit particular constituencies and particular politicians. VAT taxes flunk the transparency requirement, as do turnover taxes of this kind. That is, of course, one reason why politicians love them.
  • For the thirty-third year in a row, I missed Durham's Leif Ericson Day parade.
    The parade started in 1977 as a three-man tribute to the famous Viking explorer. Noble K. Peterson, a former University of New Hampshire professor, and two friends of Scandinavian descent were washing clothes at the Durham Laundercenter one morning when they decided to march next door to Young's Restaurant to celebrate the famous explorer.

    Since then, many have gathered at the laundromat, located on Main Street, at 6 a.m. on the Sunday before Columbus Day to take the 25-foot march to Young's Restaurant while chanting "For noble deeds and daring done, we all salute Leif Erickson. Hoorah! Hoorah! Hoorah!"

    My excuse this year was to protest the silliness of this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Yeah, that's why I didn't go. Also, I can't find my Viking helmet.


Last Modified 2012-10-05 9:06 AM EST

The Professional

[Amazon Link]

A new Spenser book from Robert B. Parker causes withdrawal from lesser forms of entertainment; I go into incommunicado mode while turning pages. Fortunately, it's easy going.

Our hero is hired by a foursome of trophy wives with rich older husbands; each has been seduced by full-time lothario Gary Eisenhower, and each is now threatened with blackmail about their affairs.

Spenser makes relatively short work of the case, but the outcome leaves some aggravating loose ends. In an unusual twist, he finds himself kind of liking Gary, who's supposed to be the villain. So he remains semi-attached to the participants, even after his detective obligations have lapsed; he continues to investigate as a freelance snoop.

Parker's writing style doesn't leave much room for long introspective monologues. (You want Travis McGee, friend, you know where you can find him: according to Google Maps, about 1474 miles south on I-95.) But Spenser's clearly confused by his own motivations here, and irritated about it; he's a know-thyself kind of guy, and that's not working for him here.

In a nice touch, it's ambiguous whether the book's title, The Professional, refers to Gary or Spenser. Probably a little of both.

And, as has become usual for the Spenser series, at least one of his original clients turns out to deeply regret hiring him. His office should probably have a warning on the door: "Come in if you want, but you might be sorry."


Last Modified 2012-10-05 9:05 AM EST