EppsNet Archive: Steven Landsburg

Civil Rights Symmetry

Why does a Civil Rights Bill forbid me to apply racial criteria when I choose an employee but allow me to apply racial criteria when I choose an employer? If I turn down a job offer, should I be required to prove that my motives were not discriminatory? … Why am I permitted to apply racial criteria when I select a spouse but not when I select a personal assistant? — Steven Landsburg, The Armchair Economist Read more →

Most of Economics

Most of economics can be summarized in four words: “People respond to incentives.” The rest is commentary. — Steven Landsburg, The Armchair Economist Read more →

50 Years of Solving Crossword Puzzles Finally Paid Off

I’ve solved a lot of crossword puzzles in my life with no benefit accruing to me other than personal enjoyment — until now! Steven Landsburg, economist and author, published a crossword puzzle contest last month with free books going to the top three solvers. The puzzle was a cryptic crossword, which is typically more difficult than a “regular” crossword. This particular crossword was extremely difficult. No one was able to solve it correctly. The winning entrant had three errors, second place had four errors, and two entrants, including me, tied for third with five errors. If you think that five errors in one crossword puzzle is not very good and doesn’t deserve a prize, you should take a look at the puzzle. Read more →

A Spectacularly Bad Job of Rigging the System

If you nevertheless believe that the capitalists have been busily rigging the system in their own interest, you’ve got to admit they’ve done a spectacularly bad job of it. How else to explain the quintuple taxation of capital income, where you can invest a dollar that was taxed the day you earned it, then pay corporate income taxes, dividend taxes, capital gains taxes and inheritance taxes on the income it throws off? Surely any concern that the rich are calling the policy shots should melt away in the face of actual policy. — Steven Landsburg Read more →

The Single Greatest Source of Economic Error

But the underlying fallacy — the failure to notice that things must add up — is, in my experience, the single greatest source of economic error. Politicians routinely promise to make medical care or housing or college educations more widely available by controlling their prices; economists routinely scratch their heads and ask where the extra doctors or houses or classrooms are going to come from. You can no more speed up the line for medical care by lowering prices than you can speed up the deli line by handing out tickets. — Steve Landsburg, The Big Questions Read more →

Obama Did Not Lie

When President Obama said that he could provide health care to millions without taking any health care away from people who have already got it, he had no chance of being believed. The statement was absurd on its face. This is a law of arithmetic: If you invite a bunch of friends to share your lunch, there’s going to be less lunch for you. Everybody understands that. . . . So when the President said he could expand the availability of medical care while allowing everyone else to keep the care they’ve got, it was like saying he’d take us for a tour of England in his rocket ship. It had absolutely no chance of being believed, and therefore, it seems to me, does not count as a lie. It counts instead as an expression of contempt for the many entirely reasonable people who tried to point out that it… Read more →

Chinese Women Can Afford to be Picky

Via Steven Landsburg: China has one of the highest male-female sex ratios in the world. That means women can afford to be picky. Here are the requirements listed by a female graduate student seeking a mate on the Chinese equivalent of match.com: Never married Masters degree or more Not from Wuhan No rural I.D. card No only children No smokers No alcoholics No gamblers Taller than one hundred and seventy-two centimeters More than a year of dating before marriage Sporty Parents who are still together Annual salary over fifty thousand yuan Between twenty-six and thirty-two years of age Willing to guarantee eating at least four dinners at home per week At least two ex-girlfriends but no more than four No Virgos, no Capricorns Read more →

Everyone in America Can Go to College

This morning I heard President Obama call for universities to lower their tuition rates so that “everybody in America can go to college.” I am virtually certain that the President is not stupid enough to think that if tuition rates fell to zero, there would magically be enough room in the colleges for everybody in America. So I’ve got to believe that he’s purposely saying stupid things in order to appeal to stupid voters — the sort of voters, in other words, who probably don’t belong in college. — Steven Landsburg Read more →

Wisconsin’s Smoking Gun

If you cut the pay of an overpaid worker, he’ll generally scream bloody murder. After all, overpaid workers like to stay overpaid. But if you cut the pay of a non-overpaid worker, you haven’t really damaged him. He just quietly leaves and gets a job elsewhere. After all, the ability to find a comparable job elsewhere is pretty much the definition of not being overpaid. Now how are the Wisconsin public workers reacting to projected pay and/or benefit cuts? As if the rug’s been pulled out from under them, that’s how. Every time a worker says “These cuts will cause me severe pain,” that worker is saying, in effect, “I can’t get anyone else to pay me at the level I’m accustomed to,” or, in briefer words, “I am overpaid!” So yes, they’re overpaid. And the louder they get, the surer you can be. — Steven Landsburg Read more →

The Most Promiscuous Women

The most promiscuous women are those who have been punched, believe homosexuality is not wrong, and spend time in bars. The least promiscuous women are those who are patriotic and spend time in church. — Steven Landsburg Read more →

Hope and Change

I well remember the last time the Republicans rode into town to get our fiscal house in order and curb the growth of government. That was in 1994. Twelve years later, when our Republican heroes were themselves ridden out of town, they still hadn’t managed to eliminate the goddamned National Endowment for the Arts. — Steven Landsburg Landsburg offers a few bits of advice to the newcomers. Maybe things will be different this time . . . Read more →

No One Listened

Today, I will introduce the Free Housing Market Enhancement Act, which removes government subsidies from the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), and the National Home Loan Bank Board. . . . Congress should act to remove taxpayer support from the housing GSEs before the bubble bursts and taxpayers are once again forced to bail out investors who were misled by foolish government interference in the market. — Ron Paul, 2003 [HT: Steven Landsburg] Read more →

The Star of the Phillipines

Via Steven Landsburg | The Big Questions: One year ago today, somewhere in the Phillipines, a reporter checked his web logs and wondered where all the new readers were coming from. Today we celebrate the first anniversary of one of the most unfortunately worded headlines in the history of journalism. Read more →

Playing Politics

Steven Landsburg on a public healthcare option: The [General Motors] takeover started with this promise from the President: GM will be run by a private board of directors and management team…They — and not the government — will call the shots and make the decisions about how to turn this company around. Within one month, powerful lawmakers had successfully “encouraged” General Motors to retool factories in their home states, and Senator Jay Rockefeller had prevented the closing of a dealership owned by one of his wealthy constituents. Or recall what happened with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who succumbed to so many political pressure [sic] that–well, you already know the rest of that story. When you politicize an industry, be it cars, mortgage lending or health insurance, you invite interventions on behalf of the rich and powerful. The less rich and the less powerful foot the bill. Read more →