Saturday, November 5, 2011

Liveblogging Mr. Cain's Incompetence in the Cain-Gingrich Debate 830pm EST

Moderator: "Defined Benefit Plans or Premium Support, what do you think is better?"

Mr. Cain: *puzzled look on face* [To Speaker Gingrich]: Uhh ... you go first.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Best Of Breed European Technocrats all in the USA?

Like I did with Chinese macroeconomists, I wanted to look up the best european economists. I ended up reading a NY Times article about Olivier Blanchard from 2010 that implied all the top French economist academics have come to the United States, and the ones that stayed back have their talents underdeveloped by an inferior French research university system.

If that can be generalized beyond France, it may help explain why the same Europe that's so lauded by elite American social scientists for its social welfare programs has managed the global economic shocks so much worse than the US (and China?).

The relevant NY Times article:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tax the rich to spend on infrastructure, full employment, and redistribution: Why can't the large states do this without the US Federal govt?

It's a question that popped into my head the other day that I've been meaning to post.

Technocrat Uprising Lead By Prof. Krugman?

I've long neglected criticizing Prof. Krugman for contrasting bad "very serious people" with awesome "hippies getting punched". Here I think he enters a more virtuous zone -criticizing non or less competent, not data-driven "technocrats" with power (he deems them "crats", with best of breed, more data driven technocrats (he deems them people like Prof. Krugman and Prof. Romer).

So I guess he's becoming more what I wanted before I got around to criticizing him for his unhelpful characterization of non-best of breed technocrats as "very serious people".

The relevant link:

Michael Trick the Andrew Gelman of Operations Research blogging?

Seems expert and chatty, don't know how much of a hero he actually is in the field, though. Top google result for operations research blog.

I say the odds are pretty good I'll go back to school for a post-baccalaureate, through at least a masters in Operations Research or similar quant-managerial credential, if I can hack it. Or even a Ph.D. if I can hack it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Top 0.1% = 300,000 people, not really oligarchs

Prof. Krugman shares some enlightening information here that the lion's share of income gain is with the 0.1% (the 1% has shown some significant gain, and the top 20% have held steady with a disproportionate income share, but the 0.1% have been on a serious march of increasing income share in the past decade in particular).

I'm sympathetic to the idea that if nothing else, the top 0.1% can be made to pay much more taxes to our collective benefit, using other OECD nations as a reference (for that matter, the top 20% probably can too).

But I think it's a bit silly to call the 300,000 highest earners in the USA an oligarchy. Maybe there's some other better term. Maybe the notion that the USA is becoming an oligarchy rests on some other facts not discussed in his post.

Personally, I think there may be people with 1 in 1,000 talent for wealth accumulation, BUT that doesn't mean that we all wouldn't be better off if a significant fraction of that wealth was redistributed to other projects that would improve our collective welfare.

Romney will probably win, so where should technocratophiles take the battle?

Gov. Romney will probably win the Presidency in 2012, and I think that's a good thing.

So where should technocratophiles probably take the battle?

(1)I think the most important thing is to marginalize Tea Party conservatives, Libertarian conservatives, and (most difficultly in a Romney presidency) neoconservatives, who I think are the most dangerous elements of the US today. Immigration conservatives vs. immigration liberals/libertarians are trickier, because I think immigration is an optimization problem and I haven't seen a good faithed work out of the best solution yet.

How do they get marginalized? In a practical way, we want the more technocratic republican candidates to win primaries. We want the more technocratic advisers to fill Romney's staff and future cabinet.

(2) We want to coming Democrat opposition to be more technocratically based, to keep the technocratic ratchet going. Less Rev. Al Sharpton, more Prof. DeLong and Christina Romer. Dr. Elizabeth Warren could be a viable presidential candidate in 4 years.

(3) Romney has a very good chance of being able to go down as the greatest peacetime president in history. If once in office he works with democrats in Congress to implement some of he best parts of other OECD countries (socialize the healthcare sector, make the tax system more rational, implement best of breed economic management, fix the housing and educational finance structural problems and make defense spending more about infrastructure building (army corps of engineers) than weapons-selling --things that aren't that hard to do conceptually but are hampered by the current political dynamic, then he'll establish quite a historical legacy. Judging his term as Governor of Massachussetts and the rightful disdain he must feel towards the huge non-technocratic element of his party, I think he'll be very open towards technocratic solutions -even those that have significant conservative and rentier class opposition.

(4) We should pressure Obama and the Democrats to focus on wrapping up their control of the executive branch virtuously. They'll probably lose it, but they can do some very good work with appointments and administrative optimization prior to exiting. Cabinet members can focus on polishing their legacy prior to running for Governor of respective states. Obama can legitimately work on setting himself up for a UN Secretary General run (with his Kenyan father and global popularity). Recent desparate attempts to pander to jewish fundraisers by opposing Palestinian recognition in UNESCO do more to damage his legacy and global reputation than help him win reelection, IMO. President Obama should make his reelection campaign more about looking good losing to optimize his future reputation and macroadministrative career than about getting a dirty or pandering or even superimprobable win.

That's my 2 cents right now.