I wish I had a tenth of his letter-writing skills.
Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:
Have you noticed the enormous increase in greedy speculation in the northeast over the past two days? It’s quite something! In advance of hurricane Sandy, consumers are now artificially increasing the scarcity today of the likes of bottled water, canned goods, batteries, and medicines by stocking up on these goods.
And all of this self-interested speculation – done merely in anticipation of staple goods being much more scarce after Sandy strikes than they are today – is applauded and even encouraged by the news media and government leaders!
What gives? Many of the same people who today publicly encourage us to speculate (“Make sure your family has ample supplies of batteries!”) are among the loudest critics of speculation at other times and in other markets.
But in fact the oil speculator who, say, buys oil today in anticipation of oil becoming more scarce tomorrow does just what a consumer does today in a supermarket in anticipation of a disruptive storm: both persons usefully transfer resources across time. They both stock up on resources that are today relatively abundant in order to preserve these resources for consumption at a time when they are relatively more scarce (and, hence, more precious). Both persons transfer resources from today – when the consumption of any one bottle of water or gallon of gasoline provides relatively less benefit – to tomorrow when the consumption of that same bottle of water or gallon of gasoline will provide relatively more benefit.
Anticipating the future and taking actions to allocate goods and services from times of relative abundance to times of relatively greater scarcity is an immensely useful activity. And we all perform such speculation whether or not we are popularly identified as “speculators.”
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030
[From Speculators Storm Safeway!]
John Gremillion and I are biking 1850 miles to raise money for the MMRF in honor of my mom. Check it out at http://danube2012.com
I love the Journal of Improbable Research
Seventeenth century opera houses produced more than just music, a reality brought forth in this study:
‘Pots, Privies and WCs: Crapping at the Opera in London before 1830‘, Michael Burden. Cambridge Opera Journal, vol. 23, nos. 1-2, July 2011), pp 27-50.
Author Michael Burden [pictured here] is Tutor in Music, Dean, Chattels and Pictures Fellow and Professor of Opera Studies at New College, University of Oxford. His study contains the following indication, perhaps for multiple reasons: ”This article was conceived while working at the Huntington Library, San Marino, California on an Andrew Mellon Fellowship.”
Here’s the abstract of this lavishly detailed study:
What was the interplay between plumbing and the routines of audience behaviour at London’s eighteenth-century opera house? A simple question, perhaps, but it proves to be a subject with scarce evidence, and even scarcer commentary. This article sets out to document as far as possible the developments in plumbing in the London theatres, moving from the chamber pot to the privy to the installation of the first water-closets, addressing questions of the audience’s general behaviour, the beginnings in London of a ‘listening’ audience, and the performance of music between the acts. It concludes that the bills were performed without intervals, and that in an evening that frequently ran to four hours in length, audience members moved around the auditorium, and came and went much as they pleased (to the pot, privy or WC), demonstrating that singers would have had to contend throughout their performances with a large quantity of low-level noise.
(Thanks to investigator Susan DeFelice for bringing this to our attention.)
[From “Crapping at the Opera in London before 1830? [study]]
Full study here.
Al Dugan is doing a New Years show in honor of Jerry & Norma on Friday, December 30th, at 9am. He interviewed David and me for the show (and David did one of the station ID announcements). In addition to broadcasting on 91.3 in Beaumont, you can listen online by following the links at
It will be rebroadcast at 9am on New Year’s Day.
What a deal! Sponsored by the University of Michigan School of Music.
This website offers free downloads of the complete extant organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach, recorded by Dr. James Kibbie from 2007 to 2009 on original baroque organs in Germany.
Exactly which works should be recorded? More than 250 years after Bach’s death, it is by no means certain exactly what he composed. The selection of works for this series draws on the Bach Werke Verzeichnis, Kleine Ausgabe (Breitkopf & Härtel, 1998), supplemented by other recent scholarship, including the work of Prof. Christoph Wolff and the research of the Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Institut Göttingen. Bach’s organ transcriptions of works by other composers have been included. Dr. Kibbie has also recorded those works which survive only as fragments, leaving these works incomplete as they exist in the manuscript sources.
For the “dubious” works which may or may not be by Bach, Dr. Kibbie has chosen which to record, including especially those long associated with the Bach canon, such as the Pedal-Exercitium, the Kleines harmonisches Labyrinth and the “Gigue” Fugue. On the other hand, some works long identified with Bach are now widely regarded as spurious, and so have not been included (for example, the Eight “Little” Preludes and Fugues).
Bach composed for organs ranging from the 17th-century North German instruments he admired in his youth to the mid-18th-century organs he himself helped design during his Leipzig years. For these recordings, Dr. Kibbie has selected seven historically significant instruments matched to the varying stylistic requirements of the Bach repertoire.
[From James Kibbie – Bach Organ Works]
Insomnia, so what better time to repost something and break my silence?
Last night on “60 Minutes” (HT IndianaJim) President Obama said to interviewer Steve Croft about tax cuts:
Steve, the math is the math. You can’t lower rates and raise revenue, unless you’re getting revenue from someplace else.
This answer reveals a deplorable understanding of either economics or math or both.
Revenues are the product of the “price” per unit (for example, the tax rate on a dollar of income) multiplied by the number of units for which that price is paid. If the percentage cut in the price per unit is smaller than a corresponding percentage increase in the number of units for which the now-lower price is paid, revenues don’t fall; they rise. The math, indeed, is the math.
Obama’s math works only in a bizzaro economic world – a world where changes in prices have no, or never more than a de minimis, effect on people’s behavior.
In that bizzaro world producers would never lower prices. (Why do so if lowering prices won’t result in a larger sales volume and higher revenues?) In that bizzaro world McDonald’s would charge $1,000 for each Big Mac. (Why not, if prices don’t affect people’s consumption choices?) In that bizzaro world no one would propose taxing cigarettes to discourage smoking. (Why do so if higher prices don’t affect behavior?) And in that bizzaro world no one would ever call for higher tariffs to protect domestic producers from foreign competition. (Why do so if raising tariffs does not reduce the number of imports that people buy?)
It’s one thing to question a claim’s empirical relevance; it’s quite another to dismiss it categorically as being an alleged violation of the laws of mathematics.
What sorry testimony about the “reality-based” political community that the current President of the United States believes it to be simply a matter of “math” that lower tax rates necessarily result in lower tax revenues.
[From Obama’s Math Works Only in BizzaroEcon World]
One of my clients was burglarized last week; luckily, the backup drive was left behind and so we were able to recovery all their documents and pictures. I recommend that everyone have a backup systems with two drives: one that is the active backup, and one that is stored elsewhere, preferably offsite. Swamping the backup drives once a week ensures that in the case of disaster there is a good backup from which to restore.
Staples is having a sale on hard drives; If you print this coupon and take it to the store, you’ll get an additional 20% off one item.
If your hard drive is under 500Gb, then get the Western Digital® Elements® 1TB External Hard Drive for $69.99 after a $10 instant coupon, -20% = $56 +tax
If your drive is larger, then get the Western Digital Elements 3TB USB drive for $119.99 after a $30 instant coupon. -20%= $96 +tax.
also, “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions”:
But in the 21 states that were fully affected [by the federal increase in the minimum wage in 2007], about 13,200 black young adults lost their job as a direct result of the recession, versus 18,500 who lost their job as a result of the minimum-wage mandates. “In other words,” write Messrs. Even and Macpherson, “the consequences of the minimum wage for this subgroup were more harmful than the consequences of the recession.” [From “The consequences of the minimum wage for this subgroup were more harmful than the consequences of the recession” from Reason-Hit & Run]