Assorted Links (6/27/2012)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading and videos that I have been viewing lately:

Why the Apple Demographic Is So Important to Orbitz and Retailers

Here’s a followup article to another article entitled “On Orbitz, Mac Users See Pricier Hotels” (@ which makes the following claim: “Studies suggest that adult owners of Mac computers are not only wealthier, but they also skew younger than PC users.”

The Never-Ending War Over CEO Pay

“Columnist Holman Jenkins writes that when asked, shareholders seem happy to richly reward disciplined risk-taking.”

Let’s Ban the Word ‘Trillion’

“Andrew Tisch writes that U.S. national debt is $15,800,000,000,000. Our lingo shouldn’t obscure how dangerous that is.”

Down and Out in Stockton

“The Wall Street Journal reports on the latest city to confront bankruptcy and how it got there.” Quoting further from this article, “The average firefighter costs the city about $157,000 a year in pay and benefits and can retire at age 50 with a pension equal to 90% of his highest year’s salary plus nearly free lifetime health benefits.”

The iPhone Turns Five

“In The Wall Street Journal, Thomas Hazlett writes that we should forget the shouting about ‘open’ or ‘closed’ systems, because the magic is in the dynamics of platform competition.”

Federal Student Aid and the Law of Unintended Consequences

Subsidies make college educations less, not more affordable; this article explains how…

How many houses should you look at before you buy?

“A lot of my friends have recently bought homes, and I thought this was a fun aspect of their buying process. What amazed me the most is that there was a big variance in the number of houses people looked at before buying.”  This article provides an interesting mathematical proof concerning how to maximize your chances of finding the “best” house; apparently the math generalizes to other important problems; e.g., what dating strategy can help you find the best spouse. Thankfully, I found the best spouse early in life without the benefit of the mathematics! 🙂

Capitalism Is Responsible

“Once we accept the fact that genuine moral good requires more than intentions, it becomes immediately apparent that capitalism has a leg up on every other economic system when it comes to the noble goals of poverty alleviation, peace and health.”

Uncommon Knowledge: Dennis Prager

Yet another book to read – Dennis Prager’s “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph” (cf. The link listed below will take you to a 45 minute video interview of Dennis Prager by Peter Robinson, who is the host of the “Uncommon Knowledge” program (cf.… I listened to this interview and was totally blown away..

How Big Is the World Black Market?

“Economists Ceyhun Elgin and Oguz Oztunali are researching the size of shadow economies, or black markets, around the world. Using a dataset with 7,395 observations for 161 countries from 1950 to 2009, they’re looking into how the size of black markets differs in rich and poor countries.”

Uncontrolled Self-Promotion

I highly recommend Manzi’s book entitled “Uncontrolled” (cf., as well as 1) Peter Robinson’s (less than 40 minute) interview with Jim Manzi @, and Russ Roberts’ 60 minute podcast featuring Jim Manzi @  My friend Jonathan Warren brought Manzi’s book to my attention by way of David Brooks’ review @

Should Tenure for College Professors Be Abolished?

“Yes, says author Naomi Schaefer Riley in a Wall Street Journal debate, because it rewards research over teaching. No, says Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, because it is the ultimate quality check.”

Law Grads Face a Brutal Job Market

“Members of the law-school class of 2011 had little better than a 50-50 shot of landing a job as a lawyer within nine months of receiving a degree, new data show.”

Why Charter Schools Work

“In The Wall Street Journal, Deborah Kenny of Harlem Village Academies writes that accountability for results and freedom from union rules attract the best teachers into the profession.”

Why the Euro Crisis Will Go On and On

“In The Wall Street Journal, Business World columnist Holman Jenkins writes that European voters are not going to accept the economic reforms that will allow the euro to be viable.”

Crop Insurance Set to Expand Despite Growing Fraud Worries

“None of the proposals to expand crop insurance would add anything to combat fraud, which costs taxpayers as much as hundreds of millions of dollars a year.”

The Grumpy Economist: Taylor’s “First Principles”

“The Grumpy Economist,” the University of Chicago’s John Cochrane, reviews John Taylor’s book First Principles: Five Keys To Restoring America’s Prosperity (cf. Quoting from Professor Cochrane’s review, “This book is fundamentally about rules vs. discretion, commitment vs. shooting from the hip, and more deeply about whether our economy and our society should be governed by rules, laws and institutions vs. trusting in the wisdom of men and women, given great power to run affairs as they see fit.”

Silly Season, 2012

Charles Krauthammer characterizes the election in the following manner: “What remains is a solid, stolid, gaffe-prone challenger for whom conservatism is a second language vs. an incumbent with a record he cannot run on and signature policies — Obamacare, the stimulus, cap-and-trade — he hardly dare mention.”

What Republicans Think

“This election is about whether we try to work within the existing governing model or render it obsolete to build something fresh.”

A Simple Tax Code Is a Fair Tax Code

“Harvey Golub writes that the top 1% pays more in federal income taxes than the bottom 90%—but the system is biased toward the powerful in other ways.”

How the Euro Will End

“In The Wall Street Journal, Gerald O’Driscoll writes that Greece will simply run out of cash, then Spain’s real-estate bubble will ruin an economy that really matters.”

Whose Fault Is Today’s Bad Economy?

“Stanford economist Ed Lazear writes that what we’re experiencing is a new wave of slowdowns, not a continuation of past problems.”

Obama’s United Auto Workers Bailout

“If the administration treated the UAW in the manner required by bankruptcy law, it could have saved U.S. taxpayers $26.5 billion.”  So much for the rule of law… Viva crony capitalism!

Is Capitalism Immoral? An Interview with Father Robert Sirico

“Countless detractors over the years have argued that capitalism is intrinsically immoral. Is it true?”

Worst. Bailout. Ever.

Here is the American Enterprise Institute’s take on the EU’s $125 billion bailout of Spain’s banks. They characterize it as the “Worst. Bailout. Ever.” I have to agree. Furthermore, the human toll in Spain is tragic; the overall unemployment rate in that country currently stands at roughly 25 percent (and more than twice that rate for young people). Another alarming statistic is that apparently nearly half of all Spanish adults under thirty-five still live with their parents. After many years of deficit spending, failing welfare states all across Europe (i.e., not only Spain, but also Greece, Ireland, and Portugal) have become unsustainable.

Jonah Lehrer on Creativity and Imagine

Jonah Lehrer and the host of EconTalk, Russ Roberts, have an engaging conversation concerning Mr. Lehrer’s fascinating new book entitled “Imagine: How Creativity Works” (cf. which explores the neuroscience behind creativity and innovation.

The Moral Diet

“We all commit little indiscretions, just enough to keep from feeling too bad about it. Should we be active in curtailing this inevitability, and if so, how?”

Obama’s Real Spending Record

Quoting from this article, “The right point of focus is not at what pace spending has grown under President Obama but instead how much more he needs to cut spending from its bloated levels to bring the economy back to health. The huge increase in spending as a percentage of GDP under Presidents Bush and Obama is the reason we are experiencing the slowest recovery since the Great Depression. As Milton Friedman understood, an economy cannot spend or tax itself into prosperity.”