Assorted Links (4/14/2013)

The Grumpy Economist: Energy Idiocy

University of Chicago finance professor John Cochrane asks, “What is it about energy that send all sides of the political spectrum into spasms of babbling idiocy?”

The Free Market Is a Beautiful Thing

Trade and cooperation are superior to force and command.

No ordinary politician

“Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s prime minister from 1979 to 1990, died on April 8th at the age of 87. We assess her legacy to Britain and the world.” I was fascinated to learn, among other things, that the “Iron Lady” was a fan of the following Abraham Lincoln quote, “You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot help the wage-earner by pulling down the wage-payer.”

The disposable academic

Fascinating article from the Economist about the economics of the PhD degree… Here’s an excerpt, “In a recent book, Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus, an academic and a journalist, report that America produced more than 100,000 doctoral degrees between 2005 and 2009. In the same period there were just 16,000 new professorships.”

The President’s Priorities

The Wall Street Journal reports that under the new White House budget public debt in 2014 will hit 78.2% of the economy. This reported 78.2% number represents more than a doubling since 2007 in the size of federal debt held by the public as a percent of GDP.

Google Lets Users Plan ‘Digital Afterlife’ By Naming Heirs

Google on Wednesday became one of the first major Internet companies to put control of data after death directly into the hands of its users.

Is Obamacare ‘the bullet to the temple’?

Bernie Marcus, who co-founded Home Depot in 1979, says the massive health care insurance overhaul will ‘kill off small business.’

When the Government Plays Favorites

Government continues to threaten our future while claiming to help us.

Obama’s Budget: Spending Too High, But Bush Was Worse

The sooner people understand that overspending it is a deep and chronic disease with bipartisan roots, the sooner we can start finding a lasting cure.

How Much Does Your Name Matter? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

“The gist: a kid’s name can tell us something about his parents — their race, social standing, even their politics. But is your name really your destiny?” (spoiler alert: the “best” social scientific response to this question is “probably not”, although filmmaker Morgan Spurlock leans in favor of the affirmative…)…

MSNBC Host Melissa Harris-Perry » All Your Kids Belong To Us

MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry considers the unborn child a “thing” which takes a “lot of money” to “turn into a human,” costing thousands of dollars to care for each year of his/her life. Now it appears that Harris-Perry thinks that, after they’re born, children fundamentally belong to the state. Narrating a new MSNBC “Lean Forward” spot, the Tulane professor laments that we in America “haven’t had a very collective notion that these are our children.” “[W]e have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to their communities,” Harris-Perry argued.

Your Wealth is Not Yours

Expected to be released this week, President Obama’s budget will limit how much individuals can keep in 401(k)s, IRAs and other retirement accounts.

The Sequester: Absolutely everything you could possibly need to know, in one FAQ

I heard an interesting sequestration story over lunch today. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, half of the $85.4 billion in “cuts” for 2013 (i.e., $42.7 billion) apparently comes out of what had been budgeted for the Department of Defense for the current fiscal year. In percentage terms, this $42.7 billion cut represents a 7.9% cut in DOD’s 2013 budget (source: Anyway, a colleague mentioned that at one of the service academies, the salaries of virtually ALL civilian faculty have been cut by 20%, whereas the salaries of military faculty at the same institution have remained untouched… I can’t help but wonder how that decision (i.e., sparing faculty with military appointments while really putting it to the civilian faculty) was made – probably NOT by a civilian administrator…

It Isn’t A Question Of If Obamacare “Collapses”

“I don’t think there is a danger that Obamacare will collapse. It is a certainty. The question is what Obamacare collapses into.”

A Slick Marketing Campaign Won’t Save ObamaCare

The White House recently released details about how it plans to market ObamaCare to the uninsured. It reveals most don’t want what they’re being forced to buy.

To Sign Up For Obamacare, Start Filling Out The Forms Now (And Hire A Good Accountant)

Want to apply for Obamacare this fall? Start the paperwork now. The Obama Administration quietly released a draft copy of its “single streamlined application” for Obamacare. This is the form that the government will use to certify eligibility for the program’s subsidies. The on-line version of that…