[Insert Joke Here]

Former reality TV star Rupert Boneham is considering running for governor of Indiana:

His responses to reporters’ questions was long on talk of sharing Libertarians’ values of self-sufficiency and self-reliance, as well as repeated references to living for decades as a regular Hoosier.

But Boneham declined to offer positions on major political issues including school funding, abortion, immigration and drug laws. He said more than once that if elected, he would save taxpayers millions by reducing spending sharply.



I just learned that WashU has a satirical newspaper, WUnderground, modeled after The Onion.  It’s decent.  Some recent headlines:

  • Delicious, Nutritious Now Mutually Exclusive
  • Career Center Helps Student Almost Get a Job
  • Pulp Fiction Poster Showcases Freshman’s Unique Personality
  • Senior Beats System, Graduates Without Learning Anything
  • In Tragic Coincidence, WashU Fails to Enroll Any Hot Chicks for Class of 2015.
  • Residential College Olympics Rocked by Doping Scandal
  • New Study Finds Texting While Driving Only Dangerous If You Suck At It
  • Truth Conforms to Wikipedia
  • Girl Searches for “Cute, Funny, Creative, Sexy, Slutty, Unique” Halloween Costume, Comes Up Short
  • Male Students Plan First Showing of Penis Monologues
  • Ghetto-Raised Frat Guy Takes Receiving of Pledge Father Way Too Emotionally
  • Suitemate’s Coming-Out Announcement Not as Dramatic as He had Hoped
  • Professor Flouts Convention, Wears Bow-tie
  • Heroin Use Linked to Pleasure
  • Student Doesn’t Do Reading: Outfoxes Professor to Delight of Fellow Classmate

And my personal favorite:

  • Per Capital St. Louis Population Remains Steady at One

“Good” Immigrants

From Tyler Cowen:

The article is about how the new wave of immigrants from Mexico, fleeing the drug war, are often very wealthy and highly educated.  Keep in mind that the overall yearly flow of Mexicans to the United States is now about a fifth of what it was in 2006.  Nonetheless, it is being called the “Mexodus.”

The linked article includes this:

Unlike the much larger population of illegal immigrants, they are being warmly welcomed.

Sorry poor immigrants.  Come back when you’re rich.

Controversial Government Services

Matt Yglesias channels a previous Mere Aggregation post in response to a silly Twitter debate he had with Jim Harper of the Cato Insitute:

In some people’s heads, the existence of public functions is presumptively illegitimate. When people point out that many of these functions are, in fact, useful, they sometimes push back by noting that were the federal government forbidden from monitoring hurricanes, it’s not as if the hurricanes would go unmonitored. This is true…  instead of having a single National Weather Service tracking the weather, maybe we’d have three or four private firms all reproducing each others’ data and selling it to clients. We’d have systematically higher costs and maybe (?) a slightly higher quality product.

Alternatively, we could do the sane thing and be glad we have a well-functioning federal agency that performs this function. It’s possible that had we never created federal undertakings in this sphere all would be well. But we did, and — like many other federal functions — it seems to work quite well and be useful to people, to municipalities, to states, etc. So why complain?

I agree with the “why complain?” sentiment.  I see three distinct arguments here:

  1. We need the government to provide hurricane monitoring because the market cannot provide that function.
  2. The market could provide hurricane monitoring, but the federal government does a better job than the market would (cheaper, more accurate, or however you want to measure its performance)
  3. The federal government may or may not be better at providing this service than the market, but it seems to be doing a good job, so why complain?

I don’t think many people believe #1.  I think many people believe #2.  I don’t because I don’t know how well the market would do.  I think a lot of people believe #3.  I do.

If it were left me to decide whether the National Weather Service should exist or not, there is a good chance I would weakly prefer it not to exist.  But it would not be a priority.  And its existence does not outrage me.

Blood Axes

Vintage guitar owners beware:

If you are the lucky owner of a 1920s Martin guitar, it may well be made, in part, of Brazilian rosewood. Cross an international border with an instrument made of that now-restricted wood, and you better have correct and complete documentation proving the age of the instrument. Otherwise, you could lose it to a zealous customs agent—not to mention face fines and prosecution.

And this:

It’s not enough to know that the body of your old guitar is made of spruce and maple: What’s the bridge made of? If it’s ebony, do you have the paperwork to show when and where that wood was harvested and when and where it was made into a bridge? Is the nut holding the strings at the guitar’s headstock bone, or could it be ivory? “Even if you have no knowledge—despite Herculean efforts to obtain it—that some piece of your guitar, no matter how small, was obtained illegally, you lose your guitar forever,” Prof. Thomas has written. “Oh, and you’ll be fined $250 for that false (or missing) information in your Lacey Act Import Declaration.”

From the WSJ.  The article also discusses how the Feds are hassling Gibson about the wood it uses in its fretboards.

HT: David Henderson

Reservation Wages

Interesting new paper from Alan Krueger and Andreas Muller using surveys of unemployed workers.  Tyler Cowen passes on this popular summary (no source given):

… today’s job seekers seem more picky. According to an analysis of surveys of 6,000 job seekers, the minimum wages that the unemployed are willing to accept are very close to their previous salary and drop little over time, says Mr. Mueller. That could help explain in part why they have so much trouble finding work, he says. [emphasis added]

The paper gives evidence that the unemployed aren’t doing the things we might expect them to (or maybe we would?).  Namely, during an unemployment spell, time devoted to job search declines while the reservation wage doesn’t.  Which, according to the paper, is the exact opposite of what one needs to do to find employment, as “amount of time devoted to job search and the reservation wage help predict early exits from Unemployment Insurance”.

The Benefits of Open Immigration

From Michael Clemens in the Journal of Economic Perspectives:

The gains from eliminating migration barriers dwarf—by an order of a magnitude or two—the gains from eliminating other types of barriers. For the elimination of trade policy barriers and capital flow barriers, the estimated gains amount to less than a few percent of world GDP. For labor mobility barriers, the estimated gains are often in the range of 50–150 percent of world GDP.

Of course this implies some fairly large-scale movement of people.  Which would be great.  But even capturing a piece of the “trillion dollar bill on the sidewalk” would be huge:

the emigration of less than 5 percent of the population of poor regions would bring global gains exceeding the gains from total elimination of all policy barriers to merchandise trade and all barriers to capital flows.