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.

The End of Tyranny?

John Quiggin:

The seemingly imminent downfall of Muammar Gaddafi may not represent “the end of history”, but, for the moment at least, it’s pretty close to being the end of tyranny, in the historical sense of absolute rule by an individual who has seized power, rather than acquiring it by inheritance or election…

Now, there’s Mugabe clinging to a share of power in Zimbabwe, a couple of shaky-looking strongmen in the ‘stans, and that’s about it for tyrants in the classical sense… There’s Kim jr, Assad jr and Castro minor, the first two of whom are certainly tyrannical in the ordinary modern sense, but all of whom inherited their positions, as of course, did the remaining absolute monarchs.

You might know Quiggin from his work on zombies.

The Impressive NTC

Good news coming out of Libya.  The rebels seem to be well-organized.

Whatever Colonel Qaddafi’s whereabouts, most are concerned with what will follow him. Members of the transitional council are sharply aware of the experience of Iraq, and are determined not to repeat its mistakes. Benghazi experienced a comparatively smooth transition to rebel control in February, thanks largely to the policy of the rebel interim government, the NTC, of keeping key technocrats in their posts. There is no ruling party akin to the Baath party in Iraq, and so less pressure to get rid of policemen, power-plant managers, and others who may have been linked with the fallen regime but who are also key to running a modern city. NTC officials have also warned rebel fighters against reprisal attacks and looting: “The world is watching us… Do not avenge yourselves, don’t pillage, don’t insult foreigners and respect the prisoners,” senior council member Mahmoud Jibril declared on national television.

And there’s this:

When the final push came, it seemed to evince an admirable degree of orchestration. The NTC’s forces surged into Tripoli from three fronts, joining a general outpouring into the streets that began with several imams’ call for the evening prayer on Saturday.

Obviously this thing is only just beginning, but it is heartening to watch a well-orchestrated regime change without U.S. fingerprints all over it.


Bryan Caplan offers his biggest regret as a parent:

Ned Flanders: Well, the folks at the Senior Center sure will love that peach tree we planted.
Rod Flanders: I wish we could see their happy faces!
Ned Flanders: Sin of pride, Roddy.
Rod Flanders: I’m sorry.
Ned Flanders: Sin of regret.
The Simpsons

My closest thing to a major regret or mistake: I wish I had more kids. Lots more. I wouldn’t trade my three sons for the world. But in retrospect, nothing has been more rewarding than simply enlarging my family. When my wife and I found out we were having twins, I was terrified. But during our second pregnancy, I hoped for a second pair – or triplets.

Sometimes people ask me, “What’s the point of having another kid?.” I always retort, “What’s the point of having another friend?” Laugh if you must, but (almost) every person is a beautiful and unique snowflake. To share the gift of life with another piece of yourself, to witness a reboot of the human drama, to see The Simpsons through fresh eyes – all are literally awesome. The cost of another child seems trivial by comparison: A few months of lost sleep, changing a bunch of diapers, spending some extra money when my family already has plenty to eat and a roof over our heads. I barely even notice.

Of course, I’ve never been pregnant. But still.

Bryan Caplan is great.

Carl Perkins’ Cadillac

Cool song from the Drive-By Truckers: