The Fallacy of Composition

Bill and Elizabeth Kelly apply an economics principle to President Obama’s plan to give free community college to everyone.  According to the Fallacy of Composition, what is good for one person may not be good if lots of people do it.  In this case, if the supply of community college degrees goes up, their value goes down. [Read more...]

The case for a North American century

Many have been saying that  America is in decline, that our political, cultural, and economic contributions are slipping. China, some say, is the up-and-coming nation.  Others say that the age of the dominant world power is over.

But an op-ed piece by former General David Petraeus and Brookings Institute researcher Michael O’Hanlon say that the United States, in partnership with Canada and Mexico, has economic and demographic advantages over all comers that may make for a “North American Century.” [Read more...]

What caused the housing bubble

The collapse of the housing market a few years ago was caused, reportedly, by predatory lending practices on people who couldn’t really afford to buy a house, coupled with shady investment instruments from the world of high finance.  But a new study is questioning that conventional wisdom.  Most of the people with bad loans turn out to be middle class and high income folks, with very few poor people involved.   The real problem, as Robert Samuelson reports, was unbridled optimism from virtually everyone in the housing industry that home prices would continue to go up forever. [Read more...]

Live-blog the Super Bowl commercials

A curious development in the history of the NFL championship game has been the role of commercials.  Viewership is so huge for the big game that ad agencies have been going all-out to come up with the best commercials they can devise.  So commercials have become themselves a beloved part of the festival.  And for much of America whose teams didn’t make it into the game and for people who don’t care that much about football at all but go to watch parties anyway, the commercials are the best part.

So this is the place to live-blog the commercials.  Which ones work and which ones don’t?  Which is the best?  Which ones are really bad?  Which ones are clever, funny, or mildly amusing?  Do any of them actually make you want to buy their products?  Are any of them as good as this one?

Are Russian oil companies funding environmentalists?

A newspaper is reporting that Russian oil companies connected to Vladimir Putin are funding some American environmentalist groups that are trying to stop the practice of fracking.  Russia is, of course, not particularly interested in saving the American environment, but, like Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich country has an interest in cutting the growth in American oil production due to this kind of technology. [Read more...]

Extended leave

India’s laws are very pro-labor, so that it’s almost impossible for employers to fire someone.  Case in point:

One day in 1990, A.K. Verma went on what you might call “extended” leave from his job as a senior bureaucrat at India’s Central Public Works Department.

He’s been a no-show ever since. And it finally caught up to him: Verma was sacked for his absence — on Jan. 8. [Read more...]


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