Thursday, January 28, 2010


You're seriously telling us nobody in the entire organization saw this MadTV video in 2007? C'mon, Steve, we trusted you. Now we've only got Google. Hat tip to WaPo.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fear the Boom & Bust

No doubt a great tool for teaching economics.

Hat tip to Mikey, who got it from Economix, who found it at Cafe Hayek.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Free the Market for Haitian Labor

Michael Clemens makes the case at AidWatch to free up the international market for Haitian labor. His statistics are overwhelming:
Leaving Haiti brought more Haitians out of poverty than anything else that has ever been tried...

Of all the Haitians who live either in the United States or Haiti, and who live on more than $10 per day—at U.S. prices, adjusted for the fact that things are cheaper in Haiti—how many live in the U.S.? (That’s a barebones poverty standard, just one third of the U.S. “poverty line” for a single adult.)

82 Percent of Haitians above this poverty line are here in the United States. (I calculate this with Lant Pritchett here) Only the top 1.4 percent of people in Haiti had that living standard even before the quake, and there is no evidence that Haitian emigrants come primarily from the extreme tip-top of the income distribution. So for most of Haitians who left, leaving Haiti was the cause of leaving poverty.
Obviously, the political calculus of mass migration is impossible. It seems to Global Review that the best way to loosen the migration constraint on the Haitian market is to rapidly disperse pre-earthquake orphans to willing adoptive countries. This is being done on a small scale, but is important for three reasons: children can pick up the language and culture of a new country quickly, and integrate seemlessly; orphans have the least to lose by leaving; orphanages in Haiti will need space for earthquake-created orphans, most of whom won't know for some time whether their families survived.

In the moment of crisis and media attention, it will be much easier to find adoptive parents for some of Haiti's reported 380,000 orphans. That's a lot of people - but not too many for the developed world (especially Europe, with its low, low birthrates) to absorb.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Obama has a political crisis on his hands. If Massachusetts voters can choose a GOP stalwart over a liberal, what swing-state Democrat in his right mind is going to vote for partisan health care reform?

But this crisis could be exactly what Obama needed. His health care reform package has been twisted into an unrecognizable perversion. Gutted of any cost-control measures and bloated with pork for Democrats from moderate districts, even Obama must know that this will be a lateral move at best for the country's health care system. He's lost control of the legislative process, and he needs to reboot.

"Scott 41" - the threat of a filibuster - gives him a great excuse to start over. He can say, "America, we heard you. You demanded that reform be basic and fair enough that it can be supported by both parties. We're going back to the drawing board, bringing in Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, and we're going to find a way to improve the country's health care system. It won't accomplish everything I hoped, but I believe there are clear improvements we can all agree on. We'll solve the pre-existing conditions trap and we'll insure more Americans. I welcome Scott Brown to Washington, and I look forward to building a health care reform that is simple, limited, and effective."

Massachusetts for Brown

Massachusetts voters sent a stunning rebuke to the Democratic national party. In a Senate special election that hinged largely on national issues and candidate personalities, voters preferred an unknown quantity from the opposition to a robotic Pelosi clone. Scott Brown defeated Martha Coakley, despite her massive ground game run by top New England operative, Lynda Tocci (this Herald story puts the numbers of door-knockers at 150 for Brown to 7,000 for Coakley).

Whodunnit? Mainly independent voters, but that's obvious in a state where 49% of voters are unaffiliated and only 15% are registered Republicans. Secondly: minority Democrats, by not turning out. There's not much about Coakley to motivate the diverse minorities of Massachusetts, as Kevin Cullen's excellent Globe article pointed out. Lastly: working class moderates voted Brown, including 22% of Democrats who voted.

The Globe's town-by-town results map shows Coakley winning the cities and the Berkshires, plus liberal enclaves, and Brown carrying the rest. But Coakley didn't win the minority-heavy cities by much, due to the low minority turnout. In fact, Brown even won Lowell and Quincy! Meanwhile, Brown won the white working class cities of Weymouth, Gardner, Fitchburg, and Leominster. Brown's bread and butter were populous suburban and exurban communities where he won by enormous margins: Attleboro, Plymouth, Walpole, Peabody, Tewksbury, and even Barnstable, home of the deceased Ted Kennedy.

Now, Bay Staters will learn who Scott Brown is. All we know is that he drives a truck and has a new job in Washington. Whether he'll be a constructive force there remains to be seen.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More from Haiti

My sister has been able to upload photos a few times, and has contact info for her own agency and the large relief agencies she can observe making a difference on the ground: Catholic Relief Services, American Red Cross, and Doctors Without Borders.

A week after the quake, no serious aid has reached her neighborhood. Keep praying, and give if you are so inclined.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Signs of the Apocalypse: Close Senate Race in Mass

How bad are things for the Democrats nationally? In Massachusetts, a well-known local Democrat with decades of elected service is being beaten by an unknown Republican from Wrentham. It seems Massachusetts independents really, really don't like the idea of a federally-run health care system or punitive taxes on investment. Hub Politics has the view from inside the GOP movement.

Bay Staters! Send Scott Brown to Washington as the emergency brake on the Obama-Pelosi-Reid troika. We need a little gridlock when the pork, the deficit spending, and the frankensteined reforms get out of hand. Global Review firmly endorses balanced government and uncomfortable incumbent parties.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pray for Haiti

As some of my readers know, my wonderful sister Keziah is a nurse and lives and works as a volunteer in Port au Prince, Haiti. I only heard about the earthquake in Haiti today (the 15th) because I´m in the Yucatan on my honeymoon. My sister is safe and well, praise God! and she´s doing a hero´s work in Port au Prince. Right now, things look bad there. Food and water are running out in the city and in her neighborhood there has been no evidence of aid teams arriving.

My parents are posting updates on her blog , and she is apparently featured in ABC news stories. Your prayers are appreciated.