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October 12, 2021 06:50 AM UTC

Tuesday Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

“Sanity calms, but madness is more interesting.”

–John Russell


19 thoughts on “Tuesday Open Thread

  1. Nobel Prize goes to empirical economists. Here is some commentary from Noah Smith:

    Because what Card wanted to do wasn’t to push minimum wage or expanded immigration — it was much bigger than that. He wanted to make the field of economics more scientific. Here’s how he put it in a 2006 interview:

    "Economics as a whole is really a combination of two kinds of people: those who are very practically oriented and those who are more like mathematical philosophers. The mathematical philosophers get most of the attention. They deal with the big unanswerable questions. Labor economists try to be more scientific: looking for very specific predictions and trying to test these as carefully as possible. The mathematical philosophers get very frustrated by labor economists. They come up with a broad general theory, and we tell them it doesn't fit the evidence."

    The importance of Card & Krueger (1994) thus goes far beyond the minimum wage — it’s about the scientific nature of economics itself. If even the most beloved, basic, consensus theory can be contravened by empirical evidence, it means that economics consists of a set of falsifiable claims about the world we live in, rather than simply a set of thought experiments. 

    It means that economics is a science.

    Since this commentary came in a newsletter, I can't link to it…

    And that is fraught with peril, partly because the real world can’t be controlled like the conditions in an experiment. If you see a big surge of immigration that didn’t hurt the Miami labor market, was that because immigration is generally safe, or because Miami happened to be having a good decade in the 80s? If you could put cities in a lab you could run the experiment on two otherwise identical cities, but you can’t. 

    That’s where the genius of Card’s work — and of Angrist’s and Imbens’ work — comes in. These economists devised clever ways to find comparisons — basically control groups — for natural experiments and policy experiments. The general methodology here is called difference-in-difference, and Alex Tabarrok explains it well in his post on Card and Krueger. A related technique is that of synthetic controls, where instead of comparing New Jersey to, say, Pennsylvania, you’d compare it to an imaginary mashup of other states designed to resemble New Jersey in all ways except for the minimum wage. An alternative technique is the randomized controlled trial, where economists actually use the real world as a sort of policy laboratory; Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer, who helped pioneer RCT research in development economics, won their own Nobel two years ago.

    Together these techniques are called “quasi-experimental” methods, and they form the core of what economists have called the “credibility revolution” in empirical economics.

    Also, anyone who expects the credibility revolution to replace theory is going to be disappointed. Science seeks not merely to catalogue things that happen, but to explain why — chemistry is more than a collection of reaction equations, biology is more than a catalogue of drug treatment effects, and so on. Econ will be the same way. 

    But what the credibility revolution does do is to change the relationshipbetween theory and evidence. When evidence is credible, it means that theory must bend to evidence’s command — it means that theories can be wrong, at least in a particular time and place. And that means that every theory that can be checked with credible evidence needs to be checked before it’s put to use in real-world policymaking. Just like you wouldn’t prescribe patients a vaccine without testing it first.

  2. Mesa County's Tina Peters is at it again with one of her pressers and what does former supporter, Mesa County Commissioner say – " Tina doesn't listen to me."  Shouldn't she also apologize to the voters of Mesa County for being a big time backer when Tina ran for office? 

  3. WOTD from Josh Marshal at TPM: "Bitch Slap Politics."

    Short, sweet (well, not), explain-o of Donald Trump's success, and enduring support:

    Almost two decades ago I wrote about what I then called “bitch slap politics” and later started calling “dominance politics.” The idea is simple enough. Beyond the particulars of policies, slogans and electoral math, much of politics is a battle of symbols meant to demonstrate power, dominance and effectiveness. As I wrote then, “one way — perhaps the best way — to demonstrate someone’s lack of toughness or strength is to attack them and show they are either unwilling or unable to defend themselves.”

    “Bitch slap politics” is a language of politics, one many Republicans had spoken in for decades. But it’s Donald Trump’s native language: a fact uncannily tied to his geography, insecurity and his freebooting style of business. That, more than anything else, was the secret of his improbable and rapid rise to the pinnacle of American politics in 2015 and 2016: the threats, the denigrating nicknames, the predation and transgression, the sexual violence. As has been clear for years, Trump isn’t successful in spite of his uncouth and ugly behavior. For his supporters it’s the taproot of his popularity. Nothing better tells the story of the divergent evolution of American politics over the last two decades than the fact that one whole party now speaks dominance politics as its native language and in the other, the coarse but descriptive phrase I originally used to describe it is now itself unacceptable language.

  4. For all the breathless reporting by the media on Biden’s approval rating, let’s not forget that at no time in his tenure as POTUS has Biden’s numbers ever been below Trumps. Let’s stop with the *ucking fainting spells and keep our eye on the ball. 

  5. V – you'll enjoy this article on the development of a perennial wheat, Kernza (this ain't your grandaddy's 'Scout'!)

    A recipe for fighting climate change and feeding the world

    Most commercial crops are annual. They provide only one harvest and must be replanted every year. Growing these foods on an industrial scale usually takes huge amounts of water, fertilizer and energy, making agriculture a major source of carbon and other pollutants. Scientists say this style of farming has imperiled Earth’s soils, destroyed vital habitats and contributed to the dangerous warming of our world.

    But Kernza — a domesticated form of wheatgrass developed by scientists at the nonprofit Land Institute — is perennial. A single seed will grow into a plant that provides grain year after year after year. It forms deep roots that store carbon in the soil and prevent erosion. It can be planted alongside other crops to reduce the need for fertilizer and provide habitat for wildlife.

    In short, proponents say, it can mimic the way a natural ecosystem works — potentially transforming farming from a cause of environmental degradation into a solution to the planet’s biggest crises.

      1. Interesting article in a recent issue of The Economist discussing Future Food. Worth reading if you can get hold of it.

        (I haven't tried their web site for a while, but it's generally been behind a pay wall. I'm a long time subscriber, but I read the print copy)

    1. Great news … confirmation that the Land Institute is an invaluable resource. 

      Any chance it is patented so it can't be fiddled with by Dow Chemical, DuPont, or Monsanto?

  6. The monstrous egotism of Steve Bannon was demonstrated again this month when he spoke at a right wing rally at which the founder, cultist Sun Yung Moon’s son, Hyung Jin Moon, wore a literal “crown of bullets”. AR15s are worn by celebrants and are integal to the church, the “Rod of Iron ministry”. It’s a joint venture with Kahr firearms. Image won’t format correctly, but you can look it up at the Daily Beast link above.

    Bannon also lost out when his planned right wing nationalist “gladiator school” lost its lease on a 12th-century monastary  in Italy..

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