Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I will be going to Delhi tomorrow for the All India Economics Students' Meet, where a bunch of friends and I will be presenting a (mostly terrible) paper on the Rural Employment Guarantee Bill. Blogging will be non-existent, but you're used to that happening every other week anyway. I will be coming back to the Citadel of Potholes on Monday.

¡Hasta Luego!

Bloody Hell!

Marginal Revolution has some figures by Rudy Rumell on Democide, or murder by governments:

I have estimated it (the world's democide totoals for the 20th Century) to be 174,000,000 murdered, of which communist regimes murdered about 148,000,000. Also, compare this to combat dead. Communists overall have murdered four times those killed in combat, while globally the democide toll was over six times that number.

Read the article here.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Judge Kent and the Bolivians

Apparently, the governments of several Latin American countries have sued US tobacco companies for healthcare costs caused by tobacco. Cunningly, they've sued in US courts that are in geographically diverse rural areas in the US that have a history of awarding huge sums of money to plaintiffs.

One such case was filed in the Brazoria County, Texas courtroom of a certain Judge Kent. Josh McCabe has a transcript of his opinion, kicking the case upsatirs to a Washington DC court. An excerpt:
The governments of Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua, Thailand, Venezuela, and Bolivia have filed suit in [several geographically diverse locales in the U.S.] Why none of these countries seems to have a court system their own governments have confidence in is a mystery to this Court. Moreover, given the tremendous number of United States jurisdictions encompassing fascinating and exotic places, the Court can hardly imagine why the Republic of Bolivia elected to file suit in the veritable hinterlands of Brazoria County, Texas. The Court seriously doubts whether Brazoria County has ever seen a live Bolivian ... even on the Discovery Channel. Though only here by removal, this humble Court by the sea is certainly flattered by what must be the worldwide renown of rural Texas courts for dispensing justice with unparalleled fairness and alacrity, apparently in common discussion even on the mountain peaks of Bolivia! Still, the Court would be remiss in accepting an obligation for which it truly does not have the necessary resources.
The rest of the judgement is equally hilarious. If only the US had more jurists like this guy, maybe their justice system (and especially their tort system) would have a slightly better reputation.

As I do not have a link to the opinion directly, you can read it at Josh's blog here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Ha ha!

Laloo Yadav concedes Bihar Elections.

Wonder what they will put in the samosas now.

Update: Abhishek seems to have beaten me to this (rather obvious) joke. Dammit ho gaya.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Pseud-level Funda of the Month

Aadisht Khanna over at Maajorly Shadymax Arbit Fundaes (IMO, the best blog name I have ever heard) has written an amazing post on why there need to be more IT jobs in Punjab.

Not only is the post full of amazing insights into the Punjabi psyche, but the way he links his narrative to the conlusion is brilliant (really good, like Ashwath-from-RVCE level). Read it here.

Monday, November 07, 2005

This really ought to deter Corruption

From Rediff.com:

Natwar Singh has been stripped of the external affairs ministry and made a minister without a portfolio in the United Progressive Alliance government headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The decision followed Natwar Singh's hour-and-a-half-long meeting with Dr Singh. Finance Minister P Chidamabaram was also present at the meeting.

Wow, this one decision will act as a deterrent to corrupt officials all over India. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the real head of Government UPA Chair Sonia Gandhi have sent a clear message to prospective wrong-doers: If you commit a crime, we will do our best to ignore it. If provided with firm evidence that you committed the crime, we'll wait for a week or two to make sure there's no way to get out of punishing you. And if that strategy doesn't work, we'll put you in a job that has the same pay scale, the same status, and no responsibilty.

Yeah, good job. Now no one will even think of taking kickbacks.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

There's Hypocrisy, and then there's this

Michael Moore owns 2000 shares of Halliburton.

Pardon me while I roll on the floor laughing.

(Hat tip: Neo-neocon.)

The Welfare State Intifada

One thing that really surprised me about the ongoing Paris Riots has been the almost total news blackout that surrounds it. Hardly anyone (any news outlet, that is) talks about it, and no one speaks about the possible reasons for the riots.

Although the news blackout affects them just as much, blogs have been trying to fill out the analysis vacuum. Here's a brilliant analysis of the causes of the riots, from Coyoteblog:

So far, a better explanation seems to be that these neighborhoods have been the victim of of the current form of Euro-socialism. In this economic model, a whole collection of laws make it very expensive for companies to hire anyone. If you do hire anyone, you have to pay them a very high salary, give them a fat package of benefits, weeks and weeks of paid vacation, and they only have to work 36 hours a week for you. And, if the person doesn't do a good job, too bad because it is nearly impossible to fire them. This may appear to be a great system for those who already have a job, but for the unemployed, the young, and the unskilled, it is a disaster. Who in their right mind is going to take a chance on a young, unskilled employee who you have to pay a fortune and who you can't fire if they aren't any good. And in particular, who is ever going to hire a young, unskilled immigrant for a job in France?

You can read the article here.

In other news, Josh McCabe has wriiten an open letter to the rioters in Paris (and the rioters in Argentina as well).

Friday, November 04, 2005

And you thought it was impossible to write entertainingly about Economics

First, Benjamin Friedman wrote a book called The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, arguing, among other things, that huge government deficits (which he calls "dissavings" hurt investments.

Then, Nobel Laureate Joseph Siglitz (he's an Economics Prize winner, not one of your pansy Peace or Literature laureates) wrote a review of it in which he said that no perfect market economist would make an argument like that.

Finally, Brandon Berg complained in Catallarchy that Stiglitz should have at least taken off his Nobel before saying something that is (and I paraphrase) so incredibly stupid.

You can read this entertaining article here.

PS: This is a must read if you are one of those people who think that only Amit Varma cares about Logical Fallacies.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

You are what you read

Tyler Cowen over at Marginal Revolution has a very interesting look at the top purchases by people in various fields.

The MIT list is, as you would expect, very geeky, with tech books and accounts of the exploits of MITians abounding (Pune readers, this is the Boston college I'm talking about here.) The George Mason University (that's where Prof. Cowen teaches) list is somewhat dissappointing, because there are two Dan Brown books but nothing remotely academic in the top ten. The US Federal Judiciary list is somewhat non-intellectual. The US Marine Corps list, though, contained a lot of books I would read (It also had a fat loss book at no. 6: I would have thought the USMC had little reason to worry about fat loss)

Unfortunately, Amazon.com doesn't show you lists less specific than "Country" for people outside the US, so this is the best we get. You should check out the MR article, though. It's good. You can see Amazon's purchase circles page here.