Game over?

by Henry on February 28, 2008

“Matt Yglesias”:http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/02/poor_form.php complains that Harold Ickes shouldn’t be dishing the dirt before the Democratic primary is over. But _isn’t_ it over for all intents and purposes? Barring an act of God, it looks as though Obama has won. Matt’s co-blogger “Marc Ambinder”:http://marcambinder.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/02/we_need_to_start_with.php runs the delegate numbers and finds that:

Playing with the numbers a bit, here’s how [Hillary] could – in theory – accomplish this. If Florida and Michigan’s delegations are seated fully to her advantage, and if she wins in Ohio by 65% and wins in Texas by 65%, and all other percentages hold, she can win the nomination.

In other words, she’s the horse-race betting equivalent of a super-Yankee accumulator. Perhaps something entirely unexpected will happen (I note again that I don’t have any particular expertise in US electoral politics, and am relying on Ambinder’s calculations here), but it seems to me highly unlikely indeed that she can pull off an upset.

One Percent of All American Adults are Incarcerated

by Kieran Healy on February 28, 2008

From today’s Times:

bq. For the first time in the nation’s history, more than one in 100 American adults is behind bars, according to a new report. Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million. Another 723,000 people are in local jails. The number of American adults is about 230 million, meaning that one in every 99.1 adults is behind bars. Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34.

Here is an older post about how the U.S. incarceration rate compares to other countries. Here is Becky Pettit & Bruce Western’s (2004) ASR paper, with its frankly astonishing result that in the cohort born between 1965 and 1969, thirty percent of black men without a college education—and sixty percent of black men without a high school degree—had been incarcerated by 1999. Recent cohorts of black men were more likely to have prison records (22.4 percent) than military records (17.4 percent) or bachelor’s degrees (12.5 percent).Here is Bruce Western’s Punishment and Inequality in America, a superb analysis of how the prison system is now a key instrument not just of social control, but also social stratification, in America.

Double movements

by Henry on February 28, 2008

I’ve been too busy with teaching responsibilities the last several days to link or respond to various posts that other people have put up on taxes, collective goods, and related questions, so I’m going to declare intellectual bankruptcy, and just tell you to read “Laura McKenna”:http://11d.typepad.com/blog/2008/02/more-on-the-tax.html, “Will Wilkinson”:http://www.willwilkinson.net/flybottle/2008/02/22/moral-duties-in-contexts-of-partial-compliance/ and “Russell Arben Fox”:http://inmedias.blogspot.com/2008/02/taxation-and-democracy-101-on-lucky.html. But I also wanted to point to some interesting stuff that’s been happening in Germany, which is sort of related to this question. The _Financial Times_ has been running stories for the last week or so about a disgruntled former employee of a Liechtenstein bank, who has sold a list of the beneficial owners of various trusts in Liechtenstein to the German tax authorities for several million dollars.
[click to continue…]

Stiglitz on the (financial) cost of Iraq

by Daniel on February 28, 2008

Joe Stiglitz, interviewed in the Guardian about his book (co-authored with Linda Bilmes), “The Three Trillion Dollar War”. A couple of thoughts:

  • The cost of the Iraq War could have underwritten Social Security for fifty years. This brings home one of the points Max Sawicky always made in the SS debate (in general to a brick wall). Although the headline amounts associated with these problems are scary, they are actually not all that much as a percentage of GDP. The Iraq War is a horrific waste of money, but I don’t think anyone would actually try and claim that it literally can’t be afforded. Similarly with the Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security nexus of funding costs; it’s absolutely clear that the productive capacity of the US economy can pay for these things, it’s just a question of whether there is political will to do so, or whether the government would rather spend the money on killing hundreds of thousands of people overseas for no very obvious benefit.
  • It’s not often that one gets to correct a Nobel Prize winner, so I will take the opportunity. Stiglitz is qutoed as saying that “Money spent on armaments is money poured down the drain”. This is actually the best case for armaments spending from an economic point of view. Most of the time, when armaments are used, they damage something valuable. If all the bullets fired in Iraq had been poured down the drain instead, the world economy would be massively better off, even allowing for the cost of cleaning up the pollution caused in the drain.
  • Three trillion dollars really could have solved a lot of world problems. For example, it would have funded a once-and-for-all offer to the entire population of Gaza, the West Bank and the UNRWA refugee camps of half a million dollars each to slope off and stop bothering the Israelis. That’s the sort of money we’re talking about here.

Mankiw’s 10 principles of economics

by Chris Bertram on February 28, 2008

Well, _I_ thought it was worth passing on ….

Cute

by Eszter Hargittai on February 28, 2008

More here on what went into creating it. I definitely appreciate the level of detail (e.g., the blinking line in the search box and the changing cursor).