Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Newest Fox News piece: The Stimulus, Not Oil Prices, Is Hammering Consumers

My newest piece at Fox News starts this way:

U.S. crude oil prices soared by 8.5 percent Tuesday, stunning financial markets. The financial media fretted that the oil price shock from the Middle East turmoil would slow or stop the fragile economic recovery. Crude oil prices soared even though gas prices at the pump are already the highest in any February since 1990. The reaction was swift, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling more than 178 points (1.4 percent) and NASDAQ and S&P 500 both also falling by more than 2 percent. This morning, with Libya teetering on the brink of civil war, gas prices continued rising.
While the media clearly and instantly understands the detrimental impact that higher oil prices have on the economy, the impact is really no different than President Obama's stimulus or his deluge of new government regulations, from the EPA to health care to financial markets.
The logic for how higher oil prices will harm economic growth is pretty simple. . . .

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Friday, February 18, 2011

One way to raise the cost of food to college students

Guess what. When the marginal cost of food is zero students waste huge amounts of food. Rather than putting a price on the food, colleges are trying to raise the cost of students carrying away the food.

When Virginia Tech's largest dining hall reopened several years ago, some administrators jokingly dubbed it the "freshman 25" cafeteria, for the number of pounds some students might gain from the tasty fare.

Students loaded their trays with Belgian waffles, brick-oven-baked pizza, falafel, Brazilian skewered meat, pad Thai, fruit juice concoctions and elaborate desserts - so much food that even the biggest of guys with the biggest of appetites could not always clean their plates.

As food service workers watched thousands of pounds of food go to waste, the university decided to make a move increasingly common at higher-education institutions nationwide: It got rid of cafeteria trays.

The change was immediate. "The plates were coming back basically cleaned," said Ted J. Faulkner, Tech's senior associate director of housing and dining services. "It was astounding."

Most schools in the Washington region have gone "trayless" in at least one dining hall, and several nationwide have banned them altogether.

But perhaps inevitably, there has been a backlash - in part because cafeteria trays had alternative lives as sleds and collegiate souvenirs. When the University of Massachusetts at Amherst got rid of trays in several dining halls last academic year, a group of students formed a "Bring back the trays" Facebook group. One argument posted on the group wall: "What will we use for sleds now?"

Without a tray, students have to be pickier during the first sweep of the cafeteria line and make trips back for more. It results in as much as 25 to 30 percent less wasted food, according to a 2008 study of 25 campuses by food services provider Aramark.

"It's a better pace. You have to get up and walk it off" in between courses, said Cody Erickson, 20, a junior horticulture major from Sandy Spring, sitting with a small pile of cleaned-off lunch plates in Virginia Tech's D2 dining hall last week. . . .


Friday, February 11, 2011

New Chinese edition of Freedomnomics

This is still my favorite book. If anyone knows how to find the order link for the Chinese version, I would appreciate finding out. The English version can still be found here.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Discussing the Obama Administration’s effort to create jobs in the United States

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Newest Fox News piece: Why Can't Obama Do the Math On Jobs?

My newest piece at Fox News starts this way:

President Obama has a message for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today: You have an obligation to start creating jobs. The government has done what it needs to do and any failure lies with the private sector.
Indeed, the job numbers are bleak. Unemployment fell last month, but only because Americans have given up looking for work in record numbers. On net, 319,000 quit looking for work and left the work force in December. In November, it was even worse, 434,000. Over 1.5 million American have left the workforce since August.
Just 36,000 net jobs were added in December. -- That is far fewer than the about 150,000 needed just to keep up with the growth in the population.
This is a strange "recovery." Recoveries almost always add people to the labor force. As more jobs open up, recoveries are supposed to mean that people who had previously left the labor force during the recession hope they now have a chance to get a job and start looking again. Thus, they officially rejoin the labor force.
It is simply unprecedented that 19 months into the recovery, more and more Americans keep on quitting the labor force. (Here is a diagram that compares the growth in the number of people "not in the labor force" during the recoveries that started in 1982 and 2009.) . . . .

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Newest Fox News piece: Another Mistake in The New York Times

My newest piece at Fox News starts this way:

Since the tragedy in Tucson, the New York Times has started an all-out campaign for gun control, with a relentless number of pieces -- news, editorials, and op-eds. In its advocacy, even the news stories are heavily biased by selectively quoting only academics who support pro-gun control positions. These seemingly unbiased sources are then contrasted with opposing views from clearly biased people on the other side, such as an NRA spokesman or a right-wing politician. The implied conclusion: scientific evidence favors gun control, but self-interest stands in the way.

Take two recent news stories by Michael Luo (here and here). He quotes seven academics who agreed with the New York Times position, but no one on the other side was even interviewed. Talk about misrepresenting academic opinion. The overwhelming majority of studies actually supports the claim that more guns mean less crime. Among peer-reviewed studies in academic journals, criminologists and economists studying right-to-carry laws have produced 18 national studies showing that these laws reduce violent crime, 10 indicate no discernible effect and none finds a bad effect from the law. One would never guess that 294 academics from institutions as diverse as Harvard, Stanford, Northwestern, the University of Pennsylvania, and UCLA released an open letter to Congress during 1999 warning that new gun laws were “ill advised.”

A frequent claim in these recent New York Times articles has been that more guns mean more gun deaths (see also here). . . .

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