More posts than usual this week as I was motivated twice to add a mid-day post to my usual morning fare. As a result, I’m afraid Jeff Poggi’s remarkable sonnet to Darwin got less attention than it should have; I hope you’ll go back, read it, and spot the hidden Darwin references.
The mid-day posts were motivated by a pair of (in my opinion, of course) outrages — first Paul Krugman’s suggestion that if we control for education and a few other demographic factors, we can make a meaningful comparison of private and public sector wages, ignoring all the ways in which public and private sector jobs differ. (And ignoring, too, all the ways in which one college degree might differ from another.) I suggested that a better metric is the quit rate in each sector; some commenters rightfully pointed out that that’s also an insufficient statistic. I bet it still comes a lot closer than Krugman’s attempt, though.
The second outrage was the Administration’s willingness to act as the equivalent of a Mafia enforcer for firms who prefer not to compete with foreign labor. Some commenters asked how this differed from any other case of the American government enforcing American laws while asking the beneficiaries to contribute to the costs. That’s easy. This law, unlike, say, the laws against murder, has as its primary purpose the restraint of trade (as opposed to oh, say, the general welfare).
We talked about how to estimate the peak of the Laffer curve (answer—it’s at about the 70% marginal tax rate, though I indicated some reasons why it might be somewhat leftward of that), mused about the value of a good CEO, and gave new meaning to the phrase phone sex when we reported on the fact that iPhone users have many more lifetime sex partners than Android users.
Incidentally, those readers who thought the flashy iPhone pays off in the mating market can’t be right (or at least can’t have hit on the key story), because the effect holds even for 40 year olds, who surely did not acquire their iPhones until long after they’d acquired most of their sex partners.
And we noted in passing the announcement of a proof that P does not equal NP (where you can look here for a very rough idea of what this means). Over the course of the week, this developed into a story of, I think, monumental significance, which I will surely revisit early next week. See you then.