Archive for the 'Ignorance' Category

Clintonomics

Hillary Clinton Campigns In Iowa, Meeting With Small Business OwnersAre you a corporate employee who wishes that your income were tied more closely to your employer’s profits?

I have good news for you: There’s an easy way to make that happen. Take 10% (or 5% or 20%) of your wages, and use them to buy corporate stock.

Are you a corporate employee who *doesn’t* wish that your income were tied more closely to your employer’s profits?

I have good news for you, too. You don’t have to buy additional stock if you don’t want to.

Hilary Clinton, however, wants to change all that. She wants to force you into a profit sharing arrangement that is, for all practical purposes, equivalent to forcibly converting part of your salary into corporate stock. If you were planning to do that anyway, this will make no difference to you. If you weren’t planning to do it anyway — if, for example, you preferred to diversify your risks by investing your wages in some other industry — then, of course, this will make you worse off.

(I trust that none of my regular readers is silly enough to respond that Clinton’s plan is much better than buying stock, because you get the profit-sharing in addition to your existing salary. But for the benefit of the occasional drive-by reader, this is not possible. Market pressures insure that your total compensation is equal to the value of what you produce for the company, and if one facet of that compensation goes up, then another must go down.)

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Innumeracy Watch

While a team of four has just six interconnections, a team of 16 has 120 interconnections. It is near-exponential growth: n(n-1)/2.

— Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone
Wall Street Journal
July 10, 2015

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What Is It Like to Talk Batty?

Sometimes I think we should license economics writers.

Thomas Nagel is a prominent philosopher (author of the provocative and widely anthologized essay What is it Like to be a Bat?) who’s just reviewed Daniel Kahneman’s new (and excellent) book in The New Republic. (Fun fact: When I stepped off an airplane at Heathrow last week, the first thing I saw was a limousine driver holding a sign that said “Daniel Kahneman”. This, incidentally, was my final issue of The New Republic, due to their criminally evil subscription practices — more on that, perhaps, later this week. ) Here is how Nagel describes what he seems to think is orthodox economic theory:

Most choices, and all economic choices, involve some uncertainty about their outcomes, and rational expectations theory, also called expected utility theory, describes a uniform standard for determining the rationality of choices under uncertainty…

The standard seems self-evident: The value of a 50 percent probability of an outcome is half the value the outcome would have if it actually occurred, and in general the value of any choice under uncertainty is dependent on the values of its possible outcomes, multiplied by their probabilities. Rationality in decision consists in making choices on the basis of `expected value’, which means picking the alternative that maximizes the sum of the products of utility and probability for all the possible outcomes. So a 10 percent chance of $1000 is better than a 50% chance of $150, an 80% chance of $100 plus a 20% chance of $10 is better than a 100 percent of $80 and so forth.

AAAAGGGHHH! Even on the Internet, it’s rare to see quite so much ignorance packed into so few words. Where to begin?

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