March 4, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 7:20 PM


David Rose on the Moral Foundations of Economic Behavior (Hosted by Russ Roberts, 1/11/12, Econ Talk)

David Rose of the University of Missouri, St. Louis and the author of The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the book and the role morality plays in prosperity. Rose argues that morality plays a crucial role in prosperity and economic development. Knowing that the people you trade with have a principled aversion to exploiting opportunities for cheating in dealing with others allows economic actors to trust one another. That in turn allows for the widespread specialization and interaction through markets with strangers that creates prosperity. In this conversation, Rose explores the nature of the principles that work best to engender trust. The conversation closes with a discussion of the current trend in morality in America and the implications for trust and prosperity.

The Other Brother just posted his review of this book.
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Posted by orrinj at 6:37 PM


The Car of the Future Will Drive You: A truly auto-mobile is coming if liability laws don't stop it. (L. GORDON CROVITZ, 3/04/12, WSJ)

Mr. Ford outlined a future of what the auto industry calls "semiautonomous driving technology," meaning increasingly self-driving cars. Over the next few years, cars will automatically be able to maintain safe distances, using networks of sensors, V-to-V (vehicle-to-vehicle) communications and real-time tracking of driving conditions fed into each car's navigation system.

This will limit the human error that accounts for 90% of accidents. Radar-based cruise control will stop cars from hitting each other, with cars by 2025 driving themselves in tight formations Mr. Ford describes as "platoons," cutting congestion as the space between cars is reduced safely.

This is not as far-fetched as it may sound. The electronics in high-end cars already run 100 million lines of computer code--more than the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Self-driving cars developed by Google are becoming a regular sight around Silicon Valley. Google engineers describe automating driving as just another information problem: With enough sensors and detailed digital maps of roads, algorithms should be able to make computer-driven cars safer than human-driven cars.

The February issue of Wired magazine has an evocative description of a ride in a Google test car driving itself along a California highway. Tom Vanderbilt, author of the book "Traffic," writes: "After a few minutes the idea of a computer-driven car seemed much less terrifying than the panorama of indecision, BlackBerry-fumbling, rule-flouting, and other vagaries of the humans around us--including the weaving driver who struggled to film us as he passed."

Posted by orrinj at 6:28 PM

PUNCH BROTHERS PERFORM LIVE IN THE CURRENT STUDIO (Bill DeVille, Minnesota Public Radio, Peter Valelly, Minnesota Public Radio, March 4, 2012, The Current)
The band recently wrote and recorded their third full-length record, Who's Feeling Young Now?, was released on February 14th on the group's longtime label Nonesuch, and they're touring in support of it now. The Punch Brothers stopped by The Current studios to play a few songs for The United States of Americana and chat with Bill DeVille. Songs played: "Movement and Location," "Patchwork Girlfriend" and "Flippen."

Posted by orrinj at 6:30 AM


A Young Bush Works to Nurture Hispanic Roots Within the Republican Party (JULIƁN AGUILAR, 3/04/12, NY Times)

"There really wasn't an entity that was focused on the campaign finance element of Hispanic outreach, nor was there really an entity that was doing the blocking and tackling and mechanics of educating Latinos to actually run for office," Mr. Bush, a 35-year-old lawyer, said of the PAC's genesis.

Its board, including lawyers, former aides to government officials, advertising executives and a professor, is working to reach a traditionally blue-collar demographic. Mr. Bush said that is part of the message.

"They represent the American dream and are less than a generation from very humble origins," Mr. Bush said of the board members, who have endorsed candidates from myriad backgrounds.

"This organization is also meant to be aspirational, and I think the Hispanic community is aspirational," said Mr. Bush, whose mother is from Mexico.

Posted by orrinj at 6:20 AM


Civil, Jewish law agree: Equal service for all (REUVEN HAMMER, 03/04/2012, Jerusalem Post)

When the Tal Law was first proposed, the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel called upon the Knesset to "totally reject the Tal Commission Report and to immediately enact legislation which will mandate equal military service for all sectors of the Jewish population. We are shocked that the Tal Commission has recommended continuing an intolerable situation in which one section of the population sits peacefully in halls of study while others endanger their lives in defense of Israel. This stands in complete opposition to Jewish law which unequivocally requires every eligible person to come to the defense of the nation in times of danger."

Now that the Court has endorsed this position, we again call upon the Knesset not to look for ways around this issue, not to introduce legislation that will somehow permit this shameful situation to continue, but to finally act responsibly and bring about this long needed change so that we will no longer have the situation in which some brothers go to war, while others sit idly by. Rather all will share the burden, as the Torah envisioned.

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Posted by orrinj at 6:16 AM


Mitt Romney Wins Washington Caucuses (ABC News, 3/04/12)

"The voters of Washington have sent a signal that they do not want a Washington insider in the White House. They want a conservative businessman who understands the private sector and knows how to get the federal government out of the way so that the economy can once again grow vigorously," Romney said in a statement released by his campaign.

Posted by orrinj at 6:09 AM


Our great moral decline (R.M., 3/02/12, The Economist)

When considering America's moral decline, my first instinct was to look at the crime rate. If Satan is at work in America, he's probably nicking wallets and assaulting old ladies. But over the past several decades the crime rate has fallen dramatically, despite what you may think. The homicide rate has been cut in half since 1991; violent crime and property crime are also way down. Even those pesky kids are committing less crime. There are some caveats to these statistics, as my colleague points out, but I think we can conclude that crime is not the cause of America's moral decline.

So let's look elsewhere. Abortion has returned as a hot-button issue, perhaps it is eating away at our moral fiber. Hmm, the abortion rate declined by 8% between 2000 and 2008. Increases in divorce and infidelity could be considered indicators of our moral decay. There's just one problem: according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the divorce rate is the lowest it has been since the early 1970s. This is in part due to the recession, but infidelity is down too.

Other areas that might indicate declining virtue are also going against the perceived trend. For example, charitable giving is up after a decline during the recession. The teenage pregnancy rate is at its lowest level in 40 years. And according to Education Week, "the nation's graduation rate stands at 72 percent, the highest level of high school completion in more than two decades." So where is the evidence of this moral decline?

Posted by orrinj at 6:05 AM


Bye Bye American Pie: The Challenge of the Productivity Revolution (Robert Reich, MARCH 1, 2012)

Here's the good news. The economic pie is growing again. Growth in the 4th quarter last year hit 3 percent on an annualized rate. That's respectable - although still way too slow to get us back on track given how far we plunged.

Here's the bad news. The share of that growth going to American workers is at a record low.

That's largely because far fewer Americans are working. Although the nation is now producing more goods and services than it did before the slump began in 2007, we're doing it with six million fewer people.

To call creating more wealth with less work a problem would earn you a deserved punch in the nose from any prior generation.  We face a question about how to distribute that new wealth fairly across society.  It's an awfully nice "problem" to have.

Posted by orrinj at 5:54 AM


...for the Nothing Costs More Than it Used to files.

-Ed Driscoll