Friday, June 08, 2007

Quick links

Finally, some quick links for the weekend:

1) This really bad post by economics professor Russell Roberts argues that setting up the US immigration system to prefer educated, english-speaking, young people is a bad idea. He equates this with sending out American citizens who make less than median income, are fat, etc.

This is nutty. There is a de facto quota system for US immigration today which prefers uneducated, desperate migrants and relatives (looking for jobs and/our welfare), and as a consequence, is unpopular with most Americans. Replacing this with a system that prefers able workers, looking to assimilate is a no-brainer.

Think of it the other way around -- suppose the US preferentially let in smart, educated, english-speaking workers, and some suggested that instead, the US should drop the education and english speaking requirements and instead let in relatives (no matter how productive they were, and what language they could speak) and encourage illegal immigration from Mexico. Would Russell Roberts think that was a good idea?

2) Great article on the economics of working in NYC. I used to live there and just returned from an extended trip. Empire waists seem to be in fashion, and they make everyone look bad. Also, Di Fara has been shut down, which is a crime as it really was the best pizza I've ever had. Health Inspection, Smealth Inspection! I'll take the risk. Most interesting articles?

- Life as a taxi cab. Check out those eye-watering prices for cab medallions. It's a fairly open secret that the cab medallion racket in NYC is a hugely profitble business, and a great example of government capture for the public choice theorists amongst us.

- The Macy's article is wrong. It states that the shop is profitable because it owns the building, and so pays no rent, but also suggests that the building could make more money if put to other uses. In actual fact, Macy's is destroying economic value, as the opportunity cost of running a retail store out of their building is higher than if they sold the building and pocketed the money.

3) Finally, this health care piece is just a good read. I think these geographic studies are a great way to get data on the quality of evidence based medicine. Best line:
Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Obama have each called for the creation of a national institute to figure out which kinds of medical care actually work. This institute would sort through the scientific research on, say, spinal fusion and help people understand when it may make sense and when it’s likely to be just another big medical expense that doesn’t solve anything.

...Peter Orszag, the head of the Congressional Budget Office, has mentioned it when talking about the fiscal disaster that awaits if Medicare spending isn’t slowed. A number of Republican health care experts also favor some sort of cost-effectiveness institute. It’s another way to cut wasteful government spending.
I agree with the problem, but I'd love for someone to tell me about any government institution that has cut wasteful (popular) spending.


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