Friday, August 19, 2011

Technocratic Utopia

File this as something I wish I thought of and wrote:
Technocratic utopia is of course a mirage, a supreme act of hubris, that any group of people could have the incentives or information required to manage the world top-down for us. If I told an environmentalists that I wanted ten of the smartest biologists in the world to manage the Amazon top-down and start changing the ratios of species and courses of rivers and such in order to better optimize the rain forest, they would say I was mad. Any such attempt would lead to disaster (just see what smart management has done for our US forests). But the same folks will blithely advocate for top-down control of human economic activity. The same folks who reject top-down creationism in favor of the emergent order of evolution reject the emergent order of markets and human uncoerced interaction in favor of top-down command and control.
Of course, emergent order is so Hayekian. It is a shame that domain-specific thinking keeps otherwise intelligent people from recognizing the phenomena.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Nice Rating Agency You Have There

Shame if anything happened to it.:
The Justice Department is investigating whether the nation’s largest credit ratings agency, Standard & Poor’s, improperly rated dozens of mortgage securities in the years leading up to the financial crisis
Yeah, downgrade me, I investigate you.
The investigation began before Standard & Poor’s cut the United States’ AAA credit rating this month
Sure it had, but payback is hell. H/T Drudge

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bashing Texas, What are the numbers?

So now that Rick Perry has declared his candidacy for governor, it has suddenly become popular to bash the Texas economy. Since I am not one to take claims of political attack dogs at face value, let's take a look at some of the most common anti-Texas rhetoric.

First up is Rick Newman: of US News and World Report:
"Perry's No. 1 talking point as a presidential candidate is job creation in Texas. He claims correctly that Texas has created more than one-third of all jobs in the country since the economic recovery began in mid-2009. What he doesn't mention is that virtually all of that job creation was in government, not in private industry.

Here are the numbers, which come from the federal government's Bureau of Labor Statistics: Between the beginning of 2008 and the end of 2010 (the latest data available), Texas created about 75,000 jobs. That makes it one of the few states with any job creation at all over that time. But federal, state and local government hiring accounted for 115,000 new jobs in Texas, while private industry shed about 40,000 jobs."
Unfortunately, Mr. Newman does not link to a source for this attack making his numbers hard, but not impossible to verify. So I do, via the Bureau of Labor Statistics web site, selecting the data for Texas only. The first issue with Mr. Newman's data is we do have data through May and preliminary data for June. For some reason, he chooses to not get the latest data. That's OK, I can pull it for him. The government worker data is here. So, a simple table compares Dec-07 numbers to Dec-10 and the latest data from May-11. Guess, what? Private sector jobs were created and even more if compared with the most up-to-date figures!

So what is going on here? Bad math or some other issue? I am not sure and have published these numbers as a comment on Mr. Newman's blog.

Another way to look at government employee data is as a percentage of the total labor force. Notice how the line is very flat except in 2010 which is census hiring. The percentage since Dec-2010 is going downwards.

I wonder if Mr. Newman would like to compare Texas to Illinios over the same time period. Which state do you think would look better?