Years ago Milton Friedman was asked at a conference what he thought about different schools of economics (Chicago school, Austrian school, etc.) Friedman replied, “There are only two kinds of economics: good economics and bad economics.”
I’m reminded of this by Krugman’s Monday column in which he asserts that there is a Republican economic theory of unemployment.
Here’s the world as many Republicans see it: Unemployment insurance, which generally pays eligible workers between 40 and 50 percent of their previous pay, reduces the incentive to search for a new job. As a result, the story goes, workers stay unemployed longer. In particular, it’s claimed that the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which lets workers collect benefits beyond the usual limit of 26 weeks, explains why there are four million long-term unemployed workers in America today, up from just one million in 2007.
Then he offers this assessment:
Proponents of this story like to cite academic research — some of it from Democratic-leaning economists — that seemingly confirms the idea that unemployment insurance causes unemployment. They’re not equally fond of pointing out that this research is two or more decades old, has not stood the test of time, and is irrelevant in any case given our current economic situation.
As we have pointed out before, the best work on this subject seems to be that of Casey Mulligan who writes for The New York Times economics blog. (That’s right, the very same newspaper that Krugman writes for!) Mulligan estimates that as much as half of the excess unemployment we are experiencing is the result of overly generous entitlements benefits.
And, no. I don’t know who Mulligan votes for.
At 21 weeks after conception, a developing baby weighs about as much as a can of Coke — and he or she can taste it, too. Still in the womb, the growing baby gulps down several ounces of amniotic fluid daily. That fluid surrounding the baby is actually flavored by the foods and beverages the mother has eaten in the last few hours…
This makes a lot of evolutionary sense, says [researcher Julie] Mennella. Since mothers tend to feed their children what they eat themselves, it is nature’s way of introducing babies to the foods and flavors that they are likely to encounter in their family and their culture. (NPR)
Suppose that only two million people enroll through the exchanges, instead of the projected seven million. Seth Chandler dissects the results:
Insurance sold through Exchanges without medical underwriting — a central promise of the Affordable Care Act — is likely to implode in a significant number of states by 2015 while limping along in several others but providing little net desired decrease in the number of people without quality health insurance.
What I’m about to show you is in my opinion an embarrassment to the economics profession and I wish more of my colleagues would express their strong disapproval.
… the facts are striking. Since 2010, when the [the Affordable Care Act] was passed, real health spending per capita — that is, total spending adjusted for overall inflation and population growth — has risen less than a third as rapidly as its long-term average. Real spending per Medicare recipient hasn’t risen at all; real spending per Medicaid beneficiary has actually fallen slightly.
He then goes on to consider a number of possible causes for this slowdown, but appears to give the lion’s share of the credit to ObamaCare. In fact his column is titled, “ObamaCare’s Secret Success.”
All of which is pointless speculation, because as the chart clearly shows, nothing happened to the rate of increase in health care spending in 2010 ― the year ObamaCare was passed.
Yes, the growth rate of health care spending that year was well below the historical average. But it was just as much below it in 2009, the year before the act was passed! Health care spending growth in 2010 was exactly the same as it was in 2009. It remained exactly the same in 2011. And again in 2012. Looking only at the numbers, we would have to conclude that nothing that happened in 2010 had any impact whatsoever on health care spending. Nothing Congress did; nothing the president did; nothing that anyone did that year seems to have mattered.
Insurance companies receive daily uploads of data about new enrollees. Despite progress since ObamaCare marketplaces launched on Oct. 1, as many as one-third of enrollments submitted through the federal system contain errors, The Washington Post reported on Monday.
The administration says that error rate isn’t accurate, but won’t reveal how many of the submissions ― called 834 forms ― are incorrect. (Huffington Post)
Under a rule proposed by the Obama administration, anyone who pays another person for donating these bone marrow cells would be subject to as much as five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Sally Satel responds:
Locating a marrow donor is often a needle-in-a-haystack affair. The odds that two random individuals will have the same tissue type are less than 1 in 10,000, and the chances are much lower for blacks. Among the precious few potential donors who are matched, nearly half don’t follow through with the actual donation. Too often, patients don’t survive the time it takes to hunt for another donor…
Each year, 2,000 to 3,000 Americans in need of marrow transplants die waiting for a match. Altruism is a virtue, but clearly it is not a dependable motive for marrow donation.
Full piece is worth reading.