Words as Signals and Nothing Else

The old saying goes “A man is only as good as his word.” Wrong, the correct saying is “A man is only as good as his actions.”

Words are simply signals for action. If someone acted like your mortal enemy but said I love you, which side would you err on?

If someone said they were sorry and they did it to you all over again, which side would you err on?

Think of this in a different context: Man asks cute girl on a date. Cute girl says that she will be at coffee shop ‘A’ at 11 am. Man shows up and hours upon hours tick away. The man can see the whole store, so when the girl says later “Oh, I was there. Where were you?” It would’t hold.

Saying that you are somewhere doesn’t make you there and the same goes for love and apologies.

When thinking about politics the key is to say the right things. “Hope, Change, Political Correctness, etc.” But this is completely backwards compared to the rest of society. The whole problem with everything else in the world is getting people to live up to what they say. Or in other words, make people follow their words through with action.

Why is it that human society has based their politics based upon what people said and not what they do? And do not go off yet, it is on both sides.

If someone stated that Congressman Joe Wilson who shouted “you lie” when President Barack Obama stated that his health care plan wouldn’t cover illegal immigrants had in fact supported a previous bill that did, would many of Wilson’s supporters know the real answer?

And I understand that people are rational ignorant when it comes to politics. But why is the equlibrium at what they say? Why isn’t it at zero? Could it be possible that no listening to a politician at all would give people a better chance at guessing what policies they promote? For example, if you ran the experiment, two citizens in 2001. George W. Bush is elected and now we are in 2002. By the end of his administration, who has a better chance of predicting if George W. Bush will support Medicare expansions? The guy who watched the news and listened to the speeches or someone who paid no attention at all?

The obvious answer here is the person who paid no attention at all. Why? Well, Bush expanded Medicare with part D while claiming to be a fiscal conservative.

There you have it, I support rational absolutely ignorance over rational speech listening only ignorance.

I mean how else are we going to stop the Barack Obamas and the Nancy Pelosis of the world from talking about a bill that hasn’t been finalized… I mean you wouldn’t trust a car salesman who had never seen the car, would you?


The Price of Wine: Women more elastic tastes than Men

This from Reuters:

“How much does the price of a bottle of wine matter? Quite a lot – to women.

Researchers from the Stockholm School of Economics and Harvard University set out to determine whether knowing how much a bottle of wine cost would affect what people thought of the taste.

They found that disclosing the expensive price of a wine before people tasted it produced considerably higher ratings, although only from women.

“I was surprised. The men didn’t seem to be affected by the price. It might be the way men relate to wine. But the women reacted very strongly to a high price,” said Johan Almenberg, who with co-researcher Anna Dreber of the Stockholm School of Economics and Harvard, conducted the study among 266 volunteers in Boston.”

Why would this be? Is it possible that women are more impressed by status which is why they seem to be more interested in designers. Maybe, Maybe not. Interesting none the less.

The link is here.


Published in: on May 7, 2009 at 12:43 pm  Comments (1)  
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Law vs. moral values by Walter Williams

Today’s article of the day is from the Washington Times:

A civilized society’s first line of defense is not the law, police and courts but customs, traditions and moral values.

Behavioral norms, mostly transmitted by example, word-of-mouth and religious teachings, represent a body of wisdom distilled over the ages through experience and trial and error. They include important thou-shalt-nots such as shalt not murder, shalt not steal, shalt not lie and cheat, but they also include all those courtesies one might call ladylike and gentlemanly conduct. The failure to fully transmit values and traditions to subsequent generations represents one of the failings of the so-called greatest generation.

Behavior accepted as the norm today would have been seen as despicable in yesteryear. There are television debt-relief advertisements that promise to help debtors to pay back just half of what they owe. Foul language is spoken by children in front of and sometimes to teachers and other adults. When I was a youngster, it was unthinkable to use foul language to an adult; it would have meant a smack across the face. Back then, parents and teachers didn’t have child-raising “experts” to tell them that timeout is a means of discipline. Baby showers are held for unwed mothers. In yesteryear, such an acceptance of illegitimacy would have been unthinkable.

For men to sit while a woman or elderly person stood on a crowded bus or trolley car once was unthinkable. It was common decency for a man to give up his seat. Today, some cities require public conveyances to set aside seats posted “Senior Citizen Seating.” Laws have replaced common decency.

Years ago, a young lady who allowed a guy to have his hand in her rear pocket as they strolled down the street would have been seen as loose. Children addressing adults by first names was unacceptable.

You might be tempted to charge, “Williams, you’re a prude!” I’d ask you whether high rates of illegitimacy make a positive contribution to a civilized society. If not, how would you propose that illegitimacy be controlled? In years past, it was controlled through social sanctions, including disgrace and shunning.

Is foul language to or in the presence of teachers conducive to an atmosphere of discipline and respect necessary for effective education? If not, how would you control it? Years ago, simply sassing a teacher would have meant a trip to the vice principal’s office for an attitude adjustment administered with a paddle.

Years ago, the lowest of lowdown men would not say the kind of things often said to or in front of women today. Gentlemanly behavior protected women from coarse behavior. Today, we expect sexual-harassment laws to restrain behavior.

During the 1940s, my family lived in North Philadelphia’s Richard Allen housing project. Many families didn’t lock doors until late at night, if ever. No one ever thought of installing bars on the windows.

Hot, humid summer nights found many people sleeping outside on balconies or lawn chairs. Starting in the ’60s and ’70s, doing the same in some neighborhoods would have been tantamount to committing suicide.

Keep in mind that the 1940s and ’50s were a time of gross racial discrimination, high black poverty and few opportunities compared with today. The fact that black neighborhoods were far more civilized at that time should give pause to the excuses that blame today’s pathology on poverty and discrimination.

Policemen and laws can never replace customs, traditions and moral values as the means for regulating human behavior. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society. Our increased reliance on laws to regulate behavior is a measure of how uncivilized we’ve become.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

Published in: on May 5, 2009 at 6:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Cartel Hypocrites or Rational Profit-Seekers?

This from Reuters:

“A cartel engaged in Mexico’s deadly drug wars has told its members to avoid heavy drinking and using narcotics and live a clean family life as it tries to build a well-run criminal organization, police say.

Rafael Cedeno, a leader of “The Family” cartel based in the western state of Michoacan, told police after he was arrested at the weekend he had trained several thousand cartel members with courses in ethics and personal improvement.

“The indoctrination of this group consisted of courses they considered to be for personal improvement, values, ethical and moral principles of the criminal gang. The objective was for the subordinates to avoid drugs, hard drinking and maintain family unity,” the federal police said in a statement.”

This was put in Reuters “Oddly Enough” where they feature weird stories, but to economists this is not odd at all. Just as the GM CEO does not want drugged out people making his cars, Cedeno does not want drugged out men selling his drugs or running his prostitutes.

Drug Cartels are rational profit-seekers just like any other business. They are trying to maximize benefits and minimize costs. They will do this by having the most efficient employees they can. During a drug war, I would imagine it is very hard to shoot someone drunk or high. During a drug deal, I would imagine that being drunk or high would increase the chance the other party will steal from you. All of these are bad for business.

The rest is here.


Published in: on April 22, 2009 at 12:42 pm  Comments (1)  
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Happy Easter Weekend!



Published in: on April 10, 2009 at 12:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Mr. Cockshott have you met Ms. Shufflebottom

This from Reuters:

“The number of people in Britain with surnames like Cockshott, Balls, Death and Shufflebottom — likely the source of schoolroom laughter — has declined by up to 75 percent in the last century.

“If you find the (absolute) number goes down, it’s either because they changed their names or they emigrated,” Webber, author of the study, told Reuters on Wednesday.

He said that in many cases, people probably changed their surnames as they came to be regarded as in bad taste. “It’s because the meaning of words can change. Take the name Daft — that as a term for a stupid is a relatively recent innovation.”

Even when it comes to people’s names, they make economic decisions. The costs of some names are high, like the above, and some people are willing to change it. I would imagine the reason why you do not see an all-at- once movement is because changing your name is costly. First, you have the common bills and accounts problem but this is relatively low as people who get married do this all the time. Second, you have the mocking factor that parents may have experienced and do not want their kids to go through. There is also a possible job factor. As it might be beneficial to catch a future employers eye, they may not want someone with these names representing their company. I could be wrong.

Even though I am not sure when Death was a good surname.

The rest is here.


Published in: on March 26, 2009 at 12:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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If only we could solve the credit crisis with good looks…

This from Reuters:

“A credit score can tell a lender a lot about a prospective borrower, but so can the borrower’s looks, a new study says.

People who are perceived to be trustworthy are more likely to have a higher credit score and pay lower interest rates on loans, and are less likely to default, according to the study by Rice University in Houston, Texas.

Even when hard facts such as credit scores are available, people rely on an assessment of trustworthiness to decide whether to make a loan.

“It turns out that if you look trustworthy, you’re more likely to get a loan,” said Jefferson Duarte, a professor of real estate finance at Rice University, one of the study’s authors.”

I am feeling correlation doesn’t mean causation here. That means that good looks do not cause good credit scores just as much as good credit scores do not cause good looks. If this was true then you could solve the whole credit problem and there would be no need for credit scores. You would just hire a sample of people to rate the looks of the person wanting the loan and problem solved.


What do Condoms and McDonald’s have in common?

They both are recession proof. This from the Columbus Dispatch:

“A conversation with Brian Frank of Undercover Condoms in Hilliard is a day-brightener in the gloomy world of layoffs and bankruptcies.

His business – selling condoms – picks up when times are tough.

“We’re doing well,” said Frank, vice president of business development for the online company. “There’s been some effect from the downturn, but overall we’re still growing.”

Nationwide, sales of male contraceptives in food, drug and mass-merchandise stores increased 6.4 percent in the last 13 weeks of 2008 compared with 2007, according to the Nielsen Co., which tracks products.

Nielsen also counts how many condoms are sold, and that number went up 2.4percent in the same period.

The trend continued in January, with sales up 5.3 percent compared with the previous year and per-unit sales up 1.6 percent, Nielsen found.

Condom sales are pretty much recession-proof, said Carol Carrozza, vice president of marketing at Ansell Healthcare in Red Bank, N.J. Ansell is one of the largest manufacturers of condoms in the world.”

This is interesting. It may be because of the costs of health care rising also. People are substituting condoms for other forms of birth control, which are prescriptive items mostly. This is just a guess, it could also be that people are just doing it more.

The rest is here and the hat tip goes to someone but I have forgotten now, sorry!


Published in: on March 16, 2009 at 1:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Private Moment vs. Elbow to the Throat


I thought some of these were funny and true. You could also draw the line of the incentive to do so and compare it to an itch ratio of some part. Incentives keep point “private moment” from moving to “elbow to the throat” because well you would get an elbow to the throat.

From here.


Smithian Market: Hong Kong License Plates

An interesting market and an expected result due to the recession. This from The International Herald Tribune:

“The clearest sign yet was Saturday, when a monthly auction of personalized license plates raised a mere 8.7 million Hong Kong dollars, or $1.1 million, for a government charity fund. That may sound like a lot of money, but remember, Hong Kong is a city so obsessed with cars that many owners have domestic helpers who wash them every day. During the same month last year, when times were better, the auction fetched 33.7 million dollars.

At Saturday’s auction, amid the somber, cavernous gloom of Room 601 in Hong Kong’s convention center, the highest price paid for a single plate was 1.7 million dollars for the lucky number “2318.” Just a year ago, an electronics entrepreneur paid a record, 16.5 million dollars for “18,” a distant memory of the boom days before the recession.

At an auction in January, plates like BACK OFF and THANK YOU went for less than 20,000 dollars each. MY CAR, which had been expected to be the star of that show, went under the hammer for a bargain-basement 40,000.”

I have always thought that license plates were a waste of money but I was merely talking about my local state fee to get it made. This too me seems like a smart idea on the government side to raise revenue. My question, how long do you have that right to that plate and can you pass it on? This would, of course, raise the price but also only be a one shot revenue raiser until other words like “lol” became more popular. Due to the recession, people are not spending as much as they use to. This makes sense economically, but it would be interesting to map if this is actual income growth slowing or pessimism/expectations.

The rest is here.


Published in: on February 19, 2009 at 12:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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