Friday, December 19, 2014

Your FSA/OWI Photo of the Day

Untitled photo, possibly related to: Spanish trapper and his children taking muskrat pelts into the FSA (Farm Security Administration) auction sale which is held in a dancehall on Delacroix Island, Louisiana. The fur buyers come from New Orleans. See general caption no. 1. Marion Post Wolcott, 1941 (?).

Happy Hanukkah!

Howie's makes the best pizza in Palo Alto. They also have an excellent selection of beer on tap. And two days a year, they serve latkes for Hanukkah. I had not had them until tonight. They are fantastic.

Nothing new under the sun

This Chris Mooney blog post reports on a startling new "discovery": White racial prejudice appears to be greater in states that have a higher percentage African-American! Chris calls for more research: "... there is still more research to do in order to further home in and refine explanations for the striking pattern shown in the map at the start of this article." He suggests that such research might include seeing whether the geographical pattern holds at the county level as well.

Hmmm... that sounds familiar. Perhaps it's because people have been looking at this question for over half a century. Social psychologists have been talking about a "threat effect" of large numbers of minority members since the work of H.M. Blalock and Gordon Allport in the 1950s. Various studies have employed county-level data. Why, I even did so myself in the context of examining the racial wage gap.

The issue is complex and ambiguous, for obvious reasons: exposure to "diversity" may increase familiarity and reduce prejudice, but once the percentage minority is sufficiently large, whites may perceive minorities as a threat, leading to increased racism, discrimination, and potentially collective action. Of course, historical and cultural context are important. But my read is that the net effect in the United States, at least within the South, is that the threat effect dominates. Furthermore, given a distribution of white prejudice, an increase in the percentage black leads to more blacks coming into contact with prejudiced whites for employment and other social interactions. The result, as Gary Becker hypothesized and Charles and Guryan (JPE 2008) and I (JEH 2007) showed, is that discriminatory outcomes are more likely in places with relative more minority members, even holding racism constant.

See Chris? All it takes is a little search on Google Scholar!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

EPI Top Ten Charts of 2014

All ten are interesting, if pretty dismal... one example below. EPI does important and very careful work: a labor-oriented think tank run by people who care about getting the facts straight. As the tax year closes, send them a little money.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

NY Times front page

Good job Barry. But the eye-catching advertising in "global warming red" suggests you've got your work cut out for you making more progress on some policy fronts...

Thursday, December 11, 2014


"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master — that’s all."
Unlike President Obama, Mr. Brennan pointedly refused to say that the methods — including waterboarding, shackling prisoners in painful positions, and locking them in coffin-like boxes — amounted to torture.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Can Music Be Perfect? Vol. 51

Is there a more exciting piece of recorded music than "Right Off?" Miles sounds great, but Cobham and Hancock sound even better, and John McLaughlin... ouch.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Just when you thought it was safe to read the paper again...

... Dick Cheney is back. Of the American torturers he says, "They deserve a lot of praise. As far as I'm concerned, they ought to be decorated, not criticized." Indeed... and if so, he should be proud to have their exploits brought to light, for all Americans to observe and praise. Nothing to be ashamed of, right Dick?