Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Szymanski and Zimbalist Analyze the Economics of Soccer

Phil Miller quotes the essence of their analysis at Market Power. It hinges on promotion and relegation: teams that are really good in their league move up to a better league, while teams that lose a lot of games are relegated to a lower league. One interesting result is that games are very meaningful among teams about to be promoted or relegated to a different league.

Imagine trying that in Major League Baseball: the two teams with the worst records at each level get demoted one level [e.g. from MLB to AAA or from AA to A] while the two teams with the best records get promoted.

Over time the divisions would have to morph, and scheduling could be a nightmare. But I'm sure the system could be tweaked so that it could be applied in North America. I'm not saying it should, just that it could. After all, if the present system generates more value, in terms of willingness to pay, maybe it is better. Here's part of the quote from S&Z:

Emulating the U.S. model and uniting Europe's top clubs -- Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan, Inter, Juventus, Bayern Munich-- into a single, closed league would be a surefire way to make more money. Not only would it add to the value of broadcast rights, it would create a system for controlling costs and raising revenue. But it wouldn't be the traditional English way.

Update: At The Sports Economist, Phil Miller also has a very illuminating review of the latest book by Szymanski and Zimbalist,

Leatherman Micra:
I love mine

I bought one of these last year when I was in Houston, visiting my son, Adam Smith Palmer. I think I paid $25 for it at Target or Wal-Mart. It is one of the handiest things I have ever had. It is extremely useful, and it is small enough that I carry it in my wallet [except when I'm flying!]. They just went on sale at Amazon.

The Economics of Premature Ejaculation

It is Saturday. I tend to save the goofier stuff for the weekend. I think this more than qualifies.

I don't remember who sent this link to me. I do remember, however, that Tyler, Phil, JC, Brian, and Craig all declined it when I offered it for them to use on their blogs. So I should probably have let it go, too, or at least offered it to this guy. But, in the spirit of something or other, here it is:

From a recent issue of Men's Health:
In a four-week study of 1,587 men, researchers report that men who suffer from premature ejaculation (PE) had an average intravaginal ejaculatory latency time (IELT) of 1.8 minutes, compared to 7.3 minutes in men who did not.
The result of PE included

... subjective factors like sense of control, distress, and sexual satisfaction.
The article will appear in the premiere issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine,

The journal readership encompasses health care professionals who embrace the study, diagnosis and/or treatment of the sexual health concerns of men and/or women including but not limited to scientists, biologists, endocrinologists, family practitioners, gynecologists, internists, neurologists, physiologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, sex therapists, urologists and other healthcare clinicians.
Challenge: What, if anything, does this have to do with economics???? Something about the rate of time preference? Something about concentric indifference curves/circles and the "bliss point"?

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Economics of Good Vibrations:
Eva Longoria

When an anonymous reader sent me this link [from Fark], my thoughts immediately turned to economic analyses of the situation [hey, I'm old; I'm also apparently hard-wired in The Economic Way of Thinking]:

Eva Longoria has been bombarded with hundreds of vibrators by obsessed fans. The 'Desperate Housewives' star confessed that ever since she mentioned sex toys were fun, her post box has been flooded with parcels of X-rated aids.

The striking brunette, who says starring in the TV show has changed her life, revealed: "I get boxes and boxes of vibrators sent to me just because I happened to mention I thought they were fun."
My first thoughts were about gifts and altruism, but I quickly moved on, suspecting the motives of the donors and suspecting that their pleasure in making these gifts had less to do with interdepent utility functions with positive partial derivatives and more to do with increased utility from their own personal fantasy production.

My second thoughts were how the widespread use of vibrators has come about, in part, because the change in relative prices has led, as an economist would predict, to capital-labour substitution in the production of sexual gratification. But I don't think it would be wise to examine students on the substitution and output/income effects.

All those gifts mean she faces a zero price for vibrators.
Zero price implies using them up to the point at which MU = 0.
If so, I'll bet she doesn't have Cobb-Douglas utility functions .... the mind boggles....

When is Profiling Discriminatory?

Dare I suggest that profiling is discriminatory if it is inefficient? What about suggesting that it is not discriminatory if it is efficient? I wouldn't want to go too far in these directions without making it clear that I do not approve of efficient pusuit of discrimination (if that makes sense).

I have suggested as much before. For example, see here and here and here. In yesterday's piece, I pointed out that racial profiling in Kingston, Ontario, might not necessarily be discriminatory if the targeted group is, indeed, more likely to commit a crime (a possibility which seems to have been ignored by the study's author, Scot Worley; also, see here and scroll down to his profile [thanks to John Chilton for these two links, provided in his comments to yesterday's piece]).

But now consider domestic abuse. Grant Brown writes about his research in this May 31, 2005 letter to the National Post [p 21, $ req'd; thanks to Jack for the material]:

I found that gender was the single-most significant predictor of outcomes, more so than even prior criminal records, the injury level sustained by the accuser/victim, intoxication of the accused or whether children were present at the time of the incident, among other things.

For example, men were 20 times more likely to be charged with domestic violence when neither party was injured, even though hundreds of sociological studies over the years have shown that women, by their own admission, are at least as likely as men to commit non-injurious violence against their partners.

Women who seriously injured their partners were less likely to be taken into custody by the police than men who caused no injury to their partners. And men received significantly harsher sentences after conviction, when all other relevant variables were taken into account.

Because these conclusions do not align with the accepted dogma, they have been rejected and ignored by the Edmonton Police Service, even though they are vastly more robust than the allegations of racial profiling eliciting mea culpas from the Kingston police chief. Gender profiling in domestic disputes is pervasive in Canada; the establishment’s selective sensitivity perpetuates it.
Why are men targeted more than women? Is it because, as Grant Brown suggests, Edmonton Police discriminate against men in domestic abuse cases? Are his data the result of efficient profiling or discrimination?

Or is it because men, on average, are much bigger than women and are more likely to hurt women more seriously, conditional on hurting them in the first place? Or is there some other explanation? If someone has a link to his study, please post it in the comments or let me know via e-mail.

Paul Johnson on Anti-Semitism and Anti-Americanism

The current issue of Commentary has a very nice piece by historian/journalist, Paul Johnson. You can read it here at Free Republic. It traces the historical development of anti-Semitism and points out that in Europe and the Middle East, much anti-Semitism is similar to anti-Americanism. [thanks to MA for the links] Compare these two passages. First, about anti-Semitism:

What strikes the historian surveying anti-Semitism worldwide over more than two millennia is its fundamental irrationality. It seems to make no sense, any more than malaria or meningitis makes sense. In the whole of history, it is hard to point to a single occasion when a wave of anti-Semitism was provoked by a real Jewish threat (as opposed to an imaginary one). In Japan, anti-Semitism was and remains common even though there has never been a Jewish community there of any size.

Asked to explain why they hate Jews, anti-Semites contradict themselves. Jews are always showing off; they are hermetic and secretive. They will not assimilate; they assimilate only too well. They are too religious; they are too materialistic, and a threat to religion. They are uncultured; they have too much culture. They avoid manual work; they work too hard. They are miserly; they are ostentatious spenders. They are inveterate capitalists; they are born Communists. And so on. In all its myriad manifestations, the language of anti-Semitism through the ages is a dictionary of non-sequiturs and antonyms, a thesaurus of illogic and inconsistency.
and now this about anti-Americanism:

That anti-Americanism shares many structural characteristics with anti-Semitism is plain enough. In France, as we read in a new study, intellectuals muster as many contradictory reasons for attacking the U.S. as for attacking Jews. [2] Americans are excessively religious; they are excessively materialistic. They are vulgar money-grubbers; they are vulgar spcnders. They hate culture; they are pushy in promoting thcir own culture. Thcy are aggressive and reckless; they are cowardly. They are stupid; they are exceptionally cunning. They are uneducated; they subordinate everything in life to the goal of sending their children to universities. They build soulless megalopolises; they are rural imbeciles. As with anti-Semitism, this litany of contradictory complaints is fleshed out with demonic caricatures of particular individuals like George W. Bush. Just as 14th-century Christians once held the Jews responsible for the Black Death, Americans are blamed for all the ills of today's world, starting with (real or imaginary) global warming. Particularly among French intellectuals, such demonization has become almost a culture, a way of life, in itself.
Some of Johnson's better-known works include:

A History of the American People
A History of the Jews
A Quest for God

Thursday, June 02, 2005

A Great Cover for The Economist

I just received my May 28th copy of The Economist. The covers of nearly all issues are great, but this one still has me chuckling. It beautifully captures the sense of my earlier piece about France's vote on the European Union.

Why the German Economy Will Continue to Sag

Voters often opt for socialist-type programmes that require them to take no responsibility for decisions and require no effort on their part to anticipate and prepare for future problems. We/they fully expect to receive the benefits of any good things that happen to or for us, but we expect the gubmnt to bail us out, should something go awry.

The result is that incentives are seriously distorted. Ralph Peters makes this point very well in this NYPost piece [registration required] about the German Economy [link via Newmark's Door].

Cradle-to-grave security sounds wonderful. But it gnaws at the sinews of any economy and poisons the moral bloodstream. Socialist policies destroy the work ethic, while rewarding the least-productive members of society.

But Germans remain convinced they can have it all. The results? A stagnant economy. The highest unemployment since the end of World War II — 12 percent nationally and as high as 25 percent in industrial cities such as the Ruhr's Gelsenkirchen. A national pension system in deep crisis. Collapsing social benefits. And punitive taxation.

There's more: Unsustainable worker protections. Crippling taxes on industry for each worker employed. Massive outsourcing abroad as a consequence. A higher-education system in ruins. Talent flight. Political demagoguery. ...

The problem is that socialist policies encourage people to be less entrepreneurial, thus shrinking the size of the pie; they also encourage more rent-seeking [fighting about who gets what], diverting efforts away from production and toward distribution.

In the end, it's capitalism that's more humane, providing a bigger pie for all. Socialism subdivides ever-shrinking slices.
Do you think Peters' article will have any impact? Probably not much. These ideas are important but are being turned aside in too many economies [for example, Mongolia]. And that has frightening implications for the long run, for surely we should not cheer the economic policy failures of other economies, especially if such failures are likely to lead to more serious future problems.

Will Women Tennis Players Be Required to Tape Down Their Nipples?

It seems that several television shows tape down the nipples of their stars, or digitally edit them, so the nipples aren't so obvious (Pamela Anderson, Desperate Housewives).

Don't these censors ever watch women's tennis?????
Why else do you think the ratings for women's tennis are so high? [thanks to JC for the link].

I watch it for the finesse and skill.

What is the Paris Hilton Elasticity of Demand for Carl's Jr. burgers? Preliminary Results

Earlier I asked, "What is the Paris Hilton Elasticity of Demand for Carl's Jr. burgers? "

The preliminary results indicate that Carl's Jr.'s same-store sales increased by 1.5% after the introduction of the ad.

CKE Restaurants, Inc. said Wednesday same-store sales at its Carl's Jr. hamburger chain rose 1.5 percent, but fell 1 percent at Hardee's, for the four weeks ended May 23.

"We are encouraged that same-store sales at Carl's Jr. continue to climb, and despite the negative comp at Hardee's, are pleased with the performance of the brand as it rolls over strong numbers from the prior year period," Andrew Puzder, president and CEO, said in a statement.

Puzder credited the new Spicy Burger advertising featuring Paris Hilton in a skin-tight swimsuit soaping up a Bentley and crawling all over it before taking a big bite out of the burger for driving positive same-store sales at Carl's Jr.

Counterfactual bet [i.e. one you cannot call me on]: I'll bet that if the ad had focused more on her very seductively eating the burger, sales would have increased even more.

Racial Profiling by Canadian Police?

A study widely reported in Canada this week indicated that the police in Kingston, Ontario, are more likely to pull over, stop, or detain blacks and aboriginals than whites, Asians, or other minorities -- in much larger percentages than blacks and aboriginals make up society.

Kingston police stop a disproportionate number of young black men and aboriginal men, according to findings released on Thursday from the first racial profiling study done in Canada.

The report said police in this mostly white Eastern Ontario city were 3.5 times as likely to stop a black person as a Caucasian, and 1.4 times more likely to stop an aboriginal than a white person.

But the report also found that police were less likely to stop other minorities such as Asians or South Asians.
The study was done by Scott Worley, a criminologist at the University of Toronto. My guess is that his training was in socioonomology. As Martin Loney pointed out in the National Post [May 30, Issues and Ideas section, page 18, $ required; thanks to Jack for the information],

The data indicate a wide variance in “stop rates” — by gender as well as race. Males are some three times as likely to be stopped as females, white males more likely to be stopped than black females. Is this evidence of “gender profiling”? Kingstonians in the 15-24 year range are seven times more likely to be stopped than those over 55. Age profiling? Whites are two and a half times more likely to be stopped than Asians. Racial profiling again? And does this mean we should we demand that Asians be stopped more by the police?

... if we are to determine whether police do engage in discriminatory law enforcement, we need to be able to compare intervention rates to a given target group’s involvement in illegal activity. We know that young males commit more offences than young females, the young more
than the old. Common sense indicates this will be reflected in policing behaviour. Could the ethnic data hold similar explanations?

The 1995 Ontario report on discrimination in the criminal justice system contained some helpful data. Black remand rates on drug trafficking and importing charges were fully 27 times higher than white remand rates; remand rates on weapons charges nine times higher.
Unfortunately, if young males or blacks or aboriginals commit more crimes, it makes good sense for police to target them.

As Ron Laffin says on the same page of the National Post,
... Crimestoppers posted photos of the top 20 most wanted criminals in Toronto on its Web site. A majority were young black men. A similarly high ratio may be observed in many of Toronto’s detention centres. Yet black people make up only 8% of Toronto’s population. That would mean black men make up approximately half that, or 4%, and young black men in their late teens and 20s — the prime criminal demographic — a small fraction of that figure. Why should the police be apologizing for focusing their attention on the tiny fraction of residents who perpetrate most of the worst incidences of violent crime?
All this said, it is still the case that the vast majority of black Canadians are law-abiding citizens. It is a terrible thing that they have to endure disproportionate scrutiny from the police. As individuals, they certainly don’t deserve it.

But ultimately, the priority of police officers is to protect our cities, not our feelings. And I am inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. Day after day, night after night, in the housing projects, the alleys, the booze cans and the courts, they see the realities that many media sources systematically hide from us.
Profiling can be sensible and efficient. That does not, however, justify discrimination in the application of the process and the law, as might very well have occurred in this case.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Foreign Trade Quotas:
the U.S. Gives Money Away

I wrote earlier that the U.S. pressure on China not to export so much clothing to the U.S. would have a detrimental impact on U.S. consumers. I also pointed out that it would likely harm poorer consumers, who are more likely to purchase lower-priced clothing.

Imposing quotas has the additional pernicious effect of giving a bunch of the rents to the people in the exporting country rather than the importing country, as Ben Muse discusses at his blog.

Are the new Chinese taxes on their own clothing and textile exports an attempt to stave off U.S. and E.U. import restrictions - or are they an attempt to exploit those restrictions, and benefit from them?
My answer is "yes".

Ben presents numerous links in his posting, but the clearest is this one, which uses basic supply and demand analysis to discuss who gets harmed, who benefits, and by how much.
Because there are both positive and negative elements, the net national welfare effect can be either positive or negative. The interesting result, however, is that it can be positive. This means that an export tax implemented by a "large" exporting country may raise national welfare.
note to colleagues: I know, I know. It doesn't use computed general equilibrium models. The results are the same, so why bother.

Labour-Capital Substitution in Politics

It is possible, in India, to rent a crowd for a political rally. [h/t to Brian Ferguson for the link]. I expect it would be much more costly to do so in North America, with the result that in North America more emphasis is placed on electronic media advertisements and less on rallies.

NEW DELHI: A former politician in southern India has launched a "rent-a-crowd" company to recruit people to cheer at party rallies and said he has been deluged by would-be recruits."When all political parties and organisations are doing it discreetly, why can't we do it professionally?" the Hindustan Times newspaper quoted the company's founder, Devarajan, who goes by one name, as saying.

Indian political parties are known for paying people to show up for rallies, often transporting them in fleets of buses, but usually the recruitment is carried out by the parties.

Devarajan is offering recruits training, guaranteed wages and says they can be deployed when parties need a "decent-sized crowd" at a rally, the newspaper reported.

19-year-old Todd Yaniw Performs in Stratford
This Friday at the Wandering Minstrel

Since receiving his ARCT diploma in piano performance at the age of 12, Todd Yaniw has performed a solo recital at the Monte Carlo Opera House, has been interviewed and broadcast on CBC Radio, and has performed with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Recently, Todd won the 2005 Guelph Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition and will perform with the GSO at River Run Centre on April 3, 2006.

Finally, Todd won the 2005 TD National Piano Competition in Toronto, and will perform with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Roy Thomson Hall on Nov 12 and Nov 13 of 2005.
Tickets are $20. Reservations at 519-273-2790. For more about the Wandering Minstrel, click here and here.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Political Philosophy

As an undergraduate, I took several courses in political philosophy. I also ran across political philosophy in several other courses, in addition to some of the work I did before I dropped out of theological seminary.

To tell the truth, I never much cared about who said what and when.
And nowadays, I am much more interested in "positive" analysis as opposed to "normative" or ethical or moral imperatives or what-not.

In fact, the political analysis I find most compelling is this quotation from Yossarian:

“[T]hey have the right to do anything we can't stop them from doing,” which is a very nice Machiavellian summary of the economics of political choice.

The quotation is from Joseph Heller's classic, Catch-22 about WWII, which I highly recommend.

What Are the Costs and Benefits
of Saving the Tasmanian Devil?

Tasmanian devils are very unusual marsupials that live, surprisingly, in Tasmania, an Australian State, a large island south of the rest of Australia. [cf the NYTimes (free registration required); thanks to BenS for the link]

In March and April, males engage in vicious, blood-soaked combat, said Dr. Menna Jones, a wildlife biologist... Females select "big butch dudes," Dr. Jones said, and allow themselves to be dragged by the scruff of the neck into a burrow. There they scream and fight for several days, mating many times for hours at a time.
Over the past decade, there has been a plague, of sorts, afflicting Tasmanian devils with a sort of facial tumour.

Right now, wildlife experts are struggling to comprehend the nature of the fast moving epidemic. Moving at a rate of 6 to 10 miles a year, it is 100 percent fatal. Only the west coast, isolated by mountain ranges inhospitable to devils, is disease free. Nearly half of the estimated 150,000 devils in Tasmania are now dead.
[digression: try to make sense of that last sentence]

Is it worthwhile trying to save the species? What are the expected costs of doing so? What are the expected benefits? Saving the species will involve opportunity costs -- those scarce resources could have been used for something else of value.

The answers to these questions surely involve probabilities about which we have only a vague sense. And yet we [we? well, Tasmanians and Australians and maybe a few others] must make decisions on the basis of these vague probabilities and estimates.

Explicitly or not, we will behave as if we do.

Update. An anonymous comment via e-mail:
Have you posed the right question? Which would we be better off saving (given the same costs), a faculty of , say, 20 socionomologists or 75,000 Tasmanian Devils? How many tourists will spend money to see one or the other?

Freedom from Risk:
Explaining the Election Outcome in Mongolia

Last week voters in Mongolia cast 53% of their votes in favour of presidential candidate Nambaryn Enkhbayar of Mongolia's former communist ruling party. Economic growth in Mongolia has averaged over 10% per year during the past few years, but many voters did not like the chaos that existed under the Democratic Party coalition from 1996 - 2000.

For most of her 53 years, she has lived as a nomadic herder under Mongolia's wide blue skies, raising nine children, surviving snowstorms and drought, and hauling the family's white felt tent to a new site each season in search of grass for their sheep. But never did Tsahiriin Daariimaa think life would be as hard as it is now, on the eve of Sunday's presidential elections.

With the end of communism in Mongolia 15 years ago, Daariimaa said she and her husband are no longer guaranteed monthly wages from a government farm, but must sell their wool in a market of fluctuating prices and nervy Chinese traders.

Under communism, "everyone worked for the collective farm," Daariimaa said. Today, none of her children has a steady job.

"Communism was much better," she said.

... When the country was under Russia's influence, all schoolchildren learned Russian, and Soviet aid made up as much as one-third of Mongolia's gross domestic product. That aid disappeared overnight with the Soviet Union's collapse, and Mongolians miss it.

"In the old times, the government took better care of us ordinary people," [shepherd] Choijav said. "Now, the government is very far away from us, especially if you live in the countryside and take care of sheep."
These views represent human sentiments that explain a great deal about what is happening in North America. Many of us do not want to take risks of loss to our future welfare; we do not want (or are unable) to learn how to use the market to hedge these risks; we want others (via the gubmnt) to insure us against these detrimental risks; and yet we feel fully entitled to the upside (or beneficial) risks.

As a result, we vote for more and more gubmnt intervention in the marketplace. The conservative revolution of the 1980s may have slowed the growth of gubmnt interventionist policies, but it did not reverse this tendency.

If we do not learn how to explain that more risk with a bigger pie is better, even for the unlucky, than interventionist policies, we will have a much smaller pie in the future. Doing this is not easy, if it is even possible.

And now I understand one of my motivations for all this blogging.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Fourteen Things about the Chinese Economy

This list was posted some time ago at the Raw Prawn. It is both informative and provocative, as are the additional links provided there.
  1. China's economy is much larger than the official numbers show.
  2. The growth of China's economy has no equal in modern history.
  3. China is winning the global competition for investment capital.
  4. China can be a bully.
  5. China's economy is an entrepreneurial economy.
  6. The most daunting thing about China is not its ability to make cheap consumer goods.
  7. China is closing the research and development gap -- fast.
  8. China now sets the global benchmark for prices.
  9. China's growth is making raw materials more expensive.
  10. No company has embraced China's potential more vigorously than Wal-Mart.
  11. There are hidden costs associated with doing business in China.
  12. Piracy is a problem.
  13. China's heavy buying of U.S. debt has lowered the cost of money in the U.S.
  14. Americans and Chinese have become reliant on each other's most controversial habits.
#13 will continue to be very important as the U.S. and China wrangle over China's pegged exchange rate.

Wonky Krugman

A week or so ago, I was talking with our department chair. She asked why I was so negative about Paul Krugman. My response was,

I think he's gone a bit wonky, especially since he started writing editorials for the New York Times.
It turns out that, in more precise terms, Daniel Okrent, his [now former] editor, agreed with me:

"Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults.

"...some of Krugman's enemies are every bit as ideological (and consequently unfair) as he is. But that doesn't mean that their boss, publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., shouldn't hold his columnists to higher standards."
This quote is reproduced (and linked to) by Krugman nemisis, Donald Luskin, who adds,

To be sure, Okrent could have gone much, much further in blowing the whistle on America's most dangerous liberal pundit. He could have cited the dozens upon dozens of Paul Krugman's partisan distortions, uncorrected errors, deliberate misquotations and flat-out lies that we've caught over the years. For that matter he could have said what N. Gregory Mankiw, the universally respected former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, told Fortune in a recent interview -- that Krugman "just make[s] stuff up."
Luskin has much more, including how Krugman claims Okrent has "lost his marbles" and been under "constant pressure from conservatives".


Sunday, May 29, 2005

Congratulations to the London Knights:
Winners of the Memorial Cup

The London Knights won the Canadian Hockey League championship series to win the Memorial Cup with a 4-0 victory over the Rimouski Oceanic.

LONDON, Ont. (CP) - The London Knights were ranked No. 1 in the Canadian Hockey League all season, and they finished in that position by winning the Memorial Cup with a 4-0 victory over the Rimouski Oceanic on Sunday.

The Knights, both the host team and the Ontario Hockey League champions, won the franchise's first Memorial Cup in its 40-year history.

They did it with balanced, hard-working and talented squad that concluded a record-setting campiagn [sic] by shutting down the highest-scoring major junior team in the country.
The London Knights earlier this season had a 31-game undefeated streak, which likely would have been even longer had several of their players not been away, helping the Canadian junior team win the World Junior Championship.

What impressed Ms. Eclectic and me, in addition to the phenomenal talent and balance of the London Knights, was the patience of the players and their unwillingness to retaliate when Rimouski players hit them with cheap shots.

It was very impressive hockey by a very impressive team.

If You Don't Like the Result,
Call for Another Vote

French voters have decided not to support the proposed cumbersome and interventionist European constitution. Dutch voters are also likely to vote no, later this week. Here is Mark Steyn's analysis (thanks to Jack for the pointer):

...a couple of days before the first referendum, Jean-Claude Juncker, the "president" of the European Union, let French and Dutch voters know how much he values their opinion:

"If at the end of the ratification process, we do not manage to solve the problems, the countries that would have said No, would have to ask themselves the question again," "President" Juncker told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.

Got that? You have the right to vote, but only if you give the answer your rulers want you to give. But don't worry, if you don't, we'll treat you like a particularly backward nursery school and keep asking the question until you get the answer right. Even America's bossiest nanny-state Democrats don't usually express their contempt for the will of the people quite so crudely.

Oh yeah? Well, what about Canada, where the Partis Quebecois have vowed to keep holding referenda on Quebec separation until they win?

Are gubmnts like these being run by men who do not understand that "No" means "No"?
Perhaps they need social consciousness raising sessions ...

I'm intrigued that people from both the left and the right are relieved that the French voted "no" and by a definitive margin. From the BBC on Sunday afternoon [thanks to Brian Ferguson for sending this link]:

Exit polls published just after voting ended put the "No" side at 55%.
It appears that leftists were concerned that the EU constitution would weaken the power of French trade unions and the socialist state. Rightists were concerned that German and French work rules and barriers to markets would become constitutionally entrenched. See, for example, all the links at Instapundit.

But back to the main point: It appears that "no" does not mean "no".

In short, the authors conclude that, in the event of one or both countries voting "no", the ratification process should be neither suspended nor abandoned. They assert that all member states have expressed a commitment to proceed with ratification by virtue of Declaration 30, appended to the Constitutional Treaty. Member states cannot unilaterally or collectively decide to change the ratification process.

Thus, member states which have not already ratified should continue with the process whence, once 20 members have done so, the matter should be referred to the European Council.

In the meantime, the authors caution that "the European Union must not remain paralysed". Rather, they say, "it must continue and intensify its efforts to relaunch its policies, even by implementing in advance, where possible, the provisions of the Treaty that do not meet with open opposition".

Thus, the considered response in the event of a rejection of the constitution should be "full steam ahead". Member states should implement it even faster than they are doing already.

Very helpful. I wish I could be equally helpful in return on this question:
So what, precisely, do we have to do to stop this thing?

Finally, it is clear the BBC thinks that even though all 25 countries must ratify the constitution, and even though France has voted against it, all is not over. Their lead for the story:

The vote could deal a fatal blow to the constitution, which needs to be ratified by all 25 members states. [emphasis added]

Gasoline Price Ceilings in Ukraine

King Banaian at SCSU Scholars is an expert on the Ukraine. Here is a sad excerpt from one of his recent postings:

Other problems are emerging after Tymoshenko chose to freeze gasoline prices, leading to spot shortages. (You really should read Scott Clark on the shortages.) Jed Sunden writes in the Kyiv Post:

The effects are already being felt. Ukrainians have been lining up for gas outside filling stations that – logically enough – are refusing to sell gasoline at the low prices the law demands. In Kyiv, it’s difficult to find gasoline at all. The government’s socialism has taken us right back to the scarcity days of the Brezhnev era. And observers could only hang their heads in despair when Fuel and Energy Minister Ivan Plachkov announced on May 13 that the Cabinet of Ministers would devise a special formula for calculating prices of petroleum products. A working group consisting of both government officials and representatives of Ukraine’s petroleum refineries was charged with coming up with this formula before the end of June.

Before the end of June? Not only is this an example of flagrant, Soviet-style interference in the economy, it also suggests that the authorities are in the price-fixing game for the long haul. But in a country that calls itself a market economy, there should be no government formula setting prices in the first place. Let supply and demand and market forces rule.

Students seem to understand the economics of price ceilings, but real world examples like this one help to bring the economic analysis alive. Maybe then they won't forget the economics when politicians start promising to intervene in markets to reduce prices.

Protect Your Garden from Animals:
Scarecrow Motion-Activated Sprinkler

Ms. Eclectic's garden has been saved from the ravages of dogs, cats, squirrels, birds and other animals!

We bought a Scarecrow motion-activated sprinkler through It uses a 9V battery, and every time an animal moves in its range (which is large and adjustable), the sprinkler gives off a massive burst across an adjustable arc. It is doing a great job for us. You can get one here:

My friend, Gord, wants to set one up for when unwanted human guests arrive. Talk about the economics of deterrence!
Update: Kent asks in the comments whether the vermin will just get used to it. My guess is that they won't. The five-second burst is very powerful, and the range is also quite adjustable. Our pets really scoot away when they get blasted (as do I, when I forget it is there). I doubt if it would deter coyotes in pursuit of fresh meat, but it might even do that. We go ours through this site. There was maybe a week-long delay, but the price is only $49.xx.

Gambling video

A York University (Canada) graduate in socionomology goes to the Mustang Ranch in Vegas to play Russian Roulette (click on the link to see the video).

Thanks to Hillarity Will Ensue for the link.
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