Saturday, April 2, 2016

Wrap Up for March 2016 (Albeit Late)

Several days later and I am finally returning to the land of the living! It was the second episode (this year) of a full blown migraine which kept me from blogging. Hopefully those dastardly things will ease up for a while. I've been able to self manage them for almost twenty years, and decided to take a brief look back at the process in this post.

Not surprisingly, an economic origin of sorts. The real headaches began, when it became obvious that rent in a new location would prove too high for my bookstore to remain in operation. Afterward, there were good years of employment when headaches weren't much of a problem.

Initially, there were no local over the counter remedies and I found help from herbal remedies. Before too long OTC remedies were available. OTC remedies mostly stopped minor headaches unless they proceeded "too far", which meant nothing else productive was going to get done for a while. Once that happens no medicine really works. For me the average "worst part" of a full blown episode is about 36 hours of not being able to sleep, eat or concentrate on anything, and sometimes up to eight hours of not being able to drink water.

Another difficulty for anyone such as myself who dislikes strong pain relievers (and finds them of little use), is the disruption of routine. Possibly the real breakthrough in migraine will come when medicine is able to move away from pain relievers in general, to a different way of approaching the whole process. Pain destroys a body, yet today's pain meds are in some important respects, not the way to prevent that from happening.

It's the effort to stay with routine (and a small amount of head pressure doesn't destroy concentration) that makes it tempting to take OTC pain medication more than once or twice a week. That's hard on the stomach. Oddly enough, much of the medication available by prescription has similar limit recommendations. Recently I heard about a possible migraine "breakthrough". This is much needed, because migraine is a chronic illness which doubtless affects life span. The best management (for many of us thus far) is diet related, which is also the part one learns gradually over time. Hopefully I've managed reasonably well, because there's so much left to be done...Ahh, on to links for the month.

In response to a post from Paul Krugman, Tyler Cowen asks, "What are the core differences between Republicans and Democrats?"

Private insurers aren't ready to hand over their black box..."Scotus is not the last word in transparency in health care" (AEI)

From the Economist, "The Party Declines"
Even before his rise, some pro-business Republicans were beginning to despair of the party, the congressional wing of which seemed to enjoy nothing more than shutting down the government and playing chicken with the debt ceiling...the most reliable way to tell whether a Republican voter was going to support Mr. Trump was whether he agreed with the statement: People like me don't have any say about what government does.
People will deny this is a problem until neither political party can provide what it wishes to provide.
From Alan Auerbach and William Gale: Once More Unto the Breach: The Deteriorating Fiscal Outlook

As production capacity has migrated from individuals to institutions, institutions continue to have negotiation power in the marketplace. Unfortunately, too many individuals have lost the personal power for negotiation, because of the loss of direct marketplace roles. This has bearing why it is so easy to exacerbate imaginary differences between individuals, and lead people to believe a strong leader will negotiate on their behalf. Whereas a strong leader threatens those who still benefit from the broad negotiation power and societal trust of institutions. This is why I believe a marketplace for time value - which would allow individual production for services generation - could restore both negotiation power and trust for the larger society.

Mark Perry at AEI: Some economic lessons about international trade for Donald Trump from Milton Friedman and Henry George

From Brookings: Understanding declining fluidity in the U.S. labor market

Reading this article, I actually found myself glad that the work I had expected to sustain me until retirement, was largely phased out in the early nineties, because it gave me a lot of time to consider the implications. Everyone can recreate meaningful work in which robots do not have to be overlords, but there needs to be social agreement as to how it can actually occur. Institutions which use asymmetric compensation will in many instances be compelled to substitute with robots wherever possible. In other words, the potential for economically compensated work always exists, but only in asymmetric form for a fraction of the population.

Interesting, to see this argument addressed to Hillary Clinton from the Huffington Post (reporter Daniel Marans):

Dani Rodrik weighs in on the political backlash:

Written several years earlier, but this article on regional differences holds some clues regarding political turmoil:

Many of my readers will remember Ryan Decker, he was one of the co-authors of this Vox post:

Economics 21 looks at the looming student loan problem

A marketplace for time value could address this problem on multiple levels:

Inflexible labor markets are also something that the U.S. cannot afford to ignore:

From Narayana Kockerlakota, The Fed's Misunderstood Dots: "In other words, the dot plot offers a great representation of how much officials disagree when the policy-making Federal Open Markets Committee forges a consensus."

Today's rich spend a lot of money. That matters.

"Basically, Trump is what would happen if the comments section became a human and ran for president." When I came across this quote recently, the fact that Trump for a while appeared to "take over" Scott Sumner's comment section at The Money Illusion, made more sense!

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