Friday, May 4, 2012

Read Stuff, You Should

 Happy Birthday to Ben Grieve, 36. Most similar players include Ivan Calderon, Milton Bradley, and Jeffrey Hammonds.

At any rate, time for the good stuff:

1. Real good reminder (and links) from Andrew Rudalevige about the importance and operation of implementation.

2. What happens in campaigns? Mainly partisan activation, as Michael Tesler explains.

3. Suzy Khimm on "uncertainty."

4. You pretty much want to read whatever Tim Noah says on inequality, so here's his semi-review of a new pro-inequality book.


  1. Re inequality, see also James Galbraith speaking to Brad Plumer . Tidbits:

    "the rise in inequality is associated with credit booms"

    "Controlling inequality and controlling instability are the same issue. One is an expression of the other."

    Also, David Frum has taken on Conard's canards in a series of posts, e.g. and

  2. 1. Do liberals actually need to be reminded that there's a chasm between intentions and outcomes? We snark about this a lot, but it's weird to see our worst stereotypes of you be so strongly confirmed.

    3. Businesses have the most concentrated interest, so they always pay to get the best seat at the table with legislators. Legislators know that businessmen will compensate them well. Extant companies like being thrown into the briar patch of complex legislation because it's one of their biggest advantages against start-ups: giant barriers to entry.

    4. Has Noah addressed Burkhauser's response to Picketty and Saez about the middle class? It would be weird if he hadn't, but not everyone likes to approach the enemies strongest arguments.

    1. I think Noah has mentioned Burkhauser in a blog post or two, but I can't seem to access the TNR website currently. Back when it appeared however, I found these two posts interesting:

      The notion of intentions and outcomes is intuitive enough, but like many things, one certainly needs reminders and links to news about issues are helpful. One of the problems is that even good news sources do a poor job tracking implementation and further negotiation after legislative decisions are made.

      The liberal/conservative divide on these matters has long seemed to be one about necessity vs. futility. Everyone understands it's difficult. People have differing senses of whether there are better alternatives or whether imperfect implementation is still valuable or damning of the entire process.

    2. In that one post, Noah only briefly considers criticisms of Piketty/Saez's research and its implications when he writes:

      "Conard also makes much of the fact that if you go all the way back to 1979, when the Great Divergence began, the median income has risen, and it's risen even more when you factor in employee benefits and government transfers. This is a straw man. When people talk about the "stagnation" of incomes at the median what they mean is a.) stagnation relative to increases during the postwar years in the U.S.; and b.) stagnation relative to increases for the affluent and super-rich. No amount of statistical manipulation can make these two depressing trends go away."

    3. PF

      I'll just buy Noah's Gini book. He acts like a lawyer, but he at least writes well.

      "The notion of intentions and outcomes is intuitive enough, but like many things, one certainly needs reminders and links to news about issues are helpful. One of the problems is that even good news sources do a poor job tracking implementation and further negotiation after legislative decisions are made."

      Libertarians claim that implementation is almost everything. The Austrians were/are all over this idea: iteration, local knowledge, marginal improvements, tiny adaptations, and not just big jumps are what generate wealth. There's always more work to do. The idea that good intentions can be set to paper, and that it'll work out as well seems like the perfect fail. It's missing the whole point of life.

      I would think that liberals (who seem to want no limits to voting + legislation) would make it their duty to track this stuff. It shouldn't be, "hey guys, we can't forget to check up once in a while!"

    4. Touché. I'm very much with you to a certain extent. The realist side of much libertarianism that jibes with public choice theory, etc. -- it's compelling to me, and it hits at vulnerabilities in the utopian elements of social democratic politics. And you'll find many a more disabused sort of American liberal emphasize how the real work of instituting public policy is a hard slog of day-in, day-out work and monitoring. Advocacy groups which one wishes had more influence and prominence have been trying to follow health insurance reform, Dodd-Frank, etc, trying to make sure some sense of public good wins out over powerful interests groups or over those trying to sabotage a democratically passed measure. But I'd also say that I think the implications from the libertarian critique go too far in terms of rejecting when government is necessary for some things. Futility shouldn't always be the lesson learned.

  3. How is Milton Bradley that similar to Ben Grieve?

    In long-run averages: maybe.
    But Ben Grieve was what he was. Day in, day out. Consistent, and a decent player with decent pop, but nothing special.
    Milton Bradley had very impressive baseball skills combined with a truly comical penchant for finding some way to screw it up (either mentally, emotionally, or physically). Any given day, Bradley could have been the best player in baseball; most days, he was the worst clubhouse cancer that ever existed.

    1. BTW, as an A's fan, I can't help but point out that Ben Grieve led the league once in only one statistic: GIDP.
      In case you're wondering, his 2000 season is the all-time high in GIDP in a season (tied with Jim Rice, who appears to be to have been the best at this: 6th all-time, but nobody close to him played only 16 seasons).
      And his teammate Miguel Tejada has the record for the most times leading the league (5), though after the As.

  4. Interesting you bring that up. When I first read this post I was shocked as will by that comparison. I went to look up Grieve's stats and he had surprisingly good on-base skills. I had always viewed him as a trikeout prone, one tool (power) kind of player. But the kid could actually get on base. Which of course is what I think of when I think about Milton. But damn, Grieve has a higher career OBP. Impressive.

    Of course as a Rangers fan I will always think of him as the son of longtime Rangers' broadcaster (and GM and player) Tom Grieve.

    1. Oh, no doubt about it: Grieve was a classic Moneyball player. Bradley? Not so much. Bradley COULD have been a HOFer. But Bradley wouldn't let him be one.

  5. ^
    This comment was meant for Matt Jarvis.


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