1. Generic vs. brand-name pills: Research shows billions of dollars are wasted on over-the-counter medicine.  →

    Registered nurses have more modest incomes than doctors, but are shown to be far more likely to buy generic pain relievers than other people with similar incomes. Most strikingly of all, professional pharmacists—the people who know which pills are which—are even less likely to buy name brand than are doctors and nurses. This all strongly suggests that rich people avoid generics not because the pills are inferior, or even because they’re showing off, but simply because they’re careless. … Nobody I know thinks advertising works on them or on anyone else. But it’s clear that even when marketers don’t have any meaningful information to convey about why you should buy their product, investments in branding nonetheless move purchasing decisions.

  2. War on coal: A pretty good idea. →

    the only way to consider new coal-fired plants a remotely plausible undertaking is to completely ignore the social costs of burning the coal. By the same token, simply throwing all my garbage into my neighbor’s back yard could look like a cheap and appealing alternative to proper trash disposal if I were allowed to completely ignore the costs to my neighbor.

    Getting rid of direct subsidies and then attacking indirect subsides is all that is need to make wind and solar competitive.

  3. Keith Hennessy on Bush and the financial crisis. →

    One of my students asked “How involved was President Bush with what was going on?” I smiled and responded, “What you really mean is, ‘Was President Bush smart enough to understand what was going on,’ right?” The class went dead silent. Everyone knew that this was the true meaning of the question.

    I used to joke about someone explaining the collapse of Lehman to Bush and him asking how big a tax cut do we need to save Lehman?

  4. Yglesias: Obama's Five Percent Pay Cut Is Absurd →

    This business of President Obama giving himself a five percent pay cut in solidarity with sequester-ravaged federal agencies seems totally absurd to me. Who is better off thanks to this? It doesn’t seem to free up any budgetary funds for anything.

    I usually refrain form calling out politicians for grand standing. It’s part of the job. As long as it isn’t too bad, you have to let it slide. But this is such silly grandstanding that it needs to be mocked. How exactly will Obama’s life be different after this 5% cut? Will he have to bring a brown bag lunch on Air Force one?

  5. What Problem Are DC's New Food Truck Regulations Trying To Solve? →

    I know some people of a market urbanist persuasion take the view that trucks’ very existence is a sign of the failure of zoning codes and regulations, but I actually think trucks are an important lunch solution on the merits.

    I would not be surprised if these regulations are being pushed by the fast food industry.

  6. Prices out of Park Slope: America needs more filtering and less gentrification. →

    it’s still possible to step back from the distributive conflict, and say that as long as we’re parceling out a fixed supply of Park Slope someone is going to get stuck with that longer subway ride. But if you can actually make more Park Slope—either by building more houses there or improving the quality of subway access to other parts of Brooklyn—then you’re making progress on a more fundamental level.

  7. Drones don’t target U.S. citizens. They kill them overseas as collateral damage. →

    For months, members of Congress have asked to see memos from Obama’s Office of Legal Counsel that outline the lawfulness of the administration’s targeting policies. The White House has been stonewalling them. Why? One reason may be that some of the memos are defective early drafts. The Times says that after Obama’s lawyers wrote their first memo, they discovered by reading a blog that they hadn’t taken into account a federal law that seemed to prohibit drone strikes on American citizens abroad.

    Worth a read.

  8. Yglesias: the case for a higher minimum wage doesn't strictly require that there be no disemployment effect →

    the case for a higher minimum wage doesn’t strictly require that there be no disemployment effect. After all, if you can boost earnings for a huge swathe of low-income Americans at the cost of one guy losing his job that seems like an acceptable price to pay. Two guys? Still acceptable. And so on.

  9. Yglesias: The American economy is simultaneously overregulated and underregulated →

    The way I would put this is that the American economy is simultaneously overregulated and underregulated. It is much too difficult to get business and occupational licenses…Business licensing is different. “This city has too many restaurants to choose from” is not a real public policy problem, it’s only a problem for incumbent restauranteurs who don’t want to face competition.

    In a nutshell, regulations can make sense in the case of information asymmetry and in cases of negative externality. They usually don’t make sense as price controls. And in many cases, business and occupational licenses, taxi medallions, street vendor quotas and the like act as defacto price controls.

  10. (via Send Slate your design for the economy-saving $1 trillion platinum coin. - Slate Magazine)

    (via Send Slate your design for the economy-saving $1 trillion platinum coin. - Slate Magazine)