Saturday, 15 January 2005


Alex Tabarrok suggests that critiques of the social security tax as “regressive” miss the point:

The payroll tax is regressive but benefits are progressive and on net the social security system is progressive—a 45 year old male with an income twice the national average, for example, will in present value pay into the system $243,700 more than he will receive in benefits. (Part of this net loss comes from progressivity and a larger part from the fact that all currently young workers will pay more in present value taxes than they will receive in benefits). [citation omitted]

I’d say that the system is generally progressive, but there are subpopulations for whom I’d question that conclusion—according to the CDC, the average African-American male born in 1975 or earlier can expect to collect virtually no social security benefits, because he will have died before becoming eligible to collect benefits at age 62.

Virginia: now for unwed lovers too

Amber Taylor and Glenn Reynolds are among those noting that Virginia’s Supreme Court has struck down that state’s anti-fornication statute on the basis of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 decision, Lawrence v. Texas. But the morals police will be delighted to know that Mississippi’s 1848 statute banning such behavior remains in force.

Roid rage

David Pinto has a good explanation of Type I and Type II error in the context of baseball’s new plan for steroid testing, while Jayson Stark has a pretty good Q and A on the agreement that nonetheless makes a rather dumb statement:

What’s amazing, in some ways, is that one positive steroid test actually carries a more serious penalty than a cocaine-possession conviction. One positive steroid test leads to an immediate suspension. It takes two cocaine convictions to get suspended.

Unless someone shows some evidence that doing coke or pot improves athletic performance, it seems to me that baseball is properly putting the emphasis on drugs that affect the integrity of the game; while it’s potentially embarrassing to the league to have a coke-head on the field, his presence doesn’t encourage any other player to do coke. Indeed, if coke and pot were legal substances, it’s likely the only ban on those substances in any sport would be on their use on the field because of public image issues, similar to the ban on tobacco use.

Really stepping in it

Uh oh, Alexandra Samuel just added insult to injury:

[L]et me agree with all those who pointed out that political science is not a “real” science. I am always available for a long diatribe on this subject myself, and will happily sign on for a campaign to rename it political studies.

For my part, let me say that I will happily sign on to a campaign to rename whatever Dr. Samuel does “political studies” (or “government” or “politics” or whatever she and her like-minded colleagues want) so those of us who actually apply the scientific method to the study of politics can reserve the title “political scientist” for ourselves.

As for me, though, I only offer the suggestion in the spirit of good humor, lest I be accused of advocating excommunication, although some reeducation may nonetheless be in order.