John Irons's Blog


Economic News, Data and Analysis

The Daily Show on Taxes

The Daily Show has the definitive commentary on the most recent round of tax changes…
View video here.

Filed under: Economics

Snow Needs Databot

I don’t know what I find more disturbing… that Treasury Secretary Snow is looking at nominal wages, not real. Or that he doesn’t know the inflation rate.
Perhaps he should sign up for databot…

Brad DeLong’s Semi-Daily Journal: The Bush Economic Policy Clown Show: in the Center Ring
The Bush Economic Policy Clown Show: in the Center Ring
Treasury “Secretary” John Snow humiliates himself yet again:
Gotcha!: Treasury Secretary John Snow… boasted… “Average hourly earnings are picking up. We learned from this month’s jobs report that average hourly earnings have risen 3.8% over the past 12 months — their largest increase in nearly five years.” But Snow’s briefers apparently didn’t prepare him for questioning by Rep. Barney Frank….
“Mr. Secretary,” Frank said, “I agree with much of your statement, but I confess to some trouble with your citation of the rise in hourly wages. What’s the CPI increase over the past 12 months? Do you know?”
Replied Snow: “Well, about 5, I think, 5.1.”
To which Frank said: “…[Y]ou would acknowledge that 3.8% increase in wages you’re talking about is nominal, not adjusted for inflation, correct?”
Snow, who has a Ph.D. in economics, was a bit flummoxed at first. “I’ll have to go back, Congressman, and check these numbers,” he said.
“That’s not a trick question,” Frank insisted.
“I know it’s not,” replied the Treasury secretary. He then confirmed that the 3.8% was nominal, that is unadjusted for inflation.
“…I think it’s misleading to talk about the 3.8% over 12 months when that doesn’t take into account inflation…. I’d ask you to submit to us, what’s it been over 24 months, 36 months and 48 months, because, in fact, during this recovery… wages have dropped… compared to inflation.” Mr. Snow promised to deliver more numbers…

Filed under: Economics

Jared Bernstein on Eddie Lazear Via Delong

Bernstein via DeLong…

Brad DeLong’s Semi-Daily Journal
Jared Bernstein on Eddie Lazear
Jared Bernstein thinks Eddie Lazear has drunk too much of the koolaid. He writes:
Why’d Ya Do It, Eddie? When Good Economists Go Bad. By Jared Bernstein
Edward Lazear is a really interesting economist who just weeks ago took the job as chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. But as did Greg Mankiw, he has already drunk deeply of the magic elixir that flows from the CEA’s water coolers—the one that makes top economists say lowly things.
On Monday, May 8, Lazear and CEA colleague Katherine Baicker (L&B) had an oped in the Wall St. Journal that presented economic data with a level of spin I’m sure they’d never accept from an undergrad.
Essentially, L&B engage in two sleights of hand. First, they try to create the impression that growth over the past few years has been broadly shared, and secondly, they cite long-term tends with no reference to the fact that the gains occurred pre-2000. They then tout Bush economic policies with no regard to the fact that the trends they cite became uniformly worse over his tenure.
Here are a few examples of their misleading arguments.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Encouraging the Production of Open Source Software

Encouraging the Production of Open Source Software – Center for American Progress
The National Open Source Fellowships and the National Open Source Prizes are a Commitment to Encourage the Growth of Our Collective Commons
by John Irons and Carl Malamud
April 27, 2006
Open source software is a contribution by corporations and by individual citizens to strengthening our Internet infrastructure, growing our economy, and making our society a better place. Open source software becomes a fundamental building block in commercial software. For example, Microsoft Windows incorporates many important open source components in their popular operating system. Open source software also answers needs that are not met by commercial software producers: the creation of solutions that benefit the community at large but may not be ready yet for the marketplace. For example, “Wiki” software was used to create the Wikipedia, a collective reference work that rivals the encyclopedias produced in prior eras. Open source software facilitates learning and the dissemination of knowledge. Open source software is a public good and deserves public support.
What can the U.S. government do to further encourage this important phenomenon? The government can take steps to encourage the production of new software and to reward the best software that has been produced using two simple mechanisms:
1. A program for the awarding of National Open Source fellowships, available in equal numbers to students and to working professionals. Students who are awarded the fellowships would be able to cover the costs of their tuition and living expenses while producing a piece of valuable software that is available as open source. Likewise, a working programmer who was awarded such a fellowship could treat it much like a professor might treat a Guggenheim fellowship: an opportunity to take some time off from their job and devote full-time to the production of something they care deeply about and that benefits the community.
2. A juried National Open Source Prize to reward the open source software products that have most benefited our collective commons. The fellowships encourage people to produce new software; the Prizes recognize real results that have already benefited society.
Read more…

Filed under: Economics