Sunday, January 3, 2016

December Links

The idea of a Basic Universal Income has been talked about for a long time and has gotten support from such diverse sources as Milton Friedman and the Pirate Party.  The idea is that everybody basically gets money from the government every month.  If that's less than they would have paid in taxes then their taxes are reduced but otherwise they get a check.  The problem with our current system is that its possible for someone making $20k a year to lose more than $10,000 in benefits if they get a raise to $30k a year though it isn't common.  What is common is that they face a very high effective marginal tax rate on that extra $10k and the poor and rich tend to be the most likely to change their behavior in response to tax rates since the poor have more opportunities to save money by doing things other than working and the rich are making enough anyways.  And unlike salaried middle class employees poor people usually have hourly wages and rich people have significant bonuses.  So that's the idea.  Now it looks like Finland is going to try it.

It looks like California is going to be making Google's self driving cars illegal by requiring all automated cars to also be human drivable.  This is a bad idea because transitioning from automated to human driven modes is likely to be very dangerous because people will be out practice and distracted when it happens.  Also that wouldn't really work for disabled people who could potentially benefit from the technology.  Good regulation is critical for self driving cars since safety problems would seriously slow down adoption but these aren't good regulations.

The popular take on the Dunning-Kruger effect is wrong.  I actually knew that but the article goes on to talk about the relationship between money and happiness and I'll admit I fell into just the trap the author described.

Gay and bisexual men can donate blood now!

SpaceX landed their rocket!  It's sooty but in good shape!  Blue Origin did something similar last month but this is much more impressive!

I've long thought that it was sort of silly to use the equinox to say when winter starts and that just calling December, January, and February winter would both be simpler and do a better job of telling you when it would be cold.  I had no idea that this was such a well supported idea used in most countries and that I could just refer to it as "meteorological winter."

I like board games and I like public policy so I'm happy to see people using games to illustrate public policy problems.  Here's  Bay Area Regional PlannerCalifornia Water Crisis, and High Speed Rail.  Of course it would be best to have some that weren't California specific but I still applaud.

The robots I'm working on are still sufficiently stealth mode that I can't be posting links here for our holiday stuff but here's Boston Dynamics's robots in holiday mode.

I was going to write something about our paternalistic relationship with our employers and how that relates to the gig economy and how we could maybe do better.  Then Tim Harford did it better.

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