Friday, December 06, 2013

Jon Stewart: Gutless, (Economically) Brainless, but so Funny!

Jon Stewart has been making me laugh for over a decade now ... I started to tune in to The Daily Show just before the invasion of Iraq. He has often made the right calls politically and diplomatically over the years but almost every time he tackles economic or financial subjects, he sounds like an uncastrated male bovine with diarrhea. (That means a bunch of bullshit in case you missed the joke.) Last night was no exception as he berated somebody for asking if a $15 minimum wage is good for the economy, why isn't a $100,000 minimum wage? Of course nobody means that as a serious question. What she was really asking was how do central planners (like Stewart and others advocating for a higher minimum wage) know that $10 or $12 or $15 is the "right" figure economically. (As opposed to the one that is high enough to meet their policy objectives, which apparently is to garner votes for Democrats, who are hurting after the Obamacare website fiasco, but not so high as to cause inflation, immediate derision, etc.) Once you seriously begin to consider what the minimum wage "should" be economically, it soon becomes a silly exercise because the cost of living varies over place (and time) and the ability of businesses to pay it varies over industry, location, season, and so forth. A central planner who was really interested in the commonweal, i.e. in the most economically efficient outcome, would soon begin to pine for some sort of mechanism for balancing the number of workers with the need for workers in each industry ... and oh geesh there it is, supply and demand. If S&D lead to an equilibrium that is not socially efficient, direct subsidies are much more efficient than distorting the labor market with a wage floor.

I call Jon Stewart "gutless" because he won't have me on his show. He knows I will show him up and generally kick his knee jerk liberal, uneconomic brain all over his own stage and do it in a funny way too. I have sent him books before, with handwritten notes, etc., and never so much as a query has come from his office. He has another opportunity now, with the launch of my Corporation Nation from the University of Pennsylvania Press on Monday, December 9, 2013. The book should appeal to him at some level because it shows that corporate governance has broken down, giving execs too much power over their own compensation, by exploring in detail for the first time early U.S. corporate governance rules, which contained numerous checks and balances against arbitrary power that began to seriously erode after the Civil War and today are almost completely gone. I'll be on the East Coast a few times over the next few months to make it even easier for him to finally have on his show an intellectual who is not part of the NE academic elite. But he won't because he is afraid of what scholars in the Midwest might think or say, setting back his apparent attempt to brainwash his viewers with liberal economics of dubious (to say the least!) merit.

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