Another article in Slate gets to why economists love E-bay. Namely, that it provides a whole lot of data. One discovery was that hidden reserves with E-bay auctions appear to be counter-productive. The experiment was done by selling Pokemon cards both with and without the reserves. This gets to why I'm kind of excited to be in Political Science right now. For a while the field has been moving more towards empiricism. There's a whole lot of exciting new stuff to potentially discover.
On a related note, Christopher Hayes has an article in The Nation on heterodox economists. The article essentially covered how divergence from neo-liberal economic thought tends to result in professional stigmatization. The short summary of the neo-liberal model is that "markets, private property and minimal government will achieve maximum welfare." This is strongly associated with rational choice theory and the every popular Freakonomics. On the whole, the article left me feeling heartened because of its discussion of behavioral economics which is much more based on experimental testing. The heterodox economist weren't quite satisfied, but it still seems like a big step forward to me. On the whole I thought the article was interesting but not compelling. Every field has heterodox researchers that catch some level of social stigma. Often, this is because they're full of crap. Hayes didn't give me enough to tell how solid these heretics are on the research. However, when it comes to developmental economics, I"m still not at all sure that economics isn't like old school doctors that tended to do more harm than good.
That's not to say that I think we should ignore economics. The L.A. Times has a great editorial comparing cap, cap-and-trade, and tax methods of reducing carbon production. I think it makes a compelling case for tax, but that's my longstanding position.
Finally, more arguments about the immigration guest work program. Here's blogger Matt Yglesias for the con side. Essentially he argues that guest workers are worse off in terms of political protections than regular immigrants and so will be exploited. Dani Rodrik makes the pro-case. Essentially if you treat guest workers as having 5% of the value of U.S. workers, than the benefit they gain from their work balances out the wage loss suffered by less-skilled workers.
Here's my compromise proposal:
Don't make a guest worker program. Instead, reimburse immigrants who decide to go back to their native country. This reimbursement could be a taken from of the social security payments that they'll never get back or from fees they paid to get in the U.S. This way, they aren't politically second class but also have an incentive to go home. I think I stole that idea from the Economist, but I'm not sure.