I'm taking five courses this term:
Archive for September, 2004
In light of this, let me tell you why the Kyoto Protocol is bad public policy.
The Kyoto Protocol is essentially a licensing regime of states designed to reduce emissions of specific gases. We want to reduce, or abate, emissions of the gases because they create a "greenhouse" effect that influences world temperature, and changes in world temperature could be harmful.
I am not disputing that certain gases have a greenhouse effect. Nor am I disputing that human activity adds these gases to the atmosphere. But I do want to point out that we are uncertain about many aspects of climate change, both scientific and economic.
On 12 September, I tried to outlast eight other people in a game of Survivor. Instead of a remote island, we played the game at South Muskoka Curling and Golf Club. Golf survivor, if you will.
During the season, members of the club attempted to qualify for Survivor by paying two dollars, and the ten men with the lowest net scores played off in a nine hole challenge (one player didn't show up). The prize? $200, or half of the entry fees over the season.
So, nine players tee off on the first hole and the highest net score is eliminated. Then, eight players play the second hole and, again, the highest net score is eliminated. Ties chip off from the edge of the green, and the furthest from the hole loses.
I made it till the third last hole, but did I ever explode! I took an 11 on a par four, which included three tee shots (I found only the second one), a bunch of shots in the bushes, a double-hit chip and a two-putt. Grr.
The experience was good. Even though I exploded, I played well. And it was the most pressure I've ever played under.
In my economic analysis class, we talked about an essay by Joseph Stiglitz called "The Private Uses of Public Interests: Incentives and Institutions." In his essay, Stiglitz writes about the failures of the USA government to implement Pareto or near-Pareto improvements. Stiglitz's comments on the challenges of implementing Pareto improvements interested me.
One challenge that Stiglitz identifies is the tendency of politicians to make things into a zero-sum game. The easiest way to do this is to focus on relative improvement. So, instead of accepting a situation where both parties are better off (although to different degrees), one party refuses to deal. Consider this example, provided by my professor.
A group of people is randomly divided into groups of two. Within the group, one person is randomly chosen as the banker and given ten dollars. The banker is supposed to divide the ten dollars between herself and the other person (in $1 increments). The other person can accept or reject the offer. This process is repeated a number of times. The participants do not know how many times the process will be repeated, but they do know that the goal is to get as much money as possible. Interestingly, many people refuse the banker's offer (which is often $1/$9).
Anyway, I think similar thinking underlies the deadlock in CBA negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA. And, sadly, only time will erode both sides focus on relative improvement. It occurred to me that this lockout provides economists with a captive audience for economic theory. Universities should hold seminars on bargaining theories for interested fans.
Long time, no post.
Adina and I are settling into our new apartment in Kingston. It's pretty good so far: large rooms and high ceilings, but dirty and noisy. We're slowly but surely unpacking our belongings (only ten boxes of books left to go!). We're using frequently the entertainment centre we bought from Canadian Tire for $150, mostly because of the World Cup of Hockey and the CSI marathon on Spike TV.
The orientation to the MPA programme has been good. The faculty and staff of the school are trying very hard to make us socialize with each other, which I think is good, especially for anti-social nerds like me.
I think that I might blog a bit about the programme. But I'm not sure.