Chicago, Athens, and Jerusalem

Economics/Politics, Math/Sci/Tech, and Religion/Music/Arts

Happy New Year!

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on January 1, 2009

Happy 2009 to my friends, family, and readers!

Regardless of how good or bad your 2008 was, I hope that your 2009 is better!

Posted in Announcements | Comments Off on Happy New Year!

More from Scott Adams

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on December 31, 2008

Scott Adams, cartoonist and humorist best known as the creator of Dilbert, commissioned a survey of economists’ attitudes on current US political issues. The results came in just before the election (also see this CNN piece about the survey and Tyler Cowen’s quick summary and comment), and they don’t surprise me, but I am more interested in Adams’ continued small revelations about what he really believes (as opposed to irony or devil’s advocacy, tools he uses frequently). Here’s his personal view, also written shortly before the election:

I should pause here and confess my personal biases, since the messenger is part of the story. On social issues, I lean Libertarian, minus the crazy stuff.

Moneywise, I can’t support a candidate who promises to tax the bejeezus out of my bracket, give the windfall to a bunch of clowns with a 14 percent approval rating (Congress), and hope they spend it wisely.

Unfortunately, the alternative to the guy who promises to pillage my wallet is a lukewarm cadaver. I’m in trouble either way.

I wonder if Adams is pleased with the outcome of the election…

Posted in Economics, Politics | Comments Off on More from Scott Adams

All Eyes on America

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on November 5, 2008

Yesterday, Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States of America.

Congratulations to President-elect Obama, to Vice-President-elect Joe Biden, and to their campaign staff and volunteers on their victory, and for running the most disciplined, organized, and efficient political campaign in national history.

Congratulations as well to John McCain for persevering in this hard-fought contest, which featured a remarkable comeback in the primary elections, and a difficult campaign trail where McCain was often at odds with his own supporters.

As the eyes of the world turned to America last night, our country was admirably represented by McCain and Obama as they delivered, respectively, the best concession speech and the best victory speech of the modern era.

For better or for worse, we will soon close the book on the era of President George W. Bush. The people of the United States, be they Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Independents, or None-of-the-Aboves, will be judged by our peers abroad (and by our descendants) not for the vagaries of the campaign, but for what is accomplished from this day forward. As former Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush, Sr. said in a rare joint charity appearance, “No one can change what happened. But we can all change what happens next.” Now the real work begins.

Posted in Politics | Comments Off on All Eyes on America

Israeli Politics Update

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on October 27, 2008

As linked in the previous post, Israel is currently in the midst of a(nother) political upheaval. Over the summer, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was forced to tender his resignation due to corruption investigations. Primary elections for his Kadima party, which currently heads a shaky coalition government, resulted in a victory for Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who was given a fixed amount of time to re-organize a governing coalition with herself as Prime Minister. The negotiations went down to the wire, but they have ended in deadlock. The centrist Kadima party reached tentative agreements with the center-left parties Labor and Meretz, but Kadima leaders were unable to gain enough parties to constitute a majority in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. Livni has acknowledged this, putting the country on track for elections in early 2009. Olmert will continue to serve as Prime Minister until a new government is formed after the elections.

Although the coalition negotiations were complex, Livni’s failure to form a government ultimately rested on the unwillingness of two religious-affiliated parties that tenuously supported Olmert, Shas and United Torah Judaism, to join Livni’s new coalition. From my perspective, the key to their intransigence was opposition to the concessions accompanying further peace negotiations:

“…[Shas Chairman] Yishai was told as soon as the negotiations started that Livni would not accept a coalition agreement that excluded Jerusalem from the political talks with the Palestinians…”

Unfortunately, the revitalized Kadima led by the diplomatically-inclined Livni–who possesses the desire and wherewithal to press ahead with major negotiations that could complete the outlines of a two-state solution–may never get the chance to lead Israel. Elections could benefit the center-right (currently opposition) Likud party, led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as easily as the informal Kadima-Labor-Meretz alliance. Likud is known to favor a reversal of the current Kadima government’s policies of removing Jewish settlers from the Palestinian Territories and offering land swaps to compensate the Palestinians for Israeli annexations. While an increased Knesset margin for Kadima and/or Labor could put peace talks back on track after the election (by March?), a Likud victory would almost certainly shut down negotiations, possibly causing military retrenchment by both Israelis and Palestinians.

Posted in Politics | Comments Off on Israeli Politics Update

Somewhat-timely links

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on October 25, 2008

1. Greg Mankiw on health insurance policy, last year and this year. See also here.

2. Christoper Buckley endorses Obama. One of Obama’s former professorial colleagues does not.

3. How Canada is relatively untouched by the financial crisis (free registration required).

4. A new essay by Nassim Taleb.

5. Efforts in the UK to improve their government-run health care system by using advanced information technology are falling short.

6. Tyler Cowen takes an overview of our economic situation.

7. As the ruling Kadima party fails to assemble a governing coalition, Israel is headed for elections.

Posted in Festival of Links, Random Thoughts | Comments Off on Somewhat-timely links

More financial crisis links

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on September 24, 2008

1. Arnold Kling offers some very astute play-by-play commentary on the developing US financial crisis, here, here, and here. He has more detailed posts on specific issues here and here.

2. Jim Manzi’s long but helpful overview.

3. Analysis from University of Chicago professors Douglas Diamond and Anil Kashyap, in “Frequently Asked Questions” format.

4. Tyler Cowen presents arguments against and for the the bailout. See also his own thoughts on the bailout proposals.

5. The Wikipedia article on credit default swaps.

Posted in Economics, Politics | 1 Comment »

The cloister bell is ringing

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on September 15, 2008

The metaphor.

The reality:

Lehman Bros files for bankruptcy

Fed holds fresh AIG crisis talks

Dow Drops 500 Points

Wall Street mauled by Lehman bankruptcy, AIG fears

It’s not quite the (financial) end of the world, but we need to brace ourselves and think very carefully about what we (and our policy-making leaders) do next.

Posted in Economics | 1 Comment »

The man ain’t got no culture

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on September 8, 2008

And by “the man”, I mean search engines.

Earlier today, I was searching the online archives of The Economist (the British newsweekly) to see if they printed an obituary for Welsh poet Ronald Stuart Thomas, who died a few months before I began reading that publication. The Economist now allows users to search the archives either via Google Custom Search or via their own internal search. Using Google for “Ronald Stuart Thomas” only returns a dozen or so unrelated results (or zero, searching for exact wording). Much to my surprise, using their internal search gives me either zero or one result, but also this:

No further comments, except that it turns out they did not run an obituary for R.S. Thomas in The Economist.

Posted in Arts and literature, Random Thoughts | Comments Off on The man ain’t got no culture

Remark of the Week

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on September 1, 2008

This week’s winner is previous winner Tyler Cowen, a prominent blogger and economist specializing in government, culture, and the arts.

I don’t have a lot of faith in the exact predictive powers of climate models, or for that matter economic models, but uncertainty about outcomes should make us worry more not less.  Uncertainty usually has two tails, not just one.

Cowen’s comment illustrates why, although I am somewhat skeptical of many claims associated with anthropogenic climate change and very skeptical of the specific predictions of most climate modelers, I favor moderate but immediate action to reduce carbon emissions and to prepare fail-safe measures for climate-related natural disasters. Provided, of course, that we can listen to economists as well as climate scientists and design policies with cost-benefit analysis in mind. On this subject, see William Nordhaus’ excellent book A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming and Freeman Dyson’s comments in his essay/review of that book.

Happy Labor Day to all my readers, and on this US holiday the thoughts and prayers of myself and my relatives go out to the residents of the Gulf Coast who have been separated from their homes, friends, and families by the hurricane-related evacuation.

Posted in Economics, Random Thoughts, Science | Comments Off on Remark of the Week

Festival of Links

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on August 23, 2008

As said before, I’ve missed a lot of cool stuff on the Internets due to not feeling well, but I’m back and swinging for the fences.

1. A profile of Reihan Salam, from the Daily Star‘s Forum monthly.

2. In defense of the new X-Files movie, by David Cox. I haven’t seen it yet, but I will eventually. My mom and her sister got me hooked on The X-Files TV series midway through its original broadcast (yes, the show went downhill in the last two seasons, but the previous X-Files movie was decent).

3. The Official Browseable Time Line of Internet Memes.

4. The fall of Hillary Clinton, meticulously explained in Joshua Green’s Atlantic Monthly feature.

5. According to a reliable first-hand account, American Airlines (and possibly other carriers as well) now charges a $100 fee if you take a pet in a carrier cage aboard the plane as a carry-on item.

6. The controversy over the University of Chicago’s proposed Milton Friedman Institute continues, as reported by my friend and former teacher Adam Kissel. Elsewhere, Brad DeLong, a top UC-Berkeley economist of center-left political affiliation (served in the Clinton administration, known for his constant attacks on the current president and Republicans in general), defends the MFI from its critics on the (academic) far-left.

7. On the behavior of lobbyists.

8. On the behavior of Internet trolls.

9. A detailed report on Barack Obama’s economic beliefs and policies, by David Leonhardt, forthcoming in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. Here is a good companion piece from MIT’s Technology Review, a profile of Austan Goolsbee, the University of Chicago professor who is Senator Obama’s top economic adviser.

10. My friend David Munk has resumed writing his mostly-about-music-blog, The Telharmonium. Here is his recent post about finding good running music.

11. Devin Pogue, my neighbor back when I was in high school and all-around nice guy, is engaged. I missed the news because I was ill, as mentioned in my previous post. Sorry I’m late saying this, but congratulations to Devin and his fiancée Sarah Ruggles!!!

12. Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, has an excellent post on why you should listen to economists, even if they can’t correctly predict specific economic indicators that far into the future (à la Taleb). Adams (I believe he is speaking non-ironically) also reveals himself to be a hybrid-centrist technocratic “market pragmatist” (to use the term I coined), who favors the left on social issues and the right on economic issues, and who opposes large-scale government interventions in either sphere for practical reasons rather than out of any particular small-government or anti-government ideology.

Posted in Festival of Links | 1 Comment »

Remark of the Week

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on August 10, 2008

The clear winner of the Remark of the Week for August 4 through August 10 is Roger Ebert.

The [“Sex and the City”] ladies should fill their flasks with cosmopolitans, go to see “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2” and cry their hearts out with futile regret for their misspent lives.

That’s from Ebert’s movie review for “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2”. He gave that film 3 Stars, while rating the “Sex and the City” movie from earlier this year at 2 Stars.

Yes, I often read Ebert’s reviews of movies that I would never actually be interested in seeing. In my own estimation, I have two clear reasons for this behavior: 1) Ebert is the mainstream movie critic whose recommendations closest match my own tastes, and 2) He is an exceptional writer, the first ever to win a Pulitzer Prize for film criticism, who frequently deploys clever and memorable phrases to share the highlights and lowlights of his movie-viewing. While he certainly has “off days”–reviews where he is clearly uninterested and forcing himself to write, oversimplifying in the process–and has had more since his recent illness, Ebert’s reviews of excellent or “classic” movies as well as those of movies he greatly dislikes are works of art. He even wrote a review of “Wet Hot American Summer” in verse, which can be sung to the tune of “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah”.

On a somewhat-related note, prolific musician Isaac Hayes–the original “Soul Man”–died earlier today.

On a unrelated note, I apologize for the gap in posting. I haven’t been feeling well the past three weeks due to an injury I sustained right around the time of the Modus Operandi show described in the July 17 post (which went awesomely, at least from this bass player’s viewpoint). Fortunately, I am almost completely better, and I am returning to a more normal schedule, which will include more time providing my readers (whoever you are) with links and commentary.

Only 12 weeks (and change) until Election Day!

Posted in Arts and literature, Music, Random Thoughts | Comments Off on Remark of the Week

More awesome live music (Tonight!)

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on July 17, 2008

Modus Operandi will be performing live at 8 pm tonight (Thursday, July 17) in Chicago. The location is MIX, 2843 North Halsted Street, just north of Diversey in Lakeview. The cost is (an incredibly low) $5 at the door, just make sure to tell them you’re there to see Modus Operandi. Especially if you missed their appearance in Evanston last month (but also if you’re in the area and looking for an evening activity), plan to spend an hour listening to this innovative Alternative/Electronic Rock group. Because MIX is a bar/cocktail lounge, there will be a dance floor and a wide selection of drinks for those so inclined, but admission is 21+ only.

As an added bonus for my friends, family, and readers, I will be playing bass guitar with Modus Operandi. The show will feature songs from both of the band’s albums, as well as new (not-yet-released) works.

Hope to see you there!

Posted in Music | Comments Off on More awesome live music (Tonight!)

The “$900 Dutch urban street bike”

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on July 9, 2008

The Executive Director of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation bought one–manufactured by Jorg & Olif–and is now using it as his primary means of transportation. Listen to the news story here.

Posted in Random Thoughts, Technology | Comments Off on The “$900 Dutch urban street bike”

Hear some awesome music this Saturday!

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on June 26, 2008

If you’re in the Chicago area this weekend, especially the North Side or the North Suburbs, stop by Bill’s Blues in Evanston, Illinois (1029 Davis Street) on Saturday afternoon between 3 and 8 pm to hear the unique Alternative/Electronic Rock sound of Modus Operandi. The band was founded by some very good friends of mine, also natives of the aforementioned geographic area, who are quite talented. This is their first live appearance, along with several other bands, as part of Big Time Productions’ Bill’s Blues All Ages Show, for which tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door. For more information, leave a comment or email Ben (top right of his website).

I will be spending the weekend in Washington DC, but I’m sure the awesomeness of the concert will propagate via long-distance subliminal sound waves, so I’ll literally feel the good vibrations in DC even if I can’t hear them.

Make the trip to see them if you can. You are extremely unlikely to regret it. You can sample the music of Modus Operandi on their MySpace Music page, and purchase their two released albums on iTunes by searching for “Modus Operandi” and clicking on the “artist” of that name.

If you like live music, you might–just possibly–also enjoy something called the Taste of Chicago. But hearing Modus Operandi should be your first priority if you’re free Saturday.

Posted in Music | 1 Comment »

A good prediction

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on June 24, 2008

On January 9, 2008, I wrote (regarding Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama):

…the two well-known and well-funded rivals have a long fight ahead to win their party’s nomination for the 2008 presidential election.

I don’t like to brag, but in hindsight that statement (and the predicted nature of the primary campaign implied by the phrase “well-known and well-funded”) sounds pretty cool, especially considering that many (including Senator Clinton) said the primaries would be finished by February.

Happy first week of summer! Only 19 weeks until Election Day!

Posted in Politics, Random Thoughts | Comments Off on A good prediction

Department of Meta

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on May 25, 2008

Nowadays, polls are so common that a telephone poll was done recently to estimate how often individuals are surveyed (the answer was about once per year).

Written by Columbia University statistician Andrew Gelman.

Also read Lance Fortnow, a Northwestern University professor of theoretical computer science, complaining about this issue and the related matter of self-selected sample bias.

Meta-curiosities aside, Gelman’s statement is part of a very interesting blog post (and follow-up) about whether or not it is rational to vote given the low probability of one vote being decisive.

Gelman and his colleagues blog at Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science, one of the most consistently-educational and useful academic discipline blogs. Although some of the posts discuss very specific issues in applied statistics and are not intended for lay audiences (I don’t know R, although I hope to learn one day, so I have to skip the posts about statistics coding), Gelman often links to and explains his own research. The papers analyzing voting, districting, party affiliation, and other political issues are especially interesting (and timely, considering that we’re approaching a potentially historic presidential and general election season in the US), and he also throws in posts about methodology/philosophy in statistics and social sciences for variety. A new book summarizing his applied research on US elections and voting behavior, Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State (see here also), is due to be published this fall.

P.S.: Thanks to Eli for pointing out in an unrelated conversation a few months ago that meta is Greek for “after”.

Posted in Politics, Random Thoughts, Science | 2 Comments »

Remark of the Week: “Peak Oil” Edition

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on May 18, 2008

There is also every reason to believe that gas prices will be lower in the future than they are now, in spite of the peak oil rhetoric.

Steven Levitt, the Alvin H. Baum Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and author of Freakonomics, discussing a scheme through which Chrysler pays for some of its customers’ gasoline. Here is more of Levitt criticizing the “peak oil” assertions.

Posted in Economics, Random Thoughts | Comments Off on Remark of the Week: “Peak Oil” Edition

Agreement with Me and Gintis RE: Krugman

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on May 18, 2008

One of Andrew Sullivan’s readers wrote:

Obama is an historic opportunity for the Dems of FDR proportions, a chance to remake the political landscape for a generation or more. And people like Krugman and his proxy Hillary, who want only political war, narrow short term score settling, are the alternative. If the Dems don’t nominate Obama, and go for Hillary…they will have shown themselves to be as corrupt, opportunistic, hypocritical, and small minded as the Republicans.

I say this as a life long Democrat who in 40 years of voting has only voted once for a Republican (who was running against Phil Gramm for congress)… [emphasis added]

Compare this with what I wrote about UMass professor Herbert Gintis, discussing Gintis’ critical review of Paul Krugman’s latest book:

[In contrast to Krugman, Gintis] is however, an insightful and fair-minded thinker who has repeatedly demonstrated that he doesn’t care about developing good rhetorical points for political debates, but rather about studying social problems such as poverty and poor schooling so that these problems can actually be ameliorated.

Posted in Economics, Politics | 1 Comment »

Remark of Two Weeks Ago

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on April 20, 2008

Sorry for the unscheduled absence. I took a vacation at the end of March, but since I’ve been back in Hyde Park, I haven’t been feeling well. I think I had some sort of stomach flu…

Here’s the CAJ Remark of the Week for the week of April 7, 2008:

In deciding how to vote, I ignore purely theological issues (e.g., whether the Mitt Romney’s LDS view of the afterlife is more plausible or less plausible than John Kerry’s Roman Catholic view), but I consider the extent to which the candidate’s religious philosophy may (like any other part of the candidate’s worldview) influence his or her public policy decisions.

That’s David Kopel at the Volokh Conspiracy, discussing the recent scrutiny of religious leaders who support or endorse the presidential candidates. The ideas in the above section are very similar to my own views (indeed, friends and relatives may have heard me use similar words when discussing Mitt Romney’s religion speech). Kopel continues,

In my view, it is relevant that a candidate has chosen spiritual mentors who are bigots or who are hostile to constitutional rights. Senator Obama’s close relationship with Rev. Pfleger makes me less confident that a President Obama would be a strong defender of the entire Bill of Rights and of civic tolerance.

As they say, read the whole thing.

Posted in Politics, Random Thoughts, Religion | 1 Comment »

Happy Pi Day 2008!

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on March 14, 2008

Have a very happy Pi Day!

Also, happy 129th anniversary of Albert Einstein‘s birth, and here’s hoping for a reflective and peaceful third anniversary of Lebanon’s Cedar Revolution.

homer-and-lisa-simpson-pi-button.gif

Posted in Mathematics | Comments Off on Happy Pi Day 2008!

Mississippi Matters ?!?

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on March 11, 2008

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are neck-and-neck in the race for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, so the 33 pledged delegates at stake in today’s Mississippi primary are crucial. Unless Hillary can hold Obama to a small lead (i.e., he wins <5 delegates more than she does), she will lose some of the momentum from her strong showing last week, it will be that much harder for her to rally her supporters for the six weeks of campaigning until the huge Pennsylvania primary on April 22.

I don’t want to predict who will win the Democrat’s nomination, because-despite the affirmations of Obama supporters (and Andrew Sullivan)-Hillary can still pull through and take the nomination at the convention, especially if she keeps her lead in Pennsylvania and finishes the primaries with a higher popular vote.

One thing is certain-anyone who nine (or even six) months ago said or thought that the Mississippi primary would receive wall-to-wall media coverage (in between tidbits from the Spitzer story) was smoking something.

Speaking of which, here’s the first really good song about Mississippi I could think of (it’s a pretty snazzy tune):

Posted in Politics | Comments Off on Mississippi Matters ?!?

No Hiding Place

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on March 11, 2008

…for Eliot Spitzer. The egotistical, posturing, thuggish, tax-cheating, power-mad Governor of New York State is facing impeachment and federal indictment after being caught frequenting an expensive prostitution service. The story broke yesterday in the New York Times, and rocketed its way through the rest of the media and the politics world. So far, Governor Spitzer (a Democrat and major supporter of NY Senator Hillary Clinton) has pulled a Larry Craig and refused to resign, but soon he will have no choice. He may also be disbarred (lose his license to practice law), the same fate that befell Mike Nifong.

Spitzer, who was once praised by New York Democrats and their media allies as the possible first Jewish President of the United States (shudder), made his name as “the sheriff of Wall Street”, prosecuting or threatening to prosecute companies in the wake of the 2000-2001 financial scandals from his post as the Attorney General of New York State. He earned this reputation serving as NY AG for 6 years, where he popularized the (barely constitutional) technique of indicting entire corporations over the wrongdoing of individual corrupt, fraudulent, or larcenous managers. This technique was developed by Spitzer’s ostensible political rivals (and Bush Administration Republicans) Michael Chertoff and John Ashcroft, who first deployed it against Arthur Andersen. That company’s conviction was later overturned by the US Supreme Court, but not until after the company was barred from conducting auditing work, leading to its collapse and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and the savings/pensions of many employees. Spitzer used the same tactics to enforce his apparently puritanical code of financial morals, as the mere threat of a company-wide indictment forced many corporations to pay huge settlements regardless of their alleged wrongdoing. No American in recent history (whose name isn’t Sarbanes or Oxley) has done more to damage the business competitiveness of the United States vis-à-vis other developed nations.

Here is an excellent litany of Spitzer’s sins, including hypocrisy, as the former Attorney General was a leading crusader against (wait for it…) high-class “escort services”. More recently, Spitzer abused his control over the NY state police to leak classified embarrassing documents about a political opponent to the media. (He also has the temerity to spell his first name the least common way-with one “L” and one “T”- just like I do.)

I am sorry for the humiliation and emotional distress that are being or will be inflicted upon Spitzer’s wife and daughters. However, in the grand scheme of things this scandal couldn’t possibly have fallen upon a more deserving man.

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments »

Remark of Last Week

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on February 11, 2008

“And when rational individuals face a miserable set of choices…they cannot do better than pick the best of a bad lot. We will not solve social problems if we pretend that they are caused only–or mostly–by the mad, the stupid, and the morally degenerate. But nor should we shrug our shoulders and declare that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. I hope that this book will show that although people tend to make smart choices, it is possible to offer them better ones.”

Tim Hartford, from his insightful and engaging new book The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World. Hartford, a Financial Times columnist and editor and formerly an economist for the World Bank and Royal Dutch/Shell, draws on recent and important research from economics, psychology, sociology, and history to explain the social-scientific logic behind problems ranging from gambling and annoying coworkers to racism and political instability. As they say, read the whole thing.

At Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen is hosting an online book forum about The Logic of Life. Cowen gave the book as favorable review, as did Nobel Prize winners Gary Becker and Tom Schelling.

Note: posting will continue to be light due to a combination of a heavy workload and some ill health the past two weeks that put me behind on said work (don’t worry, it’s not anywhere near as bad as the bizarre and debilitating intestinal infection I had a year ago). There may be a few more short or pre-written pieces like this, but mostly I’ll be busy. Have a nice week everyone!

Posted in Economics, Random Thoughts | Comments Off on Remark of Last Week

Remark of Two Weeks Ago

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on February 11, 2008

Many people are holding out the hope that the government can somehow substitute for the pharmas, bolstered by the ludicrous claim that the government really discovers all the drugs. This is arrant nonsense; government-funded research discovers targets that might someday turn into drugs, if the Big Pharma chemists can: find a molecule synthesis can be economically mass produced; keep the molecule from killing rats, mice, dogs, or humans; get the molecule into a form that does not have to be directly injected into the bloodstream; tweak the molecule so that the liver doesn’t immediately chew it into pieces that no longer affect your target; and shepherd the entire thing through years of clinical trials. That’s just off the top of my head; research chemists will undoubtedly have more.

Megan McArdle, as part of her excellent continuing series on pharmaceutical companies and US policy regarding them.

Posted in Economics, Politics, Random Thoughts | 1 Comment »