In a 1991 study, University of Pennsylvania economist Edwin Mansfield, whose specialty was studying technology, reported the results of a survey he conducted on seventy-six firms in seven manufacturing industries. His goal, wrote Niskanen, was to “determine the share of the firms’ new products and processes that could not have been developed without academic research conducted within the prior fifteen years.” Only 11 percent of new products and 9 percent of new processes, Mansfield found, “could not have been developed, without substantial delay, in the absence of recent academic research.” Moreover, the products and processes that depended on academic research, pointed out Niskanen, “accounted for only 3 percent of sales and 1 percent of the industry savings attributable to technological innovation.”
In short, strong evidence should make one doubt the claim that basic research is crucial for advances in technology.
My GMU Econ colleague Tyler Cowen, citing a recent paper by Gerald Auter and David Splinter, finds good reason to distrust the empirical findings about income inequality offered by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman. A slice from Tyler’s article:
And the earlier records of Piketty, Saez and Zucman are controversial. Piketty’s bestseller Capital in the 21st Century, published in English in 2014, attributed wealth inequality (as distinct from income inequality) to superior returns on capital. But the current best understanding is that recent rises in wealth inequality come primarily from real estate holdings. Other researchers (one of whom is my colleague Vincent Geloso) dispute how Piketty and Saez measure US income inequality since 1917. An earlier Saez and Zucman paper assumed that the corporate income tax does not induce capital to shift out of the corporate sector, an improbable assumption.
To be sure, Auten and Splinter are not the first to critique the Piketty-Saez-Zucman theory of the case; Alan Reynolds took it on in his 2006 book Income and Wealth, and Auten and Splinter cite other precursors . To its discredit, the news media did not give these results very prominent coverage — though there were notable exceptions. Nonetheless, these results will not be a surprise to everybody.
At the very least, the presumption in favor of Piketty, Saez and Zucman is now gone. For the time being, there are better arguments, based on better data, that suggest very different conclusions.
Given those stakes, Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, along with nine ex‐presidents from Latin America, and numerous other pro‐democracy leaders, activists, and intellectuals issued a statement today in support of Javier Milei. The only way out of Argentina’s crisis, they write, is through political and economic freedom, rather than the populist path the country has been on. Below, I offer an English translation of the statement. See the original in Spanish here that includes a list of all of the signatories.
At the annual public meeting of the University’s president with the student government leaders, a band of chanting radicals from the student body disrupted the event and presented a collection of the kind of imperiously ignorant demands that such students typically believe they are called by the Justice Gods to force down the throats of the institutions that have admitted them to study there.
I am certain that if you sat down with the letter writers and the disrupters of the Bucknell event and gave them a test on the history of Arab and Muslim interactions with Jews in the Middle East beginning at the First Aliyah in the early 1880s you would not find even one of them that could achieve a passing grade on that test. (Indeed, I’d be surprised if any of them could even tell you what “the First Aliyah” is.) They have read nothing beyond perhaps a few radical tracts they found online, or some dribs and drabs of Chomsky and Zinn and similar far leftist ideologues assigned by their professors.
But they feel not the slightest hesitation in asserting their perfect and superior knowledge of a tremendously complicated topic because they are so filled with self-righteousness and the sense that everything they feel is Truth itself. They feel no responsibility to inform themselves about matters on which they have opinions derived solely from breathing the air of the identity politics atmosphere in which they exist. They are just fine about having read next to nothing and having spent no considerable amount of time thinking about the matter at hand because of their rock-solid certainty that whatever they feel is instantly and totally correct.
As we approach the 60th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, Jim Piereson looks back on that event. [DBx: John F. Kennedy’s assassination is my earliest memory that I can date – my earliest memory of more than staccato images, such as those, when I was three or four years old, of my father coming home late one night, into my family’s tiny living quarters, from his then-job as a bus driver for the City of New Orleans (or as New Orleanians of a certain age will recall, for NOPSI). On Friday, November 22nd, 1963, I was five years old, in kindergarten at the Immaculate Conception School in Marrero, LA – just across the Mississippi river from downtown. (My family moved from downtown to “across the river” the year before.) I remember clearly that our teacher, Miss (Mrs.?) Pellegren (sp?), upon hearing that the president had been pronounced dead, had her students stand to pray for JFK’s soul. I also recall later that evening sitting in my grandmother’s lap at my paternal-grandparents’ home at 1337 Elysian Fields Avenue in New Orleans watching the black-and-white t.v. images of Kennedy’s casket being either loaded onto the plane in Dallas or removed from the plane in DC – on this latter point my memory is uncertain. I don’t remember Lee Harvey Oswald’s own killing or any other particulars of the world from that moment on until the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show some ten weeks later. Watching – utterly enthralled – that much more joyous event featuring lots of maliciously long hair and deliciously happy music, I was again seated in the lap of the same grandmother, Teresa Flanagan Boudreaux, who I adored, but who in November 1967 died of cancer at the age of 62 when I was nine. It boggles my mind that I’m now three years older than was Maw Boudreaux at her death.]