NY Firemen after 9-11

To be honest I could have sworn that I had blogged about this already, but I did a search and couldn’t find anything.
I want to write an empirical paper that compares the quality of firemen in Manhattan before and after 9-11. My theory is that the abilities or quality of the average fireman after 9-11 declined compared to before. “Well that’s because we lost some of our best and brightest,” you might say. My theory is that the decline is due to the increased non-monetary rewards of approbation after the attacks. In other words, firemen receive both a financial salary plus whatever sort of honors and prestige come with the position. After 9-11, my guess is that the approbation rewards for firemen shot through the roof but the monetary wages remained relatively the same. In this new pay out structure there is less control over the particular incentives that induce quality. Even bad firemen (I need some proxy variable for quality: results on tests, response time, etc) get high approbation rewards. When the slacker fireman or the guy who just isn’t pulling his weight lately shows up at a cocktail party and people find out he’s a fireman they still ooh and ahhh at his bravery right along side the top performers.
Maybe there are even some implications about the cultural identity of firemen. My guess is that most fireman’s opportunity costs of becoming a fireman is some other line of blue collar labor. Where as given higher approbation pay scales, people with higher opportunity costs join the field. Maybe before 9-11 most firemen joined the team to make a living and provide for their families, whereas after the attacks the applicant pools were filled with thrill seekers and spectators.

The Websites of Economists.

My new paper, The Internet and the Structure of Discourse: The Websites of Economists at Harvard and George Mason co-authored with Dan Klein is now published online at Econ Journal Watch. Here is the abstract:
We investigate the websites of economists at Harvard University and George Mason University. We draw a contrast between the two departments by using Robert Nelson’s distinction between the “scholastic” and the “pietistic” approaches to knowledge and discourse. Scholasticism is hierarchical in structure and tends to produce work that is inaccessible to lay readers. Pietism is “flat” in structure and strives to communicate directly with lay readers. The Internet enables economic discourse in the “pietistic” vein, notably direct communication with the “laity” and other forms of public discourse. From the economists’ material found online, we count and compare publications of various types and the online availability of listed works. The data help to characterize Harvard as relatively scholastic and GMU as relatively pietistic. Our intention is not to criticize Harvard for being too scholastic, nor to celebrate George Mason (our home institution) for being pietistic. Our motivations are simply to advance some ideas about how the Internet might affect economic discourse and to suggest that the extent and forms of web utilization serve as a kind of metric on the scholastic-pietistic continuum.

Join Stumble Upon right now!

At first, I thought Stumble was just a neat toolbar that you could add onto firefox and click from time to time when you wanted the internet to entertain you. But it’s so much more. It has all of the best parts of every web 2.0 site I’ve seen but better.
Two problems:
1. You probably don’t know very many people on it. Especially if you’re not on it. So get on it and stay on it.
2. Because the sample of people on it are first adopters you get a bizarre internet version of information. For example, I was the first person to “discover” several websites whose reputations in reality far outpaces what their observed reputation on the web is.
Case in point, in the world of stumble I was the first to discover these important sites:
The AEA: The worlds most prominent economics organization.

The Mercatus Center
: The top economic educator on capital hill.

The Mont Pelerin Society
: Economic network begun by FA Hayek and consisting of several if not all of the living Nobel Prize winners in economics.
Randy Barnett: Has arguably advanced the arguments for anarchism in academic mainstream more than anyone alive.
Andrei Shleiffer: The best non-Austrian economist.