1. Passover is the original oppressor-oppressed narrative.
2. Sheryl Sandberg is much in the news with her book arguing that women ought to be more willing to choose to be ambitious and men ought to be more accomodating toward ambitious women. Here is her Ted talk. My takes:
a. I think a lot of the pushback that she gets in fact reinforces one of her points, which is that leadership qualities that are admired in men are resented in women.
b. The main pushback I would give is that I do not think that our goal should be to raise some women’s ambition up the level of that of the most-ambitious men. I think that hyper-ambitious males are a problem. They are a problem in finance, where they take excessive risks with other people’s money. They are a problem in government, where they exercise too much power. I think that ambition requires checks and balances. The market works imperfectly as a check on the ambition of executives. I think that institutional structures and social norms can provide a check on the ambition of politicians, and I regret that in our country both the structures and the norms have deteriorated considerably from that perspective.
c. I think that Sandberg’s thesis would provide a good discussion topic for a seder.
3. On April 3, Russ Roberts and Jared Bernstein will participate in a debate on whether or not to abolish the minimum wage. Tickets are $40. I am not sure what the audience expects at that price, and I expect that the price will affect the outcome. If you pay that much to get in, how can you not feel guilty voting to abolish the minimum wage? Especially so soon after Passover? My thoughts are:
a. The optimum minimum wage is probably closer to 0 than to $22 an hour, which is where Elizabeth Warren claims it might be.
b. The minimum wage issue is high on symbolism and low on substance. Few workers earn the minimum wage. As a practical matter, most workers’ reservation wage is much, much higher, as is demonstrated by the existence of unemployment. And most of the friction in the labor market comes from other factors, such as the payroll tax and employer-provided health insurance.