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AcademicI am Tyler Cowen, blogger at Marginal Revolution, George Mason Economics Professor, and author of "The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream." Ask Me Anything!

Mar 6th 2017 by TylerCowen • 40 Questions • 377 Points

Using a throwaway for obvious reasons...I worked professionally as a flight attendant for a major airline and travelled all around the world. I've got plenty of stories to share so ask away!

Proof: http://imgur.com/a/tuS3b

Q:

Hi Tyler, When asked if they would rather fight a horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses, many people say they would be more scared of a horse-sized duck. My question to you is, duck-sized horses, over-rated or under-rated?

A:

What tangible benefits, if any, do you think Sweden gets from taking in so many refugees?

This is a very difficult question, because any answer I can give comes with a number of counterpoints.

You could argue that Sweden gets an economic benefit from an increased workforce. The population of ethnic Swedes shrinks every year and a large portion of Swedish citizens get University degrees and work in professions with high demands on skill and knowledge. An injection of people willing to work low-skill jobs can provide a boon for the Swedish economy and stave of stagnation.

On the other hand, the Swedish economy is very advanced, and as such the need for low-skill work is quite small. In the future it might very well shrink even more due to the robotization of manufacturing. Furthermore, what little low-skill work there is is protected by unions and collective bargaining that keeps wages high. As such it might be very difficult to find jobs, and unemployment rises. Studies show that after 7 years of being in the country not even half of refugees have found work.

You could argue that Sweden benefits on a social and cultural level. Multiculturalism can add value to Swedish culture, foster broader sympathy and understanding to foreign cultures and help create a more tolerant society.

On the other hand, Sweden was even before the crisis facing serious issues of segregation. Immigrants flooded into suburban areas with low housing costs as middle-class Swedes moved to more affluent areas. As most are aware, segregation leads to growing social woes, and the issues of the suburbs have expressed themselves with occasional rioting and increased hostility and even violence against police and social workers. These problems will be aggravated by taking in more refugees. The situation isn't help by an unhealthy housing market that keeps prices of houses high.

You could argue that Sweden benefits on a moral level. We provide a shining example of taking in as many as we can no matter the cost, showing human lives outweigh economic costs. We can help spearhead initiatives for more countries to to the same.

On the other hand, the inability of the Swedish government to act in any meaningful way against growing costs and increasing processing times, while also engaging in quite morally hypocritical behaviour such as suddenly guarding its borders after years of doing nothing comparable, has eroded much of the moral fiber of Sweden in the eyes of the world. Countries now point to Sweden as a bad example, a country that wouldn't take necessary measures and now has to pay the consequences. Furthermore, even before the crisis Sweden has been criticized for amongst other things not handling the cases of unaccompanied children with enough sensitivity. Last week Human Rights Watch strongly criticized Sweden for mot prioritizing children enough.

As you can tell, under current circumstances any benefit to Sweden, short- or longterm, is not terribly snificant. That's not to say these issues can't be turned around, but for them to be solved they must first be acknowledged. And to acknowledge these issues means acknowledging that the refugee crisis has a negative impact on the country. The government is unwilling to do this as it might sway public opinion against immigration and lead to a conservative victory next election.

So overall the current situation looks pretty bleak. Sweden needs to confront the truth that there are no easy solutions and try to act in the way that least damages the country. What this course of action would be I do not know, but we'll never find out if we don't actively search for it.

This was asked by someone and you answered from your previous AMA, after 8 months, has there been change? or is 8 months a bit short to comment on change?


Q:

What was protocol when your team would find passengers attempting to uhhh... join the club at an altitude of 5,280 ft?

A:

Not a great danger. Remember all those large birds that used to roam around New Zealand? Where are they today? Hunted and eaten by the Maori. The small horses could nip at your heels, however.


Q:

Sadly, there has been change, but in a very poor direction.

I mentioned that in order for there to be a solution to the problems Sweden is facing, the government would first have to acknowledge that there are problems. In a way, the political climate in Sweden has changed in that direction, but only on the side of the opposition. The government, however, is as stubborn as before with acting like nothing is going on. Except now it's tried to do something anyway.

Two things have happened in the last 8 months: The Department of Migration has cut funding to all municipalities taking in refugees, and the government has tried to deport Afghan refugees to Afghanistan.

The cut funding is a disaster waiting to happen, because that means several municipalities have to shut down accommodations (did I mention I work at one of them? Yay unemployment!). That means a larger burden on refugees to learn the language, get an education and jump through all the bureaucratic hoops to get permanent residence, and far from everyone can manage that. That will lead to poorer integration and less capable citizens once they are allowed to stay. The country will suffer in the long-term.

As for sending people back to Afghanistan and why that is a staggeringly bad idea, some context: Afghanistan is a very heterogeneous country with a large number of different cultures and tribes. The people who flee Afghanistan are mostly Hazaras, a people who have been violently oppressed in Afghanistan for over a hundred years, most recently by the Taliban. Now, the Swedish government has attempted to strike a deal with the government of Afghanistan were they agree to take in refugees from Sweden. But the idea that the government of Afghanistan could possibly guarantee the safety of Hazara refugees forced to return is questionable at best. The situation is further complicated by the fact that a lot of Hazara refugees have never been to Afghanistan. Many were born in Iran or Pakistan, where they are treated as second-class citizens.

These are the two major things the government has done to combat the rising costs of the refugee crisis. Thankfully, the deal with Afghanistan fell through in the end and Sweden did not start sending people back there, but if that window of opportunity opens again you can be sure the government will pounce on it.

A:

We would literally just have to tell them to stop. We'd knock on the door. There were people trying to hook up during flights in their seats too. Basically, you find the flight attendant most comfortable walking by and telling them to stop.


Q:

At the margin should we spend more or less time on Reddit?

It's great fun for infovores.

It is probably not that productive a use of time. Productivity growth seems to have slowed down once social sharing sites got popular.

Are we likely to only read people in our bubble and get complacent?

A:

Hi,

1- How does the majority of the swedish population perceive the wave of immigration into Sweden ? Do they have a good or bad opinion about this whole event ?

2- (touchy question) Is it true than most of the crime and rape cases are committed by refugees in Sweden ?

Thank you for your time


Q:

Did you get to use the slide escape ever?

How awesome was it?

A:

More! The infovores are not the ones I worry about, it's everyone else. I hope that Reddit energizes you, why not?


Q:
  1. So this is actually quite a difficult question, because you can approach it from multiple angles: Polls, politics and media. Polls are probably the most accurate, but I think there's value in understanding all three.

So polls regularly show two things: There's a significant minority of people in Sweden who are against immigration (Meaning it's not just a fringe group), and there's a majority of people who are against the current volume of immigration. Polls also show that over time there have been less and less people who identify themselves as neutral on the question of immigration. So it's become quite the hot button issue over the years. People are more polarized and the country is more divided than it has been in the past.

How this translates into politics isn't as clear cut. The third biggest party in the country, the Sweden Democrats, are hardline against immigration, and for the longest time they were completely isolated by the other parties. Lately, however, we're seeing the second biggest party, the conservative Moderate party, opening up to the idea of working together with the Sweden Democrats. This has caused fractures within the opposition's conservative coalition, where the more centrist parties are threatening to break away. The political status quo is kind of in an uproar at the moment, so it's hard to predict how everything will look when it all settles down. What is clear is that there are critical views on immigration within parties other than the Sweden Democrats that are coming to light.

Finally, the media, which in many ways mirrors what we're seeing in the US with "alternative news" outlets gaining power. Several syndications have sprung up as of late with ties to anti-immigration organisations (or fully-fledged nazi ones) which challenge the "narrative" of mainstream media that immigration is a net positive for Sweden. These sources are quite obvious in their bias and will only publish material supporting their views (not saying their material is necessarily false, just that it's one-sided). As for the mainstream, they're more balanced than you'd think. There are "investigative journalism" shows that discuss, amongst other things, crime committed by and against refugees, there are regularly op-eds in highly syndicated newspapers that take critical stances on immigration and any statistics you see are often from reputable sources such as the SCB (Department of Statistics). Still you could argue that there is bias, and that wouldn't be surprising. Studies show that people working in journalism disproportionately vote left-of-center compared to the rest of the country. Overall, however, I don't think it's too bad.

  1. It's not true. The Police Department recently released statistics which showed that less than 1% of police dispatches were related to refugees.

It's true that immigrants in general are over-represented in crime statistics, but this has more to do with poverty levels than anything else.

A:

I never used the slide but we had to during training. You get electrically shocked every time you do it. Static shock. Not electric shock. You know when you touch someone and it goes DING. That was it.


Q:

Professor Tyler, I'm a big fan of yours. In one of your interviews, a while back, you mentioned that if you were young today and had to start your career today, you wouldn't pursue an academic career. What would you do if you were to start all over, something that would allow you to satisfy the demands of your "extreme curiosity"?

A:

It's true that immigrants in general are over-represented in crime statistics, but this has more to do with poverty levels than anything else.

In Denmark, just across the bridge, where we have even less immigrants than you but also have statistics that identify the ethnicity of the perpetrator and rinse them for any socioeconomic factors, it shows that MENA immigrants are by far still over-represented in the crime statistics.

Are you better at integrating or are you just not using the statistics the same way, due to the politicial pressure?


Q:

I can't help but hear Archer's voice when I read this question

A:

I think I meant I might not do economics. How about teaching in a law school? Economics today is so specialized. It is hard for me to imagine being completely outside of academic life.


Q:

We adjust for socioeconomic variables as well, yet we do not seem to have the same results, at least based on the studies I've been reading. I don't think this has to do with political pressure, either.

A:

OH! I do have another one....

I went with another flight attendant on her layover. We go to Hawaii, just Waikiki. I stay out with this one guy and we hook up in the ocean while some guy doing the sandcombing with the electric thing is watching us the whole time.

I try to get back to my room but there's two Sheraton hotels and he dropped me off wasted at the wrong one. $2 fireball shots so I'm out of my mind.

After being in the ocean, sandy, make up running, dress is wet. I get dropped off at the wrong hotel, go to my room and knock on the door. Some asian guy answers and he's like "uhhhhh who are you?".

Ends up with me walking around Waikiki at 4am, wasted. At one point I had to pee so I went on these steps, fanned out my dress and started walking around and peeing.

Afterwards, I thought some guy started following me so I popped into all these places and this guy is going into all of them after me. So I went to the help desk at one hotel because I have no idea what's going on. Walking around sandy, wet, and wasted...with some guy following.

They helped me out and got me a cab to get me home. When I woke up the next morning, I still had sand on my face and it was all over my bed so that hotel desk must have been like "what HAPPENED to this girl?".

I don't know how I walked around that much and still had all this sand on me.

On the flight back, there were no empty seats so I had to sit in the flight attendant jump seat, which is the one you fold down and sit against the wall in the back or front of the plane. I was so out of it though that I just curled up on the floor in the galley and slept for 4 out of the 6 hours of the flight probably with sand still in my hair.

I did see a sea turtle during that trip. So that was a highlight. All around a win.


Q:

Why teach at a law school? I'm heading to law school next year and am considering pursuing academia, would very much appreciate your thoughts on it.

A:

It's not true. The Police Department recently released statistics which showed that less than 1% of police dispatches were related to refugees.

Do you have a source for this 1% claim? I find this highly unlikely.


Q:

Why would you knock on the door to your own room?

A:

I enjoy the quality of students and how articulate they are...


Q:

Here you go!

I'd give you more direct sources but they're all in Swedish.

A:

Because I was sharing it with the other flight attendant.


Q:

Which modern commentator on economics, political philosophy, public policy, and/or current affairs do you agree with most often?

I'll guess Megan McArdle.

A:

That's only during a three month period, from October-January. Most crimes are committed in the summer because more people are outside and its easier to travel and easier to get away too. It's very cold during those three months in Swedenso naturally there is less crimes committed. You should factor in the summer especially in these calculations.

Wheres the statistics over the whole year or maybe from January 2015-today? Would make more sense to have a bigger sample size over a year or a few years time and not just three months during the period where most people are inside.

This also factors in the whole country, if you would pick the bigger cities like Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo where most refugees are at, do you end up with 1% as well?


Q:

And the other flight attendant was actually an Asian guy. Whole thing makes sense.

A:

I agree with Megan a lot, and am good friends with her. But I am reluctant to pull out any single name. As for food, she bakes pies and the like, and I can't say I agree with that at all. So it all depends.


Q:

I fail to see how the time of year should impact the ratio of Swede-to-refugee dispatches. Surely if refugees commit more crimes during the summer, so do everyone else? Or is it only foreigners that commit more crime during the summer?

The statistics are only available from October because that was when the police started recording dispatches targeting undocumented people.

It's possible the figure is larger in the big cities, but like you said, that's where most refugees are at, so the Swede-to-refugee ratio changes. And even then, crime is higher in big cities so it's already somewhat adjusted to that.

A:

I joined another FA on her trip because it was a nice layover, I wasn't working, so shared her room. I went to the wrong room which was the Asian mans before finally finding my way back to ours


Q:

Dear Prof. Cowen,

thank you for your frequent blogging! I've been a daily reader since I found marginal revolution. Whenever I stumble upon an interesting person or issue, I first look whether it has been mentioned by you. I have several questions, feel free to answer any of them:

1) What is your favorite or pet theory of the Industrial Revolution?

2) What is the best post-crisis book that could be titled "In Defense of Neoliberalism"? Why is it underrated in contemporary Germany?

3) Is sociology over- or underrated? What are your views on Bourdieu and Luhmann?

4) Robin Hanson and the top amazon review criticize your concept of historical cycles. What's your answer?

5) Is the DSGE-program nowadays over- or underrated?

6) How does the Great Stagnation fit with the risk of increasing automation?

7) What is Ray Lopez up to?

8) If I was going to do research on the role of trade for the German Reich, what should I look for? :)

Vielen Dank und viele Grüße aus Berlin!

A:

Is that 1% statistic because immigrants make up less than 1% of the population or is it because police stopped going into migrant controlled ghettos?


Q:

What was the craziest thing you've witnessed on the job?

A:

On the IR, the role of coal is still underrated in my view, though I don't go for any of the monocausal theories. I don't think of the book you seek, maybe a few of those from Sweden, such as Johan Norberg? Germany seems to be moving away from Ordoliberalismus ein bisschen. My notion of historical cycles is pretty loose, simply that progress should not be so tightly expected. DSGE now underrated, too many critics who don't have anything better to offer. Mass automation lies in the future, TGS lies in our past, two phases of a broader story. I have never met Ray, and don't know how much of his story/persona is real vs. invented. Look for a good research assistant!

Danke fuer die Fragen! Bis demnaechst!


Q:

Police have not stopped going into any neighbourhoods, and the proportion of undocumented people in Sweden compared to the proportion of dispatches that have been made against them does not imply a disproportionate amount of crime on their part.

A:

Craziest thing I've witnessed is...it was an actual mechanical error where there was a decompression. So that's crazy in terms of actual flying.

We lost air pressure and they had to drop the plane to normal level which is under ten thousand feet. The whole cabin started fogging up because when you lose the pressure it suddenly goes from hot to cold. Luckily the junior pilot knew what she was doing and was able to level out the plane :-)

With people...there was only this one family on a flight and they were the worst family you could ever imagine. While we were taking off, one of the girls decides to tell me she's terrified of flying. As soon as we take off, that's when she decides to get up and walk to the bathroom. So they're switching seats this old time and sitting on each others laps. Just the weirdest family.

They decided that putting napkins in cups would help with ears popping and were just sitting there, the whole family with cups on their ears...and they kept asking me when they were going to be able to see the Hollywood sign. That was the biggest thing where it felt like too much.


Q:

Hi Tyler,

Your and Alex's blog is my first stop in the morning. Can you explain (like I'm 5?) what you mean when you say someone has "mood affiliation" and, separately, when something is "Straussian"? I see these on the blog all the time and I never quite understand what you mean.

Thanks and keep writing!

A:

How is your heart not breaking?


Q:

Wow.. the decompression thing sounds nuts! At least all was well in the end

Lol these tourists 😂

A:

use the MR search function for my first post on mood affiliation. "Straussian" is tougher, but when I use it I refer to the notion of hidden or coded meanings in a piece of writing. Strauss of course was much more than that, including a skepticism about modernity and the popular will, synthesis of Greek and Hebrew sources, love of the classics, and much much more.


Q:

That's my secret, Cap. I'm already heartbroken.

A:

Alright signing off for now but will check back later and answer questions...


Q:

whoa, I didn't realize you were doing an AMA today!

What is an issue or concept in economics that you wish were easier to explain so that it would be given more attention by the public?

A:

Well lets start about that ceertain someone and his statements.

Is there a fear level in certain swedish suburbs that was not there before the latest wave of immigration (lastv 10 year)from war torn countries ?


Q:

Is it true that planes exist?

A:

The idea that a sound polity has to be based on ideas other than just redistribution of wealth.


Q:

I suppose you could say that. I myself lived in one of the more, shall we say, "unstable" suburbs in Stockholm about two years ago, and there were times where you would definitely feel unsafe. But whether or not you can pin that on immigration is trickier. For instance, in the last few years we have had a complete restructuring of the police force in Sweden, which is generally considered to have made it less effective. There's also an argument to be made that the actual criminal element of these suburbs is made up of a very small amount of people, and that the majority of residents are law-abiding citizens. And of course, there's no such thing as no-go zones in Sweden.

There are other arguments, like how suburbs have become very segregated or how our school system doing worse, but discussing those might just be a bit overkill.

A:

Planes exist. What do you mean?? I don't understand. EXIST?? Planes do exist. Yeah.


Q:

What is the most underrated city in the US? In the world?

A:

There are other arguments, like how suburbs have become very segregated or how our school system doing worse, but discussing those might just be a bit overkill.

Those two issues have political causes, and are not related to immigrants. But since immigrants often start at the bottom of the ladder, they usually are the ones who suffer the negative consequences the most.


Q:

I have a fear of flying, especially during take off. What are some things I should know before my flight that'll comfort me?

A:

Los Angeles is my favorite city in the whole world, just love driving around it, seeing the scenery, eating there. I still miss living in the area.


Q:

Yes, that was what I was trying to get at. Sorry if I was being unclear. I do not consider these to be arguments against immigration.

A:

Xanax.


Q:

Would you describe your new book as overrated or underrated in your opinion?

A:

Hello, who do you think would win in a fight between James Franco and Dave Franco?


Q:

I have a fear of flying, especially during take off. What are some things I should know before my flight that'll comfort me?

A:

Not yet rated!


Q:

In a fistfight I don't know, but in a bathingsuit contest it'd be Dave hands down.

A:

Honestly though, we're really well trained. We go through 6-7 weeks of just evacuation training. Every kind of emergency you can think of. We're so well trained.


Q:

What confluence of events led to GMU having such a diverse and cogitative economic faculty? (You, Alex Tabarrok, Bryan Caplan, Robin Hanson, Arnold King, etc.) And what other groups of faculty do you think are comparable or similar?

A:

What is the best you've seen from a refugee case (as in good people who need help) and what is the worst (as in people that you question if they should even be their)?


Q:

Every banged a pilot during flight ? Or a customer ?

A:

Some smart and able people doing the hiring! I will leave it to you to guess who those might be. I don't know of a comparable cluster elsewhere, though of course there are many excellent departments, superb and world class along other dimensions. Harvard, Stanford, MIT would be tops these days.


Q:

Most people from Syria have a good case for staying, and most do get to stay. I've met many kind people, but the ones I'd consider "best" are the ones I know will handle life in Sweden well. The ones who take their education seriously, quickly learn the language and are responsible and mature.

The "worst" is I suppose the people who come from countries that just don't get you asylum. Albania is the one I've seen most often. Only 2% of applications from Albania get approved, meaning that resources spent on those cases would be better spent on cases that will actually grant asylum. Still, they are here for a reason and I would never go so far as to say they're leeching off the system, but they do contribute to overburdening the system.

A:

No. I banged another flight attendant but it was on a layover. Not as good of a story but planes gross my out so I'm afraid of whatever I would get from going to the bathroom on a plane let alone banging on one.


Q:

Are you familiar with the work of Karl Polanyi? What do you think of it? Was your book title, The Great Stagnation, a riff on his, The Great Transformation?

A:

Someone willing to learn a new language is one of the most encouraging and awesome things I've seen people do. I hope many of these people do find stability.

Thanks for helping them!


Q:

We've all encountered "restaurant secret menu" type posts on social media that usually turn out to be 90% junk or isolated to one specific location of a chain or whatever. I've seen a few for airlines as well, but don't know how much of that is believable either.

That being said, what would you say are five tips for travelers that are legit and many people don't know to do, but would make their flight more enjoyable or more memorable?

A:

Much influenced by it, that book was one force making me more of a liberaltarian. People will only tolerate so much instability, and Polanyi showed that pretty clearly.


Q:

Some of them work so damn hard on it too.

There was one kid who spent 6-8 hours a day on the computer learning Swedish for the first month he was here. After two months he spoke better than some who'd been here for over a year.

A:
  1. Bring the flight attendants chocolate when you get on the plane, especially if it's a long flight. In Chicago, bring them popcorn. That always goes a long way. They'll remember you and you'll be taken care of for sure.

  2. DON'T try to go to the restroom when there's turbulence. There were so many guys that would end up peeing on themselves because they thought they could handle the turbulence and then they'd come out with pee on their pants.

  3. Don't eat the food. It's just not good for you.

  4. Bring your own little mini bottles of alcohol, it's allowed. Just don't let the flight attendants know.

  5. Again...use the bathroom before you get on the fucking plane. I don't know why people don't do it. They'll come on and the first thing they have to do is use the restroom. You know that's the worst possible area to use a bathroom.

Also...don't take your shoes off and walk bare foot....and know that people change diapers on the tray tables.


Q:

Tyler,

Hi. I'm a mod @ r/badeconomics and a former student of yours (and, for the record, I hope you get to go to Oban, Scotland and have a nice dish @ EEUSK).

In a recent article by you, you spoke about who in the US was experiencing the American Dream, finding evidence that the Dream is still alive and thriving for Hispanics in the U.S. What challenges do you perceive now with the new administration that might reduce the prospects for this group?

A:

Would you say these immigrants are more prone to committing crimes over a normal Swedish citizen? (Not trying to be rude or mean-spirited just want your opinion)


Q:

people change diapers on the tray tables.

Really? I understand that when you have a child you need to get things done, but that's similar, in my mind, to changing a diaper on a table at a restaurant- seems disrespectful.

A:

Breaking up families, general feeling of hostility, possibly damaging the economy of Mexico and relations with them. All bad trends. I am hoping the strong and loving ties across the people themselves will outweigh that. We will see, but on this I am cautiously optimistic.


Q:

I think refugees are more vulnerable to being taken advantage of by criminal elements. That is a problem we have to combat regularly and it can be difficult. Thankfully we have an effective network across several accommodations, so if for instance one of our residents is hanging out with a drug dealer we can make sure that person is not welcome at any of our locations.

A:

Yeah! It's awful! And then they try to hand it us while we're giving out drinks. We hate when people do it.


Q:

1) As technology displaces more and more jobs in our economy what is the best way to (1) measure and (2) provide meaning in peoples' lives decoupled from work?

2) You've made a career by 'specializing in being a generalist.' For millennial polymaths who have diverse interests, do you have any career advice re: what to pursue that would allow you to learn about a diverse set of topics?

A:

what is best and worst thing about this?


Q:

Not trying to be that guy or be a fun sucker here, just want to present the facts. Number 4 is technically true the way you wrote it, anyone can bring alcohol onboard the A/C, but drinking their own alcohol per the FAR's (Federal Aviation Regulations) is illegal.

14CFR § 121.575 Alcoholic beverages. (a) No person may drink any alcoholic beverage aboard an aircraft unless the certificate holder operating the aircraft has served that beverage to him. (Source: http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=&SID=9d44397fe14f0fe4366f769cf9d2956c&r=SECTION&n=14y3.0.1.1.7.20.3.31)

Is the FA going to get a FAM or have the police meet the A/C because your drinking your mini, of course not (reportable for failure to comply however). But it is illegal.

A:

"Let them eat internet" -- the modern Marie Antoinette.


Q:

About my job or taking in refugees in general?

The best thing about my job is feeling like I'm making a difference in the lives of the people I work with, and the best thing about taking in refugees is that we're doing a moral good and saving lives.

The worst thing about my job is feeling like nobody at the top gives a shit and prefer to delegate work down to me, and the worst thing about taking in refugees is that it's a bit inconvenient I guess? Or maybe it's how salty it makes some people on reddit-threads about immigration (read: Muslim-rape guy)

A:

If you bring your own champagne or wine from Duty Free, which people do when they are celebrating sometimes, we are allowed to serve it to you. I had seen people with their own minis and the most we ever did is tell them to stop or try to take them from them.


Q:

What is your prescription for the 'bottom 50%' of society in 20-30 years when the majority of their jobs have been automated away, and they lack the flexibility/natural talent to retrain for higher paying, more abstract forms of work? In Silicon Valley, a Universal Basic Income is floated as a common solution. Do you think UBI is workable/practical? Or do you advocate for something else?

A:

So what happened last night in Sweden?

But on a more serious note, what has been the most surprising thing you've had to deal with working with the refugees? And what's been your biggest difficulty?


Q:

im sorry but on a 36 hour flight im taking my shoes off

A:

Take care of the elderly. No society will lots of immigrants is likely to embrace a UBI, I just don't see it. Plus at any kind of decent level it is quite costly. I think welfare reform in America will continue to be conducted at the piecemeal level.


Q:

I got black-out drunk and mained Hanzo all night long.

It was not my proudest moment.

As for your serious question, I think the most surprising thing has probably been just how normal you realize that these people are once the circumstances of their being here stop being as relevant to your interactions with them. Especially the minors. Before they are refugees, before they are Hazara or Syrian or Ethiopian, before they are Muslim or Christian, they are just kids. I double as a substitute teacher, and I see the exact same behaviours in school as I see in the accommodation. They have rebellious phases, they get depressed, they fall in love, they discover new hobbies and interests. They very quickly stop being refugees and start being simply people.

The most difficult thing I've had to deal with is kids who regress because their applications are rejected. Once you know you're not going to stay in the country much longer, you stop caring about anything. I've seen people lock themselves in their rooms for days on end, neglect school and work and friends, and sometimes even become suicidal. What's worse is that there is very little we can do to help them. We can't tell them everything will be alright and that they should hold out hope, because it won't. They've been rejected. It's over.

A:

Take your shoes off, I just wouldn't walk to the restroom without them! The floors are the dirtiest!

I've had a very elderly lady with her care taken getting sick on herself, I literally thought she was dying, but her care taker said she was ok, and on the floor. We just put this powder over the mess then they vacuumed it between flights.

Babies get sick, grown men pee on themselves and the floor, and I've never seen anything but a vacuum used on those floors.


Q:

Why do you ask whether things are over/under rated rather than just good or bad? Surely in the vast majority of domains (tourism being one possible counterexample if you wish to avoid the crowds) the latter is what matters?

A:

Was I in Sweden last night?

And that's incredibly humanizing to read. It's easy to just sort of quantize them under a title and stop thinking of the normal life issues they deal with like the rest of us do, only the issue that brought them there.

And what percentage of the refugees do get to stay? What do you do to attempt to ease the transition once they find out they had been rejected?


Q:

Flying through Chicago this month. What popcorn from where?

A:

It forces thought onto a higher meta-level to ask about overrated vs. underrated. It's like asking about investments relative to the market price, and an economist who has studied a lot of finance naturally will have this inclination. Water and food are good! Yes, but which are the underrated restaurants...


Q:

I don't have the specific numbers, but if you're from Syria or Eritrea, you're basically guaranteed to get to stay. The threat of living anywhere in those countries is so real that there's no question you need asylum.

Other countries aren't as lucky. A lot of Somalians get rejected because their claims are usually hard to substantiate. "Al Shabab threatened my farm" they could say, but the Department of Migration might decide that said farm is too far away from common Al Shabab areas of operation to be a feasible target for them, and so you're sent back. Afghans also struggle, because if they can't prove that they're from an area that's especially dangerous, the DoM has to assume that the threat-level they face isn't high enough to justify asylum and send them back.

Once someone has been rejected we try to do everything we can to stop them from becoming self-destructive or passive. We encourage them to keep going to school, keep seeing friends, keep participating in activities arranged by us. Sometimes that simply doesn't work, however, and we can't do much beside watching them slowly wittle away until finally they're sent off.

A:

Garrett's Popcorn Chicago Mix. It's at the airport. It's by the dinosaur.


Q:
  1. What do you think about Peter Thiel's relationship with President Trump?

  2. I haven’t done any real travel and would like to but don’t have a grasp even on the basics. At a really basic level, what do you do during the day to maximize your limited time in a foreign environment? Eating good food is obvious, but what else? If tourist sites are overrated, then what do you replace them with (for someone maybe not so interested in GDP tourism)? Are there any good books on how to travel?

  3. I know you consider alcohol a social ill. What are your thoughts on marijuana or LSD?

A:

What are your thoughts on the murder of Alexandra Mezher?


Q:

It's by the dinosaur.

I hope that's a unit of measure. I would very much like to order "one dinosaur of popcorn."

A:

I have never tried marijuana or LSD, don't feel well0informed, but I guess I don't see the upside. The rest of life is so much fun! I haven't seen Peter since his time with Trump. I am not myself a Trump supporter, but wish to reserve judgment until I know more about Peter's role. I am not in general opposed to the idea of people working with administrations that may have serious flaws. As for travel, walk, walk, walk! More walking. Then walk some.


Q:

It was an absolute tragedy, and she shouldn't have had to be in that situation alone. I consider it a failure on the part of the people she worked on that her safety wasn't adequately considered. Any experienced worker knows when a situation requires extra hands, and this one definitely did.

Do I worry that the same could happen to me? No.

A:

Haha. There are replica dinosaur bones in terminal 1, concourse B at ORD


Q:

What do you think is currently the most underrated ethnic food amongst people who seek out and try uncommon ethnic food?

A:

True 1/3 Swedish women are afraid to leave their homes ?


Q:

Does chocolate thing apply to all international flights and what type? Minis or bars or anything else in particular?

A:

Chinese, oddly enough. Real Chinese food. Perhaps the best cuisine in the world. Regional Indian would be my pick #2, most people just know "northern" and "southern" India, that is a start but only a tiny start.


Q:

I don't think so, I haven't ever heard about that.

A:

Definitely international too! They usually have boxes of chocolate available at the newsstand shops.


Q:

You seem to be a lot more worried about automation than most other economists. What should people who are skeptical about the dangers of automation look at to change their minds, and what do you think is the main thing other economists are missing when looking at the issue?

A:

This was in an article from January based on an investigation made from an institution under the ministry of justice so it seems pretty legit.

Link:

Article - did not find it in english

http://www.dn.se/nyheter/sverige/bra-kvinnors-otrygghet-alarmerande/

About the institute

https://www.bra.se/bra/bra-in-english/home/about-bra.html


Q:

Do you remember your least favorite pilot/pilots to fly with? What'd they do to gain the title?

A:

They should study the history of the Industrial Revolution, and all of its bumps, I had a recent Bloomberg column on this, https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-02-16/industrial-revolution-comparisons-aren-t-comforting


Q:

Brå is a trustworthy source, so there's no questioning its validity.

I had not read this study, it's very valuable (and quite disturbing) information. Thank you for sharing!

A:

There were always ones that would be inappropriate. One carried extra pantyhose with him in case we 'got a hole in ours'. That's creepy. That's weird, right? That's not nice, it's weird.

There was one pilot who had a tendency to brag at bars about how much he made but would never buy a round at the bar. We all would, but he wouldn't.

There was one I was in love with. He had all of these death metal band stickers on his crew bag and flew with a guitar with him. Slaughter Nuns was one of the band names. Something like that. He was my favorite because he was the nicest.


Q:

Where can we find the influence of René Girard in your thought?

A:

So is it true that you guys put refugees in luxury apartments while living in crappy apartments yourself?


Q:

Which airline is the worst to work for?

A:

The idea that societies demand sacrifices to maintain their unity.

The notion that there is truly something special about Christianity for elevating the victim and making a notion of individual rights possible.

Mimetic desire.

More too, including on how he reads literature, such as Shakespeare and Hardy.


Q:

Actually several accommodations are being shut down due to cuts in the budget and we're not really sure where everyone is going to stay.

And my apartment is quite nice, thank you very much.

A:

I can imagine Spirit would be the worst to work for...any one that you have to clean up the plane by yourself.


Q:

Thanks for doing this AMA!

If you were in your mid twenties, what counter-to-the-conventional-wisdom life decisions would you make as a consequence of the picture you paint in The Complacent Class, Average is Over, and on your blog? Or, put another way: what life decisions for young people deserve to have their status raised, and which deserve to have their status lowered?

Separately, I wanted to thank you for writing the one blog I read religiously. One of the best metrics of whether I think someone is smart and interesting is whether I reflexively recommend that they read Marginal Revolution.

A:

You said that the increase in sex crimes from 2015-2016 can be explained exclusively by Swedish legislative changes regarding sex crimes.

Could you please tell me exactly what sex crime laws were changed during that time period and how they would cause such a notable increase in comparison to previous years. How exactly do you believe that these specific legaslative changes had a larger effect on your countries crime rate than accepting in thousands of impoverished people who treat women like livestock?

Also, hypothetically, if you knew that migrants were committing rapes at much higher rates than native Swedes, would you feel any guilt about your compliance in it all?


Q:

[deleted]

A:

Thanks for the kind words...my biggest and best decision was to live in Germany for a year in my mid-20s -- discovered more that year than any other time in my life. Maybe Asia these days, ohwever!


Q:

For instance, in Sweden, multiple accounts of sexual assault will count as individual charges. If you rape someone multiple times, it will not be filed in court as one instance of rape but rather several.

Also, the definition of rape has been broadened considerably. For instance, if you feel unsure about sleeping with someone, and afterwards felt like you weren't okay with it, that can be considered rape.

Most rapes occur at home, and the guilty party is often someone in your circle of friends or family. That fact hasn't changed in Sweden.

Now, I'm intrigued by your phrasing of the hypothetical question. Why would I feel compliant in migrants committing rapes? It's not my fault that Sweden is complying with international law on accepting asylum seekers. Not only that, but my job is to actively help refugees integrate into society and become law-abiding citizens. In your hypothetical scenario, am I not fighting the good fight?

A:

I would say just wear your seatbelt during it. We go through turbulence regularly. The pilots are aware and it happens all the time.


Q:

On a personal level, what are a few of your favorite films?


Q:

Most memorable celebrity/famous person encounter?

A:

Almost anything by Bergman, most of all Persona and Scenes from a Marriage. Tarkovsky, most of all Stalker. The Star Wars films. John Woo and classic Asian cinema. Every year on MR I publish a list of my favorites from that year, most recently Toni Erdmann made a big impression on me.


Q:

It seems like neither source is discussing refugees, and both in fact support my overall position on immigration and crime. Socioeconomic factors are more important variables than ethnicity or country of origin in explaining crime rates.

A:

Rita Ora! She was on a flight and

We're doing first class service. Rita's assistant is in the back of the plane and she keeps coming up to her in first class. So we're like, "okay you can't keep coming up". We understood but had to say "alright now that's enough". So we stuck her assistant in the back of the plane so she couldn't help with what happened next...

No one can really come up to the front bathroom in first class unless the back is blocked. Some guy goes rogue and walks up to the front and we see him just...staring...kind of...So we go up to check it out and we see that Rita's boob is just hanging right out.

Luckily no one saw besides him because she was in the very back of first class. We tried to put a blanket over to cover the boob. She had on this button up shirt. She's passed out...her boob fell out. It's literally just out. So we tried to put a blanket over her but she kept taking it off in her sleep. We kept coming back and the boob kept coming out.

Like...why? Why don't you want the blanket on you? Can't you tell it's out??


Q:

About "complacency" what do you think about education? People are moving less and starting fewer businesses, but they're getting more education. High schoolers have more homework and college admissions are more competitive. With credential inflation, more education has occured accross the board, with more people going to community college and more going to graduate school. On the other hand, to many students, college is paid vacation which doesn't ask much of them. Do you see this trend of more education as an exception to or a part of what you consider the greater "complacency" of Americans?

A:

what is your favorite airplane to fly in?


Q:

So much of that education is a form of consumption. Nothing wrong with that, but a lot of it isn't leading to higher productivity at all, if anything the opposite. so many colleges and universities are incredibly conformist places these days. They give the faculty tenure, and then those people don't really take many chances with that remarkable privilege. Sad!

A:

787! Dreamliner. So pretty.


Q:

Thank you for this AMA Dr. Cowen.

  • Perhaps too late, but would you consider writing a critique of Bernie Sanders’ campaign economic policies? Besides the Romer & Romer paper, which only touched on his fiscal policies, I don’t know of any high-quality critiques of his policy proposals. Likewise, what are the best arguments against becoming a single payer healthcare system?
  • Would you ever do a CwT with gay African-American conservative film critic Armond White?
  • Any Chinese/Vietnamese movies you’d recommend?
  • Best Greek cookbook?
  • Besides Stephen Foster, what pre-1900 American composers are worth listening to?
A:

I haven't been on one yet. Do they keep the humidity higher than other planes?

My favorite is the 747


Q:

Too late on Bernie, I am afraid, not enough people would read it. But those ideas will indeed reemerge, and in less than four years' time. I don't know Armond White but will look into it, an intriguing idea. Zhang is my favorite Chinese director. and most recently I saw The Chinese Mayor, streaming on Netflix, a perceptive look at local government in China. I don't know any Vietnamese movies, alas. Probably no pre-1900 composers, unless you are referring to some traditional blues tunes.

Claudia Rosen is maybe the best Greek cookbook in English at least.

A:

They filter the air so it's not the dirty recycled air


Q:

You cited Hao Jingfang's Folding Beijing as evidence that China is "becoming a society supercharged with creativity." What is creativity, generally, and in economic terms? And have you read the Three Body Problem trilogy?

A:

No, humidity. as in how dry do your sinuses feel after riding in a 787 vs other models?


Q:

I love the first volume of Three Body, will read more of it soon. WeChat, electronic payments, and possibly biomedicine. I expect lots of innovation from China, so much talent there.

A:

Yea! It has higher air humidification level so it's all around better air so it helps with your sinuses!


Q:

Thanks for doing an AMA! I've read MR for about 6 years and listened to your Conversations podcast for about 6 months. Both have taught me a lot.

My question: I've heard you ask some variant of this question on your podcast: given a billion (or 10 billion, if you like) dollars to attack a problem of your choosing, what problem do you choose to attack? How, and why?

A:

Level with us... Why can't I have my tray table down during take-off or landing?


Q:

I don't know that you can do that much good with a billion dollars, not easily at least and not without great skill and also a good deal of luck. I know of a bunch of billionaires who have given away a billion or more. Maybe Andrew Carnegie was the most successful in terms of long-run impact?

A:

Because if there's an emergency, you can't evacuate. Also that's why your seat can't be back. It's not for you, it's for the person behind you. Same reason you can't have anything in the aisle.

If there's something in the way, you can hit your head on it and that's how most accidents happen.


Q:

Hi Professor,

I graduated a few years ago with a degree in economics and decided to work in the private sector. Now I am what they call a "data scientist" and I work a lot with machine learning. As I was teaching myself how to use these tools, I was struck by how machine learning and computer science communities use many of the same tools as econometricians, but in slightly different ways and to different ends. It seems that the ML community and the econometrics community would have a lot to teach each other. Are you aware of any cross-pollination in these areas? Is there any interesting recent work that joins these two areas that you know of?

A:

Do flight attendants get drug tested?


Q:

Susan Athey is the point person here, see her writings on machine learning, mostly developed to bring economists into the fold...this is all happening quite rapidly.

A:

Yeah. Usually you get pulled right off of a flight.

I had "sit time" in Denver, which is when you have just two or three hours in between flights. Not quite a layover.

I'm in the crew room and I get...approached....for a drug test. They said they were looking for me for a drug test. So I finished my burrito but I had to warm up my fake urine. The whole time I'm talking to this lady who's doing the drug test and just saying, "I'm sorry I can't pee yet." Meanwhile, I'm putting the fake urine in my pantyhose and I have one of those Hot Hand things...those hand warmers. That's how you heat up the fake urine.

So I have that against me while trying to waste time and talk with this lady about other drug tests and trying to pull out hints on how to pass the next one. Sitting there just kind fidgeting around to try and warm it up. Every now and then I would go into the bathroom and see if the fake urine was ready. It has this black line that shows the temperature. Once it turns green or something, then it's 98.6 degrees. Hot enough to be used.

I went in like 4 or 5 times and kept saying "nope sorry I have a shy bladder". She'd reply saying "oh no it's cool!". Because I don't look like someone needs a drug test....or maybe I do. Maybe right now I do.

Then finally when I get it ready and present it to this lady, her phone rings and she goes out to take the call. She's talking for at least 5 minutes and my fake urine is getting cold so I keep breathing on it to keep it warm because I didn't want to do it again. I didn't have any more! I only carry one little thing of fake urine on me.

I get them in Hollywood at this smoke shop. Every time I'd buy it, he'd look at me weirdly because I look pretty innocent.


Q:

TL;DR: Do you think there is less "great" theory/ideology today (e.g. thinking about capitalism, communism, etc. in broad strokes)? And, why or why not? Also, what is your take on why academia has become increasingly granular and "grand theories" have seemingly gone out of fashion?

Tyler, just wanted to say I completely devoured The Complacent Class this past weekend, and I'm on your last chapter. I wanted to say that you certainly provided a vocabulary for something I've been thinking a lot about recently. Thank you for the food for thought.

I've read a lot about the past and the various ideological movements that gripped the 20th century (e.g. fascism, socialism, communism, and lesser known yet still influential ones such as anarchists, anarcho-syndicalists, etc.). The lack of ideological clashes in the current day really strike me. I feel as though we are living through a time that is devoid of ideology (which, of course, can still be seen as an ideology...), and as though people are not thinking as big as they have in the past. As a voracious consumer of political news, most of the fights I see are over whether or not we can afford x or continue to do y, but there is really no questioning of the underlying systems outside of what we would likely perceive to be "fringe" and/or in academia. I'm guessing, from your book, you would agree (forgive me if I am misremembering, it was quite a bit of information to work though and I'm still reeling from it :) ), hence my questions above.

Just wanted to give you a huge thank you for all the work you put into your blog and your latest book. You always provide a lot of food for thought even if I don't necessarily agree with you 100% :)

Also, if you ever find yourself in Philadelphia, be sure to stop in to South Philly Barbacoa and Khmer Kitchen. There is a surprisingly large expat Cambodian population in South Philadelphia and a lot of good eats. (I know you're always on the prowl for good spots... so those are my local contributions. Thanks again for the AMA!)

A:

What's the security check in process like for flight crew? Do you have to go through all the same hoops as passengers do? Or is it like TSA pre-check or something?


Q:

Thanks for the kind words, and please email me the recs, they might get "lost" in this thread. Grand theory has been declining for quite a while, who is the big French thinker today? Zizek is exhausted too, though he can be interesting in his earlier writings. Too much specialization in academia, and too much to read, those are the main culprits.

A:

Someone gets randomly picked sometimes. You go through a crew line, show them your badge and you generally go through but you can be randomly searched.

Sometimes you do have to go through the regular one.

I accidentally went through with a bag of cocaine a few times. I found it on the plane. It was in the same little bag as I keep my lipstick. I went into the bathroom and was putting on some lipstick...suddenly found it. It was just a small little bag because who carries that much around? Who can keep that much around, that is?? Hahahah

So I finished it in the bathroom because I didn't want to get off the plane and have drug dogs. I think it was on the way to Hawaii. Maybe Newark.


Q:

How do you pronounce Cowen, like Cow-en or like Co-wen?

A:

Intellectually and logically I'm aware of all the safety facts. When up at 30,000ft I can't help but think about how high up I am and that I have ZERO control over what happens to me!


Q:

Moo!

A:

Yeah you don't have any control over what happens to you. Just wear your seatbelt.


Q:

Hi Tyler,

I have been following you for a while and have noticed you have an interest in autism, perhaps more than other health conditions. What do you find fascinating about autism? What is one thing we could be doing to make autistic peoples lives better?

A:

I heard that if you're in a career where you do something very often that most people don't do very often (e.g. wedding photographer, tour guide), then you get so used to it that you don't understand the hype at all. Is this the case for you? What do you think of people who get all excited, thinking "oh I get to ride in an airplane!!"? Also, what do you guys do after all the passengers get off? Do you just fly back home right away or do you have time to go to the gift shop or something?


Q:

See my book The Age of the Infovore for more on this...

A:

It's not as glamorous as it seems. People think a lot of our job is traveling to amazing places all the time and having long layovers, but a lot of time it's a flight to Newark with a 10 hour layover or a redeye flight to Hawaii just to turn right around... there are some really great trips though. Mostly the senior FAs get those trips.


Q:

Hi Tyler, I'm a long time reader.

Sometimes when I'm reading certain of your posts, I'm almost convinced that they're salted with statements or questions that amount to trolling. I usually laugh it off, but I often wonder - was it really trolling? Would you mind tipping your hand to us a little and maybe tell us about a few favorite times you had a little fun with a posts?

Alternatively, if you're totally serious all the time, you're pretty darn unique!

A:

Do you feel more helpful or annoyed when people ask for extra snacks?


Q:

Yes! But totally serious in my trolling. Do you know the posts where I only quote other people and don't add words of my own? Sometimes those have a bit of trolling too. Just look at my post today asking for help with Northern Ireland and see if you can spot the trolling.

A:

I never mind giving people snacks! Just ask when we do the service... I hated people always ringing their call bell.

There was an international flight that had a little kid playing with the bell button so on this particular plane we could disable the alert noise and just ignore it... when one flight attendant went through the cabin a man stopped her and yelled at her saying "I keep fingering you, and fingering you, but you never come!" while motioning toward his call bell button. Hahaha that flight attendant could barely listen to his request without bursting out laughing


Q:

Whats going on dude?

A:

Is it true that flight attendents get sick a lot because of being exposed to people with different germs in a confined space all the time? Any tips on how not to get sick travelling?


Q:

Some things, but not as much as you might think.

A:

Some get sick, some build tolerance. If there is a cold or flu going around we usually get it right away. I wore gloves picking up trash sometimes to avoid getting sick.

I'm not sure if those Emergen-C or Airborne tablets work but that's the best advice I really have. You're crammed in to a small area with hundreds of people recycling the air... it's hard to avoid.


Q:

Are there people who might be exterior complacent types - e.g., they are on the computer and social media 90% of their lives - but are interior radicals - e.g., they are not creating an echo chamber but learning all sorts of new and unusual (not matching) things?

A:

Oh, cool, this was my mother's job!

She had all kinds of crazy stories, but one thing that struck me was that she said that when she was working for Delta in the 80s they had weigh-ins. Exceeding some kind of height/weight ratio could get you a reprimand of some sort, I guess. Do you know if there are airlines that still do this? Have you ever had anything like that happen/has anyone mentioned that to you?


Q:

I hope I am one of them! At times, at least. We are all more conservative than we appear at first, I suspect. Keep that in mind, too.

A:

That doesn't happen anymore but we do have one day during training that is dedicated to appearance. Emirates interviews are full of attractive people. They are know for only hiring attractive FAs.

Back in the 40s they had to be under 5'8" I believe and less than 120 lbs and under 30 and single.


Q:

Do you think convenience apps like Amazon grocery make us more complacent?

A:

What was the most heartbreaking story you have encountered as a flight attendant? Also, how did you manage the situation?


Q:

Anything shipped to your home -- worry! Getting out and about is these days underrated. Serendipitous discovery and the like. Confronting the physical spaces we have built, and, eventually, demanding improvements in them.

A:

There was one situation with a father and son. The people behind the son kept kicking their seats telling them to not lean back so far. They both got pretty heated and we're starting to yell. When I approached them they said they were waiting to go to the funeral of the mother/grandmother. They were going to miss their connection most likely and not make it home in time which is why they were so aggravated and didn't mean to be so rude. They wanted to be with family and this was of course the time that all the flights were delayed. I understood, the people behind them understood. I gave them and the passengers behind some of our snacks without charging and thanked them for calming and apologized for the inconvenience. The airline wouldn't do anything for them when they eventually did miss their connection. The only thing I could really do was apologize again and give them free drink tickets. The son started crying and they both appreciated my help when the airline was so inconsiderate.

People don't usually share their stories, so if I ever saw someone having a rough time always tried to do what I could.

Also parents with well behaved kids coming back from Disneyland always got a couple free drinks and the kids received candy from me... those people had been through enough Haha.


Q:

Why do people marry down?

A:

Has anyone ever had a serious medical issue (e.g., heart attack, stroke) while on one of your flights? How was that dealt with?


Q:

Some people can't marry up, others feel less secure that way. Then they marry down, or don't marry at all. But also keep in mind that "up" and "down" in these contexts are not always so well-defined, and partners who may appear to be prizes actually may...I suspect you get my point.

A:

There was a man on the flight back from Melbourne that passed out and seemed to seizure while waiting for the restroom. We held his and put him on his back without bringing too much attention to the situation. We called over the intercom for a medically trained passenger since we are only trained for some of the medical emergencies. Turns out the man was diabetic, that was the reason I was told at least. We did not have to emergency land or anything. Every time something like that happens we have to document it.

I have had a guy pass out and hit his head on one of the carts in the galley. It was a medical condition and he got up, but the other FA accused him of being drunk and interrogated him. I stood up for the passenger and had the FA walk away. We did have to do the report still because his head bled a bit.


Q:

What do you think are the most realistic ways for governments and other institutions to reduce global catastrophic risk?

A:

So you've been double anal penetrated by two black men before?


Q:

Pandemic preparation, and trying to stop the further spread of nuclear weapons. I worry most about the basic stuff, not "Skynet goes live."

A:

Nope. Have you?


Q:

My favorite Marginal Revolution posts are Markets in Everything. Can you link some particularly interesting ones for Redditors who aren't into the RSS?

A:

Is it true that a lot of flight attendents have second jobs due to random working hours and holidays?


Q:

Just go to the Marginal Revolution search function, and type in "Markets in Everything." Note my 2007 book Discover Your Inner Economist gives some earlier examples at some length, some of my earlier favorites.

A:

Yep! As a new FA it's very tough to though because you're on call all of the time. The airline I worked for would call and sometimes we had as little as 2 hours to get to the airport for check in.

On the side I worked karaoke hostessing in Koreatown. My roommate did it with me as well. Sometimes the customers were really fun and she would invite them to our place to drink and party afterwards. I was working a flight to Cancun with a 24 hour layover. I got off the plane with my crew and a group of 3 or 4 guys from the flight approached me. In front of my crew they asked if I was (insert my name here) and if I lived in Koreatown. I told them yes and I used to. They went on to tell me they had been to my place and partied with me. (I'm not looking great to my flight crew at this point haha) They asked which hotel I was at, information we are not allowed to give out, and invited me to go hang out. I didn't go and after that I stopped working in Koreatown. Haha


Q:

Do you listen to music while you read? Just wandering when do you find the time to listen to all the great music you find on Fanfare?

A:

What advice do you have for someone who wants to become a flight attendant and what qualifications do need to get the job?


Q:

Reading non-fiction almost always, but reading serious fiction or poetry usually I prefer silence, otherwise there is a clash of sorts. I listen in the car, too, though the home stereo system is a real treasure.

A:

Don't say you want to travel during the interview. It makes it seem like you will only be there short term.

You only need a high school degree, but most of us had a bachelors, and nice smile.

Be prepared to lose contact with people. Your schedule changes, is crazy, and is usually not the same as others. (I would be up getting ready to go to work while my roommate and friends were still up drinking)


Q:

Hi Tyler, I'm a big fan of your blog and cannot wait to read your book.

I noticed you post some interviews published in Spanish and German. Are the German interviews conducted in German or are they translated from English? Also, would you mind sharing a little bit about your experiences in Germany?

A:

I'm used to crazy schedules, I actually don't think I've been on a normal schedule since I was in school. Unfortunately I just have an associates degree ): do I still have a chance?


Q:

Conducted in English, though I feel I could do one in German. I've also given talks in Spanish, though with grammatical errors. I lived for a year in Freiburg im Breisgau, 1985-86, a wonderful time for Germany and I made it to East Germany as well. So much of Europe was less spoilt by tourists then, Amsterdam and Barcelona being prime examples. I had a car much of the time too, and it was 3.45 German marks to the dollar, a fantastic rate for an American. German women were very interesting too!

A:

Yep! I think a lot are hiring now too. Also the job is mostly about safety so it's good to let them know you understand the seriousness of it, not just traveling. You only need a high school education or I think a GED may be fine as well!


Q:

What are your tips for undegrduate students wanting to become a non-academic economists? What's the best way to study the philosophical questions in economics, like social choice theory or Rawls? They don't appear in undergrad programmes.

A:

Do you have any flight attendant friends that had died in a plane crash?


Q:

This may sound trivial, but just read as much as you possibly can...

A:

Nope!


Q:

Hi Tyler -- love the CwT and MR.

Question: High-frequency trading? Overrated orunder rated? Will today's MS Financial Engineering gradesbe tomorrow's law school grads or tomorrow's software engineers?

A:

Just not that important, see my next book on that one...