A couple links

I wish I had more time to talk about these, but I didn't want to miss them.

First, John Cochrane agrees with me that the electoral college is a great institution.

Second, Jonathan Catalan has good thoughts on disaster economics. He writes of my post about demolition vs. disasters: "There is another thing I’d like to comment on, not necessarily related to natural disasters (but, they have been brought up in the blogosphere discussion of “disasternomics:” creative destruction versus capital shocks.

What brings me to address this is a recent post by Daniel Kuehn, linking to an article on a demolition to construct a brand new hotel building... His argument seems to be that it’s hypocritical to lambast capital destruction as a result of capital shocks merely because k has been reduced, when we see benefits in capital destruction all the time. But, there is a crucial difference between the two! The latter doesn’t represent an economic loss."

I'm still a little unclear on what he thinks my argument is, but I just want to clarify that I agree with the last two sentences - that was the whole point of my post after all! Buildings that are demolished have actual value when they are standing, but they also represent an opportunity cost (two buildings can't exist in the same place). So when demolition is voluntary (the answer to the question I posed in the link), you know that having that building there was a net loss, and so the demolition and rebuilding represented a net gain (otherwise they wouldn't do it). My point was that a lot of people seemed to be talking as if the mere fact of physical destruction was what was wrong with hurricanes. That's not really the right way to think about it. The problem with hurricanes is that they're indiscriminate and that they knock down a lot of buildings that to not represent a net gain! Focusing on the physical disaster alone is a misleading guide to the economic disaster.