CFE forum on Sweden

Johnny Munkhammar, a member of the Moderate Party in the Parliament of Sweden, will be in Seoul for a few days next week. He will be speaking at a Center for Free Enterprise forum that I helped organize. I will have the honor of introducing him.

You are invited, check out the invitation here.


Linsanity in Korea? What if...

By Casey Lartigue, Jr.

I was the co-organizer of a freelance project that brought the Harvard University men’s soccer team to South Korea for 13 days last May. (``Harvard soccer team stresses enjoyment,” The Korea Times, 5/26/11).

They toured Korea and played friendly matches with Korea University, Seoul National University, and the Under-20 team. In a wrap-up meeting last June with the wonderful administrators of Korea University’s athletics department, I suggested that we should work together to bring over another team for the summer of 2012 or 2013 ― the Harvard University men’s basketball team.

My main arguments: (1) Korean youngsters could learn from talented student-athletes and (2) we might be able to entice a former Harvard hoopster who was then an NBA backup to join his former teammates here. You may have heard of him recently ― Jeremy Lin.

The folks at Korea University had never heard of him. My business partner, a former college soccer player, wondered if I could bring someone known like Michael Jordan instead. I briefed the administrators about the Harvard men’s basketball team, was politely greeted by several tall members of Korea University basketball team, and I showed the administrators YouTube clips of the Harvard team.

I guess they were expecting to see Harvard gentlemen dressed in tuxedos engaged in passing and dribbling drills. Instead, they seemed to be a bit intimidated when they saw burly 6’8” 240 lb. power forward Keith Wright dunking over the heads of opponents. Kyle Casey, a 6’7” skywalker with a 42- inch vertical leap, seemed to jump through the ceiling to dunk the basketball. And, of course, Jeremy Lin.

Like the college teams that didn’t offer Lin a scholarship, the Golden St. Warriors and Houston Rockets who cut Lin, and the numerous teams who passed up the opportunity to draft or sign him, I am now wondering, ``What if….”

What if I had pushed the folks at Korea University and my business partner and his contacts harder? What if I had found others who might have been interested? What if I had invited Lin at a time he was unknown? What if?

I have no excuse. Many moons ago, I was a sports reporter and executive editor on the student-run Harvard Crimson newspaper. I was the beat reporter for the Harvard men’s basketball team for two years. I have continued to follow Harvard’s basketball (and football) teams. Even though I have known about Lin since 2006, I never expected him to be an NBA star.

Ever heard of Jim Goffredo? Drew Housman? Andrew Pusar? Dan McGeary? They were the guards on the Harvard 2006-‘07 men’s basketball team who played more minutes than Lin did his freshman year. Now, Lin is an international NBA star.

Lin had a very good but not spectacular college career, averaging 12.9 points per game. He did become the first player in Ivy League history to record more than 1,450 points, 450 rebounds, 400 assists and 200 steals. The team had a losing record overall in the 87 games he started (43-44). Almost half of those wins came in his senior year ― not exactly a recipe for Linsanity.

Jeremy Lin’s success has inspired many people. I have also been inspired ― by my failure not to try harder to invite him to Korea. It is a reminder that it is better to try and fail rather than to regret not having tried at all.

Mark Twain has been quoted as saying: ``Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.” I cheer hard for Lin, but I also ask myself, ``What if?”

Casey Lartigue Jr. is director for International Relations at the Center for Free Enterprise in Seoul. His email address is caseyradio@daum.net. He also blogs at cfekorea.com and caseyradio.org.

This article originally appeared in the Korea Times on February 23, 2012.


Linsanity, 2004

Lin, in the last half-minute, leads Palo Alto boys to win
San Jose Mercury News, February 13, 2004

Jeremy Lin scored six points in the final 30 seconds, lifting host Palo Alto, the fourth-ranked boys basketball team in the Central Coast Section according to the Mercury News, to a 49-46 victory over Gunn in a Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division game Thursday.
The Vikings (22-3, 10-1) were down by three when Lin, a sophomore point guard, hit from long range to tie the score. He then stole the ball, was fouled and hit two free throws. Another free throw near the end sealed the victory.

Here’s a backgrounder I’ve put together on Jeremy Lin’s basketball career at Harvard:

Freshman: Ever heard of Jim Goffredo? Drew Housman? Andrew Pusar? Dan McGeary? They were the guards on the Harvard 2006-07 men’s basketball team who played more minutes than Jeremy Lin did that year. Goffredo (a 6-3 senior) was the starting shooting guard (15.4 PPG), Housman (a 6-0 sophomore) was the starting point guard (13.2 PPG), the third guard in Harvard’s lineup, Pusar (a rugged 6-2 sophomore) scored 5.7 ppg in 20 minutes a game. Another freshman, McGeary (6-1), played more minutes than Lin and scored more points (5.3 PPG in 20 minutes per game). The team’s leading scorer was 7-0 center Brian Cusworth, 17.4 ppg, although he only played 18 games because his eligibility had expired, and 6-9 sophomore Evan Harris (10.4 ppg) were the big men in the starting lineup.

Analysis: So as a freshman, Lin couldn’t crack the starting lineup. In Harvard’s 3 guard lineup, Lin played the fifth most minutes of the 6 guards who played regularly. Lin only shot 41 percent from the field, averaged less than 5 points in 18 minutes per game, and the former NBA Knicks star didn’t do anything to distinguish himself on an Ivy League team that finished 12-16.

Sophomore: Former Duke University star Tommy Amaker took over as coach. Harvard continued with its three guard lineup. With the graduation of Goffredo, Lin moved into the starting shooting guard spot. Housman (junior, 10.6 PPG, starting point guard) and Pusar (junior, 8.1 PPG, 6-2 swingman known for his defense) were the other starting guards. McGeary, who played more than Lin as a freshman, continued coming off the bench as a sophomore, averaging 7.3 PPG. The former Knicks star was second-team all-Ivy. 6-9 junior Evan Harris (10.7 ppg), 6-7 sophomore Magnarelli (10.8 ppg) and 6-8 senior Unger were the big men.

Analysis: Lin was the leading scorer on a bad team (8-22 overall). He didn’t score (12.6 PPG) as much as Goffredo had (15.4 PPG), but he was a better all around player, averaging almost 5 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Lin led the team in steals, assists, steals, was third in blocked shots (0.6 per game, a high number for a guard). He shot 44 percent from the field, but was mediocre from three point range (28%) and the free throw line (62%). He shot more three pointers per game (3.5) than free throws (2.9), indicating he was relying on his bad jump shot and was shooting long shots because the team was usually trailing.

Junior: Harvard had one of its best seasons in years, finishing at .500 with a 14-14 record. This was also one of Harvard’s most experienced teams in years, with three seniors and three juniors among its regulars. The other guards were 6-2 senior Pusar (6.4 ppg) and 6-0 senior PG Housman (9.6 ppg). Lin led the team in scoring at 17.8 PPG–the only Harvard player to average in double figures. He was the unquestioned leader as the team greatly improved. The big men struggled that year with injuries, especially with 6-9 sr Harris (5.0 ppg). 6-8 freshman Wright (8.0 ppg) and 6-7 junior Miller (6.1 ppg) and 6-6 freshman Boehm (6.1 ppg) played more minutes than expected.

Analysis: Lin greatly improved from his sophomore year. He averaged 17.8 PPG, shot 50.2% from the field, 40% from three point range, 74% from the free throw line. His stat line was excellent: 5.5 rpg, 4.2 assists, 2.4 steals, 0.6 blocks. He was the only player in the country who ranked in the top 10 in his conference in the top 8 statistical categories. There was even talk about him being Ivy League Player of the Year, he did finish All-Ivy First Team. The team relied on Lin–he also led in turnovers at 3.8 per game. One big change in his game: He shot more free throws (6.0) than three pointers (3.6). He was then known for his aggressive penetrations to the hoop and had some impressive dunks that were passed around on YouTube.

Senior: Harvard had what was considered to be one of its best recruiting classes ever. Three freshmen bumped other players out of the lineup so they were teaming with Lin and sophomore Wright by the end of the season. Harvard indeed had one of its best seasons ever, finishing 21-8, winning the most games in team history, and making its first tournament appearance since 1945-46. Long-time watchers in Harvard basketball were thrilled by the season although some lamented that Lin was graduating, Amaker had the makings of what appeared to be a great team. They were right, as Harvard tied to win a share of its first Ivy League championship. This year, the team is 21-3, in first place, and has a very good shot at making it to the NCAA tournament.

Analysis: Lin led the team in scoring for the third straight year and he continued with his all around play while improving his shooting. 16.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.5 apg, 2.4 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. He shot more free throws (6.8) than three pointers (3.0). With a more talented team, he shot the ball on average less as a senior (9.9 FG attempts per game) than as a sophomore (10.9), but averaged four more points a game and his shooting greatly improved from 44 to 51 percent on FGs overall, from 28 to 34 % on three pointers, from 62 to 75 % on free throws. He was incredible from 2 point range his senior year. Lin was All-Ivy First Team again, but lost out to Ryan Wittman (son of the former NBA player and coach) as Ivy League Player of the Year that year. Wittman is now playing hoops in Poland–and may be getting calls from NBA teams…

Overall: Lin had a very good college career. He became the first player in Ivy League history to record more than 1,450 points, 450 rebounds, 400 assists and 200 steals. He wasn’t a superstar, he was never a serious candidate for awards outside of the Ivy League. He showed great athleticism, getting some attention with some good games against top competition. He is now playing PG for the Knicks, but at Harvard, he was the shooting guard in a three-guard offense.

He went undrafted by the NBA, and was unnoticed nationally or internationally until February 2012.


"Love vs. economics on Valentine's Day" by Casey Lartigue Jr. (Korea Times)

Uh-oh! Valentine’s Day 2012. What should you get for your sweetheart(s)? Jewelry, dinner, flowers, clothing, candy, and greeting cards are the usual suspects. What’s not on the list?

Cash. Some economists say it is the most efficient gift to give. Think back: How many times have you smiled awkwardly when realizing you were receiving another tie, instead of the Madden NFL video game you would have bought with a cash gift? When giving her lingerie (again), do you add, ``The gift receipt is there, you can return it if you don’t like it.”

In some cases, you and your sweetheart may be exchanging unwanted gifts. Cash then is a better gift because the recipient can buy what he or she wants (giving gold may be the most efficient of all because governments reduce the value of your money with deficit spending).

Let’s say the economists are correct ― do you want to follow their cold calculations on a day meant for lovers? Economists, predictably, say: ``It depends.” In an interview on the site LearnLiberty.org, George Mason University economics professor Chris Coyne argues that a spouse or a long-term mate can get away with giving cash or a gift certificate. But at the start of the relationship, the sender may still need to demonstrate seriousness by sending a thoughtful or expensive gift.

As Coyne explains it in economic lingo, a gift is a ``signal” that the sender gives to the recipient of serious intentions when there is ``asymmetrical information” (that is, one person has more information than another person in an exchange, such as a car salesman and prospective buyer).

Let’s continue assuming that economists like Coyne are correct. Wouldn’t giving cash undercut the boost that Valentine’s Day gives to the economy, as cited favorably by Duke University professor Dan Ariely?

Not so. Giving cash may even make the economy more efficient than gift-giving. Florists love Valentine’s Day ― according to the Society of American Florists, they can make 40 percent of their annual income during February. The National Retail Federation estimates that the average Valentiner in America spent $116.21 on traditional Valentine’s Day merchandise (almost $16 billion) last year.

But economists often refer to the ``substitution effect.” That is, one purchase may be a substitute for another. Derek Thompson of the Atlantic Wire puts it well: ``Valentine’s didn’t create economic activity, it just concentrated it.”

You know February 14 is coming up, so you may hold onto to a gift, skip taking your sweetheart out to a concert in September, or save up so you can nibble on overpriced food at a fancy French restaurant on Valentine’s Day. By giving cash, the recipient is more likely to spend the money well, a better boost for the economy than wasted gifts.

Ryan Swift, host of the popular site swifteconomics.com, goes one step further, even denouncing Christmas and other special gift-giving days as a ``deadweight loss.” He cites Joe Waldfogel of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School, who estimated in his 2009 book ``Scroogenomics” that Americans spent $66 billion on gifts in 2007, but that recipients only valued them at $54 billion, producing a deadweight loss of $12 billion to the economy.

So if you receive a gift for Valentine’s Day this year, be sure to thank the giver for the deadweight loss that is dragging down the economy. When you hand the person cash or gold in return, be sure to note that you are helping the economy. Even better ― buy a gift for yourself on Valentine’s Day that you really wanted and advise your (perhaps soon-to-be-ex) sweetie to do the same.

Casey Lartigue, Jr., is director for International Relations at the Center for Free Enterprise in Seoul.

This article originally appeared in the Korea Times on February 13, 2012.

Sources for this article:
[7] http://www.amazon.com/Scroogenomics-Why-Shouldnt-Presents-Holidays/dp/0691142645

* I was a guest on TBS eFM 101.3 on Valentine's Day to discuss this article.
* Linked by EFN-Asia


Casey Lartigue on "Today" on Beyond Bejing radio news talk show

Casey Lartigue, Jr., Director of International Relations at the Center for Free Enterprise, will be a panelist on "Today" on Beyond Beijing, China Radio International`s flagship news chat show on February 9, 2012 from 11 a.m.-noon.
About the show: Today, China Radio International`s flagship news chat show, is broadcast live Monday through Friday on AM846, Beijing, China; FM88.0, Canberra and FM104.9 Perth, Australia; AM 570, Northern California, AM 1540, Galveston, TX, AM 1320, Houston, AM 880, Hawaii, USA; FM 97.9, Ottawa , and AM1540, Toronto , Canada.

The show will be rebroadcast on CRI relay stations worldwide.