Division of Labour: October 2007 Archives
October 31, 2007
Global Cooling Yachts

Is this too good to be true?

Stephen Salter, emeritus professor of engineering design at the University of Edinburgh ... reports [regarding] a climate debate sponsored by the Royal Meteorological Society, "I asked for a show of hands about whether official proposals for CO2 reductions could do enough to stop global warming in time," he explained. "Not one of 300 people with professional interest in the field raised a hand."

Or, stopping global warming could require sailing a fleet of 50 globe-cooling yachts on the high seas. ... Prof. Salter's machine provides realistic hope. Low-level stratocumulus clouds blanket about one-quarter of the world's ocean surface, cooling the waters below by reflecting the sun's rays back into space. Brightening those clouds with sea salt to increase their reflectivity by a mere 3%, atmospheric scientists calculate, would provide sufficient additional cooling to counteract the warming effect caused by increased CO2 in the atmosphere. The sea salt would be delivered via fine sprays of ocean waters from Prof. Salter's yachts.

The amount of salt water required to cool the planet is surprisingly small - 50 ships, each pumping salt water at the rate of 10 kilograms per second to produce tiny droplets, could suffice. The tiny droplets evaporate to leave salt residues, which are then distributed by the winds to seed the clouds. In an attempt to waste not a droplet, the yachts - unmanned and controlled by satellite - would continually roam the oceans, positioning themselves where cloud conditions were optimal and the need for cooling was greatest.

[Salter] is known as one of Scotland's greatest inventors, and as the father of modern wave energy technology, which is now being introduced in countries throughout Europe. His digital hydraulics may revolutionize windmills and automobiles. Among his many other presciences, in 1968 he invented the touch computer screen. The wind-powered yacht with its odd rotor sails is not his, however, and is also not new. This 1920s invention, by Germany's Anton Flettner, was an unusually stable commercial ship that crossed the Atlantic, out-sailing normal schooners under moderate to heavy winds.

Prof. Salter's cool yachts do have one major design flaw: They promise to save the planet for a pittance, and without making humans pay a dear price for their profligate ways. Fifty ships a year, built at a cost of some $400-million to $500-million, would remove the increased warming now attributed to all the fossil fuel burning.

Posted by Wilson Mixon at 03:18 PM

Hillary Care

Notes on socialized medicine:

Michael Moore's SiCKO is opening in Britain this week, but the British are not amused. Anyone can extol the virtues of universal government-furnished health care, they say, when they have never had to use it.

Peter Huber in "Cherry Garcia and the End of Socialized Medicine" in City Journal. The new age of "molecular medicine," of designer drugs for specific genetic defects, is going to break up the current system of government universal health care that Michael Moore so loves.

But Michael Moore and his slacker-liberal army would fight to the last mockumentary to stop that. They have a right to free and unlimited health care and they know it.

You might wonder why they make such a fuss. After all, Huber writes,"Three-dollar statins in New York in 1996 get 30-cent statins to London in 2006 and three-cent statins to Kuala Lumpur a few years later."

But that's not good enough for our progressive friends. They want three-cent statins now. Anything less is a triumph of greed over human need.

That's why it would be prudent not to place any bets on the end of socialized medicine any time soon.

Instead, we should expect it to lurch from one disaster to the next.

It's encouraging to think that Hillary Clinton is uniquely qualified, by education, temperament, experience, and plain dumb luck to be the US leader fated to test universal health insurance to destruction.

After she and her wrecking crew have finished then we can start to build a health care system that really works.

Meanwhile there is always medical tourism.

Posted by Wilson Mixon at 02:53 PM in Politics

Richmond Fed Interviews Russ Sobel

An interesting interview with Russ Sobel (my dissertation advisor) in the Summer 2007 issue of the Richmond Fed's publication Region Focus can be found here in .pdf. The interview discusses his work on FEMA, Nascar, the Articles of Confederation, and West Virginia public policy.

Posted by Joshua Hall at 02:38 PM in Economics

APEE Young Scholars Program

The Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE) has received a grant to help young faculty and graduate students attend our annual meeting April 6-8, 2008 in Las Vegas, NV. These funds are designed to encourage younger scholars to consider the advantages of APEE membership.

Successful applicants will have their registration fees reduced to $75 (normally $390) and be eligible for a stipend of up to $595 toward travel expenses. To apply applicants must supply us with the following: (1) a short essay (250-300 words) explaining why the applicant wishes to attend the meeting; (2) a short letter of reference, preferably from an APEE member or someone known to APEE indicating why support should be provided to the nominee, and (3) a brief letter from the applicant's department chair or graduate director indicating the level of departmental support that the applicant can expect for this trip. Some of the applicants may be on the program and preference will be given to these applications. The deadline for applying is January 18, 2008. Those selected will be notified within two weeks of that date. Successful applicants will be required to register for the conference (at the reduced rate of $75) by February 18, 2008.

Please send applications to Dr. E. F. Stephenson at efstephenson[at]berry.edu . If you have questions, you may email him or call him at (706) 238-7878.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 08:20 AM in Economics

October 30, 2007
History’s warnings about cheap money

Manuel Hinds and Benn Steil, writing in the Financial Times, wisely warn us that ”excessive monetary creation can destabilise the economy while the rate of CPI inflation remains low.” That is, cheap credit can feed an a boom-bust cycle in asset prices even if an index of consumer prices doesn’t move much. What Hinds and Steil see happening in the present, F. A. Hayek earlier saw as the story of the 1920s.

HT: Gaurav Tiwari

Posted by Lawrence H. White at 11:07 AM in Economics

To whom does wealth belong?

I recently co-authored a short essay for the Journal of Lutheran Ethics titled, "To whom does wealth belong? An Economic Perspective."

The question of to whom does wealth belong is not one that most economists would be comfortable answering except in the most trivial sense. Trivially we would answer that wealth belongs – well – to those who own it. Aside from being rather circular in its logic, this reply does not get at the real issue implied by the question: To whom should wealth belong? This question is inherently normative in nature and economists qua economists are generally reluctant to take normative positions about how society should operate. We might be willing to describe the likely consequences of particular economic systems or policies, but questions of which systems or policies we should implement are, according to most economists, best left to philosophers and other moral leaders (Friedman, (1953) 1970).
Posted by Robert Lawson at 08:42 AM in Economics

A Rod. All the time.

Man, I just can’t wait to see what happens to A Rod! Will he sign with the Yankees or go free agent?! It's all so very exciting!

Hey, is there any other news in baseball this week?

Posted by Robert Lawson at 08:02 AM in Sports

October 29, 2007
Tiebout Sorting?

A news item courtesy of my former student Andrew C.:

An Oregon man was been arrested after fleeing police across a Snake River bridge into neighboring Idaho — only to reverse course near the stateline because he reckoned Oregon jails would be better than those in Idaho.

Michael Maddox, 42, was arrested earlier this week on suspicion of driving without insurance, failure to follow traffic laws, eluding police and drug possession.

According to Oregon State Police, Maddox had eluded officers on Sunday by heading eastward in his car into Idaho.

At that point, he stopped and drove back across the border before surrendering in a Wal-Mart store parking lot.

An Oregon State Police trooper says Maddox told him he didn't want to go to jail in Idaho.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 10:42 PM in Economics

Revolutionizing war c. 1907

From the October 29, 1907 NYT:

How War Will Be Revolutionized

"The success of aerial navigation has been established," declared Major Squires at the afternoon session, "and the success of aerial navigation means the introduction of new and radical methods in warfare, extended possibilities of producing decisive results by strategic movements against untenable positions rather than by the loss of human life. It means the ultimate passing away of warfare in the present sense and the eventual dawn of the era of peace."

This is an eerily familiar statement. Perhaps if the objective function of the politicians who initiate warfare were consistent with the objective function of those who prosecute warfare, the simple biplane would have been the end of war as we know it. Alas, our good Major mistakenly ignored or failed to realize that the biplane was not the end of this technology - indeed, only the beginning.
"I have been serving for the past ten years at Fort Leavenworth, the headquarters of the three service schools of the army. The military authorities there have shown the deepest interest and the firmest belief in the future of military aeronautics. Its radical influence on the methods of warfare will compare only with the invention of gunpowder and the tactics of Frederick the Great.

"The last great war was conducted strictly in line with the textbooks, and was accompanied at times with terrific slaughter. The great object of war, however, is to bring about a decisive result with a minimum of destruction of human life. If we can utilize scientific principles to bring about this result without killing any one a great advance will have been made. We have but three military arms - infantry, artillery, and cavalry. The cavalry is designed to scout and develop information, and the other arms furnish the means of using the information thus obtained. Aerial navigation furnishes an additional and more complete means of obtaining information, and enables us to manoeuvre armies by strategic marches and surprises and bring about decisive results with a minimum destruction of life. Trained observers can leave a frontier, scout about an enemy's country, and secure information of vital importance.

All of this is true, if the other country doesn't have airplanes as well.

The Major recognizes the value of the plane in terms of a "terror" weapon but fails to recognize that those who are "terrorized" might not sit still for it:

Add to this the possibility of airships dropping high explosives on a defenseless people and their importance becomes at once apparent. It is possible,even now, to tow a load of high explosives with a dirigible balloon and drop the destructive load at such points as desired. Against such an attack there is no effective resistance, save by waging an aerial warfare, air fleet against air fleet. The possibilities are unlimited and they mean the revolutionizing of military methods with the result that decisive victories may be gained with a minimum loss of life.
I am not sure what would be required for the good Major's prediction to come true, but two world wars and about 30-40 million people (mostly civilians) would die despite these "scientific principles" aimed to reduce the motivation of war would come to fruition - at least in as much as the nuclear bomb reduces the motivation for total war.

While mutually assured destruction might preclude military engagement, it is obvious that hopes that the biplane would lead to an era of peace was misplaced. Moreover, the biplane seems to be only the first in a long procession of tit-for-tat technological advances which today conntinues apace.

Posted by Craig Depken at 11:50 AM in Science

October 28, 2007
Musings c. 1907

From the October 27, 1907 NYT:

  • In society many a bud blossoms into a wallflower.
  • Life is a game of chance in which the cards are often stacked.
  • Perhaps Justice is blindfolded because she so often gets a black eye.
  • The smaller the bribe the greater seems to be the disgrace.
  • Love knows no law, unless we except [sic] the mother-in-law.
  • Posted by Craig Depken at 08:12 PM in Culture

    Biofuels and food

    So, someone at the UN now recognizes that we might want to postpone some global-warming amelioration, according to this report.

    Jean Ziegler, who has been the United Nations' independent expert on the right to food [who knew such a position existed?], called for a five-year moratorium on biofuel production to halt what he called a growing "catastrophe" for the poor.

    Scientific research is progressing very quickly, he said, "and in five years it will be possible to make biofuel and biodiesel from agricultural waste" rather than wheat, corn, sugar cane and other food crops.

    The world price of wheat doubled in one year and the price of corn quadrupled, leaving poor countries, especially in Africa, unable to pay for the imported food needed to feed their people, he said. And poor people in those countries are unable to pay the soaring prices for the food that does come in, he added.

    "So it's a crime against humanity" to devote agricultural land to biofuel production, Ziegler said a news conference. "What has to be stopped is ... the growing catastrophe of the massacre (by) hunger in the world," he said.

    As an example, he said, it takes 510 pounds of corn to produce 13 gallons of ethanol. That much corn could feed a child in Zambia or Mexico for a year, he said.

    Posted by Wilson Mixon at 10:55 AM in Economics

    October 27, 2007
    Thesis Printing on Demand

    For those in need of having theses or dissertations bound, I recently used Thesis on Demand. I found their prices to be quite reasonable and the quality was excellent. The really nice thing is you just upload the .pdf and pay by credit card and 4-6 weeks later you get a really nice, well bound, thesis or dissertaion in the mail.

    Posted by Joshua Hall at 01:03 PM in Misc.

    October 26, 2007
    Pre-Season Hoops poll

    My how times have changed. Here's a Texas A&M fan (me) all excited about pre-season basketball rankings. (Thanks for nothing Fran!).

    A&M is #14. A Durant-less t.u. is #16. Kentucky is #22. Full rankings here.

    Of course, pre-season rankings are meaningless and sportswriter polls are filled with biases. Here's Noel Campbell on football polls and televised games.

    And here's another Lopez getting suspended for skipping classes.

    Posted by Edward J. Lopez at 04:20 PM in Sports

    October 25, 2007
    College football notes c. 1907

    From the October 25, 1907 NYT:

  • Early indications do not point to a victory for Cornell over the Quakers [Pennsylvania] this Fall.

  • The two games which will be of the most interest this week are those in which Cornell meets Princeton at Ithaca and Pennsylvania plays the Indians at Philadelphia.

  • Chicago started well into its schedule of big games, beating Illinois 42 to 6. Michigan had a hard time winning from Wabash, 22 to 0.

  • The Dartmouth team, after its showing against Maine, is confident that it can defeat Amherst. This is Dartmouth's only big game besides that with Harvard on Nov. 16
  • My how things have changed.

    Posted by Craig Depken at 01:57 PM in Sports

    October 24, 2007
    Korean Currency Idol

    The Bank of Korea has narrowed the field of finalists from ten to four. The two winners will appear on new designs the 50,000-won or 100,000-won banknotes. Which two will be voted off next?

    Posted by Lawrence H. White at 10:49 PM in Economics

    Self-interested pleading?

    Is it just my imagination, or are those cars with bumper stickers that command us to "Stop Road Rage" among the most irritatatingly driven cars on the road?

    Posted by Lawrence H. White at 10:40 PM in Misc.

    Fly SUX

    That's the three-letter airport code for Sioux City, Iowa.

    Fun story, After decades-long fight, Iowa airport embraces unflattering identifier SUX - Metro

    SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - City leaders have scrapped plans to do away with the Sioux Gateway Airport's unflattering three-letter identifier - SUX - and instead have made it the centerpiece of the airport's new marketing campaign.

    The code, used by pilots and airports worldwide and printed on tickets and luggage tags, will be used on T-shirts and caps sporting the airport's new slogan, "FLY SUX." It also forms the address of the airport's redesigned Web site - www.flysux.com.

    Now if only I had a reason to go to Sioux City.....

    HT: Sarah Skwire at Liberty Fund.

    Posted by Edward J. Lopez at 09:24 AM in Funny Stuff

    Worst Chart of the Day

    Bushies might claim that much of the spending growth is for military purposes, but take a look at Reagan who also spent much on strengthening the military. Source here.

    BushBigSpender.jpg

    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 08:18 AM in Politics

    October 22, 2007
    The Ultimate Resource to air on PBS

    I received this in the inbox this week. If your PBS channel is carrying the show I highly recommend it. I've seen it and it's great.

    Hello. Thank you again for giving us coverage on the Milton Friedman biography which aired on PBS in January. We alerted you earlier in the year to our new program The Ultimate Resource. I am pleased to announce the program is scheduled to broadcast on PBS starting November 2, 2007 at 8PM EST. A list of broadcasting stations is available here: http://www.freetochoosemedia.net/production/ultimate_resource/press/ur_station_listings.pdf

    The program was filmed on location world-wide. In Ghana, we document parents striving to choose the best schools for their children. Knowing school choice is a topic of much interest, we thought you might want to alert your readers to this program. Below, you’ll find links to the segment on school choice, as well as other segment previews.

    Direct link to the Ghana segment dealing with school choice:
    http://www.ideachannel.tv/video/videopreview2.php?video=victoria_long Link to all previews of The Ultimate Resource:
    http://www.freetochoosemedia.org/production/ultimate_resource/press.phpLink via YouTube to the Ghana segment dealing with school choice:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7efh-2J1A4

    The program features some of today’s most leading experts. In Bangladesh, we interview 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus. In Peru, we speak to economist Hernando de Soto. James Tooley, Professor of Education Policy, is featured in the segment on school choice. And scholar Johan Norberg meets us in Estonia to discuss the country’s huge leap in economic grown since the fall of the Soviet Union.


    We would appreciate you alerting your readers to the PBS broadcast of The Ultimate Resource. Please let me know if I can provide additional information or a DVD screener.

    Kind regards,

    Christina Belski, Promotion Coordinator
    Free To Choose Media
    Phone: US +1 8148337140 Call
    Email: christina@freetochoosemedia.org
    Web: www.freetochoosemedia.org

    Posted by Robert Lawson at 08:42 AM in Economics

    October 20, 2007
    Musings of the Greenwood Lake Philosopher c. 1907

    From the Oct. 20, 1907 NYT:


  • The man who thinks twice before he speaks doesn't do a great deal of talking.
  • Some people are so refined they object to even having common sense.
  • Many a fellow has become all tangled up in a string of lies.
  • The first requisite of a good husband is a good wife.
  • One foot in the grave is worth two in the same place.
  • A man is known by the company he keeps and the friends he gives away.

  • Posted by Craig Depken at 08:21 PM in Culture

    Masonomics in Action

    Arnold Kling's recent essay on George Mason's economics department has received much publicity on econ blogs. An excerpt:

    Masonomics sees market failure as a motivation for entrepreneurship. As an example of market failure, let us use a classic case described by a Nobel Laureate, which is that the seller of a used car knows more about the condition of the car than the buyer. Masonomics predicts that entrepreneurs will try to address this problem. In fact, there are a number of entrepreneurial solutions. Buyers can obtain vehicle history reports. Sellers can offer warranties. Firms such as Carmax undertake professional inspections and stake their reputation on the quality of the cars that they sell.

    For an example of Masonomics in action, consider this paragraph about a local used car dealer specializing in lending to people with poor credit histories:

    Nice Cars Inc., like other used car companies, installs devices on their vehicles that disable the engine if payment stops. Before the shutoff is triggered, the device alerts the driver with a series of noises for a day or two beforehand.

    If this innovation seems mean, I bet the company is willing to sell/lend to many more folks (and at better terms) than it might if such a device had not been invented.

    In a similar vein, GPS is now used to monitor rental cars, truckers or fleet vehicles, and teenage drivers.

    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 03:16 PM in Economics

    October 19, 2007
    Homo Economicus: Redneck Edition

    The abstract of a clever paper from Michael Conlin, Stacy Dickert-Conlin, and John Pepper:

    To control the deer population, the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission regulates the gender and age of deer that can be legally harvested. These regulations, however, might have an unintended effect on hunting related accidents by changing the care a hunter takes in firing his rifle -- a moral hazard effect – or changing the composition of hunters. To test if and how these regulations affect accidents, we use a unique panel dataset of hunting accidents in Pennsylvania counties from 1990 to 2005 that allows us to distinguish between accidents related and unrelated to the care a hunter takes in firing his rifle. We find that harvesting restrictions substantially decrease the probability of a related accident but slightly increase the probability of unrelated accidents. While the composition of hunters is likely to affect both types of accidents in a similar manner, the differential effect of these law changes on related and unrelated accidents provides compelling evidence that hunting regulations affect the care hunters take when firing their rifles in a manner consistent with moral hazard. Thus, in the case of deer hunting, we find that regulations restricting the types of deer that can be harvested increase the level of care and thus had a positive safety externality.

    RE the title of the post: Of course all hunters aren't rednecks. Lighten up.

    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 11:55 AM in Economics

    October 18, 2007
    Is there a GMU economic way of thinking?

    Arnold Kling at EconLog has a short essay at TCS with the zippy title, "So you want to be a Masonomist."

    The gist is that the GMU economic way of thinking emphasizes methodological and ethical individualism.

    If you want to be a Masonomist, you have to lose the we. When people use we in today's politics , they are doing two things.

    1. Appealing to a moral entity that stands apart from and above John, Mary, or any other individual
    2. Treating government as the embodiment of that higher moral entity

    You can be a Masonomist and believe (1). It is a good thing to have a conscience and moral standards. It is a good thing to engage in volunteer work, to form organizations that address the needs of others, and to act unselfishly toward family and others in your community.

    Masonomists encourage our noble impulses. Tyler Cowen's book is a cross between a self-help manual and an essay on moral philosophy. In one section, he suggests ways that one can modify one's behavior in order to give enough to charity and to ensure that one's charitable contributions are made wisely.

    However, Masonomics is unrelenting in its rejection of (2). For many years, George Mason has been the home of Public Choice Theory, which says that instead of imagining what a wise, omniscient, benevolent government might do, one should pay attention to how government operates in practice. Nobel Laureate James Buchanan, founder (with Gordon Tullock) of Public Choice, is the gray eminence of Masonomics.

    I like that gray eminence line. I dislike always seeing Gordon Tullock's name in parentheses when following that of Buchanan.

    The implication of the gist of methodological and ethical individualism, a la the GMU economic way of thinking, is to favor markets over governments. I very much admire the pithiness of Arnold's characterization here:

    At the University of Chicago, economists lean to the right of the economics profession. They are known for saying, in effect, "Markets work well. Use the market."

    At MIT and other bastions of mainstream economics, most economists are to the left of center but to the right of the academic community as a whole. These economists are known for saying, in effect, "Markets fail. Use government."

    Masonomics says, "Markets fail. Use markets."

    Overall the essay seems to try to make sense of "what is going on" at GMU Economics, and perhaps more importantly, what will come of the ideas currently being tossed about and refined at GMU. That's a tall order. Especially since it's impossible to "abandon the we" when talking about a group of free thinkers, however like-minded and mutually affectionate they may be.

    Posted by Edward J. Lopez at 04:43 PM in Economics

    October 17, 2007
    Wisdom from George Will
    John Edwards, too, has puzzling ideas. For the entertainment of Iowans, he has reinvented himself as a 19th-century Kansan -- Mary Elizabeth Lease, the prairie populist who urged farmers to "raise less corn and more Hell." In August, Edwards urged an Iowa audience to throw off Washington's yoke: "We need to take the power out of the hands of these insiders that are rigging the system against you."

    To measure how much Iowans are suffering from the rigging, Stephen Slivinski of the libertarian Cato Institute was asked to mine the most recent Census Bureau data. He concluded that Iowans paid $15.6 billion in revenues to the federal government and got $19.4 billion back, a gain of $1,286.53 per Iowan.

    But that is not all. Washington has rigged the system to inundate corn-growing Iowa with subsidies for corn-based ethanol. Slivinski says it is difficult to pin down the Iowa corn farmers' harvest of dollars because the subsidies come from exemptions from excise taxes and tariffs (54 cents per imported gallon) that stifle competition from cheap ethanol imports. It is, however, reasonable to add $2 billion to Iowa's gain from Washington's rigging of the system, so the average Iowan's gain is at least $1,963.65.

    Suppose Iowa did not have crucial presidential nominating caucuses. Or suppose it had them but that its crucial crop were, say, broccoli rather than corn. Would the federal government still be, well, rigging the system to create a phony "market" to satisfy a specious "demand" for mandatory and subsidized ethanol? No, but it probably would be mandating broccoli at every meal.

    Many politicians pander, as Edwards does with gusto, to Americans' current penchant for self-pity. Hence the incessant talk about "the forgotten middle class." Because such talk is incessant, it of course refutes itself.

    Article here.

    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:16 PM in Politics

    On automobile innovation c. 1907

    An interesting concept car is described in the October 17, 1907 NYT:

    The autocycle runs upon four wheels, but the position of the wheels is totally different from that of any other vehicle. The front wheel is situated directly in the centre and partially under the forward part of the machine, and the rear wheel is in direct line with the forward one, as in the case of a bicycle. The wheels are placed further apart, however, and on each side are two wheels, known as the balance wheels, connected by an axle with steering knuckles.

    The body of the autocycle is carried upon the front steering and the rear driving wheels. The side wheels maintain the equilibrium of the vehicle, but ordinarily take little or no weight. By the use of a specially designed link check spring device they remain at all times in contact with the roadway, these balance wheels turning in unison with the front wheel, each at its proper angle in rounding a curve. No differential gear is required, a single centre chain drive being used.

    [T]he car that he [Mr. Vandergrift, the designer] drove from Syracuse is equipped with a twenty horse power motor.

    "The motor will produce a speed of sixty-five miles an hour...This larger autocycle weighs 1,400 pounds and it can easily make twenty-two miles on one gallon of gasoline...the autocycle has been tested over rough roads, up steep heels [sic], and it can go anywhere that the ordinary motor car can."

    Posted by Craig Depken at 11:35 AM in Science

    October 16, 2007
    The next big thing c. 1907

    The NYT of October 16, 1907 reports a Homer Simpson 'Doh!!' moment:

    The semi-official Temps this evening, referring to a dispatch from New York saying that the Wright brothers had sold their aeroplane to an Anglo-American syndicate which is negotiating with European Governments, says.

    "We have reason to believe that the information is incorrect and that the attempts of the Wrights at Berlin, Paris, and London to sell their invention failed, as they wished to sell the secret without making a demonstration of its utility.

    Posted by Craig Depken at 12:38 PM in Science

    Frost warning

    In "Frost Warning" William Voegeli offers the following summary statement regarding the debate about the boy who became the poster child for SCHIP:

    [T]he New Republic ... conceded that "going without health insurance is often a matter of choice," and "it's clear the Frosts have made [a] choice to invest in property and a business, but not in private health insurance." Now that a tragedy has left their children with serious medical conditions, private insurance is prohibitive. It's mean-spirited, however, to suggest the Frosts were feckless for not securing insurance before disaster struck — that, indeed, this is the whole point of insurance.

    None of this matters, though. According to Mr. Krugman, I am my neighbor's keeper, and America is one big neighborhood. It might be nice if my neighbors were not improvident about caring for their families, but it's completely irrelevant.

    We will defeat viciousness by creating a society where the bad choices of the parents are never visited upon the children. In doing so, we'll fashion one where it is entirely unnecessary to go to the trouble of making good choices. The big neighborhood will be held together by sharing — specifically, families who provide for their children conscientiously will have innumerable occasions to share their wealth with the families who don't.

    This is preface to a larger issue raised by Peter Huber, whether health insurance (whether private or socialized) as we know it is becoming obsolete.

    Lipitor is a lifesaver for 600,000 genetically unlucky Americans who harbor a bad-cholesterol gene or two on chromosome 19, and for another 100 million victims of our supersize-me culture. Fourteen billion dollars is a bargain for problems as pernicious as these. Or is it? Let’s blame the victim. The human body is so comfortable with fat that it rarely complains about a cholesterol glut in the blood until seconds before things crash. Many who should be worried never even get their blood checked. Many who do check it fail to take their Lipitor. None of us really needs the pill anyway—just lose the ice cream, shed the pounds, stop smoking, and exercise regularly.

    Call it tuning, if you prefer. Lipitor tunes our cholesterol. Anti-stroke medicines tune our platelets, antidepressants our serotonin and dopamine, heart medicines our angiotensin-converting enzymes, contraceptives our estrogen. Cancer drugs tame or kill our own mutant genes. And for every drug to suppress chemical excess, there’s another to address deficits: insulin for the underperforming pancreas, clotting factors for bleedy blood, Synthroid for the tired thyroid, and cancer-suppressing proteins to lend a hand to tumor-suppressing genes.

    Medicine has never seen—nor much needed—anything like this biochemical arsenal before. When infectious germs were still ubiquitous, few people lived long enough to clog their arteries with ice cream. ... Some people are still attacked by microbes, but such assaults from the outside aren’t the big problem any more. The cholera of our times is a stew of specific, discrete molecules, concocted by genes, gluts of cigarettes, beer, ice cream, and other delicious consumables, and by whatever attitude problems we might have about eating our peas or taking our pills.

    This great etiological shift—from the medicine of us versus germs to the medicine of us versus us—upends everything. Disease and its cures now depend on factors too fragmented for conventional insurance pools to contain, too costly for public treasuries to underwrite, and too divisive for public authorities even to discuss, much less manage.

    Asian-American women have a life expectancy of almost 87 years; African-American men, 69 years. We have these facts on the authority of Eight Americas, a 2006 [by] Harvard’s School of Public Health. Women in Stearns County, Minnesota, live about 22 years longer than men in southwest South Dakota, and 33 years longer than Native American men in six of that state’s counties. The gap between the highest and lowest life expectancies for U.S. race-county combinations is over 35 years. Some race-sex-county groups typically die in their nineties, others in their fifties. Some are healthier than the norm in Iceland, Europe, and Japan, others sicker than Nicaragua and Uzbekistan.

    What accounts for these cavernous differences? Harvard dares to name six leading “risk factors” for the population as a whole—alcohol, tobacco, obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose....

    By 2005, seven of the world’s ten most profitable drugs owed most of their success to our foolish mouths. Two ... lowered cholesterol, one suppressed the blood’s tendency to clot on cholesterol plaques, one lowered high blood pressure caused in part by clogged arteries, two were for heartburn and acid reflux, and one was for asthma, often aggravated by cigarettes. [S]moking still causes more deaths than all other readily preventable causes combined, but gluttony is catching up. It’s now responsible for 350,000 preventable deaths in the United States every year, including about one-third of all cancers.

    [B]iochemists can now disassemble glut-and-gene diseases into molecules that can be exposed long before they morph into plaques, clots, tremors, tumors, occluded airwaves, clogged arteries, and failed muscles. By scrutinizing differences in our chemistry, biochemists can now disassemble glut-and-gene diseases into molecules. Breast cancer used to be a lump; now it’s at least four genes, two of which, when paired, make a tumor almost certain. ...

    Because they treat our differences, ... the new drugs cost far more than the old. Brewing huge vats of penicillin or Lipitor is quite cheap. ... A disease with four separate genetic roots probably requires four miracle drugs on the shelf. “Pharmacogenomics” fragments things further still, by tailoring drugs to patient-specific genes.

    In the One America vision of things, better government would deliver better diets and also more Lipitor to all, and that would make health care, perhaps even health itself, equitable and uniform. But however clear a health problem may be, and however simple and cheap the cure, molecular medicine is riddled with lines that the nanny state just can’t cross.

    [I]nsurance systems that pool health risks indiscriminately are vestiges of the past. They can’t survive what lies ahead. Insurance makes sense for risks that people can’t control. Or to put it more bluntly, socialized medicine was a smart idea back when medicine was too stupid to halt infectious epidemics, discourage suicidal lifestyles, or discern the perils in killer genes. ... But we’re now past the days when infectious diseases were the dominant killers, and heart attacks and lung cancer seemed to strike as randomly as germs. And insurance looks altogether different when your neighbor’s problem is a persistent failure to take care of himself. Many people willing to share the burden of bad luck eventually tire of sharing the cost of bad behavior.

    Posted by Wilson Mixon at 11:13 AM in Economics

    Congratulations Garvey Essay Winners!

    The 2006-07 Garvey Essay topic was

    Is foreign aid the solution to global poverty?”

    A 2005 United Nations report called for a doubling of foreign aid to poor countries as the means to reduce poverty. Yet the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a for-profit microloan bank and its founder, an apparent vindication of the ideas of Peter T. Bauer, Henry Hazlitt, Deepak Lal, and others. As Bauer wrote, “Development aid, far from being necessary to rescue poor societies from a vicious circle of poverty, is far more likely to keep them in that state.…Emergence from poverty requires effort, firmly established property rights, and productive investment.”

    Congratulations to the winners.

    Junior faculty winners are Peter Leeson, Jason Sorens (University at Buffalo), and Art Carden (Rhodes College).

    Student winners are John Parker (U. of Alabama), James Estes (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary), and Juan Ramon Rallo (U. de Valencia).

    The contest drew 600 applicants from 48 countries. Details, including prize amounts and webbed essays, are here

    Posted by Edward J. Lopez at 08:26 AM in Misc.

    Thanks Aeon

    I spent a few days last week attending a Liberty Fund conference organized by Aeon Skoble. A fantastic experience--thanks for the invitation and thanks to Liberty Fund for its generosity. Also attending were friends Ed Stringham and Elizabeth Hull.

    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:31 AM in Misc.

    Say What?

    In his review (WSJ, Oct 11) of Marcus Rediker's The Slave Ship, Fergus M. Bordewich writes:

    Mr. Rediker's provocative and briny account chronicles what he calls the "golden age" of the slave trade, from 1700 to 1808, when at any given time hundreds of slavers cruised the African coast between Gambia and Angola, trading firearms, textiles, metalware, brandy and other goods for human cargo. At first, European slave traders simply stepped into "preexisting circuits of exchange" with African chieftains and entrepreneurs. Over time, though, the demand for vast numbers of slaves in the Americas transformed slave-hunting into a major West African industry. Slave ships were thus an essential part of one of the first truly global industries and the development of modern capitalism. [emphasis added]

    Nope. Capitalism--modern or otherwise--is not the sale of human beings. Instead it is voluntary, mutually beneficial, interaction among free people.

    Perhaps Mr. Bordewich should read Levy and Peart's article on the origins of the term "dismal science."

    BTW, co-blogger Bob suggests we use the word "laborism."

    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:16 AM in Economics

    Good Reading in Today's WSJ

    Pete Boettke on the Nobel Prize winners:

    While we celebrate the brilliance of Messrs. Hurwicz, Maskin and Myerson, we should also remember that Hayek's challenge provided their inspiration. Hayek concluded that the private-property rights that come with the rule of law, freedom of contract, and freedom of association is still the one mechanism design that mobilizes and utilizes the dispersed information in an economy. Furthermore, it does so in a way that tends to capture the gains from trade and innovation so that wealth is continually created and humanity is made better off.

    George Leef on Atlas Shrugged:

    The message of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" is that people of talent and ability who produce value for others are constantly harassed, taxed, vilified and exploited by moochers and parasites who use politics to get what they can't achieve through voluntary means of trade and persuasion ("Capitalist Heroes" by David Kelley, editorial page, Oct. 10). No better illustration of that could be given than the rest of your Oct. 10 editorial page, especially the stories on the demand for higher taxes on private equity firms and the destructive political wrangling over CAFÉ rules for automakers.

    The Lilliputians have Gulliver tied down and are whooping for joy while planning how to slice him up.


    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:05 AM in Economics

    October 15, 2007
    The beef with beef

    Maybe we have the wrong sort of CAFE standards, according to this LA Times piece:

    All told, livestock are responsible for 18% of greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide, according to the U.N. -- more than all the planes, trains and automobiles on the planet. And it's going to get a lot worse. As living standards rise in the developing world, so does its fondness for meat and dairy. Annual per-capita meat consumption in developing countries doubled from 31 pounds in 1980 to 62 pounds in 2002, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, which expects global meat production to more than double by 2050. That means the environmental damage of ranching would have to be cut in half just to keep emissions at their current, dangerous level.

    A University of Chicago study examined the average American diet and found that all the various energy inputs and livestock emissions involved in its production pump an extra 1.5 tons of CO2 into the air over the course of a year, which would be avoided by a vegetarian diet. Thus, the researchers found, cutting out meat would do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than trading in a gas guzzler for a hybrid car.

    Posted by Wilson Mixon at 01:54 PM in Science

    October 14, 2007
    The Gentle Cynic c. 1907

    A few of the days I did not get a chance to read the NYT from a hundred years to the day contained the musings of the anonymous "gentle cynic." Here are a few of his/her(?) better quips:


    Sept. 1, 1907
  • The girl who marries a man to reform him is generally spoiling a good husband for some other girl.
  • It may be true that wealth doesn't bring happiness, but most of us only know it from heresay.
  • Some actors get fabulous salaries and some get imaginary ones. There's a difference.
  • An optimist is any man who thinks it might have been worse.
  • Money talks, but lots of us only hear the echo.
  • A man may speculate in wheat without having a grain of common sense.

    Sept. 8, 1907

  • Luck won't overcome laziness.
  • There are times when we are also thankful for what we don't get [wasn't there a country song about this?]
  • Some men are so versatile that they never know which side they are on.
  • Few of us get what we want, but most of us get what we deserve [wasn't there another song about this, okay substitute "need" for "deserve"?]
  • Wine is a mocker, especially when you haven't the price.
  • Egotism is always willing to work overtime without extra pay.

    Sept. 15, 1907

  • When you have a chance to get something for nothing, look carefully for the concealed price tag.
  • Perhaps silence is golden, because it is so scarce.
  • Many a fellow will stand up for himself even when he has to lie to do it.

    October 13, 1907

  • The trouble with an ideal is that after we attain it we are always looking around for another.
  • Some of us descend from our ancestors, and some of us rise above them.

  • Posted by Craig Depken at 07:38 PM in Culture

    October 12, 2007
    Cool Cover of a Bastiat Translation

    bastiat.jpg

    This is the cover to the Montenegrin version of Bastiat's "What is Seen and What Is Not Seen" is pretty cool. Courtesy of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Prognoses.

    Posted by Joshua Hall at 06:32 PM in Economics

    Economic Commentary by Mike Hicks

    Ball State economist Mike Hicks, whose book on Wal-Mart I have mentioned before, writes weekly economic commentaries which are archived here. His latest article is on the declining influence of labor unions, where he mentions my favorite insurance order, the International Order of Odd Fellows.

    Posted by Joshua Hall at 06:19 PM in Economics

    Mises in Italy

    I just got back from Italy, where I presented a paper at the fourth annual Mises Seminar conducted by Instituto Bruno Leoni. Although 44 hours of travel for two days in the Italian Riveria was tough, it was worth it as the folks at IBL put together a very nice conference full of interesting work by young scholars from all over Europe and the United States.

    A full list of the papers presented at the conference (in English) can be found here. My presentation was on my paper "Help Me Help Myself" co-authored with my colleague Scott Beaulier.

    Instituto Bruno Leoni puts on an extremely nice seminar and I would urge any young scholars (under 35) to consider applying to present at the 2008 seminar. IBL works hard to defray all the costs of young scholars presenting at the conference, for which I thank them. Unfortunately, I only have a hard copy of the call for papers for next year's conference, but as soon as I see an electronic version I will alert DOL readers to it.

    Posted by Joshua Hall at 06:01 PM in Economics

    Throwing Stones in Glass Houses

    From the AJC:

    PETA: Cobb shelter illegally euthanized animals

    I guess PETA would rather give animals lethal injections and dump them in dumpsters.

    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 02:06 PM in Misc.

    The Inconvenience of Truth to Myth

    Yesterday the Heartland Institute released an email "media advisory" on the decision by Britain's high court that Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth is essentially worthless from an objective, scientific point of view.

    (Chicago, Illinois – October 11, 2007) British High Court Justice Michael Burton has ruled Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, represents "partisan political views." He determined schools will have to warn pupils before they show the controversial film.

    The case was brought by Stewart Dimmock--a truck driver, member of a local school council, and parent of children aged 11 and 14. The defendants are British ministers responsible for the government education system, who had ordered nationwide distribution of Gore's film. Dimmock said the film is inappropriate for showing to school-age children because it is politically biased, scientifically inaccurate, and contains "sentimental mush."

    After outlining nearly a dozen serious factual errors in the film, Burton determined it could continue to be shown in schools, but only if accompanied by a teaching package that includes limiting and cautionary "guidance notes" and other films, including a counter-film, "The Great Global Warming Swindle," produced by Britain's Channel 4.

    "The British High Court properly recognized that Al Gore's movie is nine parts political propaganda and one part science," noted James M. Taylor, The Heartland Institute's senior fellow for environment issues and managing editor of Environment & Climate News. "Virtually every assertion that Gore makes in the movie has been strongly contradicted by sound science."

    "The British court decision should guide teachers in the U.S. to similarly treat Gore's movie as the inaccurate and misleading propaganda tool that it is," Taylor concluded.

    The full text of Burton's decision is available online at http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=22161.

    Hat tip: David Hart of Liberty Fund.

    Posted by Edward J. Lopez at 01:25 PM in Science

    On the World Series c. 1907

    the 1907 World Series is underway in early-mid October, with the Chicago Cubs beating the Detroit Tigers on Oct. 11, 1907 to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best of seven series. Tigers fans are deflated that their team was unable to grab a victory in Game 3 and the Oct. 12, 1907 NYT reports on many aspects of the event:


  • Detroit carried off premier honors for enthusiasm. Purchasers of admission tickets began streaming out toward Bennet Park before 7 o'clock. Two hours later there were four long lines waiting for the ticket windows to open.
  • Baseball fanatics of Blue Island, a distant suburb of Chicago, resorted to carrier pigeons to carry the news of the game by innings. A pigeon fancier, accompanied by Major Gobel and a number of fans, took forty pigeons to the ball park and turned them loose after each inning to carry the news of the game to Blue Island.
  • Detroit yesterday witnessed the first world's championship contest in twenty years. In 887 Detroit, then a National League team, with it's famous "Big Four" in its line-up won the title, defeating St. Louis eleven game to four.
  • The official attendance was announced as 11,306, which is a record for Detroit, but a poor second to the Chicago crowds.

  • Posted by Craig Depken at 11:32 AM in Sports

    Misc updates

    I'll be away for a couple of weeks to (1) give a talk at the International Policy Network in London, (2) attend and give a couple presentations at the annual Economic Freedom Network meeting held this year on the Adriatic Coast in Budva, Montenegro, and (3) give a talk for the Liberalni Institut in Prague.

    I'll also find some weekend time to hike in the Durmitor Mountains of Montenegro where I hope to summit Bobotov Kuk (8274').

    Posted by Robert Lawson at 10:59 AM in Misc.

    On Running Efficiency

    From the NYT:

    IN her prime, Joan Benoit Samuelson, one of the best female distance runners, should have been faster than Alberto Salazar, one of the best male distance runners.

    Ms. Samuelson’s running was beautifully smooth. Mr. Salazar’s was not.

    Posted by Robert Lawson at 10:57 AM in Sports

    Public Schools and Others

    This report from Yahoo News by Nancy Zuckerbrod, AP Education Writer, is fairly typical:

    WASHINGTON - Low-income students who attend urban public high schools generally do just as well as private-school students with similar backgrounds, according to a study being released Wednesday.

    Students at independent private schools and most parochial schools scored the same on 12th-grade achievement tests in core academic subjects as those in traditional public high schools when income and other family characteristics were taken into account, according to the study by the nonpartisan Center on Education Policy.

    Of course, this is not what the report from the "nonpartisan" CEP says. The actual report is based on a set of regression equations in which 8th grade tests are the major predictors of 12th grade test results. Thus, at most the report tells something about how much the students gain between the 8th and 12th grades. Even this is problematic, as the body of the study concedes (p. 19): "Just as it is possible in the NAEP research that private schools attract higher achieving students to begin with, it is possible in this study that private schools promote greater
    parental involvement."

    No F scores are provided for non-comprehensive public schools as a group, and none are provided for parental characteristics as a group. For some of the school types, the number of observations appears to be quite small (Report, p. 26: "No type had fewer than 25 NELS survey participants for this analysis.")

    Back to the AP story:

    [T]he new study not only compared students by income levels but also looked at a range of other family characteristics, such as whether a parent participates in school life. "When these were taken into account, the private-school advantage went away," the report states. The study looked at 1,000 low-income students from cities who are part of a nationally representative sample of kids surveyed over a period of years, along with parents and teachers, as part of a federal research effort.

    In fact, the estimated impacts of these family characteristics as measured by beta coefficients is quite small and not always with the "right" sign. And the sample used in this study is anything but "nationally representative" as the report (p.26) says: "This subset amounted to 1,003 students. By focusing on this subset, the study limited private school comparisons to those affecting inner-city populations...."

    Posted by Wilson Mixon at 09:52 AM in Politics

    October 11, 2007
    Another Entrepreneur Serving Customer Needs
    As the world's top condom experts convene this week to update international standards, one American entrepreneur has a simple message: Size matters.

    It's shaking up an industry that has generally taken a one-size-fits-all approach.

    The world's top condom experts gathered this week in South Korea to update international standards for condoms, where one American entrepreneur was pushing for more different sizes to be allowed.

    Frank Sadlo, founder of TheyFit, which makes what he claims are the world's first custom-fit condoms, is pushing for updated standards to allow greater variation in condom size.

    Story here.

    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 10:34 PM in Misc.

    Cyclical Marginal Revenue Product?

    Some lines of research are more interesting than others. Consider:

    Last month, biologist Randy Thornhill challenged the orthodoxy that women do not undergo regular bouts of hormone-induced oestrus ... when they are at their most fertile - something most female mammals experience (New Scientist, 15 September, p 18). Now a study of the tips men give to lap dancers, conducted by a colleague of Thornhill's, lends further support to the argument for oestrus.

    Posted by Wilson Mixon at 05:22 PM in Science

    Letter in WSJ

    My contribution to today's WSJ:

    Sen. Bernie Sanders ("Letters" Oct. 4) asserts that Mexico's "agricultural sector has been decimated by cheap exports from American agribusiness." To the contrary, Mexico's agricutural markets have been roiled by high corn prices caused by our subsidy-fueled demand for ethanol. Earlier this year, the Mexican government imposed price controls on tortillas because of sharp price increases caused by American corn demand.


    To give the senator his due, he's correct that Carlos Slim's billions are obscene. However, since he's such a careful reader of Mary O'Grady's columns, he should know that Slim's wealth is not symptomatic of "the kind of economic development championed" by her. Indeed, in a January 25, 2005 column, O'Grady describes Slim as the beneficiary of "mind-boggling [telecomm monopoly] privileges."

    Sen. Sanders's letter is here (sub req). About two weeks ago, I sent a letter that the WSJ did not run; it is below the fold.

    Read More »

    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 04:16 PM in Economics

    Do as we say

    From Cooler Heads Digest, 10/10/07:

    Hypocrite of the Week

    Connie Heidegaard, Denmark’s Environment Minister, last week claimed to be an increasingly impatient emissary on behalf of “the planet”, demanding that the U.S. make the same promise as Europe to reduce its greenhouse gas (principally CO2) emissions.

    That same week, Denmark released figures showing that it increased its 2006 CO2 emissions by 16.1% over 2005 levels, citing their growing economy (which relies on coal-fired power, it seems).

    U.S. emissions, however, dropped 1.3% over the same time, while the economy grew by 3.3%.

    Posted by Wilson Mixon at 01:50 PM in Politics

    October 10, 2007
    Frontiers in economic illiteracy

    Sen. John McCain during yesterday’s debate:

    I'm glad that -- whenever they cut interest rates. I wish interest rates were zero.
    Posted by Lawrence H. White at 07:19 PM in Economics

    Don’t Just Whip Inflation Now, Falsify the Numbers: Argentine President

    Outgoing Argentine President Nestor Kirchner has a problem: inflation is at 20 percent and rising. He cares because his wife is running to succeed him as President. What is he doing to address the problem?

    Restraining money growth? C’mon, get serious, he’s a post-convertibility neo-populist. For public relations, Kirchner has lately been urging consumers: “Don't buy from those who are trying to make excessive profits.” More seriously, behind the scenes earlier this year he began replacing personnel at the government bureau that measures inflation. The market for inflation-indexed Argentine bonds reacted in a large way to the falsification of the index. Bloomberg.com reports:

    Yields on Argentina's 5.83 percent inflation-linked peso note due in December 2033 have soared to 7.65 percent from 5.3 percent on Feb. 1, soon after Kirchner began making the personnel changes.

    In other words, the market raised its estimate of the dishonesty in Argentina’s official inflation measure by 235 basis points.

    HT: WG

    Posted by Lawrence H. White at 07:00 PM in Economics

    Private note-issue to the rescue

    How the Bank of Scotland (a private note-issuing bank) is addressing “the problem of scruffy fivers”. The same problem has left the Bank of England stumped.

    Posted by Lawrence H. White at 06:31 PM in Economics

    California Rebates

    Longtime readers may recall former DOLer Ralph Frasca and others posting on rebates. Now California's legislature has passed a bill requiring that ads feature the pre-rebate price rather than the price net of rebates. Apparently Rhode Island and Connecticut have similar laws in effect.

    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 04:23 PM in Economics

    Institutions Matter: "African Time" Edition

    From Reuters via the Freakonomics blog:

    Poor punctuality is such a brake on Ivory Coast's economic development that the West African country has come up with a novel way to combat tardiness: win a house if you demonstrate you can turn up on time.

    Backed by President Laurent Gbagbo and devised by a local public relations firm, "Punctuality Night" kicked off at eight o'clock sharp Saturday night, rewarding business people and civil servants for exceptional timekeeping.

    Pitched with the slogan "'African time' is killing Africa, let's fight it," its organizers hope to heighten awareness of how missed appointments, meetings or even late buses cut productivity in a region where languid tardiness is the norm.


    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 03:57 PM in Economics

    Ayn Rand love chimps

    If you had to pick some emotionless scientists, of course they would be Germans. German scientists have discovered that chimps choose more rationally than humans do.

    In the game, a human or chimpanzee who receives something of value can offer to share it with another.
    If the proposed share is rejected, neither player gets anything.
    Humans typically make offers close to 50 percent of the reward. They also reject as unfair offers of significantly less than half of the reward, even though this choice means they get nothing.
    The study, however, showed chimpanzees reliably made offers of substantially less than 50 percent, and accepted offers of any size, no matter how small.
    The researchers concluded chimpanzees do not show a willingness to make fair offers and reject unfair ones. In this way, they protect their self interest and are unwilling to pay a cost to punish someone they perceive as unfair.

    Not much else is revealed about the game (one shot? random determination of who gets the thing of value? etc). It obviously points to the presence of "fairness" (if not magnanimity) in human utility functions, however defined. Chimps seem unencumbered by desires of fairness. How to square the fact that humans behave less in their self-interest than chimps? Where's your Darwinism now?

    HT: Today's Boortz Nuze

    Posted by Tim Shaughnessy at 03:57 PM in Economics

    Income trends

    This from a recent press release (HT: NCPA): New Data: Top 1% Pay Greater Dollar Amount in Income Taxes to Federal Government than Bottom 90%. Data also show incomes growing across all percentile groups.

    The full study has a wealth of data. I did a little mining and discovered the following (all data 1987 - 2005):
    •Income at the 95th percentile grew at 4.17% per year.
    •Income at the 90th percentile grew at 3.76% per year.
    •Income at the 75th percentile grew at 3.40% per year.
    •Income at the 50th percentile grew at 3.17% per year.

    I also looked at a couple of trend lines in the ratios. Results:
    •The downward trend rate in the 75th percentile income relative to the 95th percentile income was -0.356% per year. All negative residuals were between 1994 and 2001.
    •The downward tend in the 50th percentile income relative to the 95th percentile income was -0.234 per year. Same residual pattern as with 75th percentile.


    Posted by Wilson Mixon at 01:45 PM in Economics

    Markets in Everything: Beam Me Up Scotty Edition

    A few months ago, co-blogger Larry posted on caskets and urns with major league baseball logos. Now Eternal Image, the company with the mlb licensing agreement, is offering Star Trek urns and caskets.

    HT: The Locker Room

    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:57 PM in Economics

    Fuzzy Math?

    From John Leo's column on the political leanings of professors:

    Although business school professors are believed to be predominantly conservative, professors of business voted 2-1 for Kerry. These professors were barely more conservative than liberal.

    I don't how one can describe a group that voted 2-1 for Kerry as being more conservative than liberal.

    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:14 PM in Politics

    October 09, 2007
    Re: The hell that is Zimbabwe.

    Fact Sheet on the Zimbabwe Crisis:

    1. Estimated population in 2000: between 12.5 and 13 million. 2. Current estimates indicate the population could be as low as 8 million.

    ATSRTWT

    Posted by Robert Lawson at 06:39 PM in Economics

    Pollution a positive externality?

    From the NYT (and written by the son of a good friend of mine):

    Death sits on the east side of this city, a 40-billion-gallon pit filled with corrosive water the color of a scab. On the opposite side sits the small laboratory of Don and Andrea Stierle, whose stacks of plastic Petri dishes are smeared with organisms pulled from the pit. Early tests indicate that some of those organisms may help produce the next generation of cancer drugs.
    Posted by Robert Lawson at 12:39 PM in Economics

    Stop me before I choose again!

    Maybe Robert Frank (one of my favorite non-libertarian economists), Barry Schwartz, and all the other neo-Veblenites wringing their hands over our opulent consumer culture are right after all.

    I have just spent an hour (an hour in the middle of the freakin workday no less) "instant watching" an episode of HEROES via Netflix. I feel guilty. I worry that I'm worse off because I now have the option of watching tv on my computer at work.

    But damn that's a good show--and I'd not have even bothered to watch if it wasn't for the Netflix option.

    Posted by Robert Lawson at 11:38 AM in Economics

    Momma Mia

    Maybe public radio's "Marketplace" really isn't "Stateplace." Case in point, this morning's story on why Italian men live at home well into adulthood:

    Scott Jagow: The country's economic minister [is] proposing a $1,500 tax break for young Italians who rent.

    Let's bring in our correspondent in Rome, Megan Williams. Why do a third of Italian men live with their parents?

    Megan Williams: Well, there're sort of two big reasons. I mean, one of them is the cultural reason -- it's a southern Mediterranean country, so it's the culture of the family. But the economy is really blocked in Italy, and especially for young people, the chance of even finding not a decent job, but realizing that you're gonna segue out of that to something better just doesn't exist here.

    Jagow: Is there any chance that this idea of a tax break will go over?

    Williams: I don't think so. I mean, you know, a tax break of what, $1,500? That's going to help someone for a month, maybe, or two months? You need a total overhaul in this country of the labor codes. You need to be able to allow small and medium-sized companies, which are the backbone of the Italian company, to be able to hire and let people go when they need to. Right now, these companies aren't hiring anybody, because it's impossible to let anybody go. So what's happening is the workers are paying the price, because they're getting jobs under the table, they have no job security -- they're being exploited. And that's what's happening, especially to young people in this country.

    Jagow: Is the Italian government or these companies doing anything to help the situation?

    Williams: Well, the political pressure is mounting, but Italy just hasn't been able to make that transition into a modern economy. And when we talk about these mamoni and kids staying at home so late ... it really does represent a huge and growing problem in this country, which is that there are no jobs for young people.

    BONUS COVERAGE: While locating the story about Italian men living at home, I found this bit about fortune cookies adopting Bryan Caplan's pessimistic bias.

    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 10:40 AM in Economics

    October 08, 2007
    Good News for Beer Drinkers

    The reference is just to offset Frank's gloom and doom report.

    Posted by Wilson Mixon at 04:01 PM in Misc.

    A Coasian Solution Would Have Been Better

    Evidently property rights were poorly defined or transactions costs were too high:

    A Texas man is accused of stabbing his roommate to death because the man complained about his "stinky feet," local media reports.
    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 02:09 PM in Economics

    The World Freedom Atlas

    Check out the World Freedom Atlas.

    The World Freedom Atlas is a geovisualization tool for world statistics. It was designed for social scientists, journalists, NGO/IGO workers, and others who wish to have a better understanding of issues of freedom, democracy, human rights and good governance. It covers the years 1990-2006.

    Very cool.

    Posted by Robert Lawson at 07:56 AM in Economics

    October 07, 2007
    Thankfully it wasn’t another Ruby Ridge or Waco

    Tax refuseniks Ed and Elaine Brown, convicted in January of tax evasion and later sentenced in absentia, had been holed up on their property in New Hampshire since February, armed and refusing to surrender. The Feds cut off the electricity, but the Browns had on-site solar and wind power. On Thursday, Federal agents finally got onto their porch by posing as supporters bringing food. (Four actual supporters have been arrested in recent weeks on charges of obstruction of justice.) The couple was taken away without gunfire.

    Elaine Brown, writing on the couple’s own official website before the arrest, apparently believed she had what Herbert Spence called “the right to ignore the state”:

    Title 28 USC defines the United States as a federal corporation. If you are not a part of that corporation, i.e., you have no contract with it, you are not employed by it, you are accepting no benefits from it, then by the ‘right of association’ clause of the first amendment, you are not required to obey any of its dictums; it has no jurisdiction over you.

    Ed Brown apparently had what can charitably be called a deep conspiracy theory of government. A news story reproduced on the site notes that “Ed Brown, for his part, has named [trial Judge] McAuliffe as a possible target for his followers on several occasions, identifying him as part of a "Zionist Illuminati" plot to rob Americans of their freedoms.”

    Posted by Lawrence H. White at 06:20 PM in Economics

    King of Bollywood

    In the New York Times today, Charles Taylor reviews Anupama Chopra’s new book King of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema. As Taylor notes, it’s remarkable that a book on a foreign movie star, virtually unknown in the US outside the South Asian community, is being published by a major US press (Time Warner).

    Taylor writes: “At the moment no one represents Bollywood more than Shah Rukh Khan. It’s not just that this epitome of Hindi cinema is a Muslim, which makes Khan an unusual star. Part leading man, larger part buoyant goofball, Khan looks something like the offspring of John Stamos and Jerry Lewis.” I agree with the first and third sentences. But a Bollywood star being Muslim isn’t so unusual. It's less unusual than (say) a Hollywood star being black. Consider just the list of other leading men surnamed Khan: Aamir, Feroz, Saif Ali, Salman, Sohail, Zayed.

    This is a matter of taste, but I think Taylor also errs in calling SRK’s most famous film, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), “wonderful”. It’s a sappy romance with far too much mugging by Khan and pouting by his co-star Kajol. The most vital films in Bollywood, for my money, are the gangster flicks.

    Anupama Chopra was the author of Sholay: The Making of a Classic, a well-written book that I had to import from India (via eBay). Even though I’m not a fan of SRK, I look forward to being able to buy her new book domestically.

    Posted by Lawrence H. White at 02:40 PM in Culture

    Incentives Matter: Campaign Fundraising Edition
    College students looking for some extra spending money can earn a good chunk of change (plus “cool prizes”) if they raise more than $1,000 for Mitt Romney’s campaign.

    Through the Republican candidate’s “Students for Mitt!” program, full-time students who are at least 18 will receive a 10-percent commission if they rake in more than $1,000.

    Story here.

    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 02:01 PM in Economics

    Bad News for Beer Drinkers

    More blowback from the ethanol boondoggle:

    That six pack of high-brow beer is about to come at a higher price, thanks to the sharpest surge in decades in the cost of the hops and barley that give each brew its distinctive taste.

    Consumers could pay 50 cents to $1 per six pack more in the coming months for many small-batch "craft beers," as brewers pass on rising hops and barley costs from an unpalatable brew of poor harvests, the weak dollar and farmers' shift to more profitable crops. Other makers of craft beers, the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. brewing industry, say they may eat the higher ingredient costs, which will pare their profits.

    Craft beer makers have faced escalating costs over the past year. Prices for malting barley, which accounts for a beer's color and sweetness, have jumped as farmers increasingly shifted to planting corn, which has been bringing higher prices because of high demand from makers of biofuels, like ethanol.

    I'm drinking much less beer these days but folks who feel more pain from the beer price increase might consider entering the North American wife carrying contest. The winner receives his wife's weight in beer and five times her weight in dollars.

    HT: my wife

    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 01:12 PM in Economics

    October 06, 2007
    Reviewing The Shock Doctrine

    In About.com: Economics, Mike Moffatt excerpts from Tyler Cowen's review of The Shock Doctrine.

    First, a couple of lines from Cowen (not part of Moffatt's excerpt):

    It's probably the most effective brand of emotional nonfiction to be published this year. But when it comes to the underlying message, and the standards of evidence used to support it, "The Shock Doctrine" is a true economics disaster.

    Ms. Klein's book provides an interesting litmus test as to who is willing to condemn its shoddy reasoning. In the New York Times, Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz defended the book: "Klein is not an academic and cannot be judged as one." So nonacademics get a pass on sloppy thinking, false "facts," and emotional appeals? In making economic claims, Ms. Klein demands to be judged by economists' standards — or at the very least, standards of simple truth or falsehood.

    Moffatt's conclusion:

    I really want to like the work of Naomi Klein. She's a terrific writer, a Canadian, and I believe the west needs a thoughtful critic of conspicuous consumption. But so far in her career, Ms. Klein has refused to engage in any kind of intellectual debate, instead focusing on taking cheap-shots at people who are no longer around to defend themselves (Friedman). The sad reality is that the works of Thorstein Veblen, which are over 100 years old, have more current relevance than Shock Doctrine which came out last month.
    Posted by Wilson Mixon at 09:27 AM in Economics

    October 05, 2007
    Upward-sloping supply of amnesia

    This, from the AP:

    CHARLESTON, S.C. - A former economist pleaded guilty Friday for his role in swindling investors out of an estimated $90 million, which authorities said he used to purchase a half-dozen homes, swanky cars and jewel-encrusted pens.

    Al Parish, 50, admitted to two counts of fraud and lying to investigators. He faces up to 45 years in prison.

    Even economists, it appears, respond to incentives:

    At a hearing in May, a psychiatrist testified that Parish suffered amnesia resulting from extreme stress, but she also said Parish's memory improved after he learned amnesia was not a defense to the criminal charges.

    Posted by Wilson Mixon at 03:25 PM in Funny Stuff

    Principal-agent problem: Bronx Bombers edition
    Documents Just Released Show New York Yankees Entertaining at Taxpayers' Expense

    Tens of Thousands of Dollars in Receipts for Crystal Baseballs, Yankee Merchandise, Bar and Food, Expenses for Grounds Crew Submitted to the City as "Planning Expenses" for the Team's New Stadium

    More Here

    Posted by Craig Depken at 01:15 PM

    On centralization c. 1907

    From a letter to the editor of the October 5, 1907 NYT:

    While Mr. Roosevelt is interested in the later days of the Roman Empire, could you not call his attention to the fact that one chief reason of its disintegration and its easy final "fall" was the gradual weakening of local governments and the centralizing of these old local powers in the capital city? When the centre became weak there was no strength left elsewhere.

    Posted by Craig Depken at 12:48 PM in Politics

    On (not) stopping global warming

    Steven Milloy reports that the Low Carbon Economy Act of 2007 "would cost taxpayers more than $1 trillion in its first 10 years and untold trillions of dollars in subsequent decades." Further, "This week, the EPA sent its analysis of the bill’s impact on climate to Bingaman and Specter. Now we can see what we’d get for our money, and we may as well just build a giant bonfire with the cash and enjoy toasting marshmallows over it." [Milloy does not examine the global-warming implications of the bonfire.]

    Using IPCC formulas, Milloy estimates the implications of the EPA's estimates for the earth's temperature. (The EPA does't make these computations. Milloy suspects that's because the results would be embarrassing to the Act's authors.) Milloy's estimates:

    Under the no-action scenario (718-to-695 ppm), the IPCC formulas indicate that the multitrillion-dollar Bingaman-Specter bill might reduce average global temperature by 0.13 degrees Celsius. Under the maximum regulation scenario (514-to-491 ppm), Bingaman-Specter might reduce average global temperature by 0.18 degrees Celsius.

    Foreign Affairs carries the article, "Why Climate Change Can't Be Stopped," that suggests the approach with highest payoff: "Dollar for dollar, the most efficient way to cut global greenhouse gas emissions would be, in theory, to invest hundreds of billions of dollars to improve China’s energy efficiency. But Congress would never support such an approach." That last sentence might be the understatement of the century.

    Posted by Wilson Mixon at 11:37 AM in Politics

    Rodrik on Economic Freedom

    Dani Rodrik takes notice of the Economic Freedom of the World report.

    He is more favorable to us than I'd expected, but does criticize us for overselling the case,

    El Salvador is a prime example of the "build-it-and-they-will-come" fallacy: all you need to do is to get the basics right, and then markets will do the rest.

    Read More »

    Posted by Robert Lawson at 09:06 AM in Economics

    Buckeye Podcast

    A short podcast of yours truly is up at the Buckeye Institute. Just a few minutes talking with Buckeye President David Hansen about economic freedom.

    Posted by Robert Lawson at 08:32 AM in Economics

    October 04, 2007
    A Masochist with a Sense of Humor

    That's George Will's description of Chicago economist and Obama advisor Austan Goolsbee. An interesting paragraph:

    Economics is the only academic discipline that in recent decades has moved in the direction that America and much of the world has moved, to the right. Goolsbee no doubt has lots of dubious ideas -- he is, after all, a Democrat -- about how government can creatively fiddle with the market's allocation of wealth and opportunity. But he seems to be the sort of person -- amiable, empirical and reasonable -- you would want at the elbow of a Democratic president, if such there must be.
    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 08:46 AM in Economics

    Perennial Gales

    Today's WSJ had two articles illustrating market processes at work. First, from Jonathan Karl's review (sub req) of George M. Taber's book To Cork or Not to Cork:

    Technology plays a part, but taste and competition do as well: Too many bad corks have been ruining too much perfectly good wine. For a couple of hundred years, winemakers and wine drinkers understood that the wine in a small percentage of bottles -- as much as 3% to 5% -- would suffer from the contamination of bad corks (and, sometimes, bad barrels). The culprit was a chemical called tricholoanisole, or TCA. It caused wine to become "corked" -- that is, to smell like a moldy pile of damp cardboard. The TCA problem -- apparently originating at the early stages of cork harvesting -- seemed to get worse over the past few decades. But the cork industry, dominated by a handful of big companies in Spain and Portugal, refused even to acknowledge the problem, let alone do anything about it.

    The cork makers were in for a rude awakening. "To cork's critics, the failure rate is both outrageous and unacceptable," writes George Taber in "To Cork or Not to Cork." "They repeatedly argue that if 3% or 5% of Toyota cars or IBM computers failed, those companies would be out of business." So over the past decade, winemakers have taken matters into their own hands, exploring alternatives that include, lately, glass caps.

    Faced with market pressures for the first time, the big cork producers are finally taking steps to tighten their quality control and seek out the cork that causes TCA. And the World Wildlife Fund -- in a case of free-market environmentalism -- has jumped to the defense of corks, since their use in wine bottles is the surest way of protecting the old cork forests in Spain and Portugal. Cork is harvested by slicing the bark off cork trees. The trees survive, living on for more than a century. If the market for cork dries up, strip malls may stand where cork forests now do.

    The second article is about our old favorite--WalMart. Excerpts are below the fold.

    Read More »

    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:21 AM in Economics

    An Awkward Introduction

    This morning, after a report about on bureaucrats running up large travel bills flying first class, the hosts of "Fox and Friends" introduced a guest thusly

    MR. DOOCY: More on this waste with an expert.

    MR. NAPOLITANO: Yes. We're joined now by California Congressman Ed Royce.

    Although the introduction could be interpreted (and was intended) to mean that Rep. Royce opposes government waste, I bet he'd prefer not to be introduced as an expert on government waste. For what it's worth, Royce had a score of 84 (rank of 21) on the Club for Growth's 2006 House Scorecard.

    Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:00 AM in Misc.

    October 03, 2007
    To have, or not to have

    I got through a bit of Bryan Caplan's The Myth of the Rational Voter, where he describes some of the systematic errors the general public makes in analyzing economic issues. One he mentions is pessimistic bias, where people always think things are getting worse despite reams of evidence to the contrary. Of course, this is hard for most economists to understand since material standards of living have only gotten better in the long run.

    But, true to form, via Fark I was led to this Yahoo story about a Pew poll (whew, too many references) that says the amount of people who consider themselves "have nots" has doubled since 1988, from 17% to 34%. Know what else doubled over a little less than that period ('88 to '04)? Nominal median family income, according to the Stat Abstract. Real per capita GDP rose 36.4% from '88 to '05. Real disposable personal income per capita rose 55% from '88 to '05. And on it goes.

    Let's say that half of the population are haves and half are have-nots. In 1988, 50% of families had real income below $50,000 (2004$); in 2004, only 45.9% of families had real incomes below that. For households in 1988, 58.7% had real incomes below $50k while in 2004 only 55% were below $50k. Add to that the fact that a dollar today buys you better quality stuff than it could in 1988 (I'm trying to think of examples but I was only 13; soccer shoes?).

    Which leads to the question: do you want some cheese with that whine?

    Posted by Tim Shaughnessy at 07:01 PM in Economics

    On foreign remittances c. 1907

    From the October 3, 1907 NYT:

    Remittances home by Norwegian immigrants to this country and Canada, according to the report of Consul F. S. S. Bergen, must be increasing at the rate of considerably more than $1,000,000 annually; 55,00 of these remittances to relatives and friends amounted in the first quarter of 1907 to $1,374,840, exceeding by $268,054 the remittances of the first half of 1906. This is part of the tax America pays for its European immigration. But it is an excellent investment, even supposing that a good share of it were not used to ring over more immigrants.

    Posted by Craig Depken at 12:06 PM in Economics

    TR vs. GWB c. 1907

    This headline from the Oct. 3, 1907 NYT, describing a speech President Teddy Roosevelt gave in St. Louis, could easily describe the current political environment:

    USE VAST FEDERAL POWER - ROOSEVELT

    Constitution Must Be Interpreted to Fit the Modern Day Conditions

    BATTLESHIPS TO RETURN

    Tells St. Louisians Nation's Duty is to Restore the Mississippi River to Its Proper Place in Commerce

    The entirety of the speech is printed in the paper, with the following section headings:

  • "Great Lakes a Prime Example" - for a national waterway policy
  • "Nation's Share of Levee Building" - levees are the federal government's responsibility.
  • "Advantage of the Panama Canal" - indirectly connects the Great Lakes with the Pacific
  • "Urges Great Fighting Navy"
  • "Control of Corporations"
  • "Growth of National Powers" - a more populous nation requires more centralized government powers.
  • "Control our Inter-state commerce"

    Nice.

    Posted by Craig Depken at 11:57 AM in Politics

    "Who is heterodox?" redux

    The discussion of how the economics profession treats “heterodox” economists, and what it means to be a “heterodox” economist, continues in an article by Andy Guess in Inside Higher Education today. Finally, a journalist gives serious play to the empirical research on the politics of economists by my Econ Journal Watch colleague Dan Klein. Guess cites several of Dan’s articles in EJW on the sociology of the economics profession.

    Earlier this year I commented on how writers for The Nation and The New York Times had credulously accepted false claims by mainstream interventionists like Alan Blinder that they are brave “heterodox” critics of a free-market “orthodoxy”. Guess quotes Klein rightly disputing these claims.

    Posted by Lawrence H. White at 11:17 AM in Economics

    October 02, 2007
    On class warfare c. 1907

    The October 2, 1907 NYT editorial discusses the differences between the United States and Roman Republic:

    There were rich and poor in Rome as there are in the United States, but there is in our Republic no dividing line between the two general classes so sharply drawn as in Rome. From the poorest to the richest the gradations are many, and from one gradation to another the change is slight. Nor was there in Rome any such chance for the citizen to pass from one to another along the whole line. These facts which we are afraid Mr. Roosevelt does not always keep as clearly in his mind as he might. Perhaps they are a little complicated, and do not readily lend themselves to the emphatic mode of speech to which he has accustomed himself.

    Posted by Craig Depken at 10:18 AM in Economics

    October 01, 2007
    The Shock Doctrine

    I am mystified by much of what I see in Stiglitz's review of "The Shock Doctrine." First, he accepts and amplifies her representation of Friedman's "complicity" with the Pinochet regime. Pete Boettke represents Friedman's involvement thusly: "Friedman did not design any policies for Chile, nor was he a close advisor to the General. He spoke plain truth about monetary policy and the need to fight inflation, and he talked to students about the dangers of socialism and collectivism and the benefits of a free market economy." Greg Mankiw does not question the historical assertion regarding Friedman's involvement, but does suggest that such involvement would have been ethical, whatever one thinks of Pinochet.

    This passage in the Stiglitz piece puzzles me: "Afraid of scaring off foreign investors, [the African National Congress] took the advice of the I.M.F. and the World Bank and instituted a policy of privatization, spending cutbacks, labor flexibility and so on. ... The average growth rate has been a disappointing 5 percent (much lower than in countries in East Asia)...." Why compare South Africa's growth to those in East Asia; why not compare it to other African economies or to its own past? Looking at the United Nations Development Report, I find that per capita GDP fell at an annual rate of 0.5 percent for 1975 - 2004, but rose by 0.6 percent for the later sub-period 1990 - 2005.

    His review contains this bizarre sentence: "In the 1950s, as Cameron was conducting his experiments, the Chicago School was developing the ideas that would eclipse the theories of Raul Prebisch, an advocate of what today would be called the third way...." The reference to Cameron involves CIA experiments that probably provide the inspiration for the Bourne novels, but have nothing to do with economics. Anyway, Prebisch's main prescription, if my memory serves, was for import substitution and did not yield very satisfactory results.

    Posted by Wilson Mixon at 12:06 PM in Economics

    Tasting Protectionism

    Re: Mike's post below. There's nothing wrong with calculating deadweight loss triangles, but when I teach about the sugar quota I conduct a blind taste test among my students with Mexican Coke (made with sucrose) and our stuff (made with HFCS). I tell them that they can actually "taste protectionism".

    Ben Powell, to whom I owe this idea, has a paper forthcoming about this teaching exercise in the Journal of Private Enterprise.

    Posted by Robert Lawson at 10:49 AM in Economics

    An Actual Economic Education Article

    An interesting excercise, for econ students.

    A little dated now, but still.

    Provides a classroom exercise using the restrictive tariffs on sugar to examine issues of protectionism and international trade. Discusses related issues such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the formation of large regional trading blocks. Includes a hands-on calculation of the economic impact of the quota on consumers.

    Posted by Michael Munger at 09:40 AM

    The Economics of Latness

    An essay on lateness.

    I predict you will recognize someone close to you.

    Unfortunately, that "someone" may be in the mirror. What are ya DOIN'?

    An excerpt:

    Generally, we measure and manage any resource more carefully as it becomes valuable. We measure lettuce by the head, and store it in big bins. We measure diamonds by carats (that's .0071 ounces), and display them in glass cases on black velvet.

    Well, "busy" means time is valuable. So, rational busy people should measure time more accurately, and manage it more efficiently. Hence, competent busy people are rarely late.

    ATSRTWT

    Posted by Michael Munger at 09:27 AM

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