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February 2006

February 28, 2006

Good news about the Kids Today: some of them are beginning to realize the music of their parents' generation was pretty good:

"Kids go through hard rock, hip-hop and pop very quickly, and then they're hungry for something else," says E Street Band guitarist and garage-rock DJ Steven Van Zandt -- who gets hundreds of e-mails from teens thanking him for introducing them to bands like the Kinks. "They always end up coming to [classic] rock & roll."

Link via The Big Picture.

Given UNC-CH's recent propensity for picking controversial books for entering freshmen to read, this is interesting: Appalachian State has picked Freakonomics. Link via The Liberal Order.

Steven F. Hayward of AEI reviews some recent history and then asks a good question of the climate change crowd:

This is more than just a problem of having cried wolf too often; there seems to have been little introspection or second thoughts among environmentalists about why their Malthusian alarms rang false in the past. Given their track record, why should anyone believe that this time the alarmists have it right? There has been only grudging acceptance among environmentalists of the positive role of economic growth, the resiliency of human beings, and the dynamic world human ingenuity creates.

In Washington state the public schools have a high-stakes test for high school sophomores. People pay attention to high-stakes tests. If too many sophomores flunked the test, there would be . . . consequences.

So what did the Seattle schools do with sophomores who had been performing poorly, but who hadn't yet taken the test? They "reclassified" them as freshmen. (Not flunked, or held back, just "reclassified".)

Link via Let's Fly Under the Bridge.

February 27, 2006

Why I oppose complete legalization

Last week I briefly declared that I part company with Libertarians on the War on Drugs.

I've heard from some folks. Most were civil. But a few impugned my knowledge, a few my intelligence, and one my ancestry. So I now offer an explanation.

Note that I don't necessarily defend every aspect of our current policy. The current degree of federal involvement in regulating drugs should perhaps be changed at the margin; I don't have strong feelings about that dispute.

What I disagree with is what I take to be the Libertarian position: for adults, everything should be legal. (Or as comedian Drew Carey has cracked, "I can't believe the government has the nerve to limit the ways I can hurt myself.") Here's David Boaz and Timothy Lynch of Cato in a recent publication:

Congress should repeal the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, shut down the Drug Enforcement Administration, and let the states set their own policies with regard to currently illegal drugs. They would do well to treat marijuana, cocaine, and heroin the way most states now treat alcohol: It should be legal for stores to sell such drugs to adults.

I assume that if they want heroin to be legal, they would want all drugs to be legal.

I oppose that, at least for now, because I'm a conservative. I take three of the central premises of conservatism to be 1) respect for history's lessons, 2) respect for institutions, and 3) respect for the power of markets. And at present, all three lead me to doubt that full legalization would be smart.

Continue reading "Why I oppose complete legalization" »

Reason #9,256 why business is so freakin' hard: guy takes a look at mustard. Finds out that plain yellow French's used to utterly dominate. Then one day Grey Poupon showed up and took a huge bite out of French's share, and now there are, like, a zillion types of mustard in U. S. stores. So he gets a bright idea: he'll do exactly the same thing, except with ketchup.

Only one problem: turns out "ketchup is ketchup" and nobody, apparently, wants anything different.

2004 Salaries of UVa Economics Professors

Courtesy of The Cavalier Daily, 2004 salaries of the faculty of the University of Virginia's economics department. (Link indirectly via Professor Bainbridge and Tax Prof Blog.)

Richard Posner wants heads to roll at Harvard.

Bad news, or good news, depending on your family history: the heritability for Alzheimer's is estimated to be between 58 and 79%.

Wanna open a bar on the Lower East Side? A bicycle shop on the Upper West Side? New York magazine has the "financial calculus". (Though their "break even" computations seem wrong and by a lot.)

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