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Economics

July 28, 2014

"Solving California's Drought Problem: Market Pricing"

Still more on the fabulous lie that "government is the name we give to things we do together":

The New York Times reports that "cities across California are encouraging residents to tattle on their neighbors for wasting water" — just the kind of behavior that we want our government to cultivate.

Those reluctant to squeal are instead shaming residents they see washing their cars and watering their lawns, and embarrassing anyone suspected of taking long showers.

To help out, water officials in Los Angeles will soon offer hangers that residents can "slip anonymously around the doorknobs of neighbors whose sprinklers are watering the sidewalk."

What a swell way for government to pit neighbors against each other and create conditions that could explode into violence. But then, what should we expect when some officials defend the shaming practice because it's akin to an "education" program?

Even more: "Snitch nation".

There is value in collective self-policing, a feature of health societies that will never and should never disappear entirely. And public shaming has a rich, if lamentable, Western tradition dating back to the stockades. But the rise of an informant culture in America is distinct from self-policing, and many appear to participate in the encouraged practice of informing on others more in service to a base desire to indulge in a little schadenfreude than anything else.

"The First Single-Payer Domino"

Conservatives need to watch this: "If the health-care experiment fails in Vermont, it would send shock waves nationwide."

"The Economics of Marriage, and Family Breakdown"

By Isabel Sawhill, Senior Fellow at Brookings. Includes this:

A child's education begins in the home. No improvement in public policy can compete with what only families can provide.

July 22, 2014

"With Corporate Welfare, There's No 'Trickle Down'"

Excellent brief exposition of an important difference between crony capitalism and true capitalism.

July 21, 2014

"The real reason only rich people can afford to live in Silicon Valley"

Timothy B. Lee, Vox:

Badger blames rising demand for the high cost of living in these cities. But the real culprit is strict regulations that make it almost impossible to expand the housing stock in most parts of these cities. . . . 

It doesn't have to be this way. The Bay Area has plenty of room for more housing. San Francisco is less than half as dense of Brooklyn. Surrounding communities are a lot less dense than that. If housing regulations were relaxed, developers would make room for millions of new residents, creating thousands of construction jobs in the process. That would alleviate the severe housing shortage currently plaguing the city. And it would create opportunities for millions of non-wealthy people to live near the opportunities and amenities of America's high-tech capital.

"Liberals go to the barricades to defend crony capitalism"

Heh. Elizabeth Warren, call your office

There's nothing like a good fight over corporate welfare to bring out the Left's love of Big Business.

"Obama's Wrong; The Economy Is Improving Because Of Congressional Deadlock"

Yes, indeed: a day the Congress is not passing new laws is generally a good day for business.

July 17, 2014

"Economist: LeBron James Worth Almost $500 Million to Cleveland"

Unusual for articles of this type, the work is shown.

July 16, 2014

"It's Not Your Imagination: The Government Really Is Worse Than Ever"

Fiscal Times, summaring work by Paul Light, Senior Fellow at Brookings Institution:

Using data drawn from news archives, Light identified government failures dating back to 1986 and found that major problems occurred at a rate 1.6 per year until 2001 – nearly doubling in the years afterward, to 3.0. 

It appears to be getting even worse. President Obama may have had fewer major failures than his immediate predecessors have, but as Light points out, his second term isn’t over yet. “At its current pace, government still has plenty of time to set a record average before Obama leaves office in 2017.”

Of course, Professor Light blames the Republicans for this. They have been, allegedly, "willing to vandalize federal programs in service of an ideology that believes smaller government is better government." I, on the other hand, trust the old adage, "The first thing to do when you're in a hole is to stop digging."

(And note I posted on Monday, "Government, particularly the federal government, doesn't work as well now." Score one for me.)

"Do We Need ESSP?"

Another fine article by Arnold Kling.

Watts' book can be regarded as an extended argument in favor of what I might term Epistemological Skepticism about Social Phenomena, or ESSP. Those of us with ESSP believe that we should be skeptical about how much we can know with certainty in the fields known as the social sciences. We may learn things that are true for a majority of cases under specific circumstances. But we are less likely to find perfectly reliable, broadly applicable laws comparable to those found by physicists.

The opposite of believing in ESSP is what Friedrich Hayek termed "scientism." Scientism is a belief that social phenomena can be understood in a scientific manner. It is the belief that we should be able to explain and predict social outcomes on the basis of simple, powerful, verifiable universal principles.

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