Poverty of Ethics without Economics: Bangladesh

by Mario Rizzo In a world where people’s ethical goals are intrinsic values we could easily argue, as did David Hume, that the values themselves are not subject to scientific analysis.  But, as things turn out, many of what people believe to be intrinsic values, and therefore ultimate goals, are not. They are intermediate ends … Continue reading Poverty of Ethics without Economics: Bangladesh

Let Wedding Cake Bakers Discriminate in Peace

By Mario Rizzo “A Colorado judge says a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony must serve gay couples despite his religious beliefs, a ruling that a civil rights group hailed as a victory for gay rights.” Fox News 12/06/2013 Friedrich Hayek argues in his famous essay “Why I am … Continue reading Let Wedding Cake Bakers Discriminate in Peace

Economics Will Not Be Mocked

by Mario Rizzo A few years ago I read and studied in great detail Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical on globalization “Caritas in Veritate” or “Charity in Truth.” I posted a three-part analysis on the doubtful economics contained therein at ThinkMarkets. The first part is about the destructive influence of the encyclical. The second part is … Continue reading Economics Will Not Be Mocked

Questions for Free Market Moralists? Some Answers

By Mario Rizzo A philosopher, Amia Srinivasan, fellow in philosophy at All Souls College, University of Oxford, writing in the New York Times Opinionator (online commentary) says that in order to be a consistent defender of Robert Nozick, the free market and classical liberalism, one must answer "yes" to all four questions below. And she … Continue reading Questions for Free Market Moralists? Some Answers

Bangladeshi Garment Workers and the Perversion of Ethics

by Mario Rizzo For the last few days the newspapers have been filled with stories about how western garment manufacturers will now insist on greater safety for the workers who make their clothes in Bangladesh. They will pay for renovations and reconstructions of the physical plants. What is more, the government in Bangladesh will raise … Continue reading Bangladeshi Garment Workers and the Perversion of Ethics

F.A. Hayek: His 114th Birthday

by Mario Rizzo Today is Hayek’s birthday. Much has been and will continue to written about him. When I look around at much of what passes for economics today, especially in the prestige circles, I cringe.  But reading his work always comforts me that something better is possible. And, in fact, there are many economists … Continue reading F.A. Hayek: His 114th Birthday

Ignorant Survey from Chicago-Booth?

By Mario Rizzo The Chicago-Booth IMG Forum asks their favorite economists two questions. Let us examine them. Question A: Raising the federal minimum wage to $9 per hour would make it noticeably harder for low-skilled workers to find employment. Why was the word “noticeably” added to the question rather than some specific quantitative amount?  In … Continue reading Ignorant Survey from Chicago-Booth?

Raise Middle Class Taxes Now!

by Mario Rizzo I now favor expiration of the Bush era tax rates for everyone.  Why? Because the only way to curb spending in the long run is to make as large a number of Americans as possible truly feel the consequences of the expenditures they appear to desire. If Americans saw the cost of the gigantic welfare … Continue reading Raise Middle Class Taxes Now!

Morality as Word Magic

by Mario Rizzo I am disturbed by the Obama administration’s revised rule regarding the provision of birth-control products and service under the new health insurance system they have created.  The original rule required all employers, particularly for our purposes institutions affiliated with the Catholic Church, to provide insurance that covers birth control without copayment , … Continue reading Morality as Word Magic

The Just Distribution of Income and Wealth

by Mario Rizzo There has been a lot of talk this year, and especially during the holiday season, about the inequities in the distribution of wealth and income. But most of what has been written is quite simple-minded, if the writers mean to convey something more than their own personal preferences for a different distribution. … Continue reading The Just Distribution of Income and Wealth

The Real Culprit in Paternalistic Legislation?

by Mario Rizzo Christopher Hitchens, the great journalist and essayist, has died. Mr. Hitchens was not always right but he often was. I saw at the Cato blog a brief piece, posted by David Boaz, that Hitchens wrote on Mayor Bloomberg's Nanny State. (HT: Dave Johnson). It was in reaction to smoking restrictions, but could easily apply, more generally, … Continue reading The Real Culprit in Paternalistic Legislation?

Fannie, Dodd-Frank and Barney Frank

by Chidem Kurdas Barney Frank  won’t run for Congress after his present term expires.  This May there were news stories about his  ex-lover getting a high-paying job at mortgage finance giant Fannie Mae while he sat on the Congressional committee that oversaw the government-sponsored entity.  Regardless of what voters now think of Mr. Frank, Dodd-Frank, … Continue reading Fannie, Dodd-Frank and Barney Frank

Politically Feasible

by Mario Rizzo Many years ago, the distinguished economist, William H. Hutt, wrote a pamphlet called “Politically Impossible?” He argued that economists should not seek political relevance by proposing only those policies that they perceive as politically possible, practical or feasible. They should speak truth to power, so to say, and advocate those policies that … Continue reading Politically Feasible

Healthcare as Social Planning

by Mario Rizzo Although I am an advocate of voluntary birth control, I am not happy about (1) the equation of this choice with healthcare – even preventative healthcare (as if pregnancy were a disease); and (2) the government mandating that health insurers must cover these expenses, without even a copayment. A recent “non-partisan” committee has … Continue reading Healthcare as Social Planning

Hayden’s Straw Man Argument on “Interrogation Deniers”

by Roger Koppl In a Wall Street Journal op ed of 2 June 2011, General Michael Hayden, director of the CIA from 2006 to 2009, compares “interrogation deniers” to “birthers” and “truthers.”  Hayden’s op ed mischaracterizes the basic claim of those who say torture is not effective, substitutes insult for argument, and includes a non sequitur … Continue reading Hayden’s Straw Man Argument on “Interrogation Deniers”

Confusion Masquerading as Science? Taxes and Spending

by Mario Rizzo I am always amazed that when many economists give policy advice the sophistication and logical rigor that the discipline so values gets completely lost. There are many ways to interpret this. One is that the level of precision appropriate to theory and to applied economics is not appropriate to the “art” of … Continue reading Confusion Masquerading as Science? Taxes and Spending

Moral Trial and Error

by Mario Rizzo The recent discussion-thread at the blog Coordination Problem regarding a Hayekian case for same-sex marriage got me thinking more generally about moral evolution. In a market there is a process of trial and error. New products or methods of production come into existence. Some fail; others succeed. Some speculators make successful predictions … Continue reading Moral Trial and Error

Risky Behavior at Wittenberg

by Chidem Kurdas Watching Wittenberg at the Pearl Theater in New York took a group of us back to our graduate school days. This is a surprisingly entertaining comedy, creating merriment out of a mash of classical characters, modern themes and serious philosophy. The year is 1517.  Two academics at Wittenberg University, Martin Luther and … Continue reading Risky Behavior at Wittenberg