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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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!
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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”
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
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
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
by Mario Rizzo The very factors responsible for the passage of Obamacare may make it impossible to fund it adequately. There are certain myths about medical care that make it difficult to contain costs. The central myth, in not very exaggerated form, is that any care less than the best for anyone is the result … Continue reading The Dilemma of Obamacare
by Mario Rizzo Every so often people become annoyed about tipping expectations, especially in New York. It is hard not to become annoyed because prices here are already so high relative to other parts of the country. And it is also often the case that service, regardless of what you do ex post, is perfunctory. … Continue reading Taxi Tipping: Why?
by Mario Rizzo I understand why many people feel it is unfair for bailed-out banks to pay big bonuses. But the simple truth is the banks were bailed out on the grounds that their possible failure was an issue of systemic risk. The collapse of the financial system was threatened. So the bailouts, as the … Continue reading Bonuses: An Annoyed Analysis
by Jerry O'Driscoll Over at the Austrian Economists, Steve Horowitz has posted a challenging statement and asked for reactions: "The great virtue of the free market is that it requires so little virtue to work effectively." The thrust of the responses is that defenders of free markets have had little to say about virtue (at least since … Continue reading Virtuous Capitalism
by Gene Callahan I've long been chagrined about the fact that, whenever someone points out that it was wrong, say, for the United States to annihilate a quarter of a million civilians in Japan in 1945, that person is accused, by some "patriot," of "moral relativism," as if condemning an act equally whoever does it … Continue reading Moral Relativism
by Mario Rizzo In a recent article in the Financial Times Joseph Stiglitz argues for a more comprehensive measure of social well-being than Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As all principles of economics students know, GDP leaves out many interesting things. When I was a student the prime example was: When a man marries his paid … Continue reading The Political Element In Empirical Data?
by Mario Rizzo President Obama is complaining that the “special interests” are threatening his as-yet uncertain healthcare proposals. (Recall there is no Senate bill and nothing says that House bill won’t change significantly.) There is an interesting lesson here. What is meant by “special interests” and “general interests”? For the classical liberal the general interest … Continue reading Special Interest Hypocrisy