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

Taxi Tipping: Why?

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?