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
by Mario Rizzo In this final installment of my analysis of the papal encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate I turn my attention to Benedict XVI's positive ideas on globalization. (I put the encyclical section numbers in parentheses.) Do not expect clear-cut statements or precise recommendations for policy. Do not even expect consistency. (There are actually … Continue reading Neither Charity Nor Truth, Part 3: The Attack on Classical Liberalism
by Mario Rizzo Throughout Pope Benedict XVI’s enclyclical (“Caritas in Veritate”) he stresses that scientific knowledge is not enough when trying to determine appropriate government policies or even individual actions. This is quite true. He fails, however, to appreciate in many specific instances and arguments the importance of the fact that that moral or ethical … Continue reading Neither Truth Nor Charity, Part 2: Globalization and the Pope’s Discontents
by Mario Rizzo The healthcare debate is bringing out some interesting ideas. Consider what the philosopher Peter Singer (Princeton) had to say in the New York Times: “The death of a teenager is a greater tragedy than the death of an 85-year-old, and this should be reflected in our priorities. We can accommodate that difference … Continue reading Tribal Healthcare
by Mario Rizzo Recently Pope Benedict XVI issued a papal letter (“encyclical”) called “Caritas in Veritate” [CV] or “Charity in Truth” which is largely about economic issues relating to globalization. While there have been some commentaries on it, two prominent ones (here and here) in the Wall Street Journal do not reveal how truly bad … Continue reading Neither Truth Nor Charity: The Destructive Influence of a Papal Encyclical
by Gene Callahan I just ran across the work of Professor Saul Smilansk, who is making a splash in 'free will' discussion circles. Professor Similansk apparently argues that: 1) Free will is an illusion; but 2) It is a necessary illusion in order to preserve social order, because 3) If people came to believe that … Continue reading The Illusion of Coherence
by Gene Callahan In a blog discussion, I recently ran across, yet again, an extremely odd and quite empty argument against morality being objective. "Ha," the poster proclaimed, "morality is just a product of evolutionary selection!" At this point, it's supposed to be obvious that moral principles aren't "real" but are merely some sort of … Continue reading It’s Just a Trick of Evolution!
by Roger Koppl Dick Cheney has intimated that water boarding yielded important, actionable intelligence. The evidence points the other way, however. Some evidence suggests that there may have been an ulterior motive for at least some “harsh interrogations,” namely, to link Iraq and al Qaeda. We need more analysis of Bush-era torture from an economic … Continue reading Rent Control and Torture
by Sandy Ikeda Megan McArdle, blogging about the issue of “fair pay” on Wall Street, in the context of the recent bailouts, makes the following provocative statement: No one deserves their pay, so I can hardly be angry at the folks on Wall Street for taking what they could get… Trying to make as much … Continue reading “No one deserves their pay”
by Mario Rizzo There have been many statements recently to the effect that we should not let “ideology” or “philosophy” stand in the way of solving our economic problems. Indeed, the Obama Administration (and the previous Bush Administration) are keen to persuade us to drop all of this prejudice and to go … Continue reading In Defense of Reasonable Ideology
by Mario Rizzo Some time ago I posted “Planning and Democracy” and the related “How Hayek Explains Bush on the Auto Bailout.” Since then I have been struck by how almost every day we see the tension between central direction of economic resources and democracy manifested in the attitudes and analysis of commentators. … Continue reading Economic Planning versus Democracy: Illustrations from the Commentators
by Mario Rizzo Some time ago I came across this quotation from Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 – 43 BC), the Roman orator, senator, philosopher and opponent of the dictatorship of Julius Caesar. I have a picture of stone bust of him both in my office and my home. (Yes, I like him.) There are, … Continue reading Time for Reflection: Cicero, Liberality and Katrina