“Marriage is for women the commonest mode of livelihood, and the total amount of undesired sex endured by women is probably greater in marriage than in prostitution.”—Bertrand Russell, Marriage and Morals [via Annalisa Chirico]
“Vilfredo Pareto was arguably the greatest economist of the 1800s and possibly the greatest social scientist of all time. He was one of the first to suggest applying the cold hand of mathematics to what was previously a liberal art rather than a mathematical science. His work is still considered controversial today, despite the fact that it is self-evidently true, mostly because the average modern economist or sociologist is more an ideological fashion victim than an applied mathematician.”—Scott Locklin [at Taki’s Magazine]
“Come ragazzo non ho vizi. Ieri sono andato in Stazione centrale, ai cessi: 1 euro per entrare. Ho iniziato, dentro e fuori per due ore. Ho speso 300 euro. I dirigenti hanno chiamato la vigilanza per sapere cosa facevo. Ho detto: “Avete ragione, andate al bar qui di fronte: c’è gente che sta tutto il giorno davanti alla macchinetta mangiasoldi”. Vigilanza: “Qui è diverso, per il cesso è una questione di igiene”. Io: “Igiene cosa? Entro ed esco dalla porta automatica, non vado in zona orinatoi”. La vigilanza chiama un dirigente di stazione. Lui: “E’ inutile che sta qui a buttar via soldi, qui non vince niente”. Io: “Infatti! Mettete anche voi che ogni 100 entrate si vince 500 euro e vedrà che la gente vien più volentieri, anche senza avere bisogno”. Dirigente: “Ha ragione! La assumo come responsabile marketing della stazione”.”—Innamorato Fisso del 25 aprile 2011
Lawyers traditionally have conveyed legal expertise in the form of advice tailored to the needs of individual clients. This business model is reinforced by licensing and ethical rules designed to ensure lawyers’ competence and loyalty to clients’ interests. The traditional professional model is being challenged by an alternative model based on the sale of legal information in impersonal product and capital markets. In this new world, legal information engineers would to some extent replace legal practitioners. This article provides a theoretical intellectual property framework for the regulatory decisions that must be made as the two models collide. We show that traditional professional regulation inhibits full development of the new business model by limiting intellectual property protection for legal information. This regulation assumes that consumers get legal information in one-to-one relationships with lawyers where they have little ability to evaluate the advice they are receiving. However, a fully developed legal information market could substitute for some of the protection consumers now receive from licensing and ethical rules without the current model’s costs of restricting the supply and raising the costs of legal services. We apply our analysis to some actual and potential markets in legal information.
The success of the mobile money programme in Kenya – where money is exchanged via mobile phone – has been phenomenal. In four years, a country with only 850 bank branches has seen the number of outlets providing the service grow from 4,000 to 25,000. People have access to formal finance as never before. This column studies 3,000 households between 2008 and 2010, tracking this social and economic transformation.
“In their film about the history of Facebook, David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin found a way to make computer programming a little sexier: play up the rivalries, the parties, the relentless pursuit of fame and fortune, and add Justin Timberlake to the cast. But “The Social Network” should also be celebrated for casting an intellectual property dispute as its central conflict — and in doing so, chipping away at the legitimacy of modern intellectual property protections.”—The Daily Caller
For the clients who will avail the offer, the Principality of Liechtenstein will be made available complete with customized street signs and temporary currency. The asking price includes accommodation for 150 guests. However, the 35,000 inhabitants will stay there only. Personal requirements, such as an individual logo created out of candle wax or a customized medieval procession, will come at an extra, undisclosed cost.
The reality is that in Rand’s novel, as in life, self-described capitalists can be the worst enemies of capitalism. But that doesn’t fit in easily with the simple pro-business narrative about Rand now being retailed.
“Classical” education aims to include instruction on the virtues and a love of truth, goodness and beauty in ordinary lesson plans. Students learn the arts, sciences and literature starting with classical Greek and Roman sources. Wisdom and input from ancient church fathers, Renaissance theologians and even Mozart — whose music is sometimes piped into the classrooms to help students concentrate better — is worked in.
“Si è svolta ieri mattina a Torino, in Piazza Statuto, la Prima Adunata Nazionale dei Timidi (PANT).
Il successo della manifestazione è difficile da quantificare, poiché i partecipanti hanno trascorso la mattinata seminascosti in vari angoli della piazza, o impegnati in ampi giri concentrici, o troppo intenti a guardare i propri piedi; nessuno ha preso la parola, e nessuno ha srotolato gli striscioni di rivendicazione che d’altronde, per ritrosia, non erano stati portati. Un paio di ragazze con i capelli ricci, il naso dritto e un adorabile accenno di lentiggini non sono state avvicinate da colleghi timidi che invece avrebbero avuto molto da condividere con loro, e questo è un peccato.
Alla fine della manifestazione ognuno è tornato a mangiare a casa propria. In due, per la verità, si sono recati al ristorante dove l’associazione aveva prenotato un tavolo, hanno ottenuto i propri posti e hanno pasteggiato serenamente sulla terrazza assolata del locale; già in serata, tuttavia, i due sono stati espulsi dall’Albo.”—un tamas al giorno: 167.
1. There is excess fear of inflation and hyperinflation in the current economic environment. Further there is often an excess estimate of the costs of inflation in the two to five percent range.
2. We know much less about the causes and drivers of economic growth than we like to admit, and when pushed on this issue we fall back to citing relatively simple cases with extreme differences, such as East vs. West Germany.
3. Lower taxes don’t spur economic development as much as it is often claimed, at least not below the “fifty percent or less of gdp” range.
4. There are many climate change issues of relevance here, not mostly economics, but it seems remiss not to mention them.
5. I’m all for Health Savings Accounts, but unless done on a Singaporean scale, and with lots of forced savings, they’re not a health care plan to significantly benefit most Americans. There is less of a coherent health care plan, coming from this side, than one might like to think.
6. There is already considerable health care cost control embedded in the ACA, most of all for Medicare, and this is not admitted with sufficient frequency.
7. When it comes to the historical determinants of the Industrial Revolution, the Great Divergence, and the like, the importance of state-building in that process is often neglected.
8. The story of steady and significant economic progress for most Americans is accepted too readily.
9. The role of market failure in the recent financial crisis is underestimated. It is also believed that we can somehow commit to a policy of no future bailouts. Promoting that myth will make future bailouts more likely.
10. Relying on liability law, whether or not it is a good idea, is not intrinsically more pro-market, more libertarian, or less interventionist.
1. Suggesting that money matters in politics far more than the peer-reviewed evidence indicates.
2. Evaluating government spending on a program-by-program basis, rather than viewing the budget as a series of integrated accounts. Cross check with the phrase “Social Security,” or for use to take many discretionary spending cuts off the table.
3. A reluctance to incorporate sophisticated “public choice” theories into the analysis of favored programs.
4. Sins of omission: there are plenty of bad policies, such as occupational licensing, which fail to come under much attack from the left. Sometimes this is because the critique would run counter to the narrative of needing more government or needing more regulation.
5. Significantly overestimating the quality of the political economy of an America with more powerful labor unions and underestimating the history of labor unions as racist, corrupt, protectionist, and obstructions to positive change.
6. Overestimating the efficacy of fiscal policy, underestimating the power of monetary policy, and sometimes ignoring or neglecting how the two interact (“the monetary authority moves last”).
7. Citing weak versions of structural unemployment theories and dismissing them with a single sentence or graph, while relying on stronger versions of structural theories in other, non-cyclical contexts.
8. Lack of interest in discussing ethnicity and IQ as relevant for social policy, except in preferred contexts.
9. Overly optimistic views of the fiscal positions of state governments. Since the states don’t have the same tax-raising powers that the feds do, and since state government spending is favored, there is a tendency to see these fiscal crises as not so severe, or as caused by mere obstructionists who will not raise taxes to the required levels.
10. A willingness to think that one has “done one’s best” in the realm of policy, and to blame subsequent policy failures on Republican implementation, rather than admitting that a policy which cannot be implemented by both political parties is perhaps not a good policy in the first place.
11. Use of a strong moral argument for universal health care coverage, combined with a fairly practical, hard-headed approach to the scope of the mandate, and not realizing the tension between the two. Failure to indicate where the “bleeding heart” argument actually should stop and at what margins we should (and will) let non-elderly people die, if only stochastically.
12. Implicitly constructing a two-stage moral theory, which first cordons off the sphere of the nation-state (public goods provision, etc.) and then pushing cosmopolitan questions off the agenda in the interests of expanding a social welfare state. (In fairness, many individuals on the right don’t give cosmopolitan considerations even this much consideration, although right-oriented economists tend to be quite cosmopolitan.)
13. What about countries? Classical liberals are increasingly facing up to the enduring successes of the Nordic nations. There is not always a similar reckoning with the successes of Chile and Hong Kong and Singapore; often this is a sin of omission. (Addendum: comment from Matt here.)
14. Reluctance to admit how hard the climate change problem will be to solve, for fear of wrecking any emerging political consensus on taking action.
“We reject the argument that because “person” is defined for purposes of FOIA to include a corporation, the phrase “personal privacy” in Exemption 7(C) reaches corporations as well. The protection in FOIA against disclosure of law enforcement information on the ground that it would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy does not extend to corporations. We trust that AT&T will not take it personally.”—Chief Justice Roberts, displaying some humor [via The Volokh Conspiracy]
“It has been pretended by some, (and in England especially,) that inventors have a natural and exclusive right to their inventions, and not merely for their own lives, but inheritable to their heirs. But while it is a moot question whether the origin of any kind of property is derived from nature at all, it would be singular to admit a natural and even an hereditary right to inventors. It is agreed by those who have seriously considered the subject, that no individual has, of natural right, a separate property in an acre of land, for instance. By an universal law, indeed, whatever, whether fixed or movable, belongs to all men equally and in common, is the property for the moment of him who occupies it; but when he relinquishes the occupation, the property goes with it. Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society. It would be curious then, if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and stable property. If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from any body. Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until we copied her, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the exclusive use of an idea. In some other countries it is sometimes done, in a great case, and by a special and personal act, but, generally speaking, other nations have thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which refuse monopolies of invention, are as fruitful as England in new and useful devices.”—Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Isaac McPherson, August 13, 1813 [via Alfonso Fuggetta; happy birthday, Thomas Jefferson!]
I understand why the top students in America study physics, chemistry, calculus and classic literature. The kids in this brainy group are the future professors, scientists, thinkers and engineers who will propel civilization forward. But why do we make B students sit through these same classes? That’s like trying to train your cat to do your taxes—a waste of time and money. Wouldn’t it make more sense to teach B students something useful, like entrepreneurship?
“Ma Milena Gabanelli era convinta che noi (povera gente) pensassimo che Facebook fa quel che fa per spirito di servizio pubblico? Ma per chi ci ha preso? Per degli idioti? Doveva dircelo “Report” che in questo mondo di gratis ci sono solo le partite della Nazionale del Ghana (non di calcio, di pallamano)?”—Innamorato Fisso del 12 aprile 2011
Based in New York City, the Hybrid Reality Institute conducts original research on the social, economic and political implications of human-technology co-evolution. The Institute is specifically focused on the Hybrid Age – the post-Information era we are entering today where humans live in a world of proliferating, disruptive and increasingly intelligent technologies. Institute fellows examine how individuals and society at large can make informed decisions about how to lead “the good life” in the Hybrid Age.
Diciamolo che c’è un filo rosso che lega tutto: il computer di questo misantropo, il suo blog ospitato gratuitamente da Tumblr, la sua connessione internet, l’eccesso di tempo libero che gli permette di postare filippiche abusando delle maiuscole e lesinando sugli argomenti. C’è un solo filo conduttore che lega tutto questo: il mercato.
Non sarà ora di tagliarlo? Direi di no.
Diciamolo che c’è un filo rosso che lega tutto: le guerre; le crisi economiche e tuo fratello che non trova lavoro; le miniere di diamanti scavate da schiavi; i bambini che fanno i palloni Nike e le magliette Disney o imbracciano AK-47; le centrali nucleari; gli attivisti politici in carcere e i dittatori; il riscaldamento globale; le stragi del sabato sera; le sfilate di moda; gli immigrati clandestini; Marchionne e i suoi accordi; il Grande Fratello in TV e la Gelmini (e i suoi colleghi in mezza Europa) che fa a pezzi la scuola; la Stampa e la TV in mano a pochi gruppi finanziari; i sovvenzionamenti alle banche, alle industrie e agli stati, che poi andranno pagati col sangue e col dolore dei lavoratori.
C’è un solo filo conduttore che unisce tutto questo. Sembra una semplificazione, ma non lo è. Non lo è, perché è davvero così semplice: il Capitalismo, il neoliberismo, la crescita continua, tutte le favole che hanno raccontato sul Mercato che si Regola Da Solo. E’ quello il filo.
Non sarà ora di tagliarlo?
“People who don’t pay you generally wouldn’t have paid you anyway. We’re delighted when people who can’t afford our books don’t pay us for them, if they go out and do something useful with that information.”—Tim O’Reilly