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Richard Schulman
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The Leeson explanation seems plausible and well documented for some 18th century piracy, when crew abuse was widespread and the pirates were European in origin, but I would question whether his explanation can be extended to contemporary piracy, which occurs in a maritime context in which crew abuse is relatively infrequent and most of the pirates come from strongly hierarchical societies. Piracy can be state supported -- and indeed, it was in the 16th through 18th century via letters of marque and privateering. It can also be conducted by hierarchical criminal gangs. The latter form of organization would be my starting hypothesis for much of today's piracy.
On Peter Boettke's recommendation, both my wife and I read Deirdre McCloskey's _Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Cannot Explain the Modern World_. We both started out sympathetic to the author's thesis. We both ended up being appalled by the lack of rigor the book brings to bear in supporting its thesis. Rhetoric and wide reading are no substitutes for tight historical argument, which this lengthy, self-indulgent tome lacks.
Daniel Kuehn writes: "...good long-term policies like a carbon tax might not be wise to implement in 2011... but maybe 2014 might be a smart time to start talking seriously about it..." Why would it be a good idea in 2014? The climate science on which the idea of a carbon tax is based is controversial and indeed probably wrong. (Cf. the recent cloud chamber experiment at CERN, which provided further plausibility for Henrik Svensmark's cosmic ray theory as the principal driver of earthly climate variability, not anthropogenic global warming.) Nor, even if the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis had been correct, the huge expense of the measures proposed and the ridiculously small temperature reduction predicted to be achieved meant that the proposal didn't pass the minimum semblance of cost-benefit rationality. Why have Keynesians like yourself, Daniel, along with Romney's two top economics advisors, Hubbard and Mankiw, been so eager to jump on this discredited bandwagon? I would suggest it is because of Keynesians' genetic fondness for solving problems -- real or imagined -- with more government by experts paid by other people's taxes.
Toggle Commented Sep 12, 2011 on It's the Investment, Stupid at Coordination Problem
To begin to answer my own question, since no one else has: I couldn't find information regarding Bachmann's, Perry's, or Paul's economic advisers. The latter, as is well known, has had a longstanding close relationship with the Mises Institute. There is specific information on Romney's economic advisors: "Romney has already begun assembling a team of economic policy advisers, including: N. Gregory Mankiw, who was chairman of President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers; Glenn Hubbard, who preceded Mankiw on the council and currently is dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Business; and former Missouri senator Jim Talent." (Philip Rucker, "Campaigning in N.H., Romney focuses on economy but avoids specifics," Washington Post, July 15, 2011) Mankiw wants a "Pigovian tax" on energy to save the planet from anthropomorphic global warming. The current post on his blog reads: "Alan Krueger to chair CEA. Congratulations, Alan. An excellent choice by President Obama." Krueger's research has "proven" that minimum wages don't increase unemployment. Mankiw also has written favorably about the Fed pursuing a negative interest rate policy: I hope Governor Romney can get some better advice from his other two advisors, Glenn Hubbard and Jim Talent, and that the other Republican candidates get better advisors than Mankiw.
By way of follow-up to Jerry O'Driscoll's important comment ("I just hope that our side is up to the task of countering this dangerous nonsense"), does anyone know which economists are advising the leading Republican presidential candidates (Perry, Bachmann, Paul, Romney)?
I was only able to take the first ten minutes or so of this video; I have very limited patience with screaming matches and constant interruptions. Frankly, I think both Napolitano and Horwitz bombed. Instead of sticking to the actual question to be discussed -- that of a state government passing what in effect is a statewide zoning law -- both N. and H. changed the subject to Congress (the First Amendment) and privacy rights in the home. In effect, they punted on the issue they should have been discussing -- community zoning rights -- in favor of attacking straw men. Perhaps if sex shops were to open on both sides of Messrs. Napolitano and Horwitz's private residences their next foray into this topic would display more common sense and empathy. Classical liberals should be defending the right of local communities to enact non-confiscatory zoning restrictions. I don't think it's wise for states to preempt local communities in this matter, but at the same time, the national government has no business butting in, short of preventing outright censorship.
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May 19, 2010