Sunday, September 30, 2007

Newt Gingrich's Potential Presidential Run is Victim of McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Regulations

Here is a discussion of how the Federal campaign finance laws have prevented Newt Gingrich from running for President. So much for campaign finance laws encouraging competition. My book Freedomnomics made similar points regarding the impact of campaign finance regulations.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Racially motivated stress as an explanation for infant mortality rates?

OK, you have differences in "poor nutrition, inadequate prenatal care, teen pregnancy, heredity, high blood pressure, stress, obesity, low birth weights and prematurity," but some academics have a different theory:

"The pregnancy scares the life out of me because I am pregnant with a baby boy, and I know how black boys are treated in this society," one study participant told researchers from Spelman College and Emory University in Atlanta. . . .

Here is my question: how as the gap between black and white infant mortality rates changed over time? The 1950s and 1960s should have had really high relative infant mortality rages, but they weren't. Well, I looked up some numbers:

The infant mortality rate for Black Americans in 1999 was 2.5 times the rate of White Americans. In 1950 the mortality rate of black infants was only 1.5 times the rate of white infants. . . .

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Friday, September 28, 2007

A wrong explanation for the drop in the value of the dollar

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- The dollar dropped across the board Friday, marking the seventh straight trading session in which it's sunk to a record low against the euro, after tame core inflation data suggested that the Federal Reserve has room to further cut interest rates. . . .

People make investments based upon the real (after inflation) return that they expect on an investment. If the interest rate simply fell by the drop in inflation, the real return for holding dollars would be unchanged. There is however something known as the "Darby effect" that could explain what is happening. Our government taxes the nominal interest that we get, not the real interest rate. As the inflation rate rises, interest rates have to rise by more than the increase in inflation to compensate lenders for the higher taxes that they will have to face. So a drop in inflation results in an even bigger drop in interest rates. Even so, the real after tax return from holding dollars should be remaining the same. In any case, I am pretty dubious that the small amount of money that the FED loans to banks is really driving interest rates very much. I haven't spent a lot of time figuring what is happening right now with respect to changes in the value of the dollar, but I know that this explanation is wrong.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Todd Zywicki posts nice review of Freedomnomics on

Monday, September 24, 2007

Possibly the monopoly power of oil companies just declined thsi week?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

G. Gordon Liddy radio show on Monday Morning

I will be on the G. Gordon Liddy radio show at 10 AM on Monday, September 24th.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Economics and American Government Classes at Riverdale High School

The teacher is holding a copy of Freedomnomics.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Another Review of Freedomnomics

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Appearance on Lars Larson Radio Show

I will be on the Lars Larson radio show at 6:20 PM today.


Talk on Thursday night to the New York Young Republican Club

Older Men-Younger Women Romances Good for Longevity of Human Race

Younger women being attracted to older men is biologically based:

Older men who shack up with much younger women keep the Grim Reaper at bay for the human population and extend our species' lifespan, new research claims. . . .

As relationships seem to be less motivated to produce children over time, there might be a correlation with a reduction in the average age between men and women. I wonder whether there is empirical evidence that men search for other mates when the women that they are with are no longer able to have children.

What is not noted if that the same would hold for females. Older females should reproduce and marry (whatever) male age group. This might actually have a larger effect on longevity because, say, by 40, a lot of women cannot have babies because of either bad eggs and/or because of health problems. So the women capable of having babies post-40 are the ones with healthier genes (and genes for longeivity).

Does it occur that the reason that women marry older men is because EVEN THOUGH the women are more attracted to younger men, the older men might have more wealth/higher income and are more likely to be stable emotionally? So the 24-year old woman in the U.S. who marries a 28-year-old man rather than a 20-year-old is likely to be able to start have babies earlier. It is not particularly impressive that he made it all the way to age 28 even though it makes some slight difference in weeding out the ones who committed suicide or died in a car crash at 21.

Also, demographics force many women to marry older men. There is just a tremendous surplus of women to men in the very highest age-groups, and those men like to pick the relatively younger (old) women, who also will take care of them when they age and die.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

New Op-ed on Why the Press Likes Campaign Finance Regulations

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Unintended Consequences of the Organ Donation Regulations

If people could buy organs from donors, there would be more organs available and the value of each organ would go down. With more organs available, there would be a lot less pressure to harvest any possible organs that were available, and I assume fewer cases such as this:

After a long fight with a degenerative disease, Ruben Navarro appeared close to death. So the hospital caring for him alerted the local transplant network, which rushed a team to the medical center to try to salvage the 25-year-old's organs.

But as Navarro hung on, tension mounted in the operating room of Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, Calif. With time slipping away, one of the transplant surgeons ordered repeated doses of the narcotic morphine and the sedative Ativan, jokingly calling the drugs "candy," according to police reports. Navarro eventually died, but too late for his organs to be useful.

Horrified nurses complained, prompting multiple investigations. In July, prosecutors charged Hootan Roozrokh with trying to hasten Navarro's death, marking the first time a surgeon has faced criminal charges in a transplant case.


Art DeVany's nice mention of Freedomnomics

Another Review of Freedomnomics

Friday, September 14, 2007

Ann Coulter is promoting Freedomnomics at Xavier University

Ann Coulter is shown here promoting Freedomnomics in a talk at Xavier University.

Thanks very much to Zeke for sending me this link.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

So does this count as a political donation by the NY Times?

If Tapper's numbers are correct, paid just 38.89% of a full-cost, nationwide ad, or a 61.11% discount off of a full-rate ad. While I'm fairly certain that nobody pays "sticker" prices, 61% off seems a rather sweet deal.

If this was to a political campaign, would this count towards donation limits? I assume that campaigns take out ads, but does the NY Times charge everyone the same amount for ads.


Talks next week

Monday, noon, Seattle University Law School
Tuesday, Noon, University of Oregon Law School
Wednesday, noon, Lewis & Clark University Law School
Wednesday, 4 PM, Willamette University Law School
Thursday, 7 PM, New York CIty Young Republican Club,

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Reputations for safety matter

Mattel Inc. CEO Robert Eckert pledged Wednesday to work to improve toy safety, and insisted that the company acted responsibly in recalling millions of Chinese-made toys because they contained lead paint or small magnets.

Seeking to tamp down public outrage over a rash of recalls, Eckert acknowledged his El Segundo, Calif.-based company made mistakes by not closely overseeing subcontractors in China whose toys didn't meet U.S. safety standards. But he steadfastly disputed reports that Mattel was feuding with federal regulators over warning requirements and as a result didn't disclose quickly enough dangers of excessive lead paint and small magnets in toys that prompted an Aug. 14 recall of 19 million products worldwide.

"We are by no means perfect," Eckert said in prepared testimony to a Senate Appropriations subcommittee. "But we have tackled difficult issues before and demonstrated an ability to make change for the better, not only within our own company but for the broader industry." . . . .


Minnesota Legislative Reference Library Provides Some Balance on Economic Debate

A direct link to the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library is available here. The op-ed linked to in the Legislative Reference post is available here.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Why a free-market wage is a "fair wage"

Thursday, September 6, 2007

New Book Reviews of Freedomnomics

1) The Heartland Institute has a nice review of my book here (click on review).

2) A review of the book in National Review by Jim Manzi concludes that: "Yet this limitation is only one of arggument, not one of ultimate purpose. Lott's overall point -- that freedom unleashes, for the most part, beneficial human ingenuity, and not the corrupt carnival of Levitt's imagination -- is both true and important. Freedomnomics is well worth reading as an engaging apologetic for the market economy." If I have time, I will write some notes on this review.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Realtors Discuss Freakonomics and Freedomnomics

Many of you no doubt read the book Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. I read it the other year. It was a bestseller and caused quite a buzz and a stir when it was first published. The book is an interesting and entertaining read that discusses some controversial idea, among them that legalized abortion helped reduce violent crime in the 1990s . . .

This weekend I read the book Freedomnomics, subtitled "A Rebuttal to Freakonomics and More"

Author and Economist John Lott, Jr. provides some convincing arguments against the evidence and conclusions of the book Freakonomics.

Regarding the topic of real estate agents, Lott surmises that Levitt & Dubner habitually fail to realize "that market forces exist that punish dishonest behavior."

Lott doubts that real estate agents are really ripping off their own clients and states that a listing agent has very little to gain from encouraging buyers to deliberately depress bids on homes. . . . .

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Monday, September 3, 2007

Incentives matter even in a socialist workers paradise

Percentage of Americans who are Hunters Plummets

New figures from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show that the number of hunters 16 and older declined by 10 percent between 1996 and 2006 - from 14 million to about 12.5 million. The drop was most acute in New England, the Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific states, which lost 400,000 hunters in that span.

The primary reasons, experts say, are the loss of hunting land to urbanization plus a perception by many families that they can't afford the time or costs that hunting entails.

"To recruit new hunters, it takes hunting families," said Gregg Patterson of Ducks Unlimited. "I was introduced to it by my father, he was introduced to it by his father. When you have boys and girls without a hunter in the household, it's tough to give them the experience."

Some animal-welfare activists welcome the trend, noting that it coincides with a 13 percent increase in wildlife watching since 1996. But hunters and state wildlife agencies, as they prepare for the fall hunting season, say the drop is worrisome. . . .

There are a lot of economics reasons for this. Fewer people have grown up in rural areas raising the costs of them learning how to hunt, possibly more alternative activities raising their opportunity costs, increased licensing requirements raising the costs of getting started, and having to travel farther to go hunting.

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Sunday, September 2, 2007

Freedomnomics on C-SPAN Again on Monday at 5 PM EDT

From David Friedman's Blog

David often has interesting discussions on his blog. Here are a few recent questions that he has raised.

Why don't we see automated systems in old houses that open windows at night when the outside temperature is lower than inside the house and close windows when the reverse is true?

My presumption is that the reason we don't see this is because it isn't efficient. It is costly to set up a mechanism that would raise and lower enough windows in a house to really effect the temperature. Even if we eventually see something like this in new houses, that wouldn't mean that it was efficient to put the system in older ones.

Is there a moral problem in giving students points for simply participating in class discussions? David worries about this because it may be done simply to reduce the effort that the professor makes in teaching.

I personally give credit for just students who get the answers right. But I do think that students learn from thinking on their feet so it doesn't bother me to call on students in the class who haven't raised their hands.

Finally, David asks about why low cost hotels include internet access in their price for the room, but more expensive hotels have it as an extra fee.

I could be wrong, but I guess that I am dubious that this has much to do with price discrimination. It would be interesting to get some numbers on the share of customers in the two types of hotels that use the internet.