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Posts Tagged ‘Gary Becker’

Two Economists vs. the Drug War

This piece doesn’t really contain anything all that new for those of us who have followed the debate on the drug war, but it is nice to see two prominent economists (Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy) making the case against it in a big paper of record such as the Wall Street Journal.  Here is a snippet, but I recommend the whole piece:

The direct monetary cost to American taxpayers of the war on drugs includes spending on police, the court personnel used to try drug users and traffickers, and the guards and other resources spent on imprisoning and punishing those convicted of drug offenses. Total current spending is estimated at over $40 billion a year.

The more interesting debate is (or should be) over the question of whether recreational drug use of one sort or another is immoral.  Since I drink alcohol socially in a limited fashion, my revealed preferences suggest I’m not opposed to some recreational use of drugs.  Moreover, I utilize caffeine as a performance enhancing drug — meaning, I have enjoyed drinking soda the way others use coffee.  But I’ve never used an illegal drug in my life and have abstained for much more than legal and prudential considerations.  I’d like to have something deeper to say on this at some point but am still thinking through some facets of the issue.  A starting point is that I generally don’t see drug use as consistent with human flourishing, especially in terms of the exercise and maintenance of the most important human faculty: reason.

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OK, the nets are all abuzz over gay rights advocates’ indignation  that the WSJ ran this  picture of Elena Kagan playing softball in the 90s when a professor at the U. of Chicago.  Apparently, softball = gay.  Who knew?

I had a personal involvement with another U. of Chicago softball photo.  When Gary Becker won the Nobel Prize in 1992, many of the papers ran a photo of him (that I can’t find, given that those were pre-internet days)  playing softball.  This involves me in a very important way because I was the one pitching to him.  Pictures of me did not make the papers.

I remember the moment well because, though he is the greatest economist of the last 50 years (so said Milton Friedman, the only other serious contender for the title), Gary is no athlete.  People were hissing at me to lighten up and let him hit, even though I was trying to put up the softest softballs I could manage.

Lots of people play softball on the Chicago Midway.  My observation of that photo is that Elena looks pretty good.  She definitely would have kicked Gary’s butt.

Becker much better in this venue than on the Diamond

Was the media secretly trying to imply that Gary Becker is gay?  I’m sure he isn’t, but then I’m not very sophisticated at reading these signals.

I, for one, happen to like playing softball.  Please don’t tell.

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