Open for Business on Thanksgiving – Still a Bad Idea

Three years ago, I wrote about the problem of retail stores being open for business on Thanksgiving.  It is posted in full below.  As one might expect, Sears continues to open on Thanksgiving and has been joined by many other businesses trying to profit from those who can't resist getting a jump on so-called Black Friday.  Fortunately, many … Continue reading Open for Business on Thanksgiving – Still a Bad Idea

Persuading the Scots

The Government of Scotland has just released its 600-odd-page white paper on independence in advance of the September 18, 2014 referendum on the question. First Minister Alex Salmond and the rest of the pro-independence side have their work cut out, with the latest poll showing a 47-38% plurality in favor of "No." In part, the … Continue reading Persuading the Scots

Social Norms as Market Regulation: The Case of Pre-PPACA Nongroup Health Insurance

The debate over pre-PPACA (Obamacare) nongroup health insurance has heated up again recently, particularly on the issue of rescissions (cancellations of policies). John Goodman claims that before the PPACA, rescissions almost never happened except in cases of fraud. Nevertheless, one problem with the nongroup market in many states was denial of applications for coverage from … Continue reading Social Norms as Market Regulation: The Case of Pre-PPACA Nongroup Health Insurance

Making Things Work

Whether one looks to the domestic or the international arena, it appears that little is working these days. Three issues I have been following: 1. The Affordable Care Act (formerly known as Obamacare): The difficulties in the ACA roll out persist and the circular firing squad continues to take aim at the guilty parties. Megan McArdle … Continue reading Making Things Work

Sunday Quotation – What Explains the Decline of (Classical) Liberalism?

George H. Smith, in his new book The System of Liberty, gives us this explanation: Although all of the proceeding explanations have merit, I have focused in this book on the one offered by Hayek.  In particular, I have discussed how the presumption of liberty, when not accompanied with clear criteria of defeasibility, sometimes became … Continue reading Sunday Quotation – What Explains the Decline of (Classical) Liberalism?

Half a Century

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the JFK assassination and I am quite happy to leave the obsession with Camelot and conspiracy to the media. The photographs from 1963 seem quite quaint, like they were plucked from another era. I was two years old then, growing up in a world of stay-at-home moms, fathers who … Continue reading Half a Century

Debating International Politics

I recently held team debates in my introduction to international relations course on a variety of topics. Here are the topics the students debated, along with the "pro" and "con" "prompts" I provided them. Resolved: That the coming power transition between China and the U.S. appreciably raises the risk of war between the two powers … Continue reading Debating International Politics

A Living Death

The Economist has a painful piece about mandatory life sentences in the United States, much of which is drawn from a new report by the ACLU entitled “A Living Death.” A few interesting points: At least 3,278 people are serving life sentences without parole for non-violent crimes. “Around 79% of them were convicted of drug … Continue reading A Living Death

The biggest (dumbest) lie ever?

Somewhere in the Pileus archives is a post I wrote about how if the lie you tell is so outrageous, the public gives you a pass. Example 1: When the party in power in a state says, “Our goal in redistricting is not to increase our partisan advantage but is to _____________.” It doesn’t matter … Continue reading The biggest (dumbest) lie ever?

For a Right of Unilateral Secession: Part Two

In my last post on this topic, I argued for a right of unilateral secession on the grounds that: 1) legalizing secession would reduce the risk of violence on net, and 2) codifying a plebiscitary, unilateral right to secede would reduce uncertainty without any compensating disadvantages. In this post, I consider some common objections in … Continue reading For a Right of Unilateral Secession: Part Two

Making the Case for Liberty

Conor Friedersdorf (the Atlantic) has published the text of a talk he gave to students at Pepperdine (h/t John Moser). The brief talk is worth reading in its entirety. Much of the talk addresses the ongoing assault on civil liberties and frustration over how much of the Right is concerned over infringements on economic liberties … Continue reading Making the Case for Liberty

Does Comparative Advantage Not Work for Buffalo?

Nick Gillespie notes in a recent post: [I]f working on Reason Saves Cleveland taught me one thing, it's that there's no simple solution to urban decline. Some of it is simply historical - the Northeast is not going to dominate American business and culture that way it did 100 years ago and cities such as … Continue reading Does Comparative Advantage Not Work for Buffalo?

Numbers, Real and Imagined

The preliminary numbers are in on ACA. As By Amy Goldstein and Sarah Kliff note in the Washington Post :  “Roughly 40,000 Americans have signed up for private insurance through the flawed federal online insurance marketplace since it opened six weeks ago, according to two people with access to the figures.” This does not include … Continue reading Numbers, Real and Imagined

Monday Morning Book Contest (update)

Do you more about international relations than an intro student at Dartmouth? Prove it! Here are a few questions from a recent midterm I gave my students. The first commenter to get all of these right will win a paperback copy of my book, Secessionism. 1. What usually happens to public support for a war … Continue reading Monday Morning Book Contest (update)

The Post does it again

Another superb piece from the Washington Post on the ACA (Marc highlighted the last one a couple of days ago).  This one is from the guy who built and ran the RomneyCare exchange in Massachusetts:A health insurance exchange is more than a Web site. It is an insurance store, and to manage it well requires … Continue reading The Post does it again

Even Obama can’t violate fundamental laws of politics

There is an ironclad law of redistributive politics at play in the ACA (ObamaCare) fiasco. This law is that concentrated interests almost always conquer diffuse interests.  Milk producers are a concentrated interest.  Milk consumers are a diffuse interest.  Guess which group is favored by the long history of milk price supports?  Dairy farmers get fat … Continue reading Even Obama can’t violate fundamental laws of politics

Chart of the Day – Labor Force Participation Rate

The Labor Department released the newest employment report. Unemployment ticked up to 7.3 percent in October [insert causal connection to government shut-down, the Tea Party, etc., here]. The chart of the day, however, is the labor force participation rate (h/t zerohedge). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: 204,000 jobs were added in October. However, … Continue reading Chart of the Day – Labor Force Participation Rate and Implementation Problems

Public policies can fail for a host of reasons. For example, policymakers may fail to understand the causality underlying the problems they wish to address or employ the wrong policy instruments. They may fail to understand the unintended consequences of policy or some of the critical trade-offs. They may design policies that will only succeed … Continue reading and Implementation Problems

Charts of the Day – US Debt-to-GDP

Veronique de Rugy, an economist at the Mercatus Center, has nicely created these charts below concerning U.S. Debt-to-GDP.  They visually express a lot of what our co-blogger Marc Eisner has been saying since our inception.  It is hard not to agree with Vero's conclusion: "The only way we will begin to see an improvement in … Continue reading Charts of the Day – US Debt-to-GDP

For a Right of Unilateral Secession: Part One

In this three-part series of posts, I will be blogging my new SSRN working paper, "Designing a Constitutional Right of Secession: Applying Normative Principles and Empirical Findings." The paper defends a right of unilateral secession for any country in which the possibility of secessionist violence is non-negligible, or where central governments are already unwilling to … Continue reading For a Right of Unilateral Secession: Part One

What About Human Ingenuity?

National Geographic has a visually attractive interactive set of maps that shows what would ostensibly happen if all of the world's ice melted due to global warming.  The problem with this - aside from the alarmism - is that it fails to take into account human ingenuity  in picturing what the world would actually look … Continue reading What About Human Ingenuity?

Shocked, Shocked … Christie Not So Clean

Time magazine has a short excerpt up on its website from a new book on the 2012 campaign.  This excerpt from that excerpt focuses on the Republican Veepstakes and the vetting of Governor Chris Christie: The vetters were stunned by the garish controversies lurking in the shadows of his record. There was a 2010 Department of … Continue reading Shocked, Shocked … Christie Not So Clean