Property Rights: Necessary but Not Sufficient for Prosperity

At, I have posted some reflections on my last discussion with the Ethics & Economics Challenge students, on the topic of private property rights. The work of Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson on how property rights support high levels of development plays a prominent role. Here's a scatter plot from their famous 2001 paper: Economies … Continue reading Property Rights: Necessary but Not Sufficient for Prosperity

Historic Milestone?

The press has been a buzz about the climate agreement between Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping. The agreement commits the US to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025 (2005 baseline), well ahead of current projections. China has committed to stop growth in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 at the latest, … Continue reading Historic Milestone?

Institutions and Climate Change Policies

Ezra Klein is a global warming pessimist. In his own words, "we're fucked." While he gives several different reasons for this belief, the crux of it seems to be U.S. political institutions and parties (the Republicans). Yet he also concedes that other governments are not serious about climate change either. Indeed, no government has taken … Continue reading Institutions and Climate Change Policies

The Omnivore’s Duties

We all agree that it's wrong to put cats in microwaves. Animals' welfare matters to us. (I don't think Damon Linker has it right when he says our moral concern for animals is simply a natural "expansion of the sphere of human concern and empathy." My concern for my fellow human beings dictates precisely nothing … Continue reading The Omnivore’s Duties

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

_Scientific American_ Supports GMO Foods

In its September 6 issue, Scientific American published an editorial supporting genetically modified foods and opposing GMO labeling: Instead of providing people with useful information, mandatory GMO labels would only intensify the misconception that so-called Frankenfoods endanger people's health [see “The Truth about Genetically Modified Food”]. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the … Continue reading _Scientific American_ Supports GMO Foods

Tax-Exempt Lies: The Trap-Neuter-Return Industry

My blood boiled this morning when I saw some propaganda for trap-neuter-return programs being shared around Facebook. Trap-neuter-return (TNR) is a method of dealing with feral cat populations by spaying and neutering them and then releasing them back into the wild. Conservation biologists have found that TNR fails to reduce populations of cats. As an … Continue reading Tax-Exempt Lies: The Trap-Neuter-Return Industry

JPR Special Issue on Climate Change and Conflict

Will global climate change increase resource-based conflicts around the world? Journal of Peace Research has a special issue on the topic, looking at how weather variability has already influenced the rate of conflict. The issue is free to the public until the end of February. Most of the studies find that weather variability does not … Continue reading JPR Special Issue on Climate Change and Conflict