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Spare the rod, enslave the child.

The litter problem on this campus, though greatly reduced since I first came, still bothers me. Some will immediately jump up with "it's a tragedy of the commons," but this is a dodge. Properly, it's a tragedy of socialization: I and many others, without any more incentive, consistently deposit our trash in the proper receptacles. The solution to this is usually to impose stiff fines for littering. These fines, however, can be criticized in that they disproportionately impact the poor*, the wealthy don't mind a fine so much. Read more »

Congratulations are in order.

Even though many of this blog's readers probably know that Cory Maye has won a new sentencing trial, it is news too good to not repeat. Congratulations are in order to his legal team and Radley Balko, who has followed the proceedings and agitated on Maye's behalf with a tenacity beyond admiration.

Prizes? What about peerage?

MarginalRevolution points out Stiglitz's recent article for the New Scientist (they provide a link to a PDF therein). Stiglitz argues that sufficiently large prizes would help motivate research in areas that are primarily in the public interest. Read more »

Big government, small \"l?\"

Google the phrase "small-government libertarian" and you'll notice that what seems like a rhetorical flourish, mere emphasis, comes up quite a bit. Most recently, in an article by Peter Suderman (my emphasis):

Studio 60 may not mark a new political direction for Sorkin, but it does shrink the distance between his brand of liberal politics and the views of small-government libertarians.

Property rights.

The reason I reject outright the notion that property rights have an ethical component that shares most of the salient features of their legal expression is because I reject the basis for someone's claim on property as not justified in itself. The basis of any person's current claim is the prior claim of someone else from whom that person received the property by purchase or bequest. Inevitably, this claim regresses to a claim that is merely "finders, keepers" (presuming all transactions are valid). Read more »


An interesting rebuttal. Read more »

Freedom of Movement

Here is the situation:

Some time in the future the world has fragmented into a series of small, peaceful, free-trading city-states after a period of anarchy. Each city-state was created as a voluntary, intentional community to which all original members assented. After some time has passed, those original members have children and when those children reach the age of majority, they do not consent to their condition.

For Profit, For Charity.

Tyler Cowen points out a paper by Eric Posner on allowing for-profit firms to receive the full tax benefits of not-for-profit firms insofar as they engage in charitable activities. I would just like to point out two passages from the paper: Read more »

Discordians: you may rejoice.

The International Astronomical Union has renamed 2003 UB313 "Eris" after the Greek goddess of discord. On the name:

Eris' discoverer, Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology, said the name was an obvious choice, calling it "too perfect to resist."

Life, Liberty and the Download of Happiness

Piracy debates in libertarian circles often center around whether intellectual property is justified. Truly, nothing is being stolen and any predictions of about the market value of a song are simply wrong insofar as piracy is greater than expected. A sound justification, however, lies with a simple consequentialist argument: the use of copyright encourages the production of content which, overall, increases our standard of living. Read more »

WTC Reconstruction

Originally, the memorials were of a variety that has become well-known since Oklahoma City bombing in 1995: walls of flowers and photographs mixed with mementos and votives built up as individuals attached their tributes to chain-link fences. While these memorials lacked permanence, they were certainly visceral and real; they emanated from the grief of individual people. So, too, was the Tribute in Light, now a staple of the annual ceremonies and the first memorial that really attempted a collective statement. It was successful because it was not clearly a memorial: it was a reproduction of the towers as ephemeral shafts of light. It remains the most eloquent statement produced since 9/11. Tribute was not to last, having been designated temporary, and the search for a collective symbol was pressed forward. The intervening years have not been kind to that decision. Read more »

Everywhere you want to be... except here.

This will be my first run at this blog, I apologize if there are some formatting errors or the like. Read more »