Wednesday , October 21 2020
Home / Jayme Lemke

Jayme Lemke

Articles by Jayme Lemke

The Ugly History of Forced Sterilization

20 days ago

A former nurse at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center has alleged that hysterectomies are being performed on detainees without informed consent. The problem of medical care within prison environments is always a difficult one, as it’s not clear that meaningful consent can ever be assured under such vulnerable conditions. (Does the prisoner fear punishment or worse if they don’t go along with the procedure?) Yet, denying potentially lifesaving medical interventions is also clearly an egregious abuse of power. The only clear solution to this problem is to take ten giant steps back on the process of incarcerating (or “detaining”) people who do not present an imminent threat to others, starting with those being held for nonviolent offenses.

Read More »

RBG and the “Waypavers”

29 days ago

There have already been an extraordinary number of remembrances, celebrations, and criticisms written of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and work in the days since her passing. I’m grateful for her contributions to advancing gender equality in law, but I have no assessment of her overall judicial legacy to add to the outpouring. Instead, I’ll offer just a few thoughts about her success and why it means so much to so many people.

One question that fascinates me when I think about RBG is: what made her decide she could do it? When RBG started law school in 1956, women accounted for less than 3% of the legal profession (preface; this and all other page numbers refer to Ginsburg’s collection of writings, My Own Words). Further, she was a mother. At the time, being a

Read More »

Hello Mind, Nice to Meet Ya

September 16, 2020

Universities at their best are places where reading, writing, speaking, and (hopefully) listening are carried out at the highest level. The core activity here is sharing words with other people. We share words—written, verbal, and non-verbal—to meet other minds, to learn and share experiences for the sake of mutual betterment. So, as teachers and students return to campus, I thought it might be fun to take a moment to reflect on WORDS, with a little inspiration from Vincent Ostrom, F. A. Hayek, and Stephen King.
Vincent Ostrom, maybe more than any other 20th century political economist, emphasized the fact that language is a powerful tool. When we name what we experience by assigning words to objects and relationships, we generate “shared communities of

Read More »

Could the CDC’s order harm renters, too?

September 5, 2020

The Center for Disease Control issued an order on September 1 that tenants earning less than $99,000 a year who fail to pay their rent due to COVID-19-related financial hardships cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent until at least January 1. This raises a number of legal, ethical, and logistical questions, not least of which is whether a public health agency staffed by non-elected officials even has the authority to effectively command specific people to provide free housing for other specific people for any amount of time. Further, if enforceable, such an edict has the potential to cause some serious long term damage that could wind up hurting renters.

There’s a long history of antagonism towards landlords in the popular imagination. Like owners of other

Read More »

Stay Out of Holly Golightly’s Way

September 1, 2020

I recently re-watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It was a particular favorite of mine in college, so I’d seen it many times before. But I had never really noticed how many lessons about economic opportunity there were to find in Holly Golightly’s life experiences.

Trailer screenshot -Public Domain

[Spoiler alert, in case you’ve been busy for the past 60 years.]
In the iconic opening scene of the film, Holly Golightly (played by Audrey Hepburn) is out on an early morning walk, still fully dressed from the night before. She is wearing the outfit that is not only the most memorable of the film, but perhaps of Hepburn’s entire career. Her hair is swept up to show off a multi-strand of pearls and the low-cut back of her black Givenchy dress. With coffee and pastry in

Read More »

Five Essential Books on Public Choice

August 22, 2020

Earlier this pandemic year, I shared a post on five great books to read first if you want to start learning about public choice economics. Looking back at that list, I’m still pleased with those selections, and think they hold up as “must-reads” for anybody with an interest in public choice. Now, I’d like to build on that list by sharing five contenders for most defining, most impactful, most essential books in public choice economics.
My focus here is on works that I’ve personally found most useful in being able to use public choice as a framework for conducting applied research. There is of course much that gets left out here, and no doubt I have colleagues working in the field of public choice who would come up with completely different lists. Those more

Read More »

Ready, Set, Go! Five Great First Books on Public Choice

March 17, 2020

Public choice is about understanding the rules of the political game. Romantic notions of politics suggest that what is in the public good is obvious—or at least that it would be if we could get rid of corruption/greed/that one jerk—and that politicians will have no difficulty in setting aside their personal interests in pursuit of that good. Public choice economists take the alternative view that successful collective action is hard to pull off. Even when a large group can agree on a best course of action, the individuals involved will struggle to set aside their diverse, deeply embedded, and often mutually conflicting personal interests in order to pursue that course. Although this may sound discouraging, the optimistic heart of public choice is the idea that if

Read More »

The Liberal Peace

March 13, 2020

In his newest book—free to read online until March 17!—Chris Coyne offers thoughtful discussion on the extensive contributions to the study of war, defense, and peace that have been made by classical economists, Austrian economists, and others in the mainline tradition. The book is not long, but it is extensive. War is unfortunately an enduring human tradition. As such, economists classical and modern have had a lot to say about the great range of conflicts we’ve gotten ourselves into and the equally great range of defense strategies we’ve used to try to get ourselves out.
Defense, of course, should be in scare-quotes here. Defensive military actions are not always a force for peace and in fact can be downright predatory and destructive. If historical examples

Read More »

Hannah Mather Crocker on Groveling Minds and Women who Shine

March 3, 2020

In a recent post, I shared some background on Hannah Mather Crocker’s Observations on the Real Rights of Women (1818) and thoughts on why it has been so overlooked by history. Although there aren’t a lot of quotables from Crocker that are likely to take Twitter by storm, she was an avid defender of women’s intellectual and moral capabilities. Further, she made arguments from within her time that defended women taking on advisory, religious, and civil leadership roles. I’d like to share just a few of those here.
Crocker was critical of those “few groveling minds who think woman should not aspire to any further knowledge than to obtain enough of the cymical art to enable them to compound a good pudding, pie, or cake, for her lord and master to discompound” (p. 18).

Read More »

Is it time for Hannah Mather Crocker?

February 25, 2020

Sometimes women’s contributions to the political and economic life of past centuries are overlooked, not because they were minor, but simply because they were seen as stories of daily ‘domestic’ life and therefore inherently less significant than accounts of war, conquest, and statecraft. Since the 1960s, there has been a movement within the discipline of history to correct these omissions. Historians like Gerda Lerner, Anna Firor Scott, Deborah Gray White, and so many more began the work of filling in forgotten and otherwise neglected aspects of history, often in the newly emerging subfields of women’s history and black history.

However, despite all the excellent work that has been done over the past sixty years, there are still gaps in our knowledge. The

Read More »

To the Victor Goes the History

February 4, 2020

There is something about the history of war, conquest, and statecraft that captures the imagination. Histories of the great deeds of great men fill history textbooks and serve as inspiration for monuments, national parks, documentaries, movies, and plays. For those who think history matters, this lopsided emphasis can be problematic in a number of ways. The history of war, conquest, and statecraft tends to be written by the victor. Consequently, the stories of those who lost the war or were conquered or overridden at important constitutional moments can easily be lost. Without these stories, we may be unaware of particular costs that have been paid in history, and wind up giving too much credit or not enough blame to particular strategies or practices.

One of the

Read More »

Withdrawing Compliance

January 8, 2020

In The Underside of History: A View of Women Through Time, Elise Boulding writes,

“In fact, one of the notable historical features of oppression is that the downtrodden comply in their oppression. The discovery by the oppressed that they have power is the discovery that they can gain a kind of dominance through the withdrawal of compliance. This is the power of the women’s liberation movement, and of all liberation movements” (p. 48).

With these words, Boulding proposes a mechanism for social change—a way to explain how it is that people currently living in circumstances of oppression might come to shift the balance of power in their favor. This is a mechanism for social change that is proposed with a dominance system in mind. Unlike egalitarian systems—meaning

Read More »

Illustrating the Intellectual Roots of Constitutional Political Economy

May 8, 2019

Richard Wagner’s latest book is not about James M. Buchanan. At least not in the way you’d expect given the title: James M. Buchanan and Liberal Political Economy: A Rational Reconstruction. Wagner has written elsewhere that economics is a discipline that “deals with thoughts, not with things,”[i] and he has stayed true to that approach here, writing an intellectual biography that is about Buchanan’s ideas first and his work and person second. The result is a masterful work that invites both the experienced and the novice student of political economy to think about democracy, self-governance, and constitutional processes in new ways.
A rational reconstruction of a rich scholarly life like Buchanan’s is no simple task. The biographical pieces are the easy part. The hard part is absorbing a

Read More »

Better Together

May 8, 2019

This is the fourth and final entry in a series of conversations with scholars in the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
In this installment, I am joined by Peter Boettke, University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University and Director of the Hayek Program. In this conversation, Pete and I discuss the commonalities between the three approaches to understanding the social world discussed previously in this series: Austrian economics, public choice economics, and the Bloomington School’s multiple-methods, real-world approach to institutional analysis.
The reason why these three approaches are often used together is that although they bring different perspectives and sets of

Read More »

Interjurisdictional Competition and the Married Women’s Property Acts

March 9, 2016


Married women in the early nineteenth century United States were not permitted to own property, enter into contracts without their husband’s permission, or stand in court as independent persons. This severely limited married women’s ability to engage in formal business ventures, collect rents, administer estates, and manage bequests through wills. By the dawn of the twentieth century, legal reform in nearly every state had removed these restrictions by extending formal legal and economic rights to married women. Legal reform being by nature a public good with dispersed benefits, what forces impelled legislators to undertake the costs of action? In this paper, I argue that interjurisdictional competition between states and territories in the nineteenth century was instrumental in motivating these reforms. Two conditions are necessary for interjurisdictional competition to function: (1) law-makers must hold a vested interest in attracting population to their jurisdictions, and (2) residents must be able to actively choose between the products of different jurisdictions. Using evidence from the passage of the Married Women’s Property Acts, I find that legal reforms were adopted first and in the greatest strength in those regions in which there was active interjurisdictional competition.Find the article at Springer Link.

Read More »