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Tag Archives: Revealed Preference

The State as Our Father (or Loving Mother)

Current attacks on the Food and Drug Administration for not regulating e-cigarettes enough remind us of an inconvenient truth. In the mind of public health activists and many medical experts, the state is to adult citizens what parents are to their children. This fiction has even been consecrated by a century-old old legal principle. The Wall Street Journal of yesterday (“Researchers Say FDA Has Fallen Down on E-Cigarette Testing”) reports that the current attacks...

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Abba Lerner’s Thoughts on Consumer Sovereignty

One of my favorite economists on the left was the late Abba Lerner. In my biography of him for The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, I wrote: Abba Lerner was the Milton Friedman of the left. Like Friedman, Lerner was a brilliant expositor of economics who was able to make complex concepts crystal clear. Lerner was also an unusual kind of socialist: he hated government power over people’s lives. Like Friedman, he praised private enterprise on the ground that...

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Gordon Tullock’s Generosity

One of the delights I had on my trip to Boise State University last week was getting to know my host Allen Dalton, an adjunct economics professor at BSU. Besides having great economics discussions, we had good discussions, mainly positive, about various economists we know in common. One positive story stands out. Allen started as a Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA when James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock were still there. One day in 1977, early in his...

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Getting Rich on Low Pay

The key is high saving. Here’s an amazing story about a worker on Wall Street making $40,000 a year and saving $10,500 a year in a 401(k) for 12 years. By the end, he was a millionaire. Sam Dogen went to extremes to save that much money in such a short time. And I don’t condone his stealing food from his employer, although that “theft” [he puts it in quotation marks and so I don’t know if it was really theft] saved him only a small amount of money. But what I always...

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Cowen Defends Existence of World Bank

I think America and yes DT [Donald Trump] should pick the next [World] Bank president and should pick an American.  How do you think it is going to go the next time the Bank calls for more capital from the US and UK?  Whose certification there do you think is most important?  And which country is the most nervous about the World Bank doing something geopolitically unpopular, as say the UN repeatedly has done?  All this will run most smoothly if the U.S. feels, to...

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The many problems with public opinion

A commenter named Ted once asked me a series of interesting questions, and I’ve since done a few “Ted talks” over at MoneyIllusion. Today I’ll do one here, in response to this request: More posts on how public opinion isn’t real (for me, this was a big takeaway from your writing) I’ve already done a few posts on this, but I don’t believe I’ve put all my reservations into one place.  Here are a few: 1.  Political correctness 2.  Framing effects 3.  Innumeracy 4. ...

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Crash Pad

On a United flight from San Fran to Washington Dulles yesterday, I found the flight attendants particularly professional and courteous. When I went to the back to stretch my legs, I did what I often do: asked a flight attendant where she was based. This particular one answered that she's based in San Fran but lives in Miami. So she arranges her schedule so that she is in San Fran for 3 weeks and Miami, with her boyfriend, for 5 weeks. I asked her how that works: where does she stay in San...

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My Daughter the Juror

My daughter, Karen Henderson, a resident of San Francisco, recently served on a California jury for almost two weeks for $15 a day. She is self-employed and her opportunity cost, therefore, was quite high. But as she said in a text to my wife and me, when the jury pool was being narrowed down, "Part of me wanted to lie to get out of it but I'm just such an honest person I can't lie." Sure enough, the pool fell from about 100 to 24, and then down to 12, and she was juror #6. I'm not going to...

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