What follows is an edited transcript of my conversation with Otto Lehto.
Petersen: You’re listening to Economics Detective Radio. My guest today is Otto Lehto of King’s College London. He is formerly the chair of Finland’s Basic Income Network. Otto, welcome to Economics Detective Radio.
Lehto: Oh it’s my pleasure to be here.
Petersen: So our topic for today is the basic income guarantee. Otto, you approach this idea from the perspective of political philosophy, so let’s start by discussing that. How about we start by talking about two of the major figures in political philosophy: John Rawls and Robert Nozick. What do each of them have to say about the welfare state and where do your views diverge from theirs?
Lehto: That is a good point to start indeed, although it is I think a bit lamentable that we have to start from those two figures because they have dominated the discussion so much during the last 50 years. In fact, it’s very hard to have a conversation outside the boundaries set by those two figures, but they’re both geniuses. They set the stage for the discussion, certainly in philosophy but also in public policy in many respects. Continue reading The Basic Income Guarantee, Freedom, and the Welfare State with Otto Lehto→
Petersen: Our topic today is supersonic air travel.
Sam has written an article titled “Make America Boom Again” along with co-author Eli Dourado which revisits the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s ban on supersonic flight over the United States. So Sam let’s start at the very start. Let’s start by talking about the history of flight. How do we get from the Wright brothers to supersonic flight?
Hammond: Well I think the most notable thing about the early history of aviation is how quickly and how rapidly we innovated. So the Wright brothers flew their initial voyage, their milestone flight in 1903 at seven miles per hour and within forty years we were already breaking the speed of sound. And actually very shortly after that not only were we breaking the speed of sound within military jets but we were on the cusp of commercializing it through the Concorde. Continue reading Supersonic Flight, Technology, and the Overland Ban with Sam Hammond→
Suppose you wanted to find out someone’s subjective belief in the likelihood of a given event. Your first instinct might be to offer them betting odds on the event. If they would accept odds of 2:1 but no lower, you might conclude that they believe the event to have a 33.3% chance of occurring.
This would be correct if the person you’re offering the bet to is risk neutral. But if they’re risk averse, they might actually believe the event has a 50% likelihood of occurring, and they just require more favourable odds to compensate them for accepting risk.
Today’s interview features Joanna Szurmak of the University of Toronto. Our topic for today is the second proposed bet between Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon. Joanna has written a paper titled “Care to Wager Again? An Appraisal of Paul Ehrlich’s Counter-Bet Offer to Julian Simon” along with coauthors Vincent Geloso and Pierre Desrochers, both former guests of this show. We mentioned the original Simon-Ehrlich bet briefly in my conversation with Steve Horwitz, but in this episode we talk about it in more detail.
Julian Simon had a cornucopian vision of development and humanity. In his view, things are getting better as we develop new ideas for improving our lives and our world. Paul Ehrlich has precisely the opposite vision. He has been predicting environmental catastrophe since the 1960s. Continue reading The Second Ehrlich-Simon Wager with Joanna Szurmak→
Following the success of the EGSS’ first prediction contest, I have organized a second contest! The predictions were made on November 17th, 2016 and will resolve on March 17th, 2017. The three contestants with the lowest Brier scores (average squared errors) will win gift cards!
1. The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil will exceed 40 USD per barrel on
2. The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil will exceed 50 USD per barrel on
3. The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil will exceed 60 USD/barrel at any
point before 2017-03-17.
4. The Canadian dollar will exceed 0.74 USD on 2017-03-17.
5. The Canadian dollar will exceed 0.85 USD at any point before 2017-03-17.
6. The US Federal Government will eliminate the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act.
7. At lease one Canadian province will legalize the use of recreational marijuana.
8. The media will report on at least one assassination attempt against Donald Trump.
9. Bashar al-Assad will remain the President of Syria.
10. Brendan Dassey will be released from prison.
11. The S&P 500 will exceed 2,200 on 2017-03-17.
12. The S&P 500 will exceed 2,500 at any point before 2017-03-17.
13. The S&P 500 will fall below 1,900 at any point before 2017-03-17.
14. An Englishman will win the 2017 William Hill World Darts Championship.
15. The Canadian team will win the 2017 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.
16. A single terrorist attack will kill at least 30 people in an OECD country.
17. ISIS will retain control of al-Raqqa.
18. The DJ at the econ department’s holiday party will play “Stayin’ Alive.”
19. The movie “Underworld: Blood Wars” will have a Rotten Tomatoes score below 35%.
20. An artificial intelligence will beat the world champion at Starcraft 2.
What follows is an edited transcript of my interview with Alex Salter about the economics of space. The first half deals primarily with the issue of space debris, while the second half deals with the possibility of private governance in space. There’s something in this episode for everyone to enjoy, so I hope you’ll listen, read, and share it with your friends.
Petersen: My guest today is Alex Salter of Texas Tech University. Alex, welcome to Economics Detective Radio.
So Alex, let’s start by talking about space debris. What is it and why does it matter?
Salter: So space debris is basically junk in space that no longer serves any useful purpose. So as you can imagine, since the first piece of space debris launched up in 1957—which was the rocket body from Sputnik I—a lot of orbits around the Earth, especially low Earth orbit, have become kind of cluttered with space junk. And the reason it gets cluttered is because no one has an incentive to clean it up. Continue reading Space Debris, Governance, and the Economics of Space with Alex Salter→
What follows is an edited transcript of my conversation with Vincent Geloso.
Petersen: My guest today is Vincent Geloso of the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University. Vincent, welcome to Economics Detective Radio.
Geloso: It’s a pleasure to be here.
Petersen: So the paper we’ll be discussing today is titled “A U-curve of Inequality? Measuring Inequality in the Interwar Period” which Vincent has co-authored with John Moore and Phillips Schlosser. The paper casts doubt on the claim from, most notably, Thomas Piketty and others that inequality fell from the 1920s to the 1960s and rose thereafter. So, Vincent let’s start by discussing the inequality literature prior to this paper. What is this U-curve and where did it come from?
Geloso: The U-curve is probably the most important stylized fact we have now in the debate over inequality and the idea is that, if you look at the twentieth century, there’s a high point of inequality in the 1910s, 1920s and then from the 1930s onwards up to 1970s, it falls dramatically to very low levels and re-increases thereafter, returning to 1920s-like levels of inequality. So the U-curve is the story of inequality in the twentieth century. It’s mostly a U.S. story because for other countries it looks less like the U-curve than an inverted J. So it’s higher in the 1920s, it still falls like in the U.S. but really increases much more modestly than the United States in places like Sweden, or France, or Canada. But the general story is that there was a high level of inequality at the beginning of the century well up to the mid-second-half of the twentieth century and it re-increased in the latter years and then we have been on a surge since then. Continue reading Re-thinking the U-Curve of Inequality with Vincent Geloso→
There’s a joke among anarchists: “What’s the difference between a minarchist and an anarchist? Six months!”
For context, a minarchist is someone who believes in a minimal state. The joke is commenting on the large number of people who discover libertarian philosophy and end up gradually becoming more extreme in their views until they conclude that the state should not exist.
This is part if a broader pattern that affects other ideologies as well. Have you noticed that self-professed socialists tend to be left-wing activists? And that left-wing activists are much more likely to identify as socialists than, say, politically inactive non-voters?
In fact, the connection between extreme views and political engagement is so strong, we often don’t bother to distinguish between the two. The word “extremist” is used interchangeably to describe people with extreme viewpoints and people who take extreme action for their views. But there’s no reason why someone with moderate political views can’t be marching in the streets, circulating petitions, joining activist circles, burning down buildings, and the like, all in the name of moderation. There’s also no reason someone can’t have extreme views while not engaging much with political or social activism. And yet, extreme views tend to go hand in hand with activism. To borrow Jason Brennan’s terms, you have the Hobbits, who have low political engagement and moderate views, and the Hooligans, who have high political engagement and relatively extreme views.
What follows is an edited transcript of my conversation with Emily Hamilton about land use regulations’ effects on affordable housing.
Petersen: My guest today is Emily Hamilton. She is a researcher at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Emily, thanks for being on Economics Detective Radio.
Hamilton: Thanks a lot for having me.
Petersen: So, Emily recently wrote a paper titled “How Land Use Regulation Undermines Affordable Housing” along with her co-author Sanford Ikeda. The paper is a review of many studies looking at land use restrictions and it identifies four of the most common types of land use restrictions. Those are: minimum lots sizes, minimum parking requirements, inclusionary zoning, and urban growth boundaries. So Emily, could you tell us what each of those restrictions entail?
Hamilton: Sure. So, starting off with the first, minimum lots sizes. This is probably what people most commonly associate with zoning. It’s the type of Euclidian zoning that separates residential areas from businesses and then within residential areas limits the number of units that can be on any certain size of land. And this is the most common tool that makes up what is sometimes referred to as Snob Zoning, where residents lobby for larger minimum lots sizes and larger house sizes to ensure that their neighbors are people who can afford only that minimum size of housing. Continue reading How Land Use Restrictions Make Housing Unaffordable with Emily Hamilton→