Sociology and Social Science with Fabio Rojas

My guest today is Fabio Rojas. He is professor of sociology at Indiana University Bloomington.

Fabio is the author of three books, the first is From Black Power to Black Studies: How a Radical Social Movement Became an Academic Discipline, published in 2007. The second book, coauthored with Michael Heaney, is Party in the Street: The Antiwar Movement and the Democratic Party after 9/11, published in 2015. The third book, Theory for the Working Sociologist, was published just recently in 2017. Continue reading Sociology and Social Science with Fabio Rojas

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Compensating Blood, Fluid, and Organ Donors with Peter Jaworski

My guest is Peter Jaworski of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. He is the author, along with Jason Brennan, of Markets Without Limits.

We recorded this on August 24th, 2017, the same day Peter published an op-ed in the National Post titled “Canada needs blood plasma. We should pay donors to get it.” The op-ed argues in favour of allowing people who donate blood plasma in Canada to be compensated in return: Continue reading Compensating Blood, Fluid, and Organ Donors with Peter Jaworski

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Pepsi, Niche Marketing, and Neoliberal Social Justice with Samuel Hammond

Samuel Hammond is returning to the podcast today to discuss the relationship between capitalism and social justice.

Sam was prompted to write about this by an insensitive Pepsi commercial that caused some controversy in April 2017.

The controversial ad featured generic protesters and Kendall Jenner sharing a Pepsi with police. While the ad was insensitive and more than a little absurd, Sam pointed out that Pepsi has a history of promoting social justice and racial harmony through its marketing. Continue reading Pepsi, Niche Marketing, and Neoliberal Social Justice with Samuel Hammond

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Can the Truth be Repugnant? Should it be?

Let’s consider a series of statements, without considering whether any of them are right or wrong:

  1. People should be treated with respect, regardless of their ethnicity.
  2. All ethnic groups have the same average IQ after controlling for cultural biases in IQ tests.
  3. Women should be treated with respect and accepted in traditionally male-dominated workplaces.
  4. There are no biological differences between men and women that affect their interests or abilities.
  5. Homosexuals and homosexual relationships should be given the same respect and acceptance as heterosexuals and heterosexual relationships.
  6. Children brought up by same-sex parents do as well or better than children brought up by opposite-sex parents.
  7. People of all religions should be treated with respect.
  8. Muslims are no more likely to commit violence than are people of other religions.
  9. Wealthy people and societies should help the poor.
  10. Poverty is entirely caused by unfortunate circumstances and unfair institutions and not the choices of the poor themselves.

At this point, you have probably noticed the pattern. Odd-numbered statements are moral claims. They are all about how one should behave. They reflect liberal values. If you agree with claims 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 then congratulations! You are a decent human being who is capable of living in a liberal society. Continue reading Can the Truth be Repugnant? Should it be?

Pediatrician Fired Over Anti-Diversity Memo

Bloomberg reports that ABC Children’s Hospital has fired an employee who wrote an internal memo blasting the hospital’s diversity policies, creating a firestorm across the medical community.

She said: “The distribution of preferences and abilities of women and men differ in part due to biological causes, and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of men in pediatrics and psychiatry.”

Jane Damore, the pediatrician who wrote the note, confirmed her dismissal in an email, saying that she had been fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.” She said she’s “currently exploring all possible legal remedies.”

The imbroglio at ABC is the latest in a long string of incidents concerning gender bias and diversity in medicine. Sacred Mercy’s Chief of Obstetrics Tracy Kalanick lost her job in June amid scandals over anti-male discrimination. Evan Pao’s gender-discrimination lawsuit against Trinity Hospital in 2015 also brought the issue to light, and more men are speaking up to say they’ve been sidelined in the female-dominated industry, especially in gynecological and pediatric roles.

Earlier on Monday, ABC’s chief physician Siya Pichai sent a note to employees that said portions of the memo “violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” But she didn’t say if the company was taking action against the employee. An ABC representative, asked about the dismissal, referred to Pichai’s memo.

Damore’s 10-page memorandum accused ABC of silencing conservative political opinions and argued that biological differences play a role in the shortage of men in pediatric positions. It circulated widely inside the hospital and became public over the weekend, causing a furor that amplified the pressure on ABC to take a more definitive stand.

After the controversy swelled, Daniel Brown, ABC’s new vice president for diversity, integrity, and governance, sent a statement to staff condemning Damore’s views and reaffirmed the company’s stance on diversity. In internal discussion boards, multiple employees said they supported firing the author, and some said they would not choose to work with her, according to postings viewed by Bloomberg News.

“We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a hospital,” Brown said in the statement. “We’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul.”

The memo and surrounding debate come as ABC fends off a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Labor alleging the hospital systemically discriminates against men. ABC has denied the charges, arguing that it doesn’t have a gender gap in pay, but has declined to share full salary information with the government. According to the company’s most recent demographic report, 69 percent of its workforce and 80 percent of its pediatricians are female.

Following the memo’s publication, multiple doctors shared an article from a senior pediatrician who recently left the hospital, Yovela Zunger. In the blog post, Zunger said that based on the context of the memo, she determined that she would “not in good conscience” assign any employees to work with its author. “You have just created a textbook hostile workplace environment,” she wrote. She also said in an email, “Could you imagine having to work with someone who had just publicly questioned your basic competency to do your job?”

Still, some right-wing websites had already lionized the memo’s author, and firing her could be seen as confirming some of the claims in the memo itself – that the hospital’s culture makes no room for dissenting political opinions. That outcome could galvanize any backlash against ABC’s efforts to make its workforce more diverse.

The subject of ABC’s ideological bent came up at the most recent shareholder meeting, in June. A shareholder asked executives whether conservatives would feel welcome at the hospital. Executives disagreed with the idea that anyone wouldn’t.

“The hospital was founded under the principles of freedom of expression, diversity, inclusiveness and science-based medicine,” ABC Chairman Erin Schmidt said at the time. “You’ll also find that all of the other hospitals in our industry agree with us.”

The French Revolution, Property Rights, and the Coase Theorem with Noel Johnson

My guest for this episode is Noel Johnson of George Mason University, and if that name sounds familiar, it’s because he was the coauthor on the paper I discussed with Mark Koyama last month.

Noel recently released a working paper titled “The Effects of Land Redistribution: Evidence from the French Revolution.” It is co-authored with Theresa Finley and Raphael Franck. The paper examines the consequences of the land auctions held by the Revolutionary government in France. The abstract reads as follows:

This study exploits the confiscation and auctioning off of Church property that occurred during the French Revolution to assess the role played by transaction costs in delaying the reallocation of property rights in the aftermath of fundamental institutional reform. French districts with a greater proportion of land redistributed during the Revolution experienced higher levels of agricultural productivity in 1841 and 1852 as well as more investment in irrigation and more efficient land use. We trace these increases in productivity to an increase in land inequality associated with the Revolutionary auction process. We also show how the benefits associated with the head-start given to districts with more Church land initially, and thus greater land redistribution by auction during the Revolution, dissipated over the course of the nineteenth century as other districts gradually overcame the transaction costs associated with reallocating the property rights associated with the feudal system.

Continue reading The French Revolution, Property Rights, and the Coase Theorem with Noel Johnson

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The Seattle Minimum Wage Study with Ekaterina Jardim

My guest for this episode is Ekaterina Jardim of the University of Washington. Ekaterina is one of the authors of the new minimum wage study that has been making headlines recently, “Minimum Wage Increases, Wages, and Low-Wage Employment: Evidence from Seattle.” One reason this study is so interesting is that it was funded by the City of Seattle, which is something that governments aren’t obligated or expected to do when they enact major policy changes like these minimum wage hikes.

There was a broad theoretical and empirical consensus in the 1980s that higher minimum wages have disemployment effects on the low skilled, and then Card and Krueger (1994) started a new empirical literature that found no evidence of disemployment effects. Continue reading The Seattle Minimum Wage Study with Ekaterina Jardim

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Housing, Liquidity, and Closed-Access Cities with Kevin Erdmann

My guest today is Kevin Erdmann, he blogs about economics and finance at Idiosyncratic Whisk.

Kevin has written a ton about housing, as evidenced by the titles of his blog posts. A recent one is labeled Housing: Part 239. This series is part of a larger book project that Kevin is publically drafting on his blog.

We discuss the housing bubble of the 2000s and the post-2008 housing market. I took my first undergraduate economics class in 2008, just as the financial crisis was beginning, so there’s never been a time in my economics career when people weren’t talking about this. And yet, I still have so much to learn!

Kevin makes an interesting distinction between “open-access cities” and “closed-access cities.” Closed-access cities are places like San Francisco, New York, and San Jose that have restricted their housing supplies. Open-access cities are places like Houston and Phoenix with more elastic housing supplies. We talk about these factors and how they relate to the housing boom and bust, liquidity, and central bank policy.

Kevin points out that supply side restrictions on housing construction are necessary for demand-side factors to cause housing bubbles. That’s because in a market with an elastic housing supply, more demand doesn’t result in higher prices, it just causes more homes to be built.

Related links:

Liquidity is a Public Good

Credit supply, housing supply, and financial crises


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The Financial Diaries with Jonathan Morduch

The guest for this episode is Jonathan Morduch, he is a professor of public policy and economics at NYU and the author of The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty, co-authored with Rachel Schneider.

The book looks at the financial situations of ordinary American families. It is centered around a detailed survey of 235 households where they recorded what they earned and what they spent at an extremely granular level. Continue reading The Financial Diaries with Jonathan Morduch

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Garrett M. Petersen's blog about markets, institutions, and ideas.