I just returned from a short presentation by Mike Ransom on the Utah commuter Frontrunner rail line. It is a lesson in how to not spend money.
Category: Social Sciences and Economics
The Economics of Service and Welfare
A friend of mine suggested a few months ago that ward Elder’s Quorums should stop helping members move. Why, he asks, should we be competing with businesses in our area?
Suppose that we had a base 8 system instead of base 10, perhaps because, in this hypothetical world, we had 8 fingers rather than 10. Would we pay 1/8 our increase, or do you think it would still be one tenth? Or, to reverse causality, what are the chances we have ten fingers so that we’d develop a base 10 system that would make it easier to count out our tithing?
One of the things people find odd about Mormons is our claim to be led by a prophet.
A Short Lesson on Multipliers
This is just a post about Keynesian mulitpliers with no particular religious content. You have been warned and forewarned.
Expected Value of A Fetus
A thoughtful reader asked me if there were any economic tools that could be brought to bear in valuing a fetus. Of course there are! And in fewer than a 1000 words, no less!
The Political Uses of Debt and Mormon History
Yesterday’s discussion got me thinking about debt, in particular the political uses of debt. Here, I think that the experience of the American Revolution and the failure of the Confederacy may have something to tell us about Mormon history.
A Nobel calling
Iâ€™m very happy to see this yearâ€™s Nobel Prize in economics going to Paul Krugman, whose columns in the New York Times helped me see the importance of the discipline of economics as nothing else ever had. I think Mormon scholarship could use more scholars like Paul Krugman (quite apart from the Nobel and the weekly NYT column)
Returning to Zion
Given all that might be said of Mormonism, it should not come as a surprise that a lot of interesting topics sit pretty much neglected. One of these, I would argue, is the Mormon contribution to building settlements in the United States.
Global Warming, Redefining Marriage, and Risk Aversion
I think we can all agree that, from a risk analysis perspective, global warming and gay marriage share a lot of characteristics.
McCain and the Revelatory Economist
Bloomberg reports the following from McCain about economists who criticized his (lunatic) summer gas plan:
Moral Hazard in the Scriptures
For those hoping to find more economics in their scripture study…
Shortage and storage
With the recent spike in food prices, a three year old post demands new life. Here it is: Clearly, were there to be a famine, a one year food supply in the basement would look really good. What may be slightly less obvious is that the presence of food storage, even if nobody ever uses any of it for an emergency, can stop a famine from ever actually happening.
Coase on Abortion
Estimates suggest that, on average, Americans behave as if they value a year of their life at, more or less, $100,000. This would put an average American life at a “revealed preferred” value of somewhere around $7 million.
Economics and the Vicious Dating Scene
Diminishing Returns: Once things start going downhill, bail. Increasing Returns: It can only get better.
Markets and Consumer Activism
With fair regularity, one hears someone talking of efforts to buy less of some commercial product, either out of a desire for global conservation or because he doesn’t like how it is produced or whatever. Invariably, he comments that his own effect on the market is small, but he wishes to “send a message” or help along some broader movement. Within a plausible model of markets. there are easily understood conditions under which this small effect is actually zero, and remains zero even if he is joined by many like-minded individuals. At which point one wonders if the “message” being sent is “I don’t understand how markets work”.
Fixing the Minimum Wage
It seems pretty clear that we are heading for a hike in the minimum wage. For the many of us who care about poverty reduction, which would be basically all of us, this could be a big deal. The problems with the minimum wage are that it:
The Opportunity Cost of Publishing
In this excellent post, Rosalynde talks about the gender differences in subject material among Deseret Book writers. This renews the discussion brought up by Taryn Nelson-Seawright on the same difference existing in other Mormon outlets. Explanations abound for this phenomena, ranging from differing preferences to piggy discrimination, but most of them are sort of boring. Here’s one that is at least slightly more interesting:
Why Europeans look lazy
It is a well established fact that Europeans perform vastly less formal market work than Americans. A less known fact is that this is a recent development— in the late 50s, Europeans worked about 10% more hours, but this has been in steady decline for 40 years, until now they work about 30% fewer hours than Americans.
Camels, Needles, Heaven
Rich people who pay tithing are, by all accounts, still losers compared to the poor. Or, anyway, though their ten percent is a lot more money, it is money that had little effect on their life and so is not a very impressive sacrifice. Thus their salvation is put in jeapardy by diminishing marginal returns! How does the Kingdom deal with this?