By J.D. Alt
I recently outlined a sovereign spending structure for making “free” pre-school care and instruction available to every American child (Opportunities of a Millennium, Part 1). After further consideration, I realize the proposal glosses over a fundamental issue posed by sovereign spending itself: Should it “push” or should it “pull” at resources to achieve a given goal?
Here is what I mean: In the case of pre-school care and instruction, it would be possible to direct the sovereign spending in basically three ways. The first way is the classic “government program” model where the federal government establishes and staffs a public bureaucracy to provide the pre-school care. This model was ruled out in deference to the Boomer-GenX generation’s legitimate objections to “big government”—and especially big government programs which waste money and fail to accomplish their goals. This leaves two options for directing the sovereign spending.
By William K. Black
Slate is having a healthy, but incomplete, debate about the uproar about Brendan Eich’s resignation from Mozilla. Eich donated $1000 to the successful campaign to adopt “Proposition 8” in California in 2008. Prop 8, until it was struck down, banned marriage equality for gays. William Saletan published a satirical article suggesting that everyone be “purge[d]” who contributed to Prop 8.
Other columnists, such as Mark Stern, weighed in to remind readers about the cruelty of the often homophobic TV ad campaign used by Prop 8 supporters. Stern makes the point that much of the campaign was designed to picture gays as recruiting straight children. This column (eventually) discusses why Eich stepped down, but it begins by explaining why neoclassical economists have such a terrible track record in understanding discrimination and its remedies.
By William K. Black
I recently posted a detailed article in response to Raj Chetty’s lament that scientists make fun of economics’ pretense to science.
The thrust of my article was that the problem was not that economics was inherently incapable of becoming more scientific. The problem was that so many economists wear ideological blinders that recurrently cause them to perform a parody of the scientific method.
Chetty claimed that economists who are “testing precise hypotheses” in quantitative studies that exploit natural experiments are (finally, in 2013) “transforming economics into a field firmly grounded in fact.” Chetty’s metaphor is that economics is like epidemiology. (One assumes that his column is posted in the CDC’s common areas for the general amusement of epidemiologists.)