Sunday, October 28, 2007

Market Externalities in everything...

Routes of Infection: Exports and HIV Incidence in Sub-Saharan Africa

Free trade has externalities, including some of our most important diseases. (Also invasive species.)

Added to the Criticisms of Neoliberalism, Capitalism, and Free Markets index.

Very simply, trade has always been a substantial route for infection, including the black plague. Such externalities do not mean that trade should be stopped: rather they mean that efficiency should be improved by internalizing those costs of trade. Probably by government regulation, which may be the best of the second best alternatives.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Floating Utopias: The degraded imagination of the libertarian seasteaders

SF author China Mieville ridicules the numerous libertarian fantasy sea-states (such as the "Freedom Ship") that envision authoritarian class-based societies, but somehow never get built.

Based one chapter of Mike Davis and Daniel Bertrand Monk's book "Evil Paradises: Dreamworlds of NeoLiberalism".

Placed in the "Freedom Through Technology" index.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Market Failures in Everything: malaria net distribution

I started my "Market Failures in Everything series" in response to Tyler Cowan's "Markets in Everything" series. So I was pleasantly surprised when he published the following:

Tyler Cowen writes:
In 2000, a world health conference in Abuja, Nigeria, set a goal: by 2005, 60 percent of African children would be sleeping under nets. By 2005, only 3 percent were.

It turns out that handing nets out for free works much better than branding them, marketing them, and selling them, albeit at subsidized prices. And when there are enough insecticide-laden nets in a village, mosquitoes avoid the place altogether (after the very first net, however, the mosquitoes simply move on to another nearby hut).

The sad fact is that the best insecticide-filled nets last no more than three to five years. And is this good or bad news?

...sales of malaria pills were way down.

Here is the full and fascinating story. Eternal vigilance is the price of foreign aid, or something like that...

Market Failures in Everything: Malawi farming

How Malawi went from a nation of famine to a nation of feast

Removal of a system of public financing for the poorest farmers (as advocated by Western economic advisors) resulted in crop failures and starvation on a scale not seen except under communist regimes. Restoration of the programs resulted in massive surpluses providing much needed exports.

Thanks to Bob Harris at This Modern World

New Index!

Prompted by email from Robert D. Feinman, I've finally added a new index for:

Criticisms of George Mason U. Economics (and Mercatus)

The Economics department of George Mason University has been strongly shaped by tens of millions of dollars of donations by the libertarian Koch Foundations of the billionaire Koch brothers. Most, if not all, of the staff is affiliated with the Koch-financed Mercatus Center, a libertarian pro-corporatist think-tank. The result is a propaganda mill with academic credentials.

Notable libertarian ideologues at both include:

Peter Boettke
Bryan Caplan
Tyler Cowan
Alex Tabarrok

NEW 10/07: Koch Family Foundations
The foundations of the libertarian billionaire Koch brothers have funded the organizations that produce much of the libertarian and corporatist propaganda that floods the media. Notably, Cato, the Reason Foundation, the economics department at George Mason University, and many more. From Media Transparency.

NEW 10/07: Charles Koch and Libertarianism: How to "Buy" a University
Robert D. Feinman's overview of the financing of libertarian George Mason University faculty by Koch Foundations. Faculty such as Tyler Cowan, Alex Tabarrok, and Bryan Caplan. Sucking at the capitalist tit has never been so good!

Why I Am Not an Austrian Economist.
Bryan Caplan's dismissal of Austrian Economics. He's more courteous than they deserve.

(Additional note: when I mentioned these first two links at Cowan and Tabarrok's "Marginal Revolution" blog, my response mysteriously disappeared. Could have been a blunder posting, or could have been censorship.)

An answer to reflexive pro-market yammer.

What would a progressive trade agenda look like?
Dani Rodrik favors globalization, but with benefits more widely distributed, leveraging democracy, and respect for different cultural norms.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Strange bedfellows

Strange Bedfellows
The libertarian Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has a wacky set of positions against the FDA, public health, evidence-based medicine, Medicare, the new world order, abortion, evolution, handgun safety, homosexuality, illegal aliens, fluoridation, environmentalism, vaccination, etc. From Kathleen Seidel's neurodiversity weblog.

In the Make Or Break Views Of Libertarianism index.