When @JeremyCorbyn talks more sense on #Syrianbombing than @NZGreens

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A Footnote to “Is the War on Drugs Racist?”

Zombie Meditations

In that essay, I quoted Frank Zimring’s position on the impact of the war on drugs on violent crime as so: He also argues (pp.90–99), correlating hospitalizations and deaths from overdose with changes in the known street price, that overall use of cocaine appears to have remained relatively constant across the period of time in which New York City’s crime drop took place. Yet, he notes (pp.91–92) that “The peak rates of drug–involved homicide occurred in 1987 and 1988”—the same year that 70% of arrestees were found to test positive for cocaine—“and the drop in the volume of such killings is steady and steep from 1993 to 2005. … The volume of drug–involved homicides in 2005 is only 5% of the number in 1990.” Meanwhile, whereas 70% of arrestees in the late 1980s tested positive for cocaine, by 1991 (see table 2 on page 14) this number hit a low of 62%—and in 1998…

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Deliberation Day

Too many, in Richard Posner’s view, want to remake democracy with the faculty workshop as their model. Such deliberation has demanding requirements for popular participation in the democratic process, including a high level of knowledge and analytical sophistication and an absence, or at least severe curtailment, of self-interested motives.

That is before we consider the considerable evidence that political deliberation polarises opinion rather than brings us together.

The Logical Place

The basic elements of Ackerman’s proposal for ‘Deliberation Day’ are as follows:

  • one week before major national elections, registered voters would be invited to meet in neighborhood meeting places (such as schools) for one day, to deliberate on the central issues raised in the election campaign;
  • this Deliberation Day would become a national holiday and deliberators would be paid $150 for their attendance, provided they showed up at the polls the next week;
  • deliberators would first meet in small groups of 15 to listen to a live TV debate between the principal candidates and to identify questions for discussion at a later plenary session of 500 people with local party representatives present to answer questions; and
  • deliberators would then reconvene in their small groups of 15 to share their reactions to the responses given by the party representatives to the plenary session.

An obvious advantage of this proposal would be…

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Director’s Law of public expenditure and the survival of the modern welfare state

Utopia - you are standing in it!

Sam Peltzman pointed out that most of modern public spending is supported by the median voter –  the ‘swinging’ voter. Governments at the start of the 20th century were a post office and a military. At the end of the 20th century, governments are a post office, a larger military and a very large welfare state.

Studies starting from Peltzman in 1980 showed that governments grew in line with the growth in the size and homogeneity of the middle class that was organised and politically articulate enough to implement a version of Director’s Law. George Stigler published an article on this law because Aaron Director published next to nothing for reasons no one understands. Director founded law and economics through teaching at the University of Chicago law school.

Director’s Law of public expenditure is that public expenditure is used primary for the benefit of the middle class, and is financed…

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