The global decline in child mortality

 

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How did Augustus become the first Roman Emperor?

The Logical Place

by Tim Harding

In 27BCE Gaius Octavius (‘Octavian’) in effect became the first Emperor of Rome, although this was not of one his official titles.  As part of this process, his name was changed by Senate decree to Augustus.  For all practical purposes, the Roman Emperor became a monarch, yet throughout Rome’s republican period, the Senate had resolutely opposed any return to the previous monarchy.  Indeed, this opposition has been given as one of the main reasons for the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44BCE (Cicero, III 82-83).  The purpose of this essay is to explore the reasons for this apparent paradox, and to suggest an explanation as to how Augustus was able overcome the Senate’s opposition to monarchy and become a king-like Emperor.

In order to better understand the Roman Senate’s aversion to the return of a monarchy, it is useful to consider the prior relationship between the Senate…

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If prison does not deter, why do low security prisoners fear maximum security?

About 15 to 20% of New Zealand prisoners are in maximum security. The rest of these prisoners are in medium to low security prisons where it is much easier to escape.

Most New Zealand prisoners have about 40 to 50 previous convictions, with serious and violent assaults (21%), sexual offences (20%), home invasions and burglary (14%), aggravated robbery and robbery (9%), and homicide (7%) which together add to 71%. Drug traffickers make up another 12%.

My point is most New Zealand prisoners are serious offenders but most of them can be trusted not to escape even when in low security and prison farms. The threat of returning to maximum security upon recapture is incentive enough to keep them on the straight and narrow.

There is quite a serious literature on how variations in prison conditions, prison overcrowding and deaths of prisoners acts as a deterrent. You do not have to watch all that many American TV shows to notice they plea-bargain with promises of a prison near their family, in a warmer climate and lower security rating. Maximum-security, far away and surrounded by gang members is more than enough to keep most prisoners in line.

The strongest argument that prison deters crime is made by opponents of 3 strikes legislation. They claim that without the prospect of parole, prisoners are be more difficult to manage in prison. That is an incentive argument, that the dim prospect that parole perhaps decades hence has powerful incentive effects. QED

James M. Buchanan, Public Choice, and the Political Economy of Desegregation

Vincent Geloso

A few months ago, the Southern Economic Journal made a “reject and resubmit” decision on a paper written with Phil Magness and Art Carden. We have recently completed this resubmission by rewriting the paper in order to focus on the issue of desegregation. The paper is available here on SSRN and the abstract is below:

Recent historical works, most notably the book ‘Democracy in Chains,’ advance the claim that 1986 Nobel Laureate James M. Buchanan developed his formative contributions to political economy amidst the segregationist response to the Brown v. Board of Education decision. This argument accordingly holds that the research agenda of public choice economics emerged from an opportunistic alliance with Virginia’s “Massive Resistance” to school integration, and should be situated within the racially tinged tradition of southern conservatism. While Buchanan wrote very little on the economics of race, an extensive review of archival evidence as well as his…

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After the “catastrophe signal’ – When science entered the policy greenhouse

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Bernie Lewin

A new book on the origins of the global warming movement tells how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was first pressed into policy based evidence making.

It was a single line in one report that read:

The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.

These words in the second assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change can now be seen as pivotal in the history of global warming science.

However tentative the wording, this was the first time that an official assessment had made a positive ‘detection’ claim.

The breakthrough was widely celebrated and then used to justify a change of US policy, towards support for binding greenhouse gas emissions targets.

But this came only after protests over what had been done to the IPCC report to make way for this statement. Just days before the US policy change…

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Climate Adaptation Economics

Science Matters

The Dutch solution to floods: live with water, don’t fight it. The same thing applies to climate change.

This post returns to the theme: Adapt, Don’t Fight Climate Change.  Matthew Kahn is Professor of Economics at USC and one of the more interesting thinkers with this POV. While IPCC scientists foresee climate change coming, Kahn and other economists foresee how societies will react to such forecasts by reallocating capital and shifting priorities.

More than once he has warned against listening to climatists when they make economic forecasts because they misunderstand how economic systems work. He is also critical of economists who forecast climate impacts while assuming societies and individuals are static victims, lacking any freedom to shift priorities, investments and locations, in other words to adapt as humans have always done.

Kahn resists any temptation to address the consensus understanding of the climate system, but rather sticks to his forte:…

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If Chile’s “Neoliberal” Experiment Is a Failure, Why Is the Nation More Prosperous than the Rest of Latin America?

International Liberty

One of the interesting things I’ve noticed in my world travels is that supporters of free markets and small government generally are known as “liberals” everywhere other than North America.

I think the rest of the world has the right idea. After all, folks like Adam Smith are considered “classical liberals,” so it’s bizarre that “liberal” now is used to describe anti-capitalists in America.

To muddy the waters even further, it’s not uncommon for modern supporters of capitalism to be called “neoliberals.”

Though I wonder if that’s supposed to a be a term of derision. When I’m called a neoliberal in other countries, it’s always by someone who is criticizing my support for economic liberty.

Professor Dani Rodrik of Harvard, in a column for the U.K.-based Guardian, is not a fan of neoliberalism. He acknowledges that the term is ill-defined, but recognizes that it means a less…

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