I’ll continue some discussion from the comments at TVHE here because it’s getting significantly off the topic of the original post.
I’ve come across quite a few people advocating breeding licenses in casual conversation, it doesn’t seem that much more repugnant to add a genetic element.
Some parents are bad, therefore we should stop them being parents. The unstated premise is that we have a wise and benevolent government capable of doing this. I don’t think eugenic thought is as anachronistic as you suggest. I’m guessing most people think eugenics was largely confined to Nazi Germany, and are unaware of the nastiness that happened in the States and elsewhere under liberal democratic governments. We’re not racist like those Nazis: we have nothing to worry about.
Eric Crampton replied:
Brad, I think we’ve got another example here of fiscal externalities generating meddlesome preferences – here of some of the…
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Unsurprisingly, pig farmers are using recent controversy in New Zealand over sow crates to argue for protection against international competition:
Blame imported pork for keeping sows in cramped stalls, say three Taranaki pig farmers.
The intensive farming practice of keeping breeding sows in stalls has been in the spotlight since TV1’s current affairs programme Sunday showed scenes filmed inside a Levin piggery.
But three of Taranaki’s 25 pig farmers say sow stalls are only one part of a very complex issue.
Taranaki District Pig Committee chairman Ted Gane said it was cheap imported pork, grown using sow stalls, that forced local farmers to use the same system to remain competitive.
“Currently 40 per cent of our meat comes from overseas and I can say that 100 per cent of that would come from sow stalls.” (…)
[Free-range Inglewood pig farmer Helen Foreman] believed without a duty or tax on imported pork…
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Bruce Yandle’s excellent paper Bootleggers and Baptists: The Education of a Regulatory Economist is required reading for anyone interested in politics. It’s also a fun read.
Indeed, the pages of history are full of episodes best explained by a theory of regulation I call “bootleggers and Baptists.” Bootleggers, you will remember, support Sunday closing laws that shut down all the local bars and liquor stores. Baptists support the same laws and lobby vigorously for them. Both parties gain, while the regulators are content because the law is easy to administer. Of course, this theory is not new. In a democratic society, economic forces will always play through the political mechanism in ways determined by the voting mechanism employed. Politicians need resources in order to get elected. Selected members of the public can gain resources through the political process, and highly organized groups can do that quite handily. The most successful ventures of this sort occur where there is an overarching public concern to be addressed (like the problem…
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