October, 2008

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Question on The Price of Everything

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

In Russ Roberts’ novel, Professor Lieber suggests how order in the economic system results from prices even when pricing behavior seems cruel or beyond understanding.  Evaluate how complete her argument is.  Does she consider all the benefits and costs such pricing decisions impose?  Why is such logic so difficult when applied in a social or governmental decision process?

Question for Week 2 of Hayek

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

According to Hayek, legislation and law are both necessary components of a free society.  In society’s evolution, the consequences of any given rule may not be seen immediately.  By the time the flaw is perceived, it may be necessary to legislate to correct the path.  Thus, legislation and law are both essential to a free and responsible society.  What is the significance of Hayek’s distinction between “law” and “legislation” in understanding his conception of social order?  What role would Hayek assign to each one in shaping a free society?


Oct 16 Discussion Question

Monday, October 13th, 2008

Note that your short (!) essays are due by Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m. The target should be no more than 300 words. Long essays usually demonstrate too little thought. Short essays can demonstrate that as well, so impress us all with your writing and thinking abilities.

Hayek takes what appear to be contradictory positions; on one hand he celebrates liberty while on the other hand celebrating spontaneous or emergent order. Doesn’t Hayek’s institutional Darwinism rule out discussions of what types of orders are to be preferred? Why is liberty so important to him if order is grown, not made. Isn’t liberty a conscious construct rather than a grown one? Or is he simply assuming that more liberal orders will outperform less liberal ones so we do not need to concern ourselves with constructing liberal institutions?

Repugnant markets

Friday, October 10th, 2008

The following link is to the transcript of a program from the BBC. Economist Tim Harford is the narrator. It raises several interesting questions about repugnant markets.

Should dwarf tossing be banned? When France banned dwarf tossing it put human missiles out of business and one has sued in the US Court of Human Rights. He lost. If people do not object to dwarf tossing would they also not object to jew, muslim, or mormon tossing?

What about selling body parts such as kidneys? Apparently many men in the Philippines are willing to sell one of theirs.

Or cadavar skin for penis enlargements?

This from the program transcript:

(Music)  Providing immediate transplants, both cadaver and live, in 
countries concerned with providing safe and legal procedures is our 
primary goal.  The cost for a kidney or pancreas is 140,000 US dollars.  
The cost for a heart, lung or liver is 290,000 US dollars.  These costs 
include travel and all hospital fees.  There are no additional costs.
HARFORD:	The text of our little advertisement 
comes from a genuine website, based in California, selling organs for 
transplant overseas.  And frankly, it all sounds disgusting. Yet distasteful or 
not, there is a serious problem to be solved. Four hundred people die each 
year on the UK waiting list for an organ, and about 3,500 die waiting for a 
kidney in the US. 

POSTREL:	People get to think oh how heroic it 
is, these people donating their kidneys!  Isn’t that wonderful?  I get a 
happy glow from it!  And they want to keep it as a heroic, 
uncompensated act because it makes them feel good.  Never mind 
that you know tens of thousands of people are dying for your right to 
feel good about other people’s heroic acts.

Here is the post: http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/spl/hi/programmes/analysis/transcripts/12_07_07.txt

I’m a dung beetle!

Monday, October 6th, 2008

To start with, I sincerely doubt that Smith, Mandeville, or Schumpeter would have changed any of their opinions when it comes to the economy and how it is run. They each had an individualistic view of the economy and how it works, much like I am sure each of us, the students, will have differing opinions of what this means economically speaking relative to the Tropical region of the South American continent.

Part of my reasoning for this is that I believe that the systems that we viewed in this book relate very closely to what can be seen in any evolved society economically. There are those who work for the betterment of their local areas in the sloth-like manner of trying to keep what they know will help their individual household, or tree in this case, in the best condition possible. There are those who, like the ants, have developed their individual niche in the sub-economy they are involved in. The ants would even reject the larger, defending ants when they were no longer necessary for the survival of the colony, but while they were needed they were subservient to their masters, much like our army and citizens are obedient to the laws and rules put in place by the government.

Taking this to another level from individual, the Tropical rainforests also had times where things didn’t always appear in the best of circumstances. Early on in the book there was mention of the trees that would fall and how they would be replaced at an alarming rate. Individuals such as the balsa tree would step up and take the place of immensely strong trees that had fallen and left gaps in their stead. How frequently do individuals take the place of their predecessors on a temporary basis as they do not have the individual strength to stay filling the gaps that presented themselves?

The last grouping I will mention here is the botfly parasite, then the acclaimed dung beetle. The botfly parasite that was presented in “Jerry’s Maggot” is significant in society too; I know this will probably be used against me by those who read this, but in our society there are those who seem to be little more than an infestation of our well-being. Even with them, as we allow them to grow at their own pace, they will emerge to a point they will be able to survive on their own, unluckily in the botfly case, it was right before death.

In all reality, each and every class, system, and organization can be viewed comparatively to the tropical systems on a microeconomic level as well as the macroeconomic level. Through reading this book I understand more that all the seemingly detrimental fluctuations present in the economy today are nothing more than the natural course of economies as a whole.

Now, as to dung beetle question, if I had to name a group that closely related to the dung beetles, I would have to say that would be college students. We take all the crap we have to from our teachers; many of us are involved in the dating process in the course of doing this; and quite frankly, it is a battle to simply get to that point.


Price gouging

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

I received the following from Ryan Yonk, a former USU student:

So Atlanta for some reason I can’t quite fathom has limited gasoline supplies, and I betting it would get better not worse while I was on vacation chose not to fill up and came home to a near tank and gas at few stations. Driving home tonight I had underline had to get gas or I wasn’t going anywhere tomorrow and finally at Kroger of all place I found gas, and I must say I had warm feelings for the mega corp. When I got out to buy gas the man at the pump next me was complaining loudly that he didn’t understand why the price was so high , and that it wasn’t right that they were gouging for the gas he needed. And the price was high, really high, like 5.25 per gallon, but my only thought as a stood pumping what must be gold infused gasoline was oh thank god Kroger is “gouging” and they have some left for me to be gouged with.