D. G. Myers on Cancer, Dying, and Living @ EconTalk

I highly recommend this recent EconTalk interview with literary critic D.G. Myers. Here’s the summary:

D.G. Myers, literary critic and cancer patient, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the lessons he has learned from receiving a cancer diagnosis six years ago. Myers emphasizes the importance of dealing with cancer honestly and using it as a way to focus attention on what matters in life. The conversation illuminates the essence of opportunity cost and the importance of allocating our time, perhaps our scarcest resource, wisely. The last part of the conversation discusses a number of literary issues including the role of English literature and creative writing in American universities.

More: D. G. Myers on Cancer, Dying, and Living | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty.

Thank you Russ Roberts and D.G. for engaging in and sharing this wonderful conversation.

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The two-million-Dollar teacher: TeachersPayTeachers.com empowers educators, lets them earn big $$$

From Reason.tv:

In 2006, a New York City public school teacher named Paul Edelman launched Teachers Pay Teachers, an online marektplace that lets educators sell digital copies of their classroom materials for small amounts of money.  …

The site is so popular because its addressing a major problem in public education. Schools often fail to provide teachers with basic lesson plans, leaving them to create their own materials from scratch, even when there are tens of thousands of other educators around the country teaching the exact same subject matter.

More: The Two-Million-Dollar Teacher: An Online Marketplace Empowers Educators and Lets Them Earn Big $$$ – Reason.com.

Related: Cato Institute on education policy reform.

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July 4, 2014 · 10:34 pm

Independence in 1776; Dependence in 2014: Individuals, businesses, nonprofits become hooked on subsidies and tools of the state.

The above is a condensed version of an excellent observation by Chris Edwards. More:

the number of federal subsidy programs has almost doubled since 1990 …

The growth in subsidies may be good for the politicians, but it is terribly corrosive for American society. Each subsidy program costs money and creates economic distortions. Each program generates a bureaucracy, spawns lobby groups, and encourages more people to demand further benefits from the government.

Individuals, businesses, and nonprofit groups that become hooked on subsidies essentially become tools of the state. They have less incentive to innovate, and they shy away from criticizing the hand that feeds them. Government subsidies are like an addictive drug, undermining American traditions of individual reliance, voluntary charity, and entrepreneurialism.

The rise in the size and scope of federal subsidies means that Americans are steadily losing their independence. That is something sobering to think about on July 4.

Chris Edwards, Independence in 1776; Dependence in 2014 | Cato @ Liberty.

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July 3, 2014 · 9:45 pm

#freespeech #CampaignFinance: Give me power to thwart my competition

Economist Donald J. Boudreaux makes a compelling argument against campaign finance restrictions in a letter to Roll Call.  He is responding to a report on a joint resolution for a Constitutional Amendment (S J Res 19) sponsored by Senator Tom Udall. An excerpt from the letter:

Suppose that Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, and other of today’s successful automakers seek, and get, the power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to auto advertising.  Do you think that these incumbent automakers – whose brands are currently established and well-known – would never succumb to the temptation to use this power to protect themselves from the competition of upstart automakers?

Would you take at face value all the fine rhetoric from these incumbent automakers about the need to protect members of the car-buying public from being overwhelmed and misled by expensive and glitzy ads?  …

I suspect that most people would correctly see such an effort by incumbent automakers as being a scheme to restrict competition – a scheme that would benefit greedy incumbent automakers and make them less responsive to the general public.

Read the whole letter: I’m Noble: Give Me the Power to Protect Myself from Competition.

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Taking a Walk May Lead to More Creativity than Sitting, Study Finds

From the American Psychological Association:

When the task at hand requires some imagination, taking a walk may lead to more creative thinking than sitting, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.“Many people anecdotally claim they do their best thinking when walking,” said Marily Oppezzo, PhD, of Santa Clara University. “With this study, we finally may be taking a step or two toward discovering why.”

More: Taking a Walk May Lead to More Creativity than Sitting, Study Finds.

Via Steve Goldhaber.

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Contra Piketty: “wealth isn’t money or financial assets but, rather, ready access to real goods & services”

How Are We Doing? By W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm

The above is a quote from economist Don Boudreaux‘s review of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, published in Barrons:

Flaws aplenty mar Piketty’s telling of the capitalist saga, flaws that spring mainly from his disregard for basic economic principles. None looms larger than his mistaken notion of wealth.

Every semester, I ask my freshman students how wealthy they would be if they each were worth financially as much as Bill Gates but were stranded with all those stocks, bonds, property titles, and bundles of cash alone on a desert island. They immediately see that what matters is not the amount of money they have but, rather, what that money can buy. No principle of economics is more essential than the realization that, ultimately, wealth isn’t money or financial assets but, rather, ready access to real goods and services.

Piketty seems barely aware of this reality, focusing on differences in people’s monetary portfolios. He therefore ignores the all-important supply side: what people—rich, middle class, and poor—can buy with their money.  …

Read the whole review: Piketty: A Wealth of Misconceptions – Barron’s. (Via  Reviewing Piketty’s Blockbuster.)



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The Economics of Ghostbusters

A recent video from the excellent website EconStories.tv, comedian Andrew Heaton “discusses Ivan Reitman’s classic paranormal comedy Ghostbusters. Subjects include entrepreneurship, subjective value, regulatory interference, and ectoplasm!”

Also check out these excellent economics rap videos: Fear the Boom and Bust and Fight of the Century.


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