Monthly Archives: March 2014

The repugnance of high salaries: Switzerland


Swiss Voters Reject High-Pay Initiative
Seems like there is something something to study about the repugnance of high pay,… Though in the end the swiss didn’t vote in favor of curtailing it…
“ZURICH—Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected an initiative that would have restricted executive salaries to 12 times that of the lowest-paid employee.
Roughly 65% of Swiss voters Sunday opposed the 1:12 Initiative for Fair Pay, according to results from all of the country’s 26 cantons reported by Swiss television. Another 34% supported the proposal, which was named for the organizers’ belief that no one in a Swiss company should earn more in a month than someone else makes in a year.”
and this is disappointing
“The youth wing of the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland, which organized the initiative, said the country had missed an opportunity to curb executive pay that it sees as spiraling out of control.
“We’re obviously disappointed at the result, but we were faced by opponents who ran a high-profile fear campaign,” said David Roth, the president of the youth wing, which is known as Juso. “One positive from the campaign, however, is that the issue of fair pay and a fair economy has been placed in the public domain.”
HT: Sandro Ambuehl had told me about this referendum

The repugnance of high salaries: Switzerland
Muriel Niederle
Mon, 25 Nov 2013 18:59:00 GMT

IER Comment on the “Social Cost of Carbon”

It is getting warmer.

The consequence of that and the value of the cost we should bear to reduce the warming are very open questions as far as I can tell.

If you are a true nerd about the global warming stuff, you should definitely get a cup of coffee some morning and spend a half hour carefully reading the Institute for Energy Research (IER) formal “comment” (submitted to the government) on the Social Cost of Carbon. However, if you have a shorter attention span, in two blog posts at IER I will summarize our key arguments.

Here’s the first post. An excerpt:

On the theoretical front, our main theme is that the “social cost of carbon” is not an objective fact of the world, analogous to the charge on an electron or the boiling point of water. Many analysts and policymakers refer to the “science being settled” and so forth, giving the impression that the SCC is a number that is “out there” in Nature, waiting to be measured by guys in white lab coats.

On the contrary, by its very nature the SCC is an arbitrary number, which is completely malleable in the hands of an analyst who can make it very high, very low, or even negative, simply by adjusting parameters. Precisely because the SCC even at a conceptual level is so vulnerable to manipulation in this fashion, the analysts giving wildly different estimates are not “lying.” As we will see, the estimates of the SCC in the peer-reviewed literature are all over the map, demonstrating that this is hardly a feature of the “outside world.”

IER Comment on the “Social Cost of Carbon”
Bob Murphy
Tue, 11 Mar 2014 21:29:17 GMT

Are we running out of antibiotics?


Nicole Allan of the Atlantic discusses why overuse of antibiotics is making them less effective.  The fact that antibiotics are less effective did not come as a surprise to many experts.  In fact, in 1945, “while accepting a Nobel Prize for discovering penicillin, Alexander Fleming warned of a future in which antibiotics had been used with abandon and bacteria had grown resistant to them.”  More recently, the director of the CDC stated that“If we’re not careful, we will soon be in a post-antibiotic era. In fact, for some patients and some microbes, we are already there.”

Overuse of antibiotics occurs due to:

  • Unnecessary use of antibiotics to combat viral, rather than bacterial, infections
  • Use of antibiotics in food. 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the U.S. each year are given to animals in order to help them gain weight faster or use less food to gain weight.

Disease that were previously entirely treatable with antibiotics have now evolved to make the antibiotics partly or entirely ineffective. Drug-resistant tuberculosis killed 170,000 people in 2012.

Are we running out of antibiotics?
Jason Shafrin
Sat, 08 Mar 2014 03:40:09 GMT

15 Inaccuracies in Common Science Illustrations


Your high school teachers had the best intentions, but they likely featured educational illustrations on the walls of their classrooms that weren’t telling you the whole truth.  Our friends at Mental Floss painstakingly point out 15 gross oversimplifications found in common science illustrations …
Read More

15 Inaccuracies in Common Science Illustrations
Big Think Editors
Sat, 01 Mar 2014 19:00:00 GMT



Let me just scroll down and check behind that rock. Annnnd ... nope, page copyright year starts with '19'. Oh God, is this a WEBRING?

Mon, 24 Feb 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Slavery Can’t Last in an Otherwise Free Market?? Maybe it can.

I think the conclusion below that slavery would always go away is wrong.

The suggestion is that labor is most valuable  when free because incentives are a much more cost-effective  way of  inducing  production that force.  So:  slaves could borrow and buy their  freedom; be more  productive; pay off the  loans; and enjoy their  more productive freedom.  Alternatively, other  capitalists could buy  the  slaves and put them to  work as free laborers driven by incentive not the whip.  The assumption being that the free state is  when labor is  most  valuable and markets put  resources  to their highest  and most valued use.

The problem  is I  think that perhaps the  wealth  distribution is different  with slavery.  Slave  owners are wealthier and may  have a ‘taste’ for  slaves.  Outside of  theory:  Slavery has a long history; and much research suggests  that  US  slavery would  have gone  on  for  a much  longer period, but for the  civil  war.


My latest at Mises Canada. To entice you, I’ll just quote the concluding paragraphs:

The above story is just to get the logic across. I am trying to show why, IF we agree with Mises that slavery is unproductive relative to free labor, that it could not last in an otherwise free market economy. Over time, incremental moves such as the above would transform the slaves into self-owners, because that would be the most efficient outcome, setting aside moral considerations.

Think of it like this: Imagine if, during the night, gnomes took all of the cartons of cigarettes from the homes of smokers, and deposited them in the homes of non-smokers. The legal system now said that the non-smokers were the owners. Wouldn’t market forces soon move the cigarettes back into the possession of the smokers?

By the same token, under a free market economy, if for some reason the property titles to particular human beings initially started out in the hands of other people, market forces would soon return everyone to a state of self-ownership.

Slavery Can’t Last in an Otherwise Free Market
Bob Murphy
Sat, 01 Mar 2014 19:54:07 GMT