Assorted Links (8/1/2013)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading and videos that I have been viewing lately:

How ObamaCare Inflates the Cost of Cancer Treatment

American Enterprise Institute resident fellow Scott Gottleib on how ObamaCare hurts cancer patients. See for a PDF copy of the Wall Street Journal article that this video interview is based upon.

How Obama Neglects the Poor

Quoting from today’s WSJ op-ed by AEI President Art Brooks, “”Growing inequality isn’t just morally wrong,” Mr. Obama said on July 24 in Illinois. “It’s bad economics.” That is abundantly true, but not in the way he intended. He meant income inequality. But the real problem—and crisis—is declining opportunity.”

Inside the Phone-Plan Pricing Puzzle

Quoting from this article, “The four major carriers offer a total of nearly 700 combinations of smartphone plans—a family of five alone would have more than 250 options to choose from… “It is always a cumbersome, somewhat root canalish experience… I consider myself to be pretty educated but it makes me want to stick a fork in my eye,” said Erin Riordan, of Naperville, Ill., who has five children and manages an account with six lines from AT&T that produces a $495 monthly bill.”

Is Education Nationalization Falling Apart?

“Education nationalizers must realize that Americans, largely, do not want overt federal control over what their schools teach and how their kids are tested.”

Obama’s Creeping Authoritarianism

“Daniel Henninger writes that President Obama is moving away from checks and balances toward a system of laws imposed by a national leader.”

A CEO’s-Eye View of ObamaCare

“In The Wall Street Journal, CKE Restaurants CEO Andrew Puzder says it’s no wonder the employer mandate for ObamaCare was delayed, because it’s hard to see how it will work.”

Morris Fiorina on Polarization, Stability, and the State of the Electorate

This podcast provides a very compelling analysis of the ongoing polarization in US politics. Quoting from this podcast summary, “Morris Fiorina, the Wendt Family Professor of Political Science and Hoover Institution Senior Fellow at Stanford University, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of the American electorate and recent election results. Fiorina argues that while the Republican and Democratic parties are more extreme than they were in the past, there has been only modest change in the character of the American electorate. Fiorina discusses these differences in light of recent election results which show an inability of either party to sustain control of the Presidency or the Congress.”

Now That It’s in the Broadband Game, Google Flip-Flops on Network Neutrality

“In a dramatic about-face on a key internet issue yesterday, Google told the FCC that the network neutrality rules Google once championed don’t give citizens the right to run servers on their home broadband connections, and that the Google Fiber network is perfectly within its rights to prohibit customers from attaching the legal devices of their choice to its network.”

Detroit’s High Property Taxes

“The Detroit tax rates are generally twice as high as the U.S. averages.”

Overturning Bloomberg’s Big Beverage Ban, Appeals Court Notes That Mountain Dew Is Not Malaria

“Today a state appeals court panel unanimously ruled that the New York Board of Health exceeded its regulatory authority when it enacted Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s big beverage ban.”

Stigler on Obama

“(Economics Nobel Laureate) George Stigler said the important questions are rather (1) Does such minimum wage legislation diminish poverty? and (2) Are there efficient alternatives? The answers are no and yes respectfully.”

Francis S. Collins: By the Book

“As an atheist evolving to agnosticism, and seeking answers to whether or not belief in God is potentially rational, my life was turned upside down 35 years ago by reading C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity.” —Francis Collins

North Carolina Ends Teacher Tenure, Teachers Will Now Have to Be Good at Their Jobs to Keep Them

“Republican legislators in North Carolina have pushed through a proposal to revoke lifetime tenure for the state’s public school teachers.”

Maybe falling homeownership isn’t so bad

“It’s now at an 18-year low, reversing President George W. Bush’s push to boost ‘the American Dream.’ Too bad it was a nightmare for millions.”

A Big, Tiny Deal on Student Loans

“Taxpayer-backed loans that go to almost anyone have been a sweet-sounding disaster, encouraging people to consume education they aren’t willing or able to complete; prodding people who are college-ready to demand things that have little or nothing to do with education; and fueling rampant price inflation throughout the system.”

Aside From That, Mrs. Lincoln, How’s ObamaCare Implementation Going?

“The Washington Post overlooks an iceberg-sized hole in ObamaCare’s hull.”

Narlikar on Fair Trade and Free Trade

The podcast provides some very interesting (and somewhat counterintuitive) thought experiments concerning the economics of the fair trade movement. For any followers of my blog who might be interested in this topic (as well as the broader topic of development economics), let me also recommend another podcast featuring Duke University economist Mike Munger on this topic; he also outlines various unintended consequences of fair trade (see Finally, there’s the monograph by an economist named Victor Claar entitled “Fair Trade? Its Prospects as a Poverty Solution” (see

Feds Seize $841,883 from Used Car Dealer Accused of—Well, Nothing

“Reza Ella, an Iranian-American who owns a car dealership in Albuquerque, New Mexico, may or may not be a criminal. Federal prosecutors don’t know or won’t say. But last September, they seized $841,883 from Ella anyway because the man deposited it in increments of less than $10,000.”

The college-athletics business: Basket cases

“Student athletes seek a cut of their sports’ profits.”

Retirement benefits: Who pays the bill?

“DETROIT may be an extreme case of fiscal incontinence. But its bankruptcy highlights a long-term problem faced by many American cities and states; how to fund generous pension and health-care promises that are no longer affordable.”

Fire with Fire

“Both cancer and HIV are two of the deadliest diseases that afflict humanity. But what if there was a way you could turn them against each other? These incredible scientists engineered the HIV virus to seek and destroy cancer cells.”

Have prisoners learned not to snitch?

“They finally tested the ‘prisoner’s dilemma’ on actual prisoners – and the results were not what you would expect”

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