Over the longer run, of course, the best protection against catastrophes, whether foreseen or unforeseen, is a society that is rich enough, and diverse enough, to be well-prepared for all sorts of contingencies. Which means that economic growth, and the freedom that produces it, may be the best guarantor of safety for us all. A rich society can afford to worry about things that a poorer one wouldn't have the resources to think about. A rich society can take steps to prevent disasters before they happen. And a rich society is better positioned to survive disasters once they occur, even if they are completely unforeseen, or unforeseeable.
31.12.2004 um 08:45 Uhr
28.12.2004 um 08:06 Uhr
21.12.2004 um 17:55 Uhr
21.12.2004 um 08:01 Uhr
Der amerikanische Rechtsprofessor Richard B. Ebstein über den Sinn der relativer statt absoluter Messung von Wohlstand (Hoover Digest):
But in the long run, does it really make sense to judge our lives against the lives of others? Should we mark our progress relative to those around us or in terms of absolute progress?
Consider the following example. One representative English study of infant mortality, the Acheson Report, reported deaths per 1,000 in Yorkshire in 1900 that ranged from 247 for the poorest working-class groups to 94 for the wealthiest. That’s a ratio of about 2.5 to 1. Today, a century later, the Acheson Report finds that the ratio remains 2.5 to 1. That’s clearly outrageous. Although 100 years has passed, the poor still die in infancy at a rate more than double that of the rich.
But now consider that, although the ratio remained the same, the top figure had declined for the low-income group from 247 deaths per 1,000 in 1900 to 8.1 per 1,000 in 2000, and from 94 deaths per 1,000 to 3.1 per 1,000 for the wealthy. In other words, for both groups, the rate is now about 30 times lower than it was.
My question is, Why worry about the persistence of inequality in the face of such massive improvement across the entire spectrum? And why worry when, in absolute terms, the improvements are far greater for the least-fortunate classes than for the rich?
20.12.2004 um 07:56 Uhr
.. is a viable political strategy, so long as the goose does not die before the next election.
Der amerikanische Ökonom Thomas Sowell über die Logik kurzfristig orientierter, Wählerstimmen maximierender Politik. Sein Portrait in der aktuellen Ausgabe des Hoover Digest.
16.12.2004 um 01:23 Uhr
Don Boudreaux vom Cafe Hayek macht seinem Namen als Meister der politökonomischen Fabel mit einem Vergleich zwischen Kaufhausweihnachtsmännern und Politikern alle Ehre:
Consider the similarities: each Santa sits upon a throne and receives from stangers demands for free goodies. Each child who asks for things from Santa asks for these somethings free of charge. Others – Santa and his elves – bear the full cost of supplying little Johnny with his bicycle and little Suzie with her doll. Therefore, from the perspective of each child, requests made to Santa are costless – there’s no reason to hold back. Each child will request many more toys than he or she would buy if he or she had personally to pay the cost of making the toys.
Politicians are surpringly like shopping-mall Santas.
Each elected official is routinely approached by representatives of this and that special-interest group – sugar farmers, labor unions, the steel industry, the textile industry, the plastic-bag industry, and on and on and on. Each lobbyist asks elected officials for some special favor, usually a privilege that must be paid for by third parties. There’s little reason, therefore, for lobbyists to moderate their requests. So they ask and ask and keep on asking. It's actually quite a child-like arrangement. (Indeed, just as children often bellyache and whine when Christmas morning reveals that Santa did not fulfill every wish, interest groups often bellyache and whine when government doesn’t come through with every requested special privilege.)
But clearly the amount of society’s resources used to make toys will be excessive. Each child who registered his or her demands with a shopping-mall Santa was unconstrained in doing so. Likewise, in seeking to satisfy as far as politically possible each child's request, each Santa is spending other people’s money. The world would have far too many toys and too little of those things that children don't fancy.
We should be jolly happy that each shopping-mall Santa in fact immediately forgets each child’s request the moment each child hops down from his knee. Too bad members of Congress take their role as Santa much more seriously.
15.12.2004 um 01:18 Uhr
Der Bonner Soziologe Erich Weede in der aktuellen Ausgabe des Independent Review über die politischen Hintergründe für die Beharrlichkeit des Protektionismus und die Potentiale von internationalem Handel für Wohlstand, Demokratie und Frieden:
Free trade is vulnerable. If foreigners are perceived as a cause of the need to adjust, then attacking free trade becomes politically attractive. After all, no politician benefits from the affection of foreigners who cannot vote. Of course, economists who insist on the benefits of free trade (even if your trading partner does not practice free trade) are right. Benefits include serving customers better at lower prices, but also faster growth of total factor productivity (Edwards 1998; OECD 2003, 89). The benefits of free trade, however, tend to be dispersed widely, whereas its costs (for example, certain bankruptcies and job losses) tend to be concentrated and more visible. Therefore, the political case against free trade may become very strong despite the weakness of the economic argument.
Because globalization may require Western welfare states to accept either widening income inequality or high unemployment (given their fairly rigid labor markets), protectionism remains a politically attractive cure. In politics, competition does not guarantee a movement toward greater efficiency or economic freedom. For special interests—owners and workers of enterprises threatened by foreign competition, and politicians willing to serve them rather than the much bigger, but silent constituency of consumers—academic support may be crucial in legitimating their claims (Bhagwati 1991, 6). Even if material well-being were one’s only concern, it would be extremely important to resist the protectionist temptation. Protectionism harms consumers, reduces the speed of wealth-enhancing structural change, and diminishes opportunities for employees to move to better-paid jobs producing for global markets.
Einer empirischen Analyse der friedensfördernden Wirkung der Globalisierung schließt er folgende Schlußfolgerungen an:
On the one hand, globalization promises to enlarge the market and therefore to increase the division of labor and to speed productivity gains and economic growth. On the other hand, it remains under attack from special-interest groups and misguided political activists. Critics of globalization not only forget both the benefits of free trade and globalization for developing countries and for their poor and underemployed workers and the benefits of free trade to consumers everywhere, but they know almost nothing about the international-security benefits of free trade. Quantitative research has established the viability and prospect of a capitalist peace based on the following causal links between free trade and the avoidance of war: first, there is an indirect link running from free trade or economic openness to prosperity and democracy and ultimately to the democratic peace; second, trade and economic interdependence by themselves reduce the risk of military conflict. By promoting capitalism, economic freedom, trade, and prosperity, we simultaneously promote peace.
Conceivable instruments to promote capitalism, economic freedom, free trade, and prosperity include advice about the institutional and legal foundations of capitalism and economic policies. Such advice is more likely to be persuasive if Western societies provide models for emulation to poor and conflict-prone countries. Open markets in rich countries for exports from poor countries generate credibility for free-market institutions and policies. They complement export-oriented growth strategies in poor countries. FDI (Ausländische Direktinvestitionen) by private enterprises and even donations from private Western sources to poor countries are more likely to have a positive effect on the growth path of poor countries than will official development aid, which tends to strengthen the state at the expense of free markets. The more capitalist the rich counties become, the more they provide an effective model for emulation to poor countries as well as a market and a source of technology and investment. By resistance to protectionism and to the creeping socialism of the welfare state, Western nations may simultaneously strengthen their own economies, improve the lot of the poor in the Third World, and contribute to the avoidance of conflict and war.
14.12.2004 um 01:43 Uhr
Die paternalistische Motivation indes, nach der manche Menschen zu ihrem Glück gezwungen werden müßten, stelle schon eine größere Gefahr da. Schließlich sei die Anmaßung einiger Eliten, dem Rest der Bevölkerung die eigenen Lebensentwürfe aufzudrängen, schon jetzt überall zu beobachten: im Umweltschutz ebenso wie in den aktuellen "Kreuzzügen gegen Tabak und Fettleibigkeit". Das demokratische Mehrheitsprinzip verhindere hier nur die schlimmsten Übergriffe. Auch die auf "soziale Gerechtigkeit" zielende distributive Motivation werde so bald nicht verschwinden. Auch Liberale täten sich oftmals mit der ungleichen Einkommensverteilung schwer, die sich aus dem natürlichen Marktprozeß ergeben könne. Doch auch dieses Motiv ist nach Buchanan nicht dominant: Die Armen neigten vergleichsweise wenig dazu, die Reichen im Zuge des demokratischen Prozesses auszubeuten.
10.12.2004 um 18:02 Uhr
Warum sind Linkshänder selten und dennoch nicht ausgestorben? Französische Wissenschaftler meinen, dass es mit einem strategischen Vorteil bei gewaltsamen Auseinandersetzungen zu tun haben könnte:
IT IS hard to box against a southpaw, as Apollo Creed found out when he fought Rocky Balboa in the first of an interminable series of movies. While “Rocky” is fiction, the strategic advantage of being left-handed in a fight is very real, simply because most right-handed people have little experience of fighting left-handers, but not vice versa. And the same competitive advantage is enjoyed by left-handers in other sports, such as tennis and cricket.
As any schoolboy could tell you, winning fights enhances your status. If, in prehistory, this translated into increased reproductive success, it might have been enough to maintain a certain proportion of left-handers in the population, by balancing the costs of being left-handed with the advantages gained in fighting. If that is true, then there will be a higher proportion of left-handers in societies with higher levels of violence, since the advantages of being left-handed will be enhanced in such societies. Dr Faurie and Dr Raymond set out to test this hypothesis.
Fighting in modern societies often involves the use of technology, notably firearms, that is unlikely to give any advantage to left-handers. So Dr Faurie and Dr Raymond decided to confine their investigation to the proportion of left-handers and the level of violence (by number of homicides) in traditional societies.
By trawling the literature, checking with police departments, and even going out into the field and asking people, the two researchers found that the proportion of left-handers in a traditional society is, indeed, correlated with its homicide rate. One of the highest proportions of left-handers, for example, was found among the Yanomamo of South America. Raiding and warfare are central to Yanomamo culture. The murder rate is 4 per 1,000 inhabitants per year (compared with, for example, 0.068 in New York). And, according to Dr Faurie and Dr Raymond, 22.6% of Yanomamo are left-handed. In contrast, Dioula-speaking people of Burkina Faso in West Africa are virtual pacifists. There are only 0.013 murders per 1,000 inhabitants among them and only 3.4% of the population is left-handed.
08.12.2004 um 15:09 Uhr
Im Durchschnitt arbeitet ein Deutscher 2 Stunden und 35 Minuten pro Kalendertag.
Aus Olaf Gersemann empfehlenswerten Buch Amerikanische Verhältnisse. Eben erst begonnen, ist die englische Fassung eine außerordentlich interessante Informationsquelle.
06.12.2004 um 18:10 Uhr
Steve Hanke, Professor an der amerikanischen Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore argumentiert im Forbes-Magazine, dass nicht nur die Chinesen, Unwetter und die politische Instabilität in den Ölförderregionen, sondern auch der amerikanische Staat durch den Aufbau seiner strategischen Erdölreserven einen ordentlichen Anteil an den jüngst gestiegenden Weltrohölpreisen hat:
What's missing is the inventory story. In November 2001 George W. Bush ordered the government to purchase oil and fill its reserve to full capacity of 700 million barrels. The reserve, at 670 million barrels, now accounts for 70% of U.S. oil inventories. While the stockpile's growth has left the nation's total oil inventories 10.6% higher than in December 2001, it has crowded out private stock-building, with private stocks declining by 9.2%.
The government's weight in the market for storage has been significant in pushing prices to such extraordinary levels. Many people have trouble swallowing this fact. They think government purchases are nothing more than a drop in the bucket and couldn't possibly have much effect on oil prices. To make their case, they trot out statistics about how small government purchases have been--only 1.3% of oil imports in 2004 and minuscule fractions of total U.S. consumption or world output. But this is comparing apples and oranges. If we just look at changes in inventories since December 2001, the changes in the government stocks dwarf those in private inventories.
I estimate that the government's buildup of oil stocks has added at least $10 to the price of a barrel. That's the bad news. The good news is that the government's reserve is scheduled to be at full capacity in May 2005. From that point on it will be much easier for private companies to build stocks. Indeed, when the government stops building inventories, enough oil will be freed up so that private stocks could rise to their 2001 levels in six months. A $10 decline in price is plausible.
Dass der Sinn einer strategischen Erdölreserve generell zweifelhaft ist, beschreibt Arnold Kling in Oil Econ 101.