Pete Boettke’s On A Roll

Lynne Kiesling

While I was otherwise engaged this week, Pete Boettke was on a roll over at Austrian Economists. First was this post about economic discourse, building off of earlier posts by Tyler Cowen and Greg Mankiw, both addressing various aspects of how economists develop and communicate their ideas. Pete picks up on the apparent time inconsistency of Paul Krugman’s claims and how he communicates them. Pete worries about an increase in incoherence of economic arguments as the number and variety of communication outlets proliferate; he worries so much that it turns his natural optimism to pessimism. I’m not that inclined to become a pessimist, myself. Won’t good ideas continue to drive out bad, and good argumentation drive out bad? Sure, it’s not instantaneous, and sometimes policymakers are too swayed by economic demagoguery. But the proliferation of outlets brings out good discourse as well as bad, and increases the transparency and ability to observe and monitor quality. That’s a healthy dynamic.

Pete’s post from today about transition analysis looks very promising. I think it will help me construct a framework for analyzing institutional change in electric power, something that I’ll be spending quite a bit of time on in the next year.

Profits: Apple and Intel Going Opposite Directions

Lynne Kiesling

Earlier this week Apple announced its quarterly profits for Q2; profits increased by 48 percent. Unexpectedly continued strong iPod sales combined with a 61 percent increase in sales of laptop computers. What the WaPo article doesn’t say, but I saw in other places, is that the power and operating system flexibility of the Intel dual core chip laptops fueled that 61 percent increase.

Sadly for Intel, though, their profits fell 57 percent relative to the same quarter last year. One reason for that is the competition with AMD in the chip market that I mentioned a few weeks ago. The Red Herring article linked above focuses on the importance of sales and marketing strategies, not price competition, as the way they can find success. It’s not just the technical capability of your chip, it’s how you sell it. I think that’s important. Recall that I noticed the AMD ads in the airport, but have taken no notice of any Intel marketing that might be out there (even if I’m not the target market).

This is the perennial gale of creative destruction in action, and it’s fascinating to watch. Well, it’s fascinating to me!

Seminar: Freedom, Tolerance, and Civil Society

Lynne Kiesling

The radio silence from yours truly has been due to the concatenation (one of my favorite words) of two events: a project deadline today and my participation as a faculty member in the Institute for Humane Studies seminar Freedom, Tolerance, and Civil Society (note the serial comma, so there, Tom!). I gave three lectures on basic concepts in economics that apply to living together in civil society: the dynamics of how markets work and of prohibition, unintended consequences, and how property rights and ownership induce personal responsibility and self-regulation.

As with most IHS seminars, I got better than I gave; I learned more from the students and my colleagues than I taught. This seminar in particular focused on civil liberties, so it engaged my brain on topics I had not examined critically in quite some time: the drug war, prostitution, gambling, assisted suicide, smoking bans, gun ownership, school choice, and occupational licensing.

The arguments for individual liberty and personal autonomy in these areas is both practical and moral, and I believe we discussed them all (which is why I’m so bloody tired at the end of the week!). The practice of state paternalism directly contravenes liberty and autonomy, and induces the individual capability for self-regulation to atrophy. It also deteriorates community ties.

But this is not my area of expertise, so I will defer to other more knowledgeable and eloquent parties on these topics, such as Radley Balko. For me, it was a great learning experience.

Seminar: Freedom, Tolerance, and Civil Society

Lynne Kiesling

The radio silence from yours truly has been due to the concatenation (one of my favorite words) of two events: a project deadline today and my participation as a faculty member in the Institute for Humane Studies seminar Freedom, Tolerance, and Civil Society (note the serial comma, so there, Tom!). I gave three lectures on basic concepts in economics that apply to living together in civil society: the dynamics of how markets work and of prohibition, unintended consequences, and how property rights and ownership induce personal responsibility and self-regulation.

As with most IHS seminars, I got better than I gave; I learned more from the students and my colleagues than I taught. This seminar in particular focused on civil liberties, so it engaged my brain on topics I had not examined critically in quite some time: the drug war, prostitution, gambling, assisted suicide, smoking bans, gun ownership, school choice, and occupational licensing.

The arguments for individual liberty and personal autonomy in these areas is both practical and moral, and I believe we discussed them all (which is why I’m so bloody tired at the end of the week!). The practice of state paternalism directly contravenes liberty and autonomy, and induces the individual capability for self-regulation to atrophy. It also deteriorates community ties.

But this is not my area of expertise, so I will defer to other more knowledgeable and eloquent parties on these topics, such as Radley Balko. For me, it was a great learning experience.