Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Military draft registration, now for women as well as men?

The recent discussions of draft registration for women have invited us to recall the discussions about conscription versus a volunteer army. This, from the Sunday NY Times:
Economists Against the Draft By BINYAMIN APPELBAUMFEB. 6, 2016

One argument that I hadn't recalled being made in just this way is that the wealthy manage to avoid drafts better than the poor, so that even a conscripted army tends to be manned (if that's still the right word) disproportionately by poorer people, but that at least the financial costs of a volunteer army fall on the taxpayers, while the financial costs of a conscripted army fall on the conscripts and their families.

The discussion about conscription versus a volunteer army brings up some issues that also arise in discussions about whether organ donors may be compensated.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A WSJ reporter prepares for Valentines Day by interviewing economists about dating sites

Here's a WSJ interview that mentions, among other things, Soo Lee and Muriel Niederle's experiment with virtual roses:

How Economists Would Fix Online Dating
A ‘thick’ market and cost-benefit analysis help avoid ‘romantic unemployment’

"One recent experiment in improving online dating sites through signaling mechanisms, conducted by economists Soohyung Lee and Muriel Niederle, gave members of a Korean dating site a limited number of virtual roses, meant to indicate special interest in a person, to include with their messages to potential matches. The result was that people were more likely to respond to those who sent them a rose..."

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Mishaps while flying transplant organs

This news story stopped with the plane, and doesn't say what happened to the organ...
No one hurt when jet scheduled to pick up donor organ slides off runway in Wheeling

Repugnance for money: The Other Paris, by Luc Sante

Paris is romanticized as the opposite of NY, and poverty as freedom from money, in this review in The Guardian of The Other Paris by Luc Sante

"“My book is a kind of love letter to the city as it was and before it got overtaken by money. Money, for me, may not immediately kill people in the way terrorism does, but it does certainly change the fabric of daily life in much deeper and more insidious ways. The terrorist may be defeated in 50 or 20 or 10 years, but money is going to be much harder to defeat.”

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Repugnant transactions in zoos

The NY Times ran the following story a little while ago:
Zoo’s Public Dissection of Lion Makes Denmark Again a Target of Outrage

"On Thursday, staff members at a zoo in Odense, the country’s third-largest city, publicly dissected the corpse of a 9-month-old lion in front of an audience including children. The lion, a healthy female, was put to death in February after the zoo sought in vain to find her another home.

"The move comes more than a year after another Danish zoo, in Copenhagen, generated global outrage when it killed a healthy 2-year-old giraffe named Marius, ostensibly to reduce the risk of inbreeding, before dissecting him and feeding him to lions.
"Ms. Christensen said the lion was put down to prevent inbreeding, since she was living in the same enclosure as her father and the two would have been likely to mate. The lion had since been kept in a freezer.

"She noted that while it was a preference in some countries, like the United States, to use contraception to keep zoo populations under control and prevent inbreeding, many zoos in Denmark and across Europe considered it better for animal welfare officers to let animals breed and express their natural instincts, even if that meant culling some of the offspring, as a last resort, for reasons of conservation."

Friday, February 5, 2016

The high end marijuana market in New York City

Jacob Leshno draws my attention to this article on how the legalization of marijuana in some U.S. locations (like Colorado, where I am this morning) is changing the black market in NYC:

Step inside New York City's marijuana black market in the era of legalization
Marijuana is a $2 billion-a-year industry in NYC. Like other small businesses, the city's dealers are adjusting to changing tastes and shrinking margins

"The city is full of high-end pot-delivery services in addition to solo dealers who make house calls. But with its gourmet edibles and pharmacy-like range of products, Zach’s business illustrates what the legalization wave nationwide is doing to the black market in New York.

"Zach collaborates with a professional pastry chef on the edibles but gets most of his inventory from California, where a lax medical-­marijuana program going back two decades has fueled a bustling gray market. Colorado, which has legalized recreational use, is another source. A network of local wholesalers saves him the trip out West."

And NYC now will have medical marijuana dispensaries as well...
First Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in New York Open

"Permitted under a 2014 law signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, New York’s entry into the medical marijuana marketplace comes after years of lobbying by lawmakers on behalf of patients, including children, for whom the drug is a palliative to debilitating illnesses. Yet even after the law’s adoption, some supporters of the concept criticized its stringent regulations, including that only a limited number of conditions qualify for medical use of marijuana and that it is sold in only 20 locations statewide. The drug also may not be smoked in New York, a stipulation of Mr. Cuomo’s approval, and must be processed into other forms by the companies that grow it.
"A late adopter to a trend that is now 20 years old, New York, in allowing medical marijuana, joins states as varied as conservative Montana and liberal California, which in 1996 became the first state to legalize the drug’s use as medicine. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia also allow the drug’s recreational use."

Thursday, February 4, 2016

W.P. Carey Lecture: Who Gets What and Why at Colorado College today

W.P. Carey Lecture:Who Gets What and Why 

with Nobel Laureate in Economics Alvin Roth

February 4, 2016

W.P. Carey Lecture: Who Gets What and Why with Nobel Laureate in Economics Alvin Roth 
Event Summary:Alvin Roth is the Craig and Susan McCaw professor of economics at Stanford University and the Gund professor of economics and business administration emeritus at Harvard University. Professor Roth has made significant contributions to the fields of game theory, market design and experimental economics, and is known for his emphasis on applying economic theory to solutions for "real-world" problems. In 2012, he won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences jointly with Lloyd Shapley for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design. The topic of Professor Roth's lecture will be "Who Gets What and Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design," also the topic of his most recent book. Books will be available for sale after the lecture. Reception following.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Repugnant transaction watch: IIT pupil tries to sell kidney to repay loan, but no takers for 'dalit organ'

Here's a story that is disturbing on several levels: IIT pupil tries to sell kidney to repay loan, but no takers for 'dalit organ'

"Short of options, Mahesh even began a search for a buyer for one of his kidneys.But he later told some friends that in the thriving black market for kidneys, people first asked a donor's caste.
Mahesh added, "I visited around five hospitals in Varanasi and Alwar. The doctors there informed me that no one would take my kidney as I am a dalit."