Bryan Caplan has offered to bet people on the ultimate validity of his beliefs against theirs. As Alex Tabarrok calls it, betting is "a tax on bullshit" and Bryan is calling BSers out. In other words, if you're not willing to place a wager on your beliefs or opinions or expectations, how valid are those beliefs, opinions, and expectations?
Now, Bryan and others can indeed bet (not legally in Virginia, however), but that doesn't mean anyone will collect. Some people place bets on things they believe at time t, but at time t+1, after their beliefs are proved wrong, they regret making the bet and refuse to pay up. Laws in most states (maybe all states, I don't want to search them all out right now) won't allow the winner to collect, so the bet simply goes unpaid.
But as Richard Posner argued about gratuitous promises made by family members, maybe we want them enforced to make them more valid. I mean, how valid is a promise from Uncle Ned that if you hit a homerun he'll take you to dinner if he repeatedly welshes on his promises? "Sure Uncle Ned, like that will ever happen."
The same applies to bets. Enforcing bets means that people will refrain from making them unless they have solid information that validates their beliefs and opinions. "Put your money where your mouth is," if enforced, makes your beliefs and opinions that much more credible because blowhards will have a tax (i.e., losing bet) imposed on them for voicing unsubstantiated opinions and beliefs.
It seems that Aaron Rodgers wanted to appear credible with his opinion about Ryan Braun's innocence, so he "bet" a year's worth of his salary on it. (See the twitter exchange below.) Ryan Braun just of course accepted a suspension from Major League Baseball for the remainder of the season for using PEDs. What's so frustrating to some is that he adamantly proclaimed his innocence and charged others (i.e., the media) of waging an unjust attack on his reputation and abilities.
Rodgers took the bait and baseball subsequently nailed Braun. Now Aaron Rodgers finds himself having to admit his opinion of Braun was in error. But he also must admit that he bet a year's salary on his belief that Braun did not use PEDs, and will now welsh on this bet, just like Uncle Ned welshes on his promises. (Or was it Ted?)
Now, no court will uphold Rodgers' bet as valid, so he can rest easy with regards to his potential financial liability. But, since this is at least the second public bet he's made where he was subsequently proven wrong and then welshed on it (like Uncle Ned), his opinions and beliefs are really no longer credible, if they ever were. He can no longer profess greater intensity of his convictions by betting on them because no one now believes he'll honor those bets. And since he's been proven wrong in such public ways, and in the latter case such a public travesty (read this article about Braun), most will simply discount what he says.
Here are a few reasons why someone may have a gun on campus:
The problem is that ex-ante we cannot know the intent or the reason why the person bringing the gun to school did so, therefore make possessing a gun on school property a per se violation punishable by expulsion or at least a long suspension. If we cannot know the intent of the gun toter before any shots are fired, then punish a gun toter for the simple act of brining a gun to school.
Now, in the case of David Cole Withrow of Johnston County, North Carolina, he realized that he had accidently brought the gun to school with him after a weekend of hunting and immediately went to school officials to inform them of his mistake and to ask their permission to take it home.
Mr. Withrow appears to be a clean-cut kid, and Johnston County is certainly known for hunting, with all those Jim-Bobs and Skeeters living in the woods over yonder, so having a hunting rifle in your vehicle is not out of the oridinary. Maybe reason should have prevailed and the school official grant him permission to take the gun home, with a warning that the next time will be treated as a violation of the gun policy. But no, school officials immediately called the police, Withrow was suspended, and he is currently being told that he will not graduate with his classmates.
If you want kids who accidentally bring guns to school to never reveal their error, and in fact to possibly compound the problem by hiding the gun on their person or in an unsecured place where someone with evil intent can get to it, proceed to harshly punish Mr. Withrow and make sure that reason will never prevail when a bright and otherwise cooperative student attempts to rectify a mistake.
Oh, whatever happened to the good ol' days.
Whoever started the marketing campaign for breast cancer research is a genius. I see pink ribbons everywhere I go, on people, on cars, on buildings, even on telephone poles. Pink is now plastered on television sets everywhere as every NFL player, coach, and assistant is adorned with something of that hue.
I saw a few students selling baked goods to raise money for breast cancer research. I stopped to ask them if they thought the marginal dollar spent on breast cancer awareness and research could have been spent more effectively and efficiently elsewhere. It wasn't to scold them for raising money for a worthy cause, I was just interested in seeing how they would respond. I gave them a dollar donation.
A company has to allocate its scarce resources across many different venues. Should the next dollar be spent on advertising? Should it invest in more capital or new technology? Should it hire more labor? Would increasing the compensation of current workers lead to more production? Should it donate that dollar to some cause? The market mechanism disciplines firms to allocate those dollars most effectively and efficiently. If not, the firm loses profits and may even go out of business.
There is no market mechanism with donations to charitable organizations like breast cancer research, so it may seem inefficient. Maybe that last dollar spent on breast cancer research and awareness could have been better used elsewhere, such as on my favored cause, melanoma research.
But in a sense, this isn't much different than a market. The cause of breast cancer research was backed strongly enough that it mobilized women and men (mostly women) everywhere to voluntarily champion the cause in order to raise tons of money. Other causes, including melanoma research, have not been as successful in raising both awareness and money. This, however, is likely due to a) other causes not affecting as many people as breast cancer, and b) those who are affected by other causes have not been as passionate about their causes. Given that donations are voluntary, the money is likely going to where it is valued most and improving the lives of more people.
But here is where non-market exchange fails. When money is taken by force, including and especially through taxation (and public debt is just deferred taxation), the marginal dollar spent (actually, trillions of dollars) is largely wasted. There are many examples, but the "War On Drugs" is most noteworthy.
UPDATE: If you're a true Keynesian you would simply say that the blue line (addiction rate) would have been higher had the $1.5 trillion not been spent.
Mundy said after the game that he did not intentionally lead with his helmet and felt bad that another player was injured.
[Raider coach Dennis] Allen said he did not believe there was any intent to injure on Mundy's part.
"It's the game of football," Allen said. "I don't think people are trying to go out there and hurt people. The safety was playing the game fast and physical. It's a tough game to play when you're making split-second decisions on how you play the game. It's the unfortunate things that happen in this game but we move on from it.
The NFL might want to reconsider that argument that "It's the game of football" and that they should "just move on from it" in light of the recently filed lawsuit on behalf of former NFL players. Actually, football leagues of all ages might want to take a look at the data.
If the objective is to really prevent serious head injuries, remove the helmets. The safer helmets seemingly reduce the cost of lowering your head and slamming into an opposing player. Take the helmets off and there's an obvious known cost to lowering your head to hit an opposing player. If safety is really the concern, make it more like rugby.
Once again, tax things you want less of and subsidize things you want more of.
It seems that due to Britain's tax policy, athletes (and performers) avoid competing there.
Few high earners in other fields would choose France over Britain on tax policy, but athletes are a different story. The British government has granted an exemption to income linked to Olympic and Paralympic competition. But normally Britain takes a cut of an athlete's worldwide endorsement earnings—that means overseas sponsors in addition to those in the U.K.—proportional to the time spent in Britain. By comparison, the U.S. only taxes nonresident athletes on endorsement fees paid by American sponsors. France does the same.
So if in a given year Mr. Bolt ran in six races, one of which was in Britain, Her Majesty's government could collect income tax on one-sixth of his total income from sponsorships. Given that Mr. Bolt's contract with Puma alone is worth $9 million annually, the final U.K. tax bill for a single London race could dwarf his appearance fee, which has been in the range of $150,000 to $250,000.
I have a hard time believing this intentional, but it certainly looks bad for the host city.
[The Brazilian women's soccer team] left its base in Cardiff, about 150 miles to the west of London, for its journey to the capital, but the trip was quickly disrupted when the bus pulled over to the side of the road with mechanical trouble.
They were headed to Wembley Stadium to which the police lost the keys last week.
But here is the part that must have infuriated the Brazilian team.
The driver reportedly was unable to call for help and the squad was forced to endure an interminable wait. Eventually, another London 2012 official bus was waved down, but, according to the Daily Telegraph, the second driver had already completed his hours quota and was not permitted to drive to London without a special permit.
Oh, I see. "I already met my quota." Let's hope the Brazilians don't have similar arcane rules that benefit greedy unions at the expense of the public that then give them a black eye in 2016.
A replacement bus finally arrived after another two hours, but Brazil did not reach its accommodation until late in the evening. A Brazilian journalist told Yahoo! Sports that instead of a typical light training session, the players instead went outside for a brisk walk and some stretching before retiring to bed.
Eight female badminton players were disqualified from Olympic competition because they were allegedly not playing hard enough.
The players from China, South Korea and Indonesia were accused of playing to lose in order to face easier opponents in future matches, drawing boos from spectators and warnings from match officials Tuesday night.
First, a racquet sport champion once told me that badminton was actually the most grueling racquet sport there is. So don't dismiss it as too wimpy to be an Olympic sport just because your knowledge of the game is that you played it at grandma's house when you were a kid.
Now, this is a problem with the rules, not the participants rational response to the rules. How do you force competitors to play their best each and every match? Institute rules that create the incentive for them to do so.
Much like flawed institutions in poor and undeveloped countries that don't create effective incentives for people to efficiently create value for others, the Badminton World Federation failed to institute rules that create the incentive for athletes to perform their best each and every match. Change the structure of competition.
What the players did was, after qualifying for the quarterfinals, tried to intentionally lose their matches in order to pair with lesser teams during the finals. It sounds like a logical and rational response to a poorly designed competition.
Critics of Title IX have argued that rather than increase opportunities for women athletes as a way of equalizing opportunities between the sexes, it did little more than destroy opportunities for male college athletes. In other words, rather than increase female participation in high school and college athletics, it only served to destroy opportunities for men. This has since been proven false, but was largely considered true since women are (were) not attracted to athletics, but were instead attracted to things like band.
Well, maybe women were attracted to things like band rather than athletics because they were discouraged from participating in athletics. Title IX changed that by encouraing more women to participate in high school and collegiate sports. Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers find numerous benefits, including longer-term career benefits for women from Title IX.
The changes are apparently being felt around the world, with more women competing in the Olympics than ever before. Today, women make up about 40% of the Olympic athletes, up from near zero a hundred years ago, and that number is expected to increase well into the future.