Today’s Links: November 17, 2011


BRYAN CAPLAN: “The Reasons for my Hostility to ZMP
“ZMP [Zero Marginal Productivity] coheres well with my elitism,  but coheres poorly with my rejection of high-IQ misanthropy.  The lower deciles contribute little to the economy in percentage terms, but the absolute value of their contribution is still hundreds of billions of dollars.”

HARVEY SILVERGLATE: “The Supreme Court: A Prosecutor’s Best Friend
“The metastasizing of federal laws has ensured that seemingly innocuous behavior without any criminal intent behind it can lead to a conviction for a federal crime. Artists, doctors, and even professional baseball players have reason to fear the federal gaze. Indeed, no professional sector is safe from serious liability; no sector, that is, save the government itself. As death-row-exoneree John Thompson will undoubtedly show in his upcoming United States tour advocating against prosecutorial abuse, public servants are held to a much lower standard than their citizen masters, and even the most egregious of their crimes go unpunished, as notions of “prosecutorial immunity” are used to protect the criminal and the negligent.

CONOR FRIEDERSDORF: “What if the Law Required Campaign Contributions to Be Kept Secret?
“Presently, our intuition is that transparency and disclosure are the best policies. But what if, like our counterparts in early America, we’re just enabling a kind of vote buying, whereby legislators know exactly who is bankrolling their campaigns, and skewer their behavior toward special interests as a result? What if less transparency would be as effective for us as it was for them? […] There is an obvious objection. It was reasonably simple to implement a secret ballot. But campaign contributions? What if it proved impossible to actually keep their provenance secret? What’s to stop me from whispering to Joe Legislator, ‘You’re going to see $10,000 show up in your campaign account a week from now. It’s from me.’ That would be the worst of all worlds: gone would be the transparency of the current system, and politicians would still know who to keep happy!”


TOBACCO – Obama Scolds Tobacco Firms for Fighting New Labels
“President Barack Obama – pronounced tobacco-free in his latest medical checkup – has tough words for cigarette makers. Some tobacco companies, he says in a new White House web video, are fighting new cigarette warning labels because ‘they don’t want to be honest about the consequences.'”

TRANSPORTATION – Congress About to Kill High-Speed Rail Program
“Congress is on the verge of killing funding for President Barack Obama’s signature high-speed rail program, but it may have some life in it still.”