Differences in freedom and liberty

The anarchist poet Herbert Read said that English is a particularly flexible language because it has borrowed so extensively from other languages. His example was that in English it is easy to distinguish between freedom (German “Freiheit”) and liberty (French liberte). I have been thinking again about freedom and liberty… Continued

Picking on Tom Piketty

French economist Thomas Piketty’s recent book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” has been more discussed than any work in economics since those of John Kenneth Galbraith and Milton Friedman. Piketty argues that under normal capitalist conditions, the distribution of wealth is highly unequal and grows more unequal. It’s pretty simple… Continued

Health care and monopsony

I should begin by saying that I am not opposed to public provision of health care — quite the contrary. My wife and I had an experience with socialized medicine when we were in Wales. An injury cut our vacation short, but the medical care was first-rate, cheap and much… Continued

Wine shortage fears are unsubstantiated

My colleagues Anne Duchene and Marco Airaudo were recently interviewed about the surging demand for wine on the part of the rising middle class in China and other emerging countries, and they predicted that demand growth will outstrip production. They reasoned that land suitable for wine grapes is limited in… Continued

Economists are to blame for Obamacare woes

Because Mitt Romney pioneered health care reform and the Obama administration supported the federal legislation that established it, maybe we should call it Robamacare. It’s been having problems, and not just with the website. Blame those on computer scientists. You can blame economists for the price fluctuations and unexpected cancellation… Continued

Our future funding woes

Authoritative reports say that over the next few years, Drexel will adopt responsibility center management, or RCM. This is one of several models for university budgeting, each of which has some known advantages and disadvantages. A number of universities, including our next door neighbor, have practiced RCM for some time.… Continued

Most “libertarians” are confused

Gore Vidal (1925-2012) once remarked that the so-called “libertarians” of the right wing are not libertarian at all but should be called “propertarians.” He had a point. The one freedom that right-libertarians value above all others is the right of property owners to dispose of their property. By contrast, people… Continued

Hung, drawn, and quartered

I wrote to the Triangle two years ago in favor of a transition from a quarter system to trimesters. I’d like to think the current review of alternatives to quarters by our administration is a result of my benign influence, but I’m not quite silly enough to think that. Nevertheless… Continued