Miscellaneous Links

Anders Sandberg on abortion and prenatal sex selection in a liberal society. I endorse this message.

Paul Walker on the problems arising from mixed ownership. Conflicting objectives suck.

New Zealand government set to force bakers to add folic acid to all bread. A legacy from the previous paternalist government which will hopefully be reversed by the current populist government.

The stronger the drug laws,  the stronger the drugs. A straightforward consequence of the Alchian-Allen theorem.

Hawaii inadvertently removes tobacco tax temporarily. Sometimes, government incompetence can be welfare improving [ungated draft].

Ten greatest libertarian science fiction stories. I’m suprised not to see any Vernor Vinge on the list. See especially his short story The Ungoverned. Joe Schembrie says pretty much all sci-fi is libertarian.

Bloggingheads.tv: Frans de Waal and Jeffrey Schloss on Primatology. I think social scientists need to take primatology far more seriously than they have thus far. De Waal’s Our Inner Ape is one of my favourite pop-science books.

4 Responses

  1. Folic acid in bread, iodine in salt, and fluoride in the water are all pretty “second-order small” kinds of issues for me. Sure, market should be able to take care of it, but the losses from this kind of nannystatism are tiny compared to losses from other policies.

    • I completely agree when it comes to fuoride in water. Given that we have a public water supply, I’m not even sure I oppose it. Neutrality is impossible with government provision…

      With folic acid in bread, I worry more about the increased fixed costs reducing competition. I haven’t looked into the issue at all though, and maybe those costs are small. In any case, definitely minor compared to other things. I’d accept a lot of compulsory food-additives in exchange for a loosening of alcohol, tobacco, and drug law.

      • Isn’t the issue “But new research shows folic acid may cause an increase in colon cancer cases. And another study suggests it may cause colon cancer to grow faster.” So it may not even be good for us.

        Rule 1: first do no harm.

      • Lots of generally good things have some negative effects. I’m always a little suspicious of these sorts of claims, as I think they’ve been very harmful insofar as they discourage use of immunization and DDT, for example. Not that I don’t think risks should be pointed out, just that they can be harmful when they enter political debate. I have no idea of the level of risk in this case, though.

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