Clearing out my closet, part 2

Why do we need a carbon tax? [...] in a paper I (Steven Levitt) was proud to publish in the Journal of Political Economy, [Edlin and Mandic] argue convincingly that each extra driver raises the insurance costs of other drivers by about $2,000. Their key point is that, if my car is not there to crash into, maybe a crash never happens. They conclude that the appropriate tax would generate $220 billion annually.

How about global warming? Every gallon of gas I burn releases carbon into the atmosphere, presumably speeding global warming. [...] the social cost of a ton of carbon put into the atmosphere is about $43. [...] If that number is right, then the gas tax needed to offset the global warming effect is about 12 cents per gallon. [...] that implies a $20 billion global warming externality. So relative to reducing congestion and lowering the number of accidents, fighting global warming is a distant third in terms of reasons to raise the gas tax. More here.

Fantasy Journals: Create the rules and web infrastructure for a game of ”fantasy journals” analogous to the fantasy baseball and fantasy football leagues that are so popular among sports fans. Scientists could draft papers for their own fantasy journal, and then compete to see whose journal was most successful. Such a game would be great fun to play e.g. in a conference setting or in a research group, and it would also potentially be a source of valuable bottom-up bibliometric tagging information. More here, via MR.

An out-right weird NYT article on unhappy millionaires. Craig's commentary is spot on. And if you are looking for the policy implications, please tax the hell out of unhappy millionaires: reading about their views on life does horrible things to my utility.

Lifesharers is a legal non-monetary organ market, inspired by Alex Tabarrok's "no-give no-take" proposal. LifeSharers offers a very compelling trade: you agree to donate your organs when you die, and in exchange you'll increase your chances of getting a transplant should you ever need one to live.
An interesting idea that mainly serves to circumvent the legal restrictions on organ sales; at any rate, don't expect your odds to improve very much (Lifesharers' membership is around 10,000 - have a look at the relevant mortality and organ donation statistics for the U.S. and do the maths). Also, while 'organs for organs' has a certain intuitive appeal, it is no more fairer than a 'bananas for bananas' arrangement - and considerations of 'fairness' tend to be a bit more complicated than that. Assuming full legalisation of organ markets is out of the question, a system of presumed consent seems to me the only realistic way forward.

[W]hether police officers are motivated by fund-raising as well as safety when writing traffic tickets — has been examined [in the] “Political Economy at Any Speed: What Determines Traffic Citations?” The authors found a statistical link between a town’s finances and the likelihood that its police officers would issue a speeding ticket. The details are a little sticky, but they show that tickets were issued more often in places that were short on cash, and that out-of-towners received tickets more often than drivers with local addresses. The NYT has more.

Secrets Revealed: How Magicians Protect Intellectual Property (free access): Intellectual property scholars have begun to explore the curious dynamics of IP's negative spaces, areas in which IP law offers scant protection for innovators, but where innovation nevertheless seems to thrive. [...] This paper presents a study of one such negative space [...] the world of performing magicians. This paper argues that idiosyncratic dynamics among magicians make traditional copyright, patent, and trade secret law ill-suited to protecting magicians' most valuable intellectual property. Yet, the paper further argues that the magic community has developed its own set of unique IP norms which effectively operate in law's absence.

by datacharmer | Sunday, September 23, 2007
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