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Podcast episode

EP105 – Why bad social norms such as FGM persist with Dr David Smerdon

Economics Explored EP105 considers the persistence of bad social norms such as female genital mutilation (FGM). Show host Gene Tunny speaks with University of Queensland Lecturer (i.e. Assistant Professor) Dr David Smerdon about his experimental research on social norms, including fieldwork in Africa relating to FGM.  

About this episode’s guest – Dr David Smerdon

Dr David Smerdon is a Lecturer in the University of Queensland School of Economics. He primarily works in behavioral and development economics. His research involves theory and modelling, experiments in the lab and field, and microeconometric analysis in order to investigate topics at the intersection of these fields.

David earned his PhD from the Tinbergen Institute and the University of Amsterdam (UvA) as a General Sir John Monash scholar, and afterwards worked as a PODER fellow at Bocconi University in Milan. Prior to his academic career, David spent three years working for the Australian Department of Treasury as a policy analyst. Aside from economics, David is also a chess Grandmaster and has represented Australia at seven chess Olympiads.

Links relevant to the conversation

‘Everybody’s doing it’: On the persistence of bad social norms (journal article co-authored by Dr David Smerdon, which contains details of the experiment he ran)

The economic impact of female genital mutilation (an article by David on his FGM research project)

The Institutional Revolution: Measurement and the Economic Emergence of the Modern World by Douglas W. Allen

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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Podcast episode

EP104 – Victimless Crimes with Marc J. Victor

Victimless crimes arguably include drug possession, prostitution, and many other offences. Highly experienced criminal lawyer Marc J. Victor says victimless crimes are not really crimes at all. Decriminalising these offences would avoid the huge economic and social costs related to prosecuting and imprisoning people who commit victimless crimes.

On Economics Explored we’ve previously discussed the large economic and social costs that arise from criminalising drugs such as cannabis. In episode 104, show host Gene Tunny discusses the broader concept of victimless crimes with a highly-experienced lawyer, Marc J. Victor, President and Managing Partner of Attorneys for Freedom.

About this episode’s guest – Marc J. Victor

Marc J. Victor is President and Managing Partner of Attorneys for Freedom. He is a certified Criminal Law Specialist in Arizona and is admitted to practise in Arizona and Hawai’i. Over nearly three decades, Marc has represented clients in more than a thousand major felony cases. 

As a long-time freedom activist, Marc is regularly invited to speak to audiences across Arizona on a variety of issues including ending the drug war, the rights of gun owners, the free market, criminal justice issues as well as a variety of other criminal law related issues. Most recently, Marc has spoken on the Live and Let Live Principle, the foundation upon which he has established The World’s Only Real Peace Movement (www.liveandletlive.org).

Marc has been quoted locally, nationally and internationally on radio, television, in print and in person as a legal commentator and expert on many local and national cases.  He was an expert legal commentator for local NBC 12 News for the Jodi Arias case. Marc and firm partner Andrew Marcantel host The Peace Radicals Podcast with a new episode every Friday. The Peace Radicals is available on most streaming platforms including Apple Podcasts and Spotify and is also available to watch on YouTube.

Links relevant to the conversation

Economics Explored episode 19: Cannabis with Dr Stephen Thornton

Victimless Crimes Are Not Really Crimes At All – Attorney Marc J. Victor – Attorneys For Freedom – YouTube

Ending the War on Drugs: By the Numbers – Center for American Progress

Peace Radicals Episode 36 – Mask Mandates, Vaccines, Lockdowns, and The Live and Let Live Philosophy

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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EP102 – Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem

Nobel Prize winner Kenneth Arrow proved a startling theorem in his PhD thesis. Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem raises big questions about democratic decision making. Episode 102 of Economics Explored features a conversation regarding what it means and how much it should concern us. University of Queensland Senior Lecturer Dr Priscilla Man discusses Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem with Economics Explored host Gene Tunny.

Links relevant to the conversation

Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem

Kenneth Arrow’s legacy and why elections can be flawed

The paradox of democracy: Arrow impossibility explained

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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Podcast episode

EP101 – How do we know what’s true or why trust science?

In these times of intense debate over COVID-19 and climate change policies, it is important to ask what theories and evidence we can trust – i.e. how do we know what’s true or why trust science? In Episode 101, Economics Explored host Gene Tunny tackles this topic with returning guest Tim Hughes in a first instalment of what will probably end up being a multi-episode conversation. 

Links relevant to the conversation include:

Why Trust Science? by Naomi Oreskes 

Naomi Oreskes: Why we should trust scientists – YouTube

What Is This Thing Called Science?

What Seattle learned from having the highest minimum wage in the nation – Vox

What evidence should social policymakers use by Andrew Leigh

EP60 Minimum wages and employment

EP14 Randomised controlled trials & economic development

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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Podcast episode

EP100 – Incentivizing Vaccinations or Cash for Jabs

Governments around the world are experimenting with various incentives such as cash and free beer to encourage vaccinations against COVID-19.  Episode 100 explores what an optimal incentive could look like.

Australian economist Isaac Katz discusses his proposed vaccination incentive with Economics Explored host Gene Tunny. You can read all about Isaac’s plan in his discussion paper Incentives for achieving COVID 19 herd immunity through vaccination.

Key features of Isaac’s plan are:

1. Rewards (incentives) could be in the form of payments to each vaccinated individual, and eligibility to win a significant lottery prize and smaller prizes. 

2. The incentives would only be payable if a specified national vaccination rate is met by a specified due date.  Incentives would not be paid prior to the due date.  This approach creates a focus on the objective – which is to maximise the national vaccination rate.  Rewarding individuals for being vaccinated without recognising the national objective will fail to promote community based actions to increase vaccination rates.

About this episode’s guest

Isaac Katz is a Director of Harding Katz Pty Ltd, a small consulting practice based in Melbourne specialising in utility regulation, energy market reform, business strategy and applied economics.Isaac was previously a Senior Manager with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young in Melbourne from October 1997 to September 2001.  He has provided economic and regulatory advice to regulators, Government and regulated businesses on a wide range of strategy and policy issues.

Prior to moving to Australia, Isaac worked as a senior economic assistant for the UK electricity regulator (now Ofgem); and as a pool price analyst for a regional electricity company.  Isaac also worked as an economist for Railtrack plc, focusing on aspects of the regulatory framework prior to and immediately after privatisation.

Isaac has a Master of Arts, Economics, from Cambridge University and a Master of Science, Business Economics, from Strathclyde University.

Links related to the conversations include:

https://theconversation.com/free-beer-doughnuts-and-a-1-million-lottery-how-vaccine-incentives-and-other-behavioral-tools-are-helping-the-us-reach-herd-immunity-160591

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-58020090

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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EP99 – Carbon border taxes

The European Union intends to impose a carbon border tax and the US is also considering one. What’s the justification for a carbon border tax and what could it mean for international trade? Episode 99 of Economics Explored features a conversation regarding the European Union’s proposed Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), i.e. a carbon border tax, between show host Gene Tunny and his colleague Ben Scott, Research Officer at Adept Economics.

Links relevant to the conversation:

https://adepteconomics.com.au/what-does-the-eus-carbon-border-tax-mean-for-australia/

https://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.812870.de/dp1935.pdf

https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/f52d7587-8103-49a3-aeb6-651885fa6095/files/summary-australias-2030-emissions-reduction-target.pdf

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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EP98 – Political legitimacy with Prof. Phillip LeBel

In Risk and the State, Professor Phillip LeBel argues the political legitimacy of governments worldwide is “under trial from questions of borders and national identity, from rising economic inequality, from the way in which information is gathered, managed, and disseminated, and from varying perceptions of risk.”

In EP98 on political legitimacy, host Gene Tunny interviews  Prof. Phillip LeBel about his new book published earlier this year by Brown Walker Press: Risk and the State: How Economics and Neuroscience Shape Political Legitimacy to Address Geopolitical, Environmental, and Health Risks for Sustainable Governance.  

Phillip LeBel is Emeritus Professor of Economics at Montclair State University, NJ. With a career combining academic research and teaching with professional consulting, Professor LeBel has accumulated a record of economic expertise in a variety of domestic and international fields. Over the years, he has lived in and/or worked in 30 countries, including Africa, East Asia, Central America, and Latin America.

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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EP97 – BS jobs critique + CBDC thoughts from Dr Nicholas Gruen

David Graeber’s BS jobs thesis (previously covered in EP95) lacks microeconomic foundations, according to Dr Nicholas Gruen. In EP97, Economics Explored host Gene Tunny speaks with Nicholas about BS jobs and also about Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Nicholas is a big believer in the potential of CBDC, which he has written about in the Financial Times.

About Dr Nicholas Gruen

Dr Nicholas Gruen is a policy economist, entrepreneur and commentator on our economy, society and innovation. He is CEO of Lateral Economics, Visiting Professor at Kings College London Policy Institute and Adjunct Professor at UTS Business School.

He was a Chairman of the Open Knowledge Foundation (Australia) (ending 2020), Chairman of international aged care management software provider Health Metrics (ending 2019), Council Member of the National Library of Australia (ending 2016), chaired the Federal Government’s Innovation Australia (ending 2014) and chaired the Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) (ending 2016). He was the founding chair of Kaggle which was sold to Google and is an investor in numerous other Australian and international start-ups. He was also founding chair of HealthKit (now Halaxy). He has advised Cabinet Ministers, sat on Australia’s Productivity Commission and founded Lateral Economics and Peach Financial in 2000.

Links relevant to the conversation

Re. BS jobs:

https://queenslandeconomywatch.com/2021/07/10/people-escaping-bs-jobs-covered-in-my-latest-podcast-episode-and-going-into-business-for-themselves/#comments

https://www.griffithreview.com/articles/trust-competition-delusion-gruen/

Re: CBDCs:

https://clubtroppo.com.au/2021/05/19/central-banks-get-serious-on-digital-currencies-2/

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/central-bank-digital-currency-cbdc.asp

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/quarterly-bulletin/2014/q1/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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EP96 – Managing Government Budgets

Rachel Nolan, a former Queensland Government finance minister, speaks with Economics Explored host Gene Tunny about how government budgets are developed and just how much flexibility governments actually have.

Rachel Nolan is Executive Director of the McKell Institute and is an honorary Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Queensland. Rachel was a member of the Queensland Parliament for eleven years from 2001, when she was elected as the youngest woman ever. She is a former Minister for Finance, Transport, and Natural Resources and the Arts. Rachel was a member of the Queensland Government’s central budgetary decision making body, the Cabinet Budget Review Committee.

Links relevant to this episode include:

Budget of the U.S. Government

The Federal Budget in Fiscal Year 2020: An Infographic

Economics Explored EP31 Paying for the Coronavirus rescue measures with Joe Branigan (Note we’ve changed the name of the show since we recorded this episode so it doesn’t clash with a popular YouTube channel)

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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EP95 – BS or pointless jobs

Nine-Fairfax media in Australia is reporting Record number of companies launched as COVID drives contractors, entrepreneurs. A couple of things are going on. There are people whose jobs were destroyed by the pandemic and have been forced into self-employment, but there are also people who have reassessed their lives and decided to quit their jobs and become self-employed.

This shift toward self-employment is understandable, given data which suggests that many workers in advanced economies think their jobs are mostly bullshit or pointless, as the late David Graeber, who was Professor of Anthropology at LSE, emphasised in his thought-provoking 2018 book Bullshit Jobs. Graeber nicely identified the five different types of BS jobs: flunkies, goons, duct-tapers, box-tickers, and taskmasters. I’m sure we’ve all known people who could have been characterised as one of these (hopefully not us)!

Even though I strongly disagree with Graeber’s main conclusions (i.e. many of these jobs really are BS from society’s perspective and we need to radically reform our economies), I must say I really enjoyed reading the book and was inspired to record an episode of my Economics Explored podcast on it. So please check out EP95 BS or Pointless Jobs and let me know what you think about the idea of BS jobs and whether you’ve seen people give up BS jobs to become self-employed or start up new businesses.

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.