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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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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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Podcast episode

EP90 – Lockdown Cost-benefit Analysis with Professor Douglas Allen

Episode 90 of Economics Explored features a discussion regarding COVID lockdown costs versus benefits with Professor Douglas Allen from Simon Fraser University, Canada. Professor Allen has concluded COVID lockdowns have been the greatest peacetime policy failure in Canada’s history. Please check out our conversation for Professor Allen’s justification for this claim.

Links relevant to the conversation include:

Professor Allen’s Lockdown CBA for Canada

Economist: Lockdowns ‘Greatest Peacetime Policy Failure’ in Canada’s History – Foundation for Economic Education

Our World in Data – Coronavirus

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com.

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Podcast episode

EP79 – Running the numbers on COVID-19 measures

One year on from when many countries started imposing tough COVID-19 control measures, Economics Explored host Gene Tunny asks eminent Australian finance Professor Peter Swan whether lockdowns pass a cost-benefit analysis test. In Episode 79 Running the Numbers on COVID-19 measures, Professor Swan says he stands by his view expressed last year that they do not. Listen to this episode to hear why Prof. Swan believes this is so.

About this episode’s guest – Professor Peter Swan

Professor Peter Swan AO FRSN FASSA is currently in Banking and Finance, UNSW-Sydney Business School. Peter completed his Honours Economics Degree at ANU, his PhD at Monash and after a visiting position at the University of Chicago, joined the Economics faculty at ANU, then to a chair at AGSM (UNSW), and was foundation professor in the Finance Department at the University of Sydney prior to returning to UNSW in 2002 with a Scientia Professorial Award in 2003.

He was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia in 1997 and gained recognition in the Queen’s Birthday Honours lists in 2003 and 2016 with the Order of Australia (AM) and (AO), respectively. In 2018 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales (FRSN). His Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) Citation states: “For distinguished service to finance and commerce as a leading academic, journalist, and commentator on domestic investment, and on a range of political and economic issues.” His Member of the Order of Australia (AM) Citation states: “For services to academia as a scholar and researcher and through contributions to public policy in the fields of economics and finance”.

Links relevant to this episode

Prof. Swan’s Quadrant article Run the Numbers, Survey the Folly

Open letter from 122 Australian economists: don’t sacrifice health for ‘the economy’ (which Prof. Swan critiques in his Quadrant article and in this episode)

COVID-19 deaths worldwide per million population as of March 19, 2021

If you’d like to ask a question for Gene to answer in a future episode or if you’d like to make a comment or suggestion, please get in touch via the website. Thanks for listening.

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Podcast episode

EP68 – COVID and Wartime: Comparison of economic impacts

Economics Explored episode 68 COVID and Wartime features a conversation on whether COVID can be compared to wartime, which considers the different scales and scopes of the shocks, and what it all means for prospects for economic recovery. Economics Explored host Gene Tunny, an Australian professional economist and former Treasury official, speaks with businessman Tim Hughes, also based in Brisbane, Australia.

Gene and Tim conclude that a comparison of COVID to wartime isn’t valid. One reason is that World War II required a complete reorganisation of the economy to maximise production for the war effort, while COVID has involved restrictions that have reduced economic activity. 

Links relevant to the conversation include:

Comparing COVID-19 to past world war efforts is premature — and presumptuous

US Council on Foreign Relations Backgrounder on The National Debt Dilemma

Brookings on What’s the Fed doing in response to the COVID-19 crisis? What more could it do?

Australia’s Boldest Experiment (excellent book on Australia’s wartime economy)

Robert Gordon’s The Rise and Fall of American Growth (outstanding book by a leading US economist containing a great discussion of America’s wartime economy)

Aussies over-confident after being over-compensated by Gov’t for COVID-recession

Mint security lapse amazes judge (story about theft from the Australian Mint in early-to-mid 2000s)

Finally, the word Gene got stuck on at 6:55, irredentist, means, “a person advocating the restoration to their country of any territory formerly belonging to it”, according to Oxford Languages.

If you’d like to ask a question for Gene to answer in a future episode or if you’d like to make a comment or suggestion, please get in touch via the website. Thanks for listening.

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Podcast episode

EP66 – Money and Cryptocurrency

When I recorded the latest episode of my Economics Explored podcast last Friday afternoon, the price of one Bitcoin was a bit above US$18,000 after having failed to get beyond US$20,000 in the previous weeks. In my chat with my friend Tim Hughes, I said who knew what it would end up at when the episode was finally released. Well, it turns out that the price of one Bitcoin has finally gone beyond US$20,000 (check out this Coindesk report).

The US$20,000 Bitcoin price is the latest illustration of the Greater Fool Theory. If you’re buying Bitcoin at this price you’re speculating/gambling you’ll find a greater fool who’ll buy it at a higher price. Coindesk suggests there could be a lot of greater fools out there:

Breaking above $20,000, which represented a significant hurdle in the mindset of most traders, is entirely new ground for bitcoin and opens the doors for a climb to $100,000 over the course of 2021, according to some.

As I discussed with Tim, and in my Queensland Economy Watch post from Saturday, Huge swings in Bitcoin value make it hard to believe it will ever replace traditional currencies, I’m very sceptical about the value of Bitcoin. But, hey, it’s 2020, and Bitcoin’s insane valuation is just another marker of this extraordinary year.

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