Friday, September 26, 2014

Learning economics through pictures - law school enrollment and the law of supply

For many years, there has been chatter that the returns to a law degree aren't what they used to be.  (E.g., see this).  Other stories have talked about how tough it is to find a job after graduation.  All of this would indicate that the returns on a law degree are lower than they once were or that the price one earns from being a lawyer has dropped.

Today I saw this chart:

The law of supply states that when the price drops, fewer suppliers will enter a market.  This chart shows that the market for lawyers is consistent with the law of supply.

Link to source article here

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Jayson Lusk speaking at Susquehanna University on October 22nd

I am pleased to announce three great speakers are coming to Susquehanna University during the 2014-2015 academic year. All three are part of a 2014-2015 speaker series on liberty and economic freedom.

The first of the three speeches is titled “The Food Police and the Future of Food” and will be given by Jayson Lusk on Wednesday, October 22nd in Faylor Hall.

Jayson Lusk is Regents Professor and Willard Sparks Endowed Chair in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University. He has been listed as one of the most prolific and cited food and agricultural economists of the past decade in a variety of outlets, has won numerous research awards, published editorials in outlets such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal,,,, and the Huffington Post, and has made TV appearances on Fox and Friends, the John Stossel Show and more. His most recent book, The Food Police: A Well-Fed Manifesto about the Politics of Your Plate, was published by Crown Forum in 2013.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

PA school cancels musical 'Spamalot', showing that we need vouchers for schools

A month after sending the check, Mr. Smith sent an email to Ms. Burch expressing concern about scenes in the show, then followed up in another email saying he was “not comfortable with ‘Spamalot’ and its homosexual themes.” He said school shows were supposed to be “community events” in South Williamsport, a small town in north-central Pennsylvania that is best known as the host of the annual Little League World Series. Mr. Smith said he didn’t want “families to be afraid of bringing small kids because of the content,” nor students forced “to choose between their own personal beliefs and whether or not to take part in a production.” 
But in email to Mr. Smith and in subsequent interviews with the news media, Ms. Burch continued to defend “Spamalot,” a musical comedy based on the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” that includes a comical subplot about Sir Lancelot as a closeted gay man who ends up coming out and marrying another man. The show ran for four years on Broadway and won the Tony Award for best musical in 2005, and has been performed at high schools for several years.
The problem here is that kids (and families) of various beliefs are all forced to attend the same school district.  (OK, they're not forced.  They could pay taxes into that school district and attend somewhere else by paying twice for education.  Perhaps I should we could say families are "forced to pay for the product".)  When Spamalot was on Broadway, I don't recall any controversy.  Those who didn't want to attend the show didn't attend.  Those who wanted to attend did.  Nobody who felt offended by the content of Spamalot was forced to pay their money into the show.

Our students, however, are forced to go to the school in their district or pay extra to go elsewhere.  This is why we have this problem, and controversies over whether prayer should be allowed in school, standardized testing, and more. If instead there were a voucher system, where students get a voucher from the government to attend any school, these problems wouldn't exist.  Those who want to attend a school that shows musicals like Spamalot can attend.  Those who wish to attend a show  can choose not to attend.

Once again we are presented with evidence that non-market "solutions", like our public school system, creates problems.

Link to my most recent radio interview

Link here

This was a discussion of the Scotland independence vote.  I come on at the 31 minute mark.  I don't speak too much here, mostly they were (wisely) interested in what my Scottish colleague Daryl Rodgers had to say on the vote.  They did ask about some of the economic considerations, however, where I chimed in.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Great climate change article ...

I'm a bit late with this, but here is a great article by Edward Lazear in the Wall Street Journal.  (Thanks to David Kendall for bringing this to my attention)

The Obama administration is instituting a variety of far-reaching policies to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change. Are any of these capable of making a difference? Simple arithmetic suggests not. Given this reality, we would be wise to consider strategies that complement and may be more effective than mitigation—namely, adaptation.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Learning economics through pictures - beer vending machines

Thanks to SU econ major Courtney Conrad for bringing this to my attention!

This is a beer vending machine found in the stadium of the Minnesota Twins.  The benefits of this for the stadium is that you need fewer worker.  The downside, of course, is that the machines cost money.  

With higher minimum wages and threatened future minimum wage increases across the country, however, these types of machines will become more widespread.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Assorted Links

1. An economist on the airline seat-reclining controversy

2.Outstanding Forbes article on the black-white learning gap.

The root cause, of course, is something that neither the President nor the well-intentioned apologists for black academic failure (who cite everything from boredom to Common Core to institutional racism as causal agents), nor union-bashers, nor even school choice advocates care to admit: the lack of respect for, role modeling of, and high expectations for rigorous academic study in many black homes and communities. 

We're #35!

Rankings of research output by economics departments at liberal arts universities

It's only experimental, but it is still pretty exciting for our small department.  Many of these departments have far more faculty members than Susquehanna, whereas Susquehanna University's economics department has four faculty members.  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

I'm quoted in an article discussing the PA governor's race

Link here

Pennsylvania had added 54,000 jobs over the year.
Matthew Rousu, an economics professor at Susquehanna University, notes that politicians generally get too much credit when the economy is good and too much blame when it’s bad.
But Corbett has likely helped the state economy — particularly in rural Pennsylvania — by encouraging natural gas drilling.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My newest oped in Forbes - Voter ID laws protect voters' rights

Link here
There are two key arguments against the voter ID requirement. The first is that voter fraud doesn’t exist, which would mean the law has no benefits. This argument is laughable. Just ask Melowese Richardson, who was sentenced to five-years in prison for voting for Obama multiple times in Ohio. 

This is the second oped I had published today ... 

Learning economics through pictures - the benefits of a college degree

Link here

My oped on the TV show 'Suits' and restrictions on working

This is my latest oped, published at The Federalist

While I find the show entertaining, it troubles me because these types of situations happen in real life. There are people who would be good at a job, but restrictions make it illegal for them to work. The show raises a good question: If somebody wanted to pay a non-lawyer for legal advice/representation, why should that be illegal?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day reading: Great oped on protecting workers ...

Link here

Barack Obama’s vow to create a “rising, thriving” middle class has instead produced stagnant incomes, a weak consumer economy and a surge in government dependency – all while his overbearing executive branch actively works against the best interests of American laborers. And no agency has been more instrumental in this assault on American productivity than the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) – which was recently at the heart of a major constitutional crisis.