Nicole Ciandella

Post image for Ronald Coase, Nobel Prize-Winning Economist, Dies at 102; CEI Releases Interview Footage From 2004

Ronald Coase, the University of Chicago economist who won the 1991 Nobel “for his discovery and clarification of the significance of transaction costs and property rights for the institutional structure and functioning of the economy,” died on Monday at the age of 102.

CEI Founder Fred L. Smith, Jr. interviewed Coase on April 28, 2004. During the conversation, Coase explained the nuances of his work, answering questions about market pricing, antitrust, healthcare, intellectual property and more.

Some key Coase quotes from the CEI interview:

“All my arguments are simple, and it’s very difficult to get them accepted.”

“Economists don’t study what goes on in real world, they live in the imaginary world; and in the imaginary world there weren’t multi-part tariffs.”

“If you take national health services, where services are provided by the government for nothing, this is universally applauded. The only difficulty is, if you go to countries where this system is in operation, many of the services which are provided for nothing are not available. And so on the one hand you can say how nice it is that people don’t have to pay very much, on the other hand, how unpleasant it is that you can’t get them.”

“What has happened in antitrust is that antitrust lawyers are anxious to bring cases, and they find cases in almost any circumstance.”

Watch the full interview below.

In the below video, U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY-01) talks about the Environmental Protection Agency’s discriminatory practice of granting fee waivers to political allies and denying them to critics—a practice CEI Senior Fellow Christopher Horner recently made public. (Whitfield begins talking about the issue around the 1:17 mark.)

Follow CEI’s commentary on the president’s speech below.


RICH LOWRY: “The beginning of the end for big labor
“Michigan is on the verge of passing the kind of “right to work” law that is anathema to unions everywhere and is associated with the red states of the Sun Belt, not the blue states of the Rust Belt. To say that such a development is stunning is almost an understatement. Michigan is to unionization what Florida is to sand, Texas is to oil and Alaska is to grizzly bears. The union model hasn’t just been central to its economy, but to its very identity.”

DAVID KOPEN: “Does any government have the legitimate power to ban medical marijuana?
“Ernst Freund was one of the Founding Fathers of progressive constitutionalism. His 1904 book The Police Power: Public Policy and Constitutional Rights argued for a vastly expanded understanding of the police power. [...] So what would Freund, that great advocate for loosening the restraints on big government, have to say about laws which prohibit the medical use of marijuana?”

KATY WALDMAN: “5-Hour Distillery
“Do [whiskey] startups have to wait years and years before selling their first bottle of the good stuff? [...] While some high-end whiskey brands distill their own grain or corn, many distinguish themselves not by distilling or aging, but by mixing various carefully selected, pre-aged blends together. It’s also common practice for these companies—which include Adelphi, Silver Seal and Lombard—to create a signature taste by applying filters that remove congeners, the harsh chemicals which form during fermentation, and by adding liquor flavorings and spices. One exception to this rule is bourbon: It’s illegal in the United States to modify bourbon in the time between it leaves the storage cask and enters the bottle.”

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KENNETH ROGOFF: “Innovation Crisis or Financial Crisis?
“Recently, a few writers, including internet entrepreneur Peter Thiel and political activist and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, have espoused a fairly radical interpretation of the slowdown. In a forthcoming book, they argue that the collapse of advanced-country growth is not merely a result of the financial crisis; at its root, they argue, these countries’ weakness reflects secular stagnation in technology and innovation. As such, they are unlikely to see any sustained pickup in productivity growth without radical changes in innovation policy. Economist Robert Gordon takes this idea even further. He argues that the period of rapid technological progress that followed the Industrial Revolution may prove to be a 250-year exception to the rule of stagnation in human history.”

ERIKA & NICHOLAS CHRISTAKIS: “Whither Goes Free Speech at Harvard?
“Is a satirical flyer distributed a few days ago at Harvard with joking references to anti-semitism, ‘coloreds,’ and sexual assault worth defending? We think so. The protection of free speech is meaningless if what we really mean is ‘free speech we find appropriate.’ When we prohibit or punish certain kinds of statements, even vile ones, then we are protecting speech only insofar as we agree with it or it does not offend us. This is not only a logically inconsistent position, but it is also one that harms our students.”

TIM CARNEY: “Regulations protect entrenched businesses — and the New York Times is ON IT
“The Gray Lady is on a streak of good articles noting how big government accrues to the benefit of the special interests. After two days of in-depth pieces on state-level subsidies, the Times comes out with an item on how local governments are trying to protect their cabbie industry from the threat of consumer choice.”


DEREK THOMPSON: “If You Don’t Watch Sports, TV Is a Huge Rip-Off (So, How Do We Fix It?)
“If you watch sports, millions of pay-TV households who never click on their ESPN channels are subsidizing your habit. If you don’t watch sports, you’re one of the suckers paying an extra $100 a year for a product you don’t consume. [...] Maybe DISH will decide it won’t pay the high costs that ESPN and regional sports networks demand and will become synonymous will “cable for people who hate sports.” That way, households in an area served by DISH and Comcast can choose between sports and not-sports, and if more people choose not-sports, then sports networks will necessarily slow their inflation rate to keep from upsetting sports fans who suddenly get stuck with a higher bill.”

PHIL PLAIT: “Congress Promotes Dangerous Anti-vaccine Quackery
“Virtually every claim made by antivaxxers is wrong. And this is a critically important issue; vaccines have literally saved hundreds of millions of lives. They save infants from potentially fatal but preventable diseases like pertussis and the flu. So why did Congress hold hearings this week promoting crackpot antivax views?”

DESMOND LACHMAN: “Gushing about America’s Energy Future
“In November, the International Energy Agency (IEA) recognized the remarkably positive developments in the U.S. energy sector of the past few years. Not only did the IEA project that U.S. oil production would exceed that of Saudi Arabia by 2020, it also projected that the United States would become virtually energy independent by 2035. However, what the IEA did not do was emphasize how much of this good news has occurred as the result of market forces rather than government planning aimed at securing energy independence.”

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DAVID KRAVETS: “Internet Hangs in Balance as World Governments Meet in Secret”
“There’s a lot of sky-is-falling doomsday predictions about the World Conference on International Telecommunications, which opens Monday in Dubai with some 190-plus nations discussing the global internet’s future.”

KEN PAULSON: “Futile fight on student tweets
“High school is all about preparing the next generation for citizenship. We teach them civics, history, a smattering of math and science and hand them a diploma. But we too often also try to control their every move. That’s literally the case with the news last week that a sophomore at John Jay High School in San Antonio was expelled after refusing to carry an ID with a computer chip designed to track the movements of every student in the school. Students have constitutional rights long before someone hands them a high school diploma. While those rights grow with age, the free speech rights of high school students are not inconsequential.”

NICK GILLESPIE: “Please read this if you think deficits don’t matter and that spending doesn’t drive deficits.
“At the same time that more people are out of work and receipts go down, demand for various welfare programs (unemployment, food stamps, etc) increases. What was different in many ways during the thick of the Bush years was that spending continued to increase during the good times, too. In 2001, Bush took the reins of a government that was spending 18.2 percent of the economy. By 2008, government spending equaled 20.8 percent of the economy. It then spiked to 25.2 percent of GDP in 2009 (a budget year for which some expenses were Obama’s but most were Bush’s). That sort of massive divergence is explainable in light of the fiscal crisis and the Bush and Obama administrations’ responses to it. In my my view, those responses were both hysterical, counterproductive, and at least in regard to the auto bailout, illegal.”

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VIRGINIA POSTREL: “A Free-Market Fix for the Copyright Racket
“While most of the punditocracy was chattering earlier this month about Mitt Romney’s “gifts”gaffe, another Republican took an unexpectedly bold stand about a huge and controversial special-interest handout that largely benefits Democratic constituencies. A young Capitol Hill staff member named Derek S. Khanna published a Republican Study Committee policy brief titled ‘Three Myths About Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix It.’ The paper attacked the current copyright system, particularly the continual and retroactive extension of copyright terms at the behest of entertainment-industry lobbyists.”

ADI ROBERTSON: “New World Order: is the UN about to take control of the internet?
“The future of the web will be decided in a dark room by UN politicians and authoritarian governments — at least according to Google and some other opponents of the International Telecommunication Union’s plan to reform its 25-year-old guidelines. Leaked documents have shown that ITU members are interested in adding more internet regulations to the ITU’s mostly telecommunications-focused rules, something critics worry will let countries justify repressive filtering of the internet or upset the current balance of power by pushing more regulation.”

PAUL HOWARD & YEVGENIY FEYMAN: “The Obamacare bait and switch
“Democrats sold -and continue to sell the ACA – as a way to cover the ‘millions of people’ with pre-existing conditions who can’t get affordable insurance. For instance, in defending their recently released guaranteed issue regulations, HHS claimed that 129 million Americans have pre-existing conditions. This is a huge bait and switch. The vast majority of Americans with ‘pre-existing conditions’ already have insurance. Why? Age is strongly correlated with developing a chronic illness – and seniors are covered by Medicare.”

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NATE SILVER: “In Silicon Valley, Technology Talent Gap Threatens G.O.P. Campaigns
“Companies like Google and Apple do not have their own precincts on Election Day. However, it is possible to make some inferences about just how overwhelmingly Democratic are the employees at these companies, based on fund-raising data. (The Federal Election Commission requires that donors to presidential campaigns disclose their employer when they make a campaign contribution.) Among employees who work for Google, Mr. Obama received about $720,000 in itemized contributions this year, compared with only $25,000 for Mr. Romney. That means that Mr. Obama collected almost 97 percent of the money between the two major candidates. Apple employees gave 91 percent of their dollars to Mr. Obama. At eBay, Mr. Obama received 89 percent of the money from employees.”

JULIAN SANCHEZ: “Adventures in FOIA-Land (or: Red Tape Is Not Transparent)
“The Justice Department’s Inspector General has just completed their most recent review of surveillance under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which is set to expire at the end of this year. The report, however, is classified—meaning the public is unlikely to see it before Congress votes to reauthorize the law for another five years during the lame duck session. Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists is trying to get a declassified version released—but he’s probably got a long wait ahead of him.”

BLOOMBERG NEWS EDITORIAL: “Cheaper, Better Air Traffic Control
“As U.S. President Barack Obama and lawmakers scavenge for mutually acceptable spending cuts in order to strike a budget deal by Jan. 1, here’s an easy one: The $10 million a year wasted on overstaffed and unneeded Federal Aviation Administration facilities.”

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SPENCER ACKERMAN: “Pentagon: A Human Will Always Decide When a Robot Kills You
“The Pentagon wants to make perfectly clear that every time one of its flying robots releases its lethal payload, it’s the result of a decision made by an accountable human being in a lawful chain of command. Human rights groups and nervous citizens fear that technological advances in autonomy will slowly lead to the day when robots make that critical decision for themselves. But according to a new policy directive issued by a top Pentagon official, there shall be no SkyNet, thank you very much.”

MATTHEW YGLESIAS: “Why Are Hotel Rooms So Expensive?
“There’s not a single reason why hotel rooms are so much more expensive on a per night basis than ordinary housing. But one place to start is taxes. Local tax codes tend to treat homeowners relatively favorably. There are some ideological and substantive reasons for this, and also crass politics. Homeowners, as a class, are more likely to be stable long-term members of their community who vote in city council elections. A hotel guest is just the reverse—a transient who can’t vote. So in addition to the underlying commercial real estate taxes that are probably higher than what’s levied on residences, hotel guests need to pay sales taxes and special excise taxes.”

MEGAN MCARDLE: “Why Can’t Walmart Be More Like Costco?
“With depressing regularity, you see pundits and activists asking ‘Why can’t Walmart be more like Costco’, which is a little like asking why Malcolm Gladwell can’t be more like Michael Jordan. I mean . . . um . . . where do I even start?  [...] Costco has a more highly paid labor force–but that labor force also brings in a lot more money.  Costco’s labor force, paid $19 an hour, brings in three times as much revenue as a Walmart workforce paid somewhere between 50-60% of that. [...] This is not because Costco treats its workers better, and therefore gets fantastic productivity out of them, though this is what you would think if you listened to very sincere union activists on NPR.  Rather, it’s because their business model is inherently higher-productivity.”

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