15 Mar 2010

Murphy Double Play

All Posts 4 Comments

* At MasterResource I tut-tut Robert Frank’s NYT column on climate change that scared the children. I use the latest Economic Report from the President (as in Obama), as well as a chart from the latest IPCC report (aka “the scientific consensus”), to show that the world is not ending, at least according to our trusted government and association-of-governments documents.

* At Mises I show the hidden paradox in standard free market arguments for drug legalization and against union thuggery. Specifically, a typical economic case for drug legalization will blame gang violence on the lack of contract enforcement (e.g. a drug dealer can’t call the cops if he gets robbed), and free market economists will also usually say that unions can achieve above-market wage rates because the government doesn’t intervene to protect “scabs” from picketers.

On the face of it, aren’t these odd positions for a rabid free marketeer to take? In other words, s/he is arguing that there would be less gang violence, and a more coordinated labor market, if only the government would use its monopoly of courts and police more.

I resolve the paradox in my article.

4 Responses to “Murphy Double Play”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The Blackadder Says:

    W/r/t the drug legalization article, I wonder if you have ever seen the TV show The Wire?

  2. Bob Murphy says:


    I think I will be able to import all the accumulated comments between now and the switchover, and that I will be able to point this domain name to the new host once it's ready. But in order to Export my blogger files to WordPress, I had to switch from FTP to a non-FTP thingie, yadda yadda yadda, next thing I know I can't publish to this URL anymore.

  3. Moronic Manny says:


    Can you re-explain your drug point for me? Assume you are talking to someone who is a moron, because I see where you are going with this, but for some reason, no "click" sound went off in my head.


  4. Evan says:

    Dr. Murphy,

    I see somewhat of a paradox with your drug violence argument.

    In the argument you set up to debunk, you focus on the fact that the drug dealer does not have the option of calling the police, and imply that this would embolden the robber, and increase the chances of a violent conflict. I agree with you that this argument is wrong, and that the ability of the drug dealer to call the police or not wouldn’t be a significant factor in the robber’s decision to target him (he would be far more concerned with how to get past the armed drug dealer to take his stash from under his nose.)

    However, aren’t either of these considerations (the risks) far subordinate in the robber’s calculation to the possible benefits of the crime, namely the hugely-inflated value of the illicit drugs? After all, few robbers would ever consider breaking into someone’s home to steal nearly valueless cabbage or broccoli, even if they were reasonably sure their target was unarmed.

    Isn’t it also true that government intervention (the War on Drugs) is the cause of such high illicit drug prices, by restricting demand and imposing high production and distribution costs (keeping ops secret and compensating employees for the risks they’re taking)? If so, isn’t this at odds with the statement “a corrupt, power-hungry government can’t run a police department any better than a car company”? If government is so inept, how can it be so “successful” at keeping illicit drug supply far enough below the level of demand so that it retains the premium prices that make it an attractive target to a robber?

    I basically agree with everything you said… this one point has just been sticking in my craw since I read your piece.