The Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University (FMI) and the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University (IHS) co-hosted an IHS On-Campus Education Program as part of the Weekend Exploring Liberty series. The Seminar included a weekend of speaker sessions related to Topics in Criminal (In)Justice and Self-Governance on Friday, February 9th through Saturday, February 10th in the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business Administration at Texas Tech University.
Program Sessions and Speakers
- The Rise of Prison Gangs in California — David Skarbek, Ph.D.
- Cartel Federalism and Mass Incarceration — Daniel D'Amico, Ph.D.
- The Unintended Consequences of Drug Prohibition — Audrey Redford, Ph.D.
- Cash for Convictions and Other Sad Tales of Forensic 'Unscience' — Roger Koppl, Ph.D.
- Why Prison Social Order Varies Around the World — David Skarbek, Ph.D.
With over 2 million people currently incarcerated throughout the country, how have drug prohibitions, "cash for convictions", and the rise of the prison gang culture contributed to such a staggering number? This weekend seminar explored these difficult topics surrounding mass incarceration and the criminal justice system.
There's little doubt that most humans today are better off than their forebears. Stunningly so, according to economist and historian, Deirdre McCloskey. Even the poorest of humanity will soon be joining the comparative riches of Japan and Sweden and Botswana.
Why? Most economists—from Adam Smith and Karl Marx to Thomas Piketty—say the Great Enrichment since 1800 came from accumulated capital. McCloskey disagrees, fiercely. "Our riches," she argues, "were made not by piling brick on brick, bank balance on bank balance, but by piling idea on idea." Capital was necessary, but so was the presence of oxygen. It was ideas, not matter, that drove "trade-tested betterment." Nor were institutions the drivers.
To learn more about Professor McCloskey's research on this subject, check out her books, "The Bourgeois Era" trilogy.
"Right now, we own stuff. I do, you do, the people across the street who can't get their car in the garage do...we own a ton of stuff. The self-storage industry in the United States has nearly fifty thousand facilities, with more than 15 billion cubic feet of space cluttered with...stuff. But people don't fundamentally want stuff. What they want is the stream of services that stuff provides over time. So if people own stuff—clothes, tools, cars, houses—rather than rent that stuff, it is because owning secures services more reliably and at lower transaction costs than renting. But this "preference" for owning is not real. It might change quickly if entrepreneurs were able to figure out a way to sell reductions in transaction costs...The future will look very different from the past and the present because in the future entrepreneurs will have figured out how to sell reductions in transaction costs. Almost everything we own will soon be a potential rental item, or we won't own it all because we'll rent it from someone else." (Excerpted from 'Tomorrow 3.0 The Sharing Economy', The Independent Review, Vol. 20, No. 3).
To learn more about Professor Munger's research on this subject, check out his recent book, Tomorrow 3.0: Transaction Costs and the Sharing Economy.