The Cost of Seat Belts

Can we assume that seat belts make us safer? Maybe. Writing about seat belts in 1975, University of Chicago economist Sam Peltzman described what we now call the Peltzman Effect. Sam Peltzman said tha…

Millionaire Inventors

Assume you have $1.4 million dollars that you want to give away. Your goal is to spur the development of new technology, but just not any innovation–something that you want people to invent. Whi…

Who Are We?

Environmental concerns? You might want to look at what the The American Community Survey for 2010 says about who drives alone to work (105 million) and how many of us take public transportation (7 mil…

Operation Twist Again

Operation Twist is a great name but tough to understand. Our starting point is interest rates. When you loan someone $100, you expect to be repaid more. How much extra? It depends on many variables so…

An Optional Income Tax

What if you could decide whether to pay an income tax? Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff has a plan that gives us a choice. His basic message, though, is that Congress had better start to…

Creative Incentives

In his New Yorker Magazine article on creativity, Malcolm Gladwell describes Mick Jagger, the musician, and Gary Starkweather, an optical engineer, as gentlemen who pour out countless ideas and develo…

Corporate Tax Matters

CBS’s 60 minutes, the NY Times, Forbes, all seem to be talking about how large corporations avoid paying U.S. income taxes. GE, for example, has one of the biggest tax returns (24,000 pages) and…

Toasters and Pencils

In this TED talk, a designer explains how he tried to build his own toaster. Deciding to focus on five basic ingredients instead of the 100 he would really need, he describes what happened. For the st…

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