The Unequal Distribution of Economic Freedom
At Forbes, Alejandro Chafuen surveys countries that have successfully raised lower incomes and argues that the main causes of income inequality are:

1. Corruption: Defined as those actions by government agents that sell what they do not have a right to sell, such as subsidies, preferential regulations and others, which disproportionally affects the poor.

2. Cronyism: This is similar to corruption but usually “legal.”

3. Regulatory barriers: This is in the form of high capital requirements, mountains of red tape, and exorbitant license fees, especially in the areas where the poor enter the market.

4. Government schools:  In “This Wonderful Tree,” James Tooley, of the E.G. West Centre, documents how in several nations the poor prefer to send their children to humble, but more efficient, private schools. Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, of the Becker Friedman Institute, argues that a big improvement in high school graduation rates would reduce inequality of earnings.

5. Monetary Policy: Ralph Benko, a contributor, recently wrote a column on inequality where he took as a given that major players in the banking sector were being unjustly enriched by the current monetary policy.

Meanwhile, at the Acton Institute Blog, Elise Hilton says the the current administration’s preoccupation with income inequality is really about stirring up and exploiting envy. There are some powerful quotes in this piece. For example, this extract from a short story by Kurt Vonnegut.

THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

Marijuana Use During Pregnancy Affects Baby’s Brains
President Obama and some of our politicians are going to have a lot to answer for. Pictures of giggling grannies munching away on pot cookies is what they and the media want you to see. It’s all such a laugh, isn’t it. What they don’t show you are the psychiatric wards full of ex-pot users. And now science is beginning to explain why:

Using marijuana during pregnancy could affect a baby’s brain development by interfering with how brain cells are wired, a new study in mice and human tissue suggests.

Researchers studied marijuana’s effects on mice and brain tissue from human fetuses, and found that the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, interferes with the formation of connections between nerve cells in the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain responsible for higher thinking skills and forming memories.

The effects of prenatal marijuana exposure could even last into adulthood. The drug could have direct effects, or it could sensitize the brain to future drug exposure or neuropsychiatric illnesses.

Men are More Forgetful than Women
No, really.

This feels a bit like self-flagellation (I imagine), but men, at least we have a new excuse (“Science made me do it”):

Men are frequently accused of forgetting birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and even something as simple as taking the trash out. But they have developed this stigma for a reason, a new study suggest – it found that men are more forgetful than women, regardless of their age.

The research team, led by Prof. Jostein Holmen of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, published the study findings in the journal BMC Psychology.

  • Overall, the researchers found that memory problems increased with age. But in all age groups, men reported more memory problems than women.
  • Furthermore, the investigators were surprised to find that younger men forget just as much as older men.
  • Elise Hilton

    Dear David, thanks for the shout-out to the Acton PowerBlog. However, you’ll notice that my name is Elise, not Emily. Emily is a lovely name, but not my lovely name; could you please correct it?

    Thanks! God bless!

    • David Murray

      Sorry, Elise. Thanks for your good humor!

  • rcjr

    Alejandro was a student at Grove City College when I was there. Always diligent, earnest, and plenty smart. Thanks for highlighting this excellent piece. Hope you are well brother.