The Birth Lottery: Your Success Depends On Other People

Many people acknowledge that their success, at least in the traditional sense of upward economic mobility, is not of their own making. But most don’t realize how strong an impact external variables have on children’s outcomes. In most cases, birth and early childhood circumstances (i.e. the birth lottery), not intrinsic traits, are the leading forward…

Arbitrage: Buy This & Sell It Over There

I started thinking about international commerce when I read a news article about a 16-year old British girl named Beau Jessup. Unlike other 16-year old girls, Beau runs a company called Special Name, which helps Chinese parents give their kids Western names. Thus far, Ms. Jessup has earned £48,000. As the Huffington Post reports: Jessup asks expectant…

Mediated Knowledge: How Do We Know What We Know?

How do human beings know things? On the surface that seems like a stupid question. We know things because we learn or experience them. For example, I know that Barack Obama was the first African-American president because I was alive for his election. I remember watching the news and reading articles about his victory over…

Nostalgia, Traditionalism, and Economics

Nostalgia is defined as “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.” Between the late 1600s and early 1900s, nostalgia was considered a psychological illness particular to the Swiss. Swiss mercenaries traveling into the lowlands to fight expressed an almost crippling homesickness, along with bouts…