10 de mar de 2007

Redundante?

Grande parte da legislação aprovada nos últimos anos é mera rearfirmação dos direitos individuais já garantidos pela Constituição, ou diretrizes administrativas que caberiam melhor como regras de burocracia pública.
Grandes pensadores também sofrem com problemas mundanos


"LAMB: And as you know--you wrote about it--there was quite a
controversy over his first and second marriage, and they are from his
first marriage?


Mr. EBENSTEIN: They--they're both from his first marriage. Hayek
had a divorce from his first wife. She--his first wife would not give
him a divorce, so ultimately he came to the United State in
considerable part to be able to establish residency in 1950 in
Arkansas, which at that time was about the only place that had
permissive, no-fault divorce laws. He then was able to obtain a
divorce and then subsequently married his second cousin. Well, he
married a cousin of his who had been a childhood sweetheart, so it was
something that was not in a--an entirely happy chapter in his life, as
Larry refers to it but...


LAMB: What do they think of it?


Mr. EBENSTEIN: Well, I--I think that it was very hard on them at the
time. At the same time, Hayek was someone who was dedicated to his
work, and in talking both to--particularly to his daughter, she made a
comment along the lines that, `I hardly knew my father, because he
spent so much time researching and--and writing.' This was his primary
activity. It's also been suggested to me that in part as a result of
his unhappy family circumstances, this was part of the reason why he
wrote as much as he did. But I think the truth is that Hayek was
someone who was absolutely committed to the life of the mind, and
regardless of his family circumstances, he would have been a pure
scholar.


LAMB: Why--what was the reason for the divorce, and--and was it
abrupt?


Mr. EBENSTEIN: It was--it was strictly a matter that he wanted
to--he wanted to marry his cousin. They had been--as--as young
people, they had been in a--in a relationship. He then left for the
United States. When he came back, as a result of miscommunication,
she was then in another relationship, and they didn't marry at that
time. They considered trying to marry before World War II, but
decided not to, and then as a result of World War II--his second wife
was in Austria during World War II, so they had no contact for almost
six or seven years. After the war, they decided--Hayek says in his
autobiographical notes that whatever the cost, he'd have to seek a
divorce and that's what he did.


LAMB: What year did he divorce?


Mr. EBENSTEIN: He divorced in 1950."


Moral

Existe algum mérito em se agir moralmente quando a possibilidade de agir de maneira contrária nos é vetada?
A falta de programa

O Estado que cuida apenas da segurança e da justiça é descartado com muita rapidez. Alguém duvida que grande parte dos problemas brasileiros seriam resolvidos se tivéssemos justiça e segurança?

Mas reformas relacionadas com estes ideais são descartadas como simplistas. Na verdade, a ideologia do reformismo social(ista) acaba por transformar questões de segurança e justiça como diretamente ligadas à engenharia social. É a única forma de sobreviver, de justificar seu programa.

Assim, um investimento importante que o governo pode assumir, como educação, se transforma na panacéia de todos os nosso problemas.

Só acabaremos com a violência, dizem, depois que as reformas propostas por eles forem aprovadas. Ou seja, prometem segurança e justiça como resultado do seu programa. Mas o mesmo não foi implementado com este intento. Marx, por exemplo, nunca deu valor algum à questão da criminalidade. Afinal, o conflito social se baseava basicamente numa relação voluntária entre burgueses e proletários, que esconderia, no fundo, uma relação de exploração.

6 de mar de 2007

Pergunta imbecil, questão interessante

Outro dia, bisbilhotando no Orkut, encontrei uma pessoa fazendo a seguinte pergunta:

"levando em consideração que determinado trabalho tem que ser feito, se alguem se dispõe trabalhar sem remuberação está tirando a oportunidade de trabalho remunerado de um profissional, aumentando o indice de desemprego, diminuindo o consumo, contribuindo para que profissionais qualificados aceitem sub-empregos ou caiam na informalidade, diminuindo a arrecadação,etc

a atual onda de trabalho voluntario incentivada até por empresas seria um tiro no pé ?"

A dúvida é imbecil, sem dúvida. Mas a questão é interessante, e investigá-la pode ajudar a revelar melhor o caráter da economia.

Uma outra questão, em parte paralela: o que aconteceria se as pessoas maximizassem o bem estar alheio e nunca o seu? Não, esqueça o Estado. Falo do indivíduo, ao agir de maneira privada, se esforçar apenas em satisfazer o bem estar do outro, não se importando em nada com o seu próprio, apenas enquanto o mesmo serve para satisfazer o bem estar do outro. Será que algum economista já se deu o trabalho de modelar o funcionamento de uma economia "solidária"?

E se utilizássemos outros mecanismos que não o preço para a alocação de recursos? Novamente, não me refiro ao Estado obrigar que os recursos sejam alocados de outra forma, mas sim que as pessoas, ao agir, escolhessem agir de forma alternativa.

4 de mar de 2007

The Failure of the War on Drugs

Every American president since Nixon has engaged in a "war" on illegal drugs: cocaine, heroin, hashish, and the like. And every president without exception has lost this war. The explanation lies not in a lack of effort- indeed, I believe there has been too much effort- but rather in a basic property of the demand for drugs, and the effects of trying to reduce consumption of a good like drugs by punishing persons involved in its trade.

The war on drugs is fought by trying to apprehend producers and distributors of drugs, and then to punish them rather severely if convicted. The expected punishment raises the price that suppliers of drugs need to receive in order for them to be willing to take the considerable risks involved in the drug trade. The higher price discourages purchase and consumption of illegal drugs, as with legal goods and services. The harder the war is fought, the greater the expected punishment, the higher is the street price of drugs, and generally the smaller is the consumption of drugs.

Those suppliers who are caught and punished do not do very well, which is the typical result for the many small fry involved in distributing drugs. On the other hand, those who manage to avoid punishment- sometimes through bribes and other corrupting behavior-often make large profits because the price is raised so high.

This approach can be effective if say every 10% increase in drug prices has a large negative effect on the use of drugs. This is called an elastic demand. However, the evidence from more than a dozen studies strongly indicates that the demand for drugs is generally quite inelastic; that is, a 10% rise in their prices reduces demand only by about 5%. This implies that as drug prices rise, real spending on drugs increases, in this case, by about 5% for every 10% increase in price. So if the war on drugs increased the price of drugs by at least 200%- estimates suggest this increase is about right- spending on drugs would have increased enormously, which it did.

This increased spending is related to increased real costs of suppliers in the form of avoidance of detection, bribery payments, murder of competitors and drug agents, primitive and dnagerous production methods, and the like. In addition, the country pays directly in the form of the many police shifted toward fighting drugs, court time and effort spent on drug offenders, and the cost of imprisonment. The US spends about $40,000 per year per prisoner, and in recent years a sizeable fraction of both federal and state prisoners have been convicted on drug-related charges.

After totaling all spending, a study by Kevin Murphy, Steve Cicala, and myself estimates that the war on drugs is costing the US one way or another well over $100 billion per year. These estimates do not include important intangible costs, such as the destructive effects on many inner city neighborhoods, the use of the American military to fight drug lords and farmers in Colombia and other nations, or the corrupting influence of drugs on many governments.

Assuming an interest in reducing drug consumption- I will pay little attention here to whether that is a good goal- is there a better way to do that than by these unsuccessful wars? Our study suggests that legalization of drugs combined with an excise tax on consumption would be a far cheaper and more effective way to reduce drug use. Instead of a war, one could have, for example, a 200% tax on the legal use of drugs by all adults-consumption by say persons under age 18 would still be illegal. That would reduce consumption in the same way as the present war, and would also increase total spending on drugs, as in the current system.

But the similarities end at that point. The tax revenue from drugs would accrue to state and federal authorities, rather than being dissipated into the real cost involving police, imprisonment, dangerous qualities, and the like. Instead of drug cartels, there would be legal companies involved in production and distribution of drugs of reliable quality, as happened after the prohibition of alcohol ended. There would be no destruction of poor neighborhoods- so no material for "the Wire" HBO series, or the movie "Traffic"- no corruption of Afghani or Columbian governments, and no large scale imprisonment of African-American and other drug suppliers. The tax revenue to various governments hopefully would substitute for other taxes, or would be used for educating young people about any dangersous effects of drugs.

To be sure, there would be some effort by suppliers of drugs to avoid taxes by going underground with their production and distribution. But since there would then be a option to produce legally-there is no such option now- the movement underground would be much less than under the present system. As a result, the police could concentrate its efforts more effectively on a greatly reduced underground drug sector. We have seen how huge taxes on cigarettes in New York and elsewhere have been implemented without massive movement of production and distribution underground in order to avoid the taxes.

So legalization could have a greater effect in reducing drug use than a war on drug without all the large and disturbing system costs. How high the tax rate should be would be determined by social policy. This approach could accommodate a libertarian policy with legalization and low excise taxes, a socially "conservative" position that wants to greatly reduce drug use with very high tax rates, and most positions in between these two extremes. So if drug consumption was not considered so bad once it became legal, perhaps the tax would be small, as with alcoholic beverages in the US. Or perhaps the pressure would be great for very high taxes, as with cigarettes. But whatever the approach, it could be implemented far more successfully by legalizing drugs than by further efforts to heat up the failing war on illegal drugs.


Gary Becker, prêmio nobel de economia

Bennett Fears 'Public Policy Disaster!--It's Already Here

by Milton Friedman

From The Wall Street Journal, September 29, 1989

Letters to the Editor

William Bennett is entirely right (editorial page, Sept. 19) that "there was little, if anything, new in" my open letter to him, just as there is little, if anything, new in his proposed program to rid this nation of the scourge of drugs. That is why I am so disturbed by that program. It flies in the face of decades of experience. More police, more jails, more-stringent penalties. increased efforts at interception, increased publicity about the evils of drugs-all this has been accompanied by more, not fewer, drug addicts; more, not fewer, crimes and murders, more, not less, corruption, more, not fewer, innocent victims.

Like Mr. Bennett, his predecessors were "committed to fighting the problem on several fronts through imaginative policies and hard work over a long period of time." What evidence convinces him that the same policies on a larger scale will end the drug scourge? He offers none in his response to me, only assertion and the conjecture that legalizing drugs would produce "a public policy disaster"-as if that is not exactly what we already have.

Legalizing drugs is not equivalent to surrender in the fight against drug addiction. On the contrary, I believe that legalizing drugs is a precondition for an effective fight. We might then have a real chance to prevent sales to minors; get drugs out of the schools and playgrounds; save crack babies and reduce their number; launch an effective educational campaign on the personal costs of drug use-not necessarily conducted, I might add, by government; punish drug users guilty of harming others while "under the influence"; and encourage large numbers of addicts to volunteer for treatment and rehabilitation when they could do so without confessing to criminal actions. Some habitual drug users would, as he says, "continue to rob and steal to get, money for clothes, food or shelter." No doubt also there would be "a black market to undercut the regulated one"-as there now in bootleg liquor thanks to high taxes on alcoholic beverages. But these would be on a far smaller scale than at present. Perfection is not for this world. Pursuing the unattainable best can prevent achievement of the attainable good.

As Mr. Bennett recognizes, the victims of drugs fall into two classes: those who choose to use drugs and innocent victims who in one way or another include almost all the rest of us. Legalization would drastically reduce the number of innocent victims. That is a virtual certainty. The number of self-chosen victims might increase, but it is pure conjecture that the number would, as he asserts, skyrocket. In any event, while both groups of victim are to be pitied, the innocent victims surely have a far greater claim on our sympathy than the 'self-chosen' victims-or else -the concept of personal responsibility has been emptied of all content.

A particular class of innocent victims generally overlooked is foreigners. By what right do we impose our values on the residents of. Colombia? Or, by our actions undermine the very foundations of their society and condemn hundreds, perhaps thousands of Colombians to violent death? All because the U.S. government is unable to enforce its own laws on its own citizens. I regard such actions as indefensible, entirely aside from the distortions they introduce into our foreign policy.

Finally, he and I interpret the "Founders' view of our system of government" very differently. To him, they believed "that government has a responsibilIty to ... help educate citizens about right and wrong." To me, that is a totalitarian view opening the road to thought control and would have been utterly unacceptable to the Founders. I do not believe, and neither did they, that it is the responsibility of government to tell free citizens what is right and wrong. That is something for them to decide for themselves. Government is a means to enable each of us to pursue our own vision in our own way so long as we do not interfere with the right of others to do the same. In the words of the Declaration of Independence, "all Men are ... endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. that among these are Life, Liberty. and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these Rights Governments are instituted among Men. deriving their just powers from the consent of the Governed." In my view, Justice Louis Brandeis was a "true friend of freedom" when he wrote, "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficial. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasions of their liberty- by evil-minded rulers. The greater dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning. but without understanding."

An Open Letter To Bill Bennett

by Milton Friedman

From: The Wall Street Journal, Thursday, September 7, 1989

Dear Bill: In Oliver Cromwell's eloquent words, "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken" about the course you and President Bush urge us to adopt to fight drugs. The path you propose of more police, more jails, use of the military in foreign countries, harsh penalties for drug users, and a whole panoply of repressive measures can only make a bad situation worse. The drug war cannot be won by those tactics without undermining the human liberty and individual freedom that you and I cherish.

You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are a scourge that is devastating our society. You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are tearing asunder our social fabric, ruining the lives of many young people, and imposing heavy costs on some of the most disadvantaged among us. You are not mistaken in believing that the majority of the public share your concerns. In short, you are not mistaken in the end you seek to achieve.

Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore. Of course the problem is demand, but it is not only demand, it is demand that must operate through repressed and illegal channels. IIlegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials; illegality monopolizes the efforts of honest law forces so that they are starved for resources to fight the simpler crimes of robbery, theft and assault.

Drugs are a tragedy for addicts. But criminalizing their use converts that tragedy into a disaster for society, for users and non-users alike. Our experience with the prohibition of. drugs is a replay of our experience with the prohibition of alcoholic beverages. I append excerpts from a column that I wrote in 1972 on "Prohibition and Drugs."

The major problem then was heroin from Marseilles; today, it is cocaine from Latin America. Today, also, the problem is far more serious than it was 17 years ago: more addicts, more innocent victims; more drug pushers, more law enforcement officials; more money spent to enforce prohibition, more money spent to circumvent prohibition.

Had drugs been decriminalized 17 years ago, "crack" would never have been invented (it was invented because the high cost of illegal drugs made it profitable to provide a cheaper version) and there would today be far fewer addicts. The lives of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent victims would have been saved, and not only in the U.S. The ghettos of our major cities would not be drug-and-crime-infested no-man's lands. Fewer people would be in jails, and fewer jails would have been built.

Colombia, Bolivia and Peru would not be suffering from narco-terror, and we would not be distorting our foreign policy because of narco-terror. Hell would not, in the words with which Billy Sunday welcomed Prohibition, "be forever for rent," but it would be a lot emptier.

Decriminalizing drugs is even more urgent now than in 1972, but we must recognize that the harm done in the interim cannot be wiped out, certainly not immediately. Postponing decriminalization wfll only make matters worse, and make the problem appear even more intractable.

Alcohol and tobacco cause many more deaths in users than do drugs. Decriminalization would not prevent us from treating drugs as we now treat alcohol and tobacco: prohibiting sales of drugs to minors, outlawing the advertising of drugs and similar measures. Such measures could be enforced, while outright prohibition cannot be. Moreover, if even a small fraction of the money we now spend on trying to enforce drug prohibition were devoted to treatment and rehabilitation, in an atmosphere of compassion not punishment, the reduction in drug usage and in the harm done to the users could be dramatic.

This plea comes from the bottom of my heart. Every friend of freedom, and I know you are one, must be as revolted as I am by the prospect of turning the United States into an armed camp, by the vision of jails filled with casual drug users and of an army of enforcers empowered to invade the liberty of citizens on slight evidence. A country in which shooting down unidentified planes "on suspicion" can be seriously considered as a drug-war tactic is not the kind of United States that either you or I want to hand on to future generations.

Stop Taxing Non-Addicts

by Milton Friedman

From Reason Magazine, October, 1988


Legalize all drugs. They could be sold through ordinary retail outlets-primarily, I would presume, drug stores. There should be no FDA or other controls on the drugs. (In fact, I'm in favor of abolishing the FDA for reasons I've set out elsewhere.) However, I believe there should be restrictions on sales to minors.

With respect to restrictions on advertising, I feel uneasy about either position. I shudder at the thought of a TV ad with a pretty woman saying, "My brand will give you a high such as you've never experienced." On the other hand, I have always been very hesitant about restrictions on freedom of adver tising for general free speech reasons. But whatever my own hesitations, I have very little doubt that legalization would be impossible without substantial restrictions on advertising.

It's almost impossible to have a confident view about how legalization would affect patterns of usage. Some elements of legalization would tend to reduce the number of addicts, and some would tend to increase it. As to which would be dominant, I have no idea.

Currently, for, example, it pays a pusher of drugs to make a capital investment in creating an addict. He gives somebody a couple of doses free to get him started, because once he creates an addict he has a captive market. Given that the drug is illegal. his customer is likely to stick so him. After legalization on the other hand, it won't pay anybody to create addicts. This undoubtedly would tend to reduce usage.

There's no doubt, however, that legalization would drastically reduce the market price. The actual cost of producing drugs, whether cocaine, marijuana, or whatnot, is very low. They sell for as much as they do now because of the costs of bribing the relevant officials, making it financially attractive for people to take a chance on getting killed or going to jail, etc. So reducing the costs of bringing drugs to market would result in lower prices, which would undoubtedly have some tendency to increase the quantity demanded. Then there are also different effects on supply, so it is almost impossible to say what the net result would be.

It may well be that there would be more addicts, and I would regret that result. I believe that drugs do an enormous amount of harm. But no law has ever been passed that had zero negative effects. Judging every law requires balancing negative and positive effects. In considering the case for legalization, it is important to make a sharp distinction between addicts who hurt themselves and a legal process (that is, prohibition) that leads to a much larger number of nonaddicts being hurt.

Legalizing drugs would reduce enormously the number of victims of drug use who are not addicts: people who are mugged, people who are corrupted, the reduction of law and order because of the corruption of law enforcement, and the allocation of a very large fraction of law enforcement resources to this one particular activity. There are millions of people who are not addicts who are being harmed by the present system-not to mention the harm to the domestic pobtical systems of countries such as Colombia and Peru.

The costs of drug prohibition for nonaddicts, such as the increased risk of getting mugged, are the equivalent of taxes: they are government-imposed costs. We're imposing right now these very heavy costs on nonaddicts in the mistaken belief that we are thereby helping addicts. That's not sensible.

It would not be sensible after legalization, either. So although addicts should then be treated the way every other citizen is treated-getting the medical treatment provided any other individual-they should not be given special treatment compared to victims of other medical problems. I do not believe it is appropriate to impose special taxes on nonaddicts in order to provide benefits to addicts.

It would be very desirable after legalization for private, voluntary organizations to form for the purpose of treating addicts. I do not believe this is an appropriate function of government any more than I believe health insurance is an appropriate function of government. On the other hand, if government has a welfare system or a negative income tax, that should be available to addicts as well as anybody else. We should not impose on addicts any greater stigma than we attach to other victims. Equal treatment and equal opportunity ought to be the hallmark.

As I wrote in my Newsweek column on drugs 16 years ago, I believe that adults -by this I mean people whom we regard as responsible, and as a practical matter this means people who are neither insane nor below a certain age should be responsible for their own lives. I'm a Libertarian-a limited government libertarian, not an anarchist libertarian. People's freedom to make their own decisions is my fundamental objective.

Prohibition and Drugs

by Milton Friedman

From Newsweek, May 1, 1972


"The reign of tears is over. The slums will soon be only a memory. We will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and comcribs. Men will walk upright now, women will smile, and the children will laugh. Hell will be forever for rent."

That is how Billy Sunday, the noted evangelist and leading crusader against Demon Rum, greeted the onset of Prohibition in early 1920. We know now how tragically his hopes were doomed. New prisons and jails had to be built to house the criminals spawned by converting the drinking of spirits into a crime against the state. Prohibition undermined respect for the law, corrupted the minions of the law, created a decadent moral climate-but did not stop the consumption of alcohol.

Despite this tragic object lesson, we seem bent on repeating precisely the same mistake in the handling of drugs.

ETHICS AND EXPEDIENCY

On ethical grounds, do we have the right to use the machinery of government to prevent an individual from becoming an alcoholic or a drug addict? For children, almost everyone would answer at least a qualified yes. But for responsible adults, I, for one, Would answer no. Reason with the potential addict, yes. Tell him the consequences, yes. Pray for and with him, yes. But I believe that we have no right to use force, directly or indirectly, to prevent a fellow man from committing suicide, let alone from drinking alcohol or taking drugs.

I readily grant that the ethical issue is difficult and that men of goodwill may well disagree. Fortunately, we need not resolve the ethical issue to agree on policy. Prohibition is an attempted cure that makes matters worse-for both the addict and the rest of us. Hence, even if you regard present policy toward drugs as ethically justified, considerations of expediency make that policy most unwise.

Consider first the addict. Legalizing drugs might increase the number of addicts, but it is not clear that it would. Forbidden fruit is attractive, particularly to the young. More important, many drug addicts are deliberately made by pushers, who give likely prospects their first few doses free. It pays the pusher to do so because, once hooked, the addict is a captive customer. If drugs were legaily available, any possible profit from such inhumane activity would disappear, since the addict could buy from the cheapest source.

Whatever happens to the number of addicts, the individual addict would clearly be far better off if drugs were legal. Today, drugs are box incredibly expensive and highly uncertain in quality. Addicts are driven to associate with criminals to get the drugs, become criminals themselves to finance the habit, and risk constant danger of death and disease.

Consider next the test of us. Here the situation is crystal clear. The harm to us from the addiction of others arises almost wholly from the fact that drugs are illegal. A recent cominittee of the American Bar Association estimated that addicts commit one-third to one-half of all street crime in the U.S. Legalize drugs, and street crime would drop dramatically. Moreover, addicts and pushers are not the only ones corrupted. Immense sums are at stake. It is inevitable that some relatively low-paid police and other government officials-and some high-paid ones as well-will succumb to the temptation to pick up easy money.

LAW AND ORDER

Legalizing drugs would simultaneously reduce the amount of crime and raise the quality of law enforcement. Can you conceive of any other measure that would accomplish so much to promote law and order?

But, you may say, must we accept defeat? Why not simply end the drug traffic? That is where experience under Prohibition is most relevant. We cannot end the drug traffic. We may be able to cut off opium from Turkey but there are innumerable other places where the opium poppy grows. With French cooperation, we may be able to make Marseilles an unhealthy place to manufacture heroin but there are innumerable other places where the simple manufacturing operations involved can be carried out. So long as large sums of money are involved-and they are bound to be if drugs are illegal-it is literally hopeless to expect to end the traffic or even to reduce seriously its scope. In drugs, as in other areas, persuasion and example are likely to be far more effective than the use of force to shape others in our image.

Dúvida

Apesar de todas as diferenças, tanto ideológicas quanto práticas, dos partidos envolvidos no debate político, vocês não acham que existe, hoje, uma maior convergência sobre as políticas que NÃO devem ser adotadas, em comparação com o mundo de 50 anos atrás? E que os resultados da globalização ajudaram a descartar, ainda mais, certas políticas como ineficazes? Ou será que é um otimismo exagerado da minha parte?