Wednesday, January 6, 2016

TRUE CONFESSION: I was a referee for the journal Politics, Philosophy & Economics

By Walter Block

Recently, I referred an article for the journal Politics, Philosophy & Economics. The paper submitted to me by the editor was entitled “An Egalitarian Defense of Rent Control.” As far as I was concerned, the only good thing about this paper was that its title accurately reflected its content. Here is my referee’s report:

You nowhere show that landlords are richer than tenants. There are plenty of
rich tenants. I think data on this is absolutely necessary to make your
paper coherent.

You state: “Succinctly put, relational egalitarians are
against the domination of one person (or group) by another. Instead, they
advocate social and political relationships that permit all to look one
another in the eye as peers.” Speaking of eyes, most egalitarians, such as I
assume is true of the author, have two of them. But there are blind people
out there. Is it not hypocritical for egalitarians to keep both of their
eyes? [That is poke them out so everyone is equal-RW]...

Most academic egalitarians have a high IQ. I have no doubt this applies to you, since you write so beautifully. Suppose there were a machine
that could transfer IQ points, intelligence, from smart to stupid people.

Would you be willing to give up, say, 50 IQ points to a stupid person? After
all, a big determinant of income and wealth divergence is intelligence.

In a revised version of this paper I would like you to at least reply to these
critiques of egalitarianism. You mention and rely upon Radin’s article
greatly. I suggest you also respond to those of her critics, such as this
one: Block, Walter E. 2002. “A critique of the legal and philosophical case
for rent control,” Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 40, pp. 75-90;

Stated egalitarian Assar Lindbeck “”next to bombing, rent control seems in many cases to be the most
efficient technique so far known for destroying cities.” Comment on this.

This quote was the source of that book on rent control showing pictures of
the South Bronx and Dresden, Hiroshima.

You say in your essay that all rubble looks alike. I should like you to delve further into these pictures,
and cite this book: Rent Control: Myths and Realities, eds: Block, Walter,
Olsen, Edgar, Fraser Institute.

Gunnar Myrdal stated, “Rent control has in certain Western countries constituted, maybe, the worst example of poor planning by governments lacking courage and vision.” comment.

As to minimum wage, the empirical results depend, almost entirely, on the time dimension.
If the econometric results are taken soon after the increase in wage rates,
there will be little or no loss of jobs, only increased wages. If long
afterward, then, all those with marginal revenue product less than the
stipulated level will lose their jobs. Before the advent of the min wage,
the unemployment rates of all socioeconomic groups were similar. Now, the
unemployment  rate of black teens is quadruple that of middle aged whites.

If the min wage law could really raise wages, why not set it at
$1000 per hour, and all poverty would be ended. Comment?

The reason rents are high in California is the Fed’s increase in the stock of money, and
limitations on land for development in that state. Comment?

The above originally appeared at

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