EconTalk
Russ Roberts

There's a Hole in the Bucket

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

leaky bucket.jpg There has been a lot of talk lately about the idea of a basic income guarantee, or BIG, which has garnered support from across the ideological spectrum. In this week's EconTalk episode, host Russ Roberts welcomes back listener favorite Mike Munger, a supporter of the idea. The virtual sparks fly as the two friends discuss the the reasons for and against a BIG. After listening, what do you think the potential for a BIG is? Could it really replace all other welfare programs? Would welfare be more effective or cheaper? Would we get bigger or smaller government as a result? Would we--at last--begin to define ourselves not by our jobs but by something more personal? And what of unintended consequences...they always emerge!

We hope you'll share your thoughts with us in response to these prompts, over at EconLog, or in the episode's comments. We also hope you'll take a few minutes to give us your feedback on EconTalk over the last year as well. Remember, we love to hear from you.

1. What are Munger's grounds for support of a BIG? What are Roberts's grounds for his skepticism? By whom were you more convinced, and why?

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Podcast episode Michael Munger on the Basic Income Guarantee

EconTalk Episode with Mike Munger
Hosted by Russ Roberts

UBI.jpg Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the virtues and negatives of a basic guaranteed income--giving every American adult an annual amount of money to guarantee a subsistence level of well-being. How would such a plan work? How would it interact with current anti-poverty programs? How would it affect recipients and taxpayers? Munger attacks these issues and more in a lively conversation with Roberts.

Size:29.5 MB
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Podcast episode Robert Hall on Recession, Stagnation, and Monetary Policy

EconTalk Episode with Robert Hall
Hosted by Russ Roberts

recession.jpg Economist Robert Hall of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the current state of the U.S. economy and what we know and don't know about the recovery from the Great Recession. Much of the conversation focuses on the choices facing the Federal Reserve and the policy instruments the Fed has available. The conversation includes a discussion of Hall's experience as chair of the National Bureau of Economic Research Committee on Business Cycle Dating.

Size:31.4 MB
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It's in the Perks

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

inequality4.jpg Mandating benefits- be it culturally or legislatively- is not a free lunch. So begins this week's EconTalk conversation, in which host Russ Roberts welcomes Mercatus Center economist Mark Warshawsky. In a new working paper, Warshawsky has taken data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics which he asserts shows that income inequality has been rather drastically overstated in the last several decades- IF you take total compensation, not just take-home pay, into account. The culprit, he argues, is the rapidly rising cost of health care, which has outpaced income growth significantly.

What do you think of Warshawsky's claim? How many non-monetary compensation "perks" do you receive through your employer, and do you value them all the same? When is an employment benefit not a value? If you're an employer, how do you balance your employees' productivity with the skyrocketing cost of health insurance?

1. Listening to Warshawsky's explanation, to what extent do you think we underestimate the well-being of workers relative to 10-20 years ago? What does Warshawsky mean when he claims that true inequality is getting smaller, and to what extent are you convinced?

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Podcast episode Mark Warshawsky on Compensation, Health Care Costs, and Inequality

EconTalk Episode with Mark Warshawsky
Hosted by Russ Roberts

insurance%20inequality.jpg Economist and author Mark Warshawsky of George Mason University's Mercatus Center talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his work on the role health care benefits play in measuring inequality. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Warshawsky shows that because health care benefits are a larger share of compensation for lower-paid than higher-paid workers, measures of inequality and even measures of economic progress can be misleading or distorted. The conversation covers a wide range of topics related to how the labor market treats workers and the role of benefits in setting overall compensation.

Size:30.8 MB
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Beats the Alternative

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

queue.jpg If you were a poor person in a poor country, would you prefer steady work in a factory or to be your own boss, buying and selling in the local market? That's the opening question for this week's episode, in which host Russ Roberts welcomes back Chris Blattman of the University of Chicago to discuss his research on employment alternatives in poor countries. The results Blattman and his colleague found surprised him, and me, too.

If we assume that a long queue for job openings in a factory means that such employment beats the other alternatives, what do we miss? Let's hear your thoughts in this week's conversation. We love to hear from you.

1. Blattman notes that one-time cash transfers to people in poor countries do have the effect of raising the individual's income, yet without any discernible effect on economic growth. Why is that the case? To what extent does this suggest that such aid programs are misguided?

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Podcast episode Chris Blattman on Sweatshops

EconTalk Episode with Chris Blattman
Hosted by Russ Roberts

textiles.jpg If you were a poor person in a poor country, would you prefer steady work in a factory or to be your own boss, buying and selling in the local market? Economist Chris Blattman of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about experimental evidence on how poor people choose in the labor market and the consequences for their income, health, and satisfaction.

Size:35.6 MB
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Islands of Poverty in a Sea of Wealth

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

What do you imagine when you think about a Native American reservation? Do you see sweeping vistas of the desert or plains? Glittering casinos? Or substandard housing, stray dogs, and young men milling about? In this week's episode, host Russ Roberts welcomes back Terry Anderson of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), who describes most reservations today as "islands of poverty in a sea of wealth."

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The conversation covers what life was like for Native Americans pre-Europeans through today, raising lots of interesting questions about the changing nature of Indian institutions and the effects of current policy on reservation life today. What did you learn from this week's episode, and what questions linger in your mind? Let us know, or have a crack at one of those posed below. As always, we love to hear from you.

1. Anderson insists that Native Americans had efficient and innovative economic institutions prior to the arrival of the Europeans, after which worsening relations prompted the Indians to adopt different strategies with the Europeans. When and why did this change? Put another way, why did Native Americans switch from "trade" to "raid?"

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Podcast episode Terry Anderson on Native American Economics

EconTalk Episode with Terry Anderson
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Native%20American.jpg Terry Anderson of PERC talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about economic life for Native Americans. Anderson discusses economic life before the arrival of Europeans and how current policy affects Native Americans living on reservations today.

Size:30.8 MB
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Winners Wage War

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

war opinion.jpg Warren Harding, widely regarded as one of the worst Presidents in United States history, also had perhaps the best record for peace and prosperity. How can that be? In this week's EconTalk episode, host Russ Roberts welcomes back NYU political scientist Bruce Bueno de Mesquita to discuss the fascinating (albeit depressing) correlation between presidential popularity and war-making. Why does public opinion seem to regard war so favorably? How do we assess the performance of US Presidents, and how should we?

We'd like to hear your thoughts on these questions...Feel free to raise additional questions that struck you regarding this week's conversation, too. As always, we love to hear from you.

1. How does Bueno de Mesquita describe the different ways in which war is waged in autocracies versus democracies? Why is war approached so differently by each?

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