This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed back New York University’s Richard Epstein. The focal point of their conversation was a New York Times article by Nathan Schwartz , describing a “money-based caste system” in the travel industry. Does tiered service such as that Schwartz describes make day-to-day interactions between classes less frequent, and perhaps less comfortable? Should we be concerned about the new segregated luxuries the wealthy can enjoy? Should the rich be taxed at higher rates to reduce this segregation? What are the incentive effects of higher taxes?

Conversations with Professor Epstein are always a whirlwind, and this one is no exception. So how did you experience it?

1. Two economics-related points both Epstein and Roberts come back to are the notion of such “luxury guests” sharing the fixed costs with their fellow passengers and the distinction between competitive and political markets. How do each of these concepts inform your reading of the Schwartz piece?

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2. To what extent does Epstein fairly characterize Schwartz’s NYT column? (H/T to commenter Greg G.)

3. What is the message that Roberts wants us to get from the Stateroom Scene from the Marx Brothers’s “Night at the Opera?”

4. Why does Epstein favor a consumption tax over income-based taxes? To what extent do you agree?