Islamic loans not interest-free loans

A Muslim woman’s call for Muslim-friendly home loans sparked a lot of outrage over the weekend.

Islam teaches that interest is evil, and many Muslims try to avoid situations where they earn or pay interest – including traditional loans and investments. But it’s not completely impossible for Muslims to borrow or invest: “Islamic banking” is a fast-growing sector of the finance industry, offering saving and borrowing opportunities that compensate for risk via a slightly different approach.

Continue reading

In praise of egalitarian economics

Eric Crampton points to a study that finds male economists exhibit no gender bias in hiring.

Contrary to prevailing assumptions, men and women faculty members from all four fields preferred female applicants 2:1 over identically qualified males with matching lifestyles (single, married, divorced), with the exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference.

The blindness of economics to gender and other differences (race, sexuality, etc) is inspiring.
Continue reading

Because we know your life better than you

Today’s news brought one of those amazing statements by a person who just can’t stand to see other people having fun.

Stuff reports that the average New Zealander drank 115 liters of sugary drinks last year, “despite constant lobbying against sugary soft drinks”.

Anyone who believes people can think for themselves would conclude that consumers had seen the lobbying, considered the health costs and reached their own conclusions, which add up to around one tall glass of fruit juice a day. Unfortunately the lobby group in question doesn’t see things that way (emphasis added):

Continue reading

Teaching financial literacy via the Tooth Fairy

Chilhood myths such as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy don’t usually do much for a child’s education. Beyond a small encouragement to critical thinking (how does Santa visit every house in only one night?), all they really do is delay telling kids how the world really works.

Jenny Trout has hit on a better way: she’s using the Tooth Fairy to help her daughter understand that there are two sides to every market. Way to go!

What other practical uses have you heard for these myths?

ACT: finally standing for something?

The ACT party has never really stood for anything. Even in its early days when Prebble and Douglas were setting the direction, in the public eye it was mostly a vehicle for yelling about tougher prison sentences, lower tax, and less positive discrimination. This inconsistent set of policies turned it into the Big Meanie Party and let the media reduce it to nothing more than a mini-National, but meaner.
Continue reading

Beliefs and politics

Somewhere off in a different part of the internet, I’ve been getting stick for the following comment:

I guess what I’m trying to say is that liberals care about people too. We believe fervently in the power of individual decisions to bring about good outcomes for everyone. We see tremendous potential in human beings – potential that requires little more than freedom to express itself. We’re passionate about empowering people to run their own lives. All of these things are deeply idealistic and even quite beautiful.

Although the guy I’m arguing with is just a troll, his objection to my use of “fervently” gave me pause.

What I’d like to see is a Liberal Economist (just once) elaborate the evidential basis for their “fervent” beliefs. It is my considered observation that “fervent” anything rarely ends well for anyone.

He’s wrong, of course. Continue reading

The right to a job? Let WINZ run the economy

In a discussion recently about defining Left and Right, someone offered the following distinguishing question.

“Does everyone have the right to a job?” Yesses to the left, Noes to the right.

(If that was you, please let me know so I can attribute it properly! I really must learn to include sources in my notes.)

As usual, I want a third option for answering that question. People who choose the “no sensible answer to this question” door are also revealing something about their beliefs.

Continue reading