Backing away from mandatory detention

by John Quiggin on June 18, 2005

The big news from Australia this weekend was a relaxation of the policy of mandatory detention of asylum seekers, by far the harshest in the developed world. The changes were forced on Prime Minister Howard by a backbench revolt in his own Liberal Party. Four prominent backbenchers threatened to cross the floor, an event that is extremely rare in Australian politics.

This turnaround may have implications well beyond Australia

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Markets in everything (not)

by Henry on June 18, 2005

“Julian Sanchez”:http://www.reason.com/hitandrun/2005/06/are_there_any_s.shtml and “Lynne Kiesling”:http://www.knowledgeproblem.com/archives/001290.html say very rude things about Bob Geldof’s campaign to stop the sale of tickets to the Live-8 concerts on eBay (BBC story “here”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/4090774.stm). Julian describes this as “idiotic” and Lynne describes it as “wooly thinking about economics.” It’s neither. There’s an excellent rationale for what Geldof did. The tickets were initially distributed through a lottery, in which people sent instant-text messages to an address for a fee; a small percentage of the two million who sent the messages got tickets. It’s safe to assume that those who participated in this lottery did so for a mix of reasons; partly charitable, partly a desire to go to the concert. But altruistic motivations can be driven out by market mechanisms. Richard Titmuss wrote a famous book a few decades ago, “The Gift Relationship”:http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FQP/is_n4343_v126/ai_20534517, which provided a fair amount of empirical evidence to show that this was true in the case of blood donations, and that purely voluntary systems of blood donation did better on a variety of counts than did systems where some people were paid to donate blood (see also this “paper”:http://www.kieranhealy.org/files/papers/embed-alt.pdf by Kieran which touches on Titmuss’s arguments). On this logic, Geldof did exactly the right thing. If tickets to the concerts became commodities to be bought and sold on the open market, it’s highly plausible that future participation in lotteries of this kind would be seriously hurt. Geldof’s actions are perfectly defensible.

Evanston summer fun

by Eszter Hargittai on June 18, 2005

Let’s see how geographically specific I can make my recommendations.:) (But hey, there are enough Chicagoland CT readers that this may be relevant.) I’ve been so preoccupied with looking up summer events in Chicago proper that I’ve missed things in my own backyard. (Well, technically it’s more in front of the building than behind it, but you get my point.:) This weekend – June 18-19 – is Custer’s Last Stand. I literally ran into the preparation yesterday as I went around the block for dinner. It looks like it will be fun. Then again, Jonathan noted in the comments to the other thread that these neighborhood street fairs can be somewhat disappointing. He suggested we check out the ones in our neighborhood. So this being 100 ft away sounds like a good target. It looks like there will be several other such events in Evanston this summer. Of course, if all else fails, there’s always the beach.