Social Sciences and Economics

6.6 Billion

April 19, 2005 | 21 comments

According to the IRS, the federal tax code uses up 6.6 billion hours of time for people and businesses to fill out their tax forms. Now, to tell the truth, I sort of like doing my taxes. The numbers are easy to deal with, I often get money back, and it convinces my wife that I am still a net benefit to the household. Read more »

How much is it worth?

February 14, 2005 | 44 comments

Suppose you think the world would be a better place if there were no Walmarts in your town. Then the next question is, suppose you could live in the world where Walmart was not allowed, but you had less money. Read more »

Toward a Theology of Supermarkets

February 13, 2005 | 24 comments

If you are looking for a morally, philosophically, and theologically fascinating place, I can think of few locations in contemporary life that can compare to the supermarket. Read more »

Mormon Masculinity

December 8, 2004 | 106 comments

An exercise in historical imagination, if you please: you’re sitting in the tabernacle on a hot Sunday afternoon, Brother Brigham at the pulpit. Read more »

Is Liquidity the Root of All Evil?

August 20, 2004 | 17 comments

Money is the root of all evil, or so we are told. What exactly does money do that makes it so nefarious? Should we simply understand this as being a reference to wealth or to money in particular? Read more »

Illegal Work and the Minimum Wage

August 3, 2004 | 5 comments

Last Saturday my advisor informed me that he never wanted to read my dissertation again, which was his way of saying he was ready to sign off. So I thought I would amuse everyone (well, me anyway) with a very brief recap of my findings. Let me assure you that there is no Mormon angle to this work, so if you are offended by the secular, feel free to move on. Read more »

Twelve Differences Between Taxation and Robbery

June 25, 2004 | 34 comments

This is a short primer on the differences between taxation and robbery. At times these two phenomena are sufficiently difficult to differentiate that perhaps such a discussion will be helpful. Feel free to append your own differences to the dozen provided: 1. Taxation is done by a group of people that claim to represent you. Robbers do not claim to represent you. Read more »


June 24, 2004 | 16 comments

Occasionally there is some odd comment here or there on this site alluding to “rational choice” models. Now almost nobody in economics uses this phrase, because you don’t need a word to describe what everyone is doing. Yet rationality seems to get some non-economists excited. Why? Read more »

Blogging in a Different Voice

June 19, 2004 | 23 comments

In my last post I raised several questions about the nature of participation in blogs and other computer mediated communication (CMC) fora, based upon research detailing the life-cycles of such fora. An additional, related line of research that seems to me important for the future of a blog such as Times and Seasons is a substantial body of work exploring the gendered nature of CMCs. This research arose out of observations that suggested a surprising scarcity of female participation in openly accessible CMC fora. Subsequent empirical and ethnographic studies by Susan Herring and others suggest that men and women... Read more »

The Market for Bloggers

June 17, 2004 | 36 comments

Those of us who have been using the Internet for awhile have watched the waxing and waning popularity of a variety of discussion media – beginning with USENET newsgroups, then listservs and chatrooms, various types of conferencing interfaces, IRC channels, and now weblogs. A few of us even remember FIDONET and dial-up computer BBS fora prior to the general accessibility of the Internet. Blogs seem to be the latest in a long line of electronic discussion formats. Researchers who study the social structure of computer-mediated communication (CMC) have noted that CMC discussions appear to evolve through one of a... Read more »

Collective Action: Is it a Problem?

May 29, 2004 | 6 comments

Given our dependence on a lay ministry and an (almost) all volunteer workforce, the fact that the Church operates at all is something of a miracle. Most of us credit (perhaps self-servingly) the “20” in the “80-20 Rule,” that is, those few individuals in every ward who seem to be shouldering the greatest burdens. As my time in the Church has lengthened, my affinity for the 80-20 Rule has waned. The Rule makes sense only when you count all of those nominal members who have no emotional attachment to the Church, but these people are largely excluded from the... Read more »

“Don’t Be Evil”

May 1, 2004 | 42 comments

Unless you have been spelunking for several days, you have heard a lot more about Google recently than you ever wanted to know. (Of course, if you want to know even more, I invite you to check out my other blog where I have been writing about Google ever since the filing.) This event has attracted so much commentary because Google has provided so much fodder. Most importantly, the founders wrote a letter — “‘An Owner’s Manual’ for Google’s Shareholders” — that has struck a chord with many who fancy themselves as part of a “corporate social responsibility”... Read more »

Brigham’s Attack on Communal Economics

March 24, 2004 | 16 comments

One of my most prized worldly possessions is a complete set of the Journal of Discourses. I love these books. I love the way that they look. It probably has something to do with my fascination with law books, which they closely resemble. I also love the sermons. They are a wonderful mass of exhortation, speculation, advice, brow beating, and occasionally sublime testimony. They also have a wonderful ability to surprise you. A couple of Sundays ago, I pulled down a volume at random and started reading a sermon. (I do this from time to time.) While I was... Read more »

Charity and the Ex Post/Ex Ante Dilemma

March 5, 2004 | 35 comments

We are supposed to help those who are in need. The scriptures seem to be quite clear about this. And that, of course, is the problem. I have phrased the issue in what legal theorists call the ex post perspective. We take need as given and the morally relevant question is what our response to the need should be. Our decision is seen as being an after-the-fact (in this case the fact is need) event. The problem, of course, is that we can also look at our decision from what legal theorists call an ex ante perspective. Rather than... Read more »

Deserving One’s Wages

February 23, 2004 | 14 comments

Russell’s qualified repudiation of the idea that all those with a six-figure salary are on their way to hell has got me thinking about wages and what one can deserve. Read more »

Street Preachers: The Coasian Solution

February 6, 2004 | 6 comments

There has been quite a bit of discussion, some here and some on the LDS-law list, about street preachers and garment desecration. But it seems like everyone is missing the obvious question: What would Coase do? Read more »

Economic Growth Correlates Positively with Religiosity

February 2, 2004 | 2 comments

According to researchers at Harvard, the religiosity of a country is a good predictor of it’s economic growth. The New York Times story is here. Read more »