The Economist holds debates too

Morten Hansen refers to it as ‘the Bible’. It is generally considered as one of the most prestigious publications out there. All debaters should read it regularly. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, The Economist.

In addition to providing weekly analysis of current issues all around the world, it has started an interesting online feature. I think that this shows how important debates are in the Western world.

In short, The Economist hosts regular online debates on various controversial motions. There is no use of writing about it, read it all here. Since distinguished experts are invited to take part in these debates, they provide great reference material for us, competitive debaters, as well.

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10 responses to “The Economist holds debates too

  1. well, yeah.
    Should water be priced on the markets?
    lets speculate on that, as in the russian book. let’s trade air. the one I have inhaled should be more expensive.

  2. It’s not that simple, you know.
    The fundamental difference between water and air is that the latter is not scarce (unless we don’t cut down our greenhouse gas emissions soon enough). Water, on the other hand, is scarce (especially in certain parts of our planet).
    No scarcity -> no necessity for efficient/socially fair allocation of resources -> no necessity for the market mechanism/economic planner to do the job.

  3. Sorry, not ‘greenhouse gas emissions’, but ‘simple air pollutants’.

  4. By the way The Economist also hosts similar debates on the ground (meaning – in real life not the second one).

    Anyone would be interested to organize such a debate in SSE Riga?

  5. i mean, air also might be a problem, in China for example.
    the problem is that if comparing to oil, water comes from lot of places, so what would the price actually mean? how would it solve the problem in Sahara? I mean Lenin had a plan, let’s just make an irrigation system as in ancient Egypt, that will help. well, that’s might have been expensive, but why would he care?

  6. Another big problem with air is that it’s very hard to measure everyone’s actual air consumption 🙂

  7. Well, Mr Vaivars as usually presents flawed arguments, of course air is a scarce resource nowadays, air pollutants on the other hand create externalities, so the most basic solution is the cap and trade :), think about that Vaivars. “Air is difficult to measure”, complete bullshit our lungs has definite volume and this volume in turn determines our air consumption, so in principle it is easy to measure

  8. Well, if you measure the size of a persons lungs and then calculate the fixed amount for tax from that then this feels as ‘existence tax’ or that there is no way to legally avoid that tax. I find this quite unpleasant. Isn’t it so that in principle taxes are collected for doing something not just for being? And in the end, i still maintain that measuring the exact air consumption is tricky (think of sportsmen vs lazy people staying in armchair or smth)

  9. Wow, I have missed a lot of action here!
    I also see this criticism as rather unfair. Let’s become a bit more rigorous:

    (1) About the scarcity of air. If we see ‘air’ as being extremely high quality, then, obviously, it is a scarce resource in some parts of the globe (Beijing, for instance). However, in my analysis above, I conceptualized air as a gas with only one important property – human beings can breathe it and survive without any big harm done to their health. If one sees air this way, it becomes obvious that it is not scarce (the underlying assumption – we look at normal conditions, not if someone is in a submarine or in outer space).
    (2) I am not quite sure why the cap & trade concept, a way how to internalize a production externality, is introduced here. I did not quite follow the leap from the debate about subsidies of water to the debate about dealing with externalities (I am not aware of any important spill-over effects present for the consumption/production of air/water). There is simply no need to talk about greenhouse gas emissions right now.
    (3) The real issue here is not the measurement of air consumption. Even if we assume that the individual consumption of air can be easily measured (with a utopian plan to measure the lung volume & intensity of physical activities for every individual), we still need to decide what to do with this information. The real challenge here is that air is a non-excludable good (think of public goods – one of reasons why government provides them is that if it would be priced on the market many people would simply free-ride and consume it without paying). How can someone be excluded from the consumption of air if he does not pay for it? Even if it would be practically possible, no government would allow citizens to die just because they haven’t paid for something they are consuming.

  10. By the way, SSER people should love the new debate on the Economist Debate resource. Two Nobel Price winners (Black-Scholes model & asymetric information, anyone?) debating about the necessity for strong government intervention in the financial markets. If this is not awesome, I don’t what is..

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