Billy Foster, PhD

Billy Foster

Clinical Assistant Professor of Economics at

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The state — or, to make matters more concrete, the government — consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get, and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time it is made good by looting ‘A’ to satisfy ‘B’. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advanced auction on stolen goods. — Henry Louis Mencken, Prejudices, First Series (1919)

Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

Picture a Coke machine next to a Pepsi machine. Let’s say a Coke and Pepsi each cost $1 today. Tomorrow, the price of Coke jumps up to $2. What do you expect will happen? Two things should come to mind. First, fewer people will buy Coke. It’s more expensive. This is the law of demand. The second effect is that some people will now switch from Coke to Pepsi. They are substitutes–when the price of one increases, people buy more of the other. Here are some interesting examples:

Certain nationalities have a relatively harder time gaining American citizenship through immigration and/or naturalization. We’d expect to see an increase in demand for substitutes among these groups. The closest substitute for naturalization is marriage to a U.S. citizen. U.S. immigration policy not only shapes the international marriage market, it does so with national bias.

In times of economic trouble, finding work can be tedious. It requires dedication, persistence, and patience among other things. When job search costs are high, we expect to see an increase in demand for substitutes. The three that come to mind are government assistance, crime, and civil lawsuits.

Huffing is the act of getting high by inhaling toxic fumes. Minor headlines revolve around fears of epidemics among teens. How can we reduce the amount of huffing? Increase the availability of substitutes. Keep some beer in the garage next to the paint. Fewer kids will choose a chemical high when alcohol becomes more available.