Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Hurricane

1. My son's soccer coach works for a large trucking line. He told me just tonight that his company had been asked to send its refrigerated trucks to New Orleans to help store all the dead bodies until the authorities there identify the dead and figure out what to do. He said that the company had to refuse, because the trucks are used to carry refrigerated food. While the company was glad to help carry ice and other goods to help the survivors, it couldn't put dead bodies in trucks that are used for food.

2. Not to be a curmudgeon, but I have to ask: Isn't it about time that our public officials started talking about how deeply unwise it would be to rebuild a city that is 1) below sea level, 2) built on swampland, and 3) sandwiched between the sea and a really big lake? One might as well build a city on the summit of Mt. St. Helens.

Article on Delegation

This seems about right:
Why do Politicians Delegate?

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
University of Bocconi - IGIER; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)
July 2005

Harvard Institute of Economic Research Discussion Paper No. 2079

Opportunistic politicians maximize the probability of reelection and rents from office holding. Can it be optimal from their point of view to delegate policy choices to independent bureaucracies? The answer is yes: politicians will delegate some policy tasks, though in general not those that would be socially optimal to delegate. In particular, politicians tend not to delegate coalition forming redistributive policies and policies that create large rents or effective campaign contributions. Instead they prefer to delegate risky policies to shift risk (and blame) on bureaucracies.
Reminds me of the work of David Schoenbrod.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Stop Using Sunscreen

A very interesting article is in this month's Harvard Magazine (not online yet). The theory is that by using sunscreen, people prevent their bodies from producing Vitamin D, and thereby create a higher risk of several types of cancer, far outweighing the risk of skin cancer. Here are some excerpts:
According to a new theory, sealing our skins off from the sun may cause more cancer deaths than it prevents.

Associate professor of medicine Edward Giovannucci notes that UV-B radiation, the source of suntan and sunburn, is also the component of sunlight that enables human skin . . . to synthesize the "sunshine vitamin" -- D -- used by every type of cell in the human body. Animal research has associated a lack of vitamin D with multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, and pathological processes that underlie several forms of cancer, including those of the colon, breast, prostate, and digestive tract . . . .

"If you look at the cancers as a group," says Giovannucci . . . "you'll see that 30 people dies of these cancers for every one who dies of skin cancer."
The article then discusses several key pieces of evidence:

1) A recent study shows Vitamin D's role in preventing cell proliferation, etc.

2) Northeastern people have higher rates of colon cancer.

3) Fat people have higher rates of cancer along with lower levels of vitamin D (which is fat-soluble).

4) Black people have much lower levels of vitamin D and higher rates of cancer, particularly prostate cancer. Giovannucci says that in a study of the Health Professionals sample, he was able to control for a wide variety of variables affecting the rates of cancer for white vs. black people, but "the only factor we found that showed a significant difference was vitamin D levels."

Also worth noting: 20 minutes in the sun can produce 10,000 units of vitamin D, which is the equivalent of drinking 100 glasses of fortified milk.

In concluding, Giovannucci says: "More sun, and higher rates of vitamin D, correlate with fewer cancers. It might ultimately prevent only a fraction, perhaps 30 percent, of those cancers it seems to affect. But that would still be vastly more cases than any skin cancers it causes. I don't recommend that people go out and get sunburned -- use common sense. But if the studies hold up, vitamin D will be a relatively important factor, since it affects such a large number of cancers. It may be time to rethink the message we are sending about sunlight."

Saturday, August 27, 2005

New Blog

Andy Morriss has a new blog on the intersection of religion and economics. He has several co-bloggers. Looks very interesting.

Roland Fryer

The Harvard Gazette has a nice profile of one of my favorite economists: Roland Fryer. (See also this much longer New York Times article from March of this year.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Souter on Roe

Given the forthcoming hearings over Roberts, I thought it interesting to reprint this old post containing Souter's confirmation testimony regarding Roe v. Wade:
SEN. KOHL: Just a couple of questions on Roe [v.] Wade. In 1973 when it was promulgated, you were in the AG's office --


SEN. KOHL: -- and it's hard to go back to what you did that day, or in the days and weeks after, but I am just presuming that there was conversation between you and your colleagues at that time. Do you recall your feelings about Roe v. Wade back when it was promulgated?

JUDGE SOUTER: I frankly don't remember the early discussions on it. I mean, everybody was arguing it. The -- the -- it was probably fought, after more argument among lawyers, than any other case certainly of its time, and the only thing I specifically remember is that I can remember -- not only I but others whom I knew really switching back and forth, playing devil's advocate on Roe v. Wade.

SEN. KOHL: You had no -- you had no opinion about it other than just to say, "Wow"?

JUDGE SOUTER: Oh, I doubtless -- I doubtless had an opinion. No, I didn't just say wow.

SEN. KOHL: What was your opinion in 1973 on Roe [v.] Wade?

JUDGE SOUTER: Well, with respect, Senator, I'm going to ask you to let me draw the line there --

SEN. KOHL: Okay.

JUDGE SOUTER: -- because I don't think I could get into opinions of 1973 without their being taken indications of opinions of 1976.

SEN. KOHL: Okay. With respect to Roe [v.] Wade just once more, is it fair to state even though you're not prepared to discuss it, understandably, that you do have an opinion on Roe [v.] Wade?

JUDGE SOUTER: It -- I think it would be misleading to say that. I have not got any agenda on what should be done with Roe v. Wade if that case were brought before me. I will listen to both sides of that case. I have not made up my mind. And I do not go on the Court saying I must go one way or I must go another way.

Quoted in N.Y. Times, Sept. 15, 1990, at 10, col. 3.
Souter "frankly [didn't] remember the early discussions," except for the fact that "not only I but others whom I knew really switch[ed] back and forth, playing devil's advocate on Roe v. Wade." This was simply an ingenious way of putting it, if the objective was to make it completely impossible to decipher what Souter's own views were.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Juan Cole must be smarting from this rebuke by the wife of Steven Vincent, an American killed in Iraq.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Ten Commandments

The Eighth Circuit, sitting en banc, just issued a decision today upholding a Ten Commandments display in a city park in Nebraska.


Under the modest headline "Roberts Resisted Women's Rights," the Washington Post offers this detail:
His remark on whether homemakers should become lawyers came in 1985 in reply to a suggestion from Linda Chavez, then the White House's director of public liaison. Chavez had proposed entering her deputy, Linda Arey, in a contest sponsored by the Clairol shampoo company to honor women who had changed their lives after age 30. Arey had been a schoolteacher who decided to change careers and went to law school.

In a July 31, 1985, memo, Roberts noted that, as an assistant dean at the University of Richmond law school before she joined the Reagan administration, Arey had "encouraged many former homemakers to enter law school and become lawyers." Roberts said in his memo that he saw no legal objection to her taking part in the Clairol contest. Then he added a personal aside: "Some might question whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good, but I suppose that is for the judges to decide."

After the White House, Arey went on to run for Congress, serve on presidential advisory committees, work as an attorney at a major law firm in the West, serve as vice president for congressional relations for a Washington lobbying firm, and was eventually appointed in 2002 as a senior associate commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. She has retired.

Roberts's comment about homemakers startled women across the ideological spectrum. Phyllis Schlafly, the president of the conservative Eagle Forum who entered law school when she was 51, said, "It kind of sounds like a smart alecky comment." She noted that Roberts was "a young bachelor and hadn't seen a whole lot of life at that point."

Schlafly said, "I knew Lyn Arey. She is a fine woman." But she added, "I don't think that disqualifies him. I think he got married to a feminist; he's learned a lot."

Kim Gandy, president of the liberal National Organization for Women, which already has opposed Roberts, reacted more harshly. "Oh. Wow. Good heavens," she said. "I find it quite shocking that a young lawyer, as he was at the time, had such Neanderthal ideas about women's place."
It could hardly be any clearer that Roberts wasn't denigrating women, he wasn't saying that women belong in the home, or anything of the sort: He was making a lawyer joke. If it needs to be spelled out, he was suggesting that lawyers are so disputatious and bad for society that we shouldn't be encouraging more people (of any sort) to become lawyers. The context happened to involve homemakers, but the joke would work just as well if it had been truck drivers or trash collectors or any other sort of occupation ("Some might question whether encouraging janitors to become lawyers contributes to the common good").

Of course, given that Roberts is a lawyer himself, he was merely showing a self-deprecating sense of humor. And for this he is to be pilloried 20 years later? Good heavens.

UPDATE: Brad DeLong -- who when not insanely partisan is a smart fellow -- disparages the Roberts memo. When the first (of many) commenters pointed out that Roberts was obviously making a lawyer joke, DeLong's first comment was this:
I know male right-wing activists--the kind who become Reagan administration junior staffers--of that time period. It's a lawyer joke, and it's a women joke. A better paraphrase would be: "A woman's place is in the kitchen, but maybe judges will like the eye-candy."
In response to that comment, I left two comments on DeLong's site. One quoted my own post here. The other responded to DeLong's pretense at analyzing Roberts' meaning. DeLong immediately deleted that comment. Here's what it said:
It is unfair to judge Roberts' meaning by referring to the supposed attitudes of unnamed "activists" who had nothing to do with Roberts himself, but who were merely the "kind" of people who worked for Reagan. Guilt by association? This doesn't even rise to that level. It's more like "guilt by free association in the mind of someone else."
Nothing uncivil there, just making the obvious point that it isn't fair to condemn Roberts not for what he said, but for being of the wrong "kind." Nonetheless, it was deleted. Apparently DeLong has quite the reputation for this sort of thing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fifth Circuit win

I previous blogged about a pro bono case that I argued before the en banc Fifth Circuit. Today, the Fifth Circuit unanimously found in favor of my client.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Psychology and Economics

This looks interesting:
What's Psychology Worth? A Field Experiment in the Consumer Credit Market

University of Chicago - Graduate School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
Yale University - Economic Growth Center; Yale University - Institution for Social and Policy Studies
Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Princeton University
Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Yale University Economic Growth Center Discussion Paper No. 918

Numerous laboratory studies report on behaviors inconsistent with rational economic models. How much do these inconsistencies matter in natural settings, when consumers make large, real decisions and have the opportunity to learn from experiences? We report on a field experiment designed to address this question. Incumbent clients of a lender in South Africa were sent letters offering them large, short-term loans at randomly chosen interest rates. Psychological features on the letter, which did not affect offer terms or economic content, were also independently randomized. Consistent with standard economics, the interest rate significantly affected loan take-up. Inconsistent with standard economics, the psychological features also significantly affected take-up. The independent randomizations allow us to quantify the relative importance of psychological features and prices. Our core finding is the sheer magnitude of the psychological effects. On average, any one psychological manipulation has the same effect as a one half percentage point change in the monthly interest rate. Interestingly, the psychological features appear to have greater impact in the context of less advantageous offers. Moreover, the psychological features do not appear to draw in marginally worse clients, nor does the magnitude of the psychological effects vary systematically with income or education. In short, even in a market setting with large stakes and experienced customers, subtle psychological features that normatively ought to have no impact appear to be extremely powerful drivers of behavior.

George Will column

This was funny:
Judging by the river of rhetoric that has flowed in response to the court vacancy, contemporary liberalism's narrative of American constitutional history goes something like this:
On the night of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere galloped through the Massachusetts countryside, and to every Middlesex village and farm went his famous cry of alarm,

'The British are coming! The British are coming to menace the ancient British right to abortion!'

The next morning, by the rude bridge that arched the flood, their flag to April's breeze unfurled, the embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard round the world in defense of the right to abortion. The Articles of Confederation, ratified near the end of the Revolutionary War to Defend Abortion Rights, proved unsatisfactory, so in the summer of 1787, 55 framers gathered here to draft a Constitution. Even though this city was sweltering, the framers kept the windows of Independence Hall closed. Some say that was to keep out the horseflies. Actually, it was to preserve secrecy conducive to calm deliberations about how to craft a more perfect abortion right. The Constitution was ratified after the state conventions vigorously debated the right to abortion. But 74 years later, a great Civil War had to be fought to defend the Constitution against states that would secede from the Union rather than acknowledge that a privacy right to abortion is an emanation loitering in the penumbra of other rights. And so on.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


My classmate and friend Sean Griffith is one of the many law professors opining here about a recent opinion upholding Disney's choice to compensate CEO Michael Ovitz $140 million for a little over a year's work.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Consumption Tax

An interesting article:
The Superiority of an Ideal Consumption Tax over an Ideal Income Tax

Stanford Law School
University of Chicago Law School

U Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 251

This paper considers the arguments regarding the choice between an ideal income tax and an ideal consumption tax, focusing on an argument made by Atkinson and Stiglitz regarding neutral taxation of commodities. The argument shows that a properly designed consumption tax is Pareto superior to an income tax: it is more efficient and at least as good at redistribution. The major exception to the Atkinson and Stiglitz result is if individuals with equal wages have different propensities to save. In that event, a consumption tax may no longer be Pareto superior to an income tax. A consumption tax will continue, however, to be more desirable than an income tax. It will be strictly more efficient than an income tax, and under reasonable assumptions, better at redistributing from those who are better off to those who are worse off. This result holds true even if one heavily weights the welfare of the poor.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Chesterton on Miracles

It reminds me of one of my favorites passages from G.K. Chesteron's Orthodoxy:
If it comes to human testimony there is a choking cataract of human testimony in favour of the supernatural. If you reject it, you can only mean one of two things. You reject the peasant's story about the ghost either because the man is a peasant or because the story is a ghost story. That is, you either deny the main principle of democracy, or you affirm the main principle of materialism -- the abstract impossibility of miracle. You have a perfect right to do so; but in that case you are the dogmatist. It is we Christians who accept all actual evidence -- it is you rationalists who refuse actual evidence being constrained to do so by your creed. But I am not constrained by any creed in the matter, and looking impartially into certain miracles of mediaeval and modern times, I have come to the conclusion that they occurred. All argument against these plain facts is always argument in a circle. If I say, "Mediaeval documents attest certain miracles as much as they attest certain battles," they answer, "But mediaevals were superstitious"; if I want to know in what they were superstitious, the only ultimate answer is that they believed in the miracles. If I say "a peasant saw a ghost," I am told, "But peasants are so credulous." If I ask, "Why credulous?" the only answer is -- that they see ghosts. Iceland is impossible because only stupid sailors have seen it; and the sailors are only stupid because they say they have seen Iceland.


One thing that bothers me about David Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. On one hand, he is a thoroughgoing skeptic about the very possibility of causation. We have no idea what really amounts to causation; all we can really say is that one event follows another. Note especially the highlighted passages:
BUT to hasten to a conclusion of this argument, which is already drawn out to too great a length: we have sought in vain for an idea of power or necessary connexion in all the sources from which we could suppose it to be derived. It appears that, in single instances of the operation of bodies, we never can, by our utmost scrutiny, discover any thing but one event following another, without being able to comprehend any force or power by which the cause operates, or any connexion between it and its supposed effect. The same difficulty occurs in contemplating the operations of mind on body--where we observe the motion of the latter to follow upon the volition of the former, but are not able to observe or conceive the tie which binds together the motion and volition, or the energy by which the mind produces this effect. The authority of the will over its own faculties and ideas is not a whit more comprehensible: so that, upon the whole, there appears not, throughout all nature, any one instance of connexion which is conceivable by us. All events seem entirely loose and separate. One event follows another; but we never can observe any tie between them. They seem conjoined, but never connected. And as we can have no idea of any thing which never appeared to our outward sense or inward sentiment, the necessary conclusion seems to be that we have no idea of connexion or power at all, and that these words are absolutely, without any meaning, when employed either in philosophical reasonings or common life.

* * *
Even after one instance or experiment where we have observed a particular event to follow upon another, we are not entitled to form a general rule, or foretell what will happen in like cases; it being justly esteemed an unpardonable temerity to judge of the whole course of nature from one single experiment, however accurate or certain. But when one particular species of event has always, in all instances, been conjoined with another, we make no longer any scruple of foretelling one upon the appearance of the other, and of employing that reasoning, which can alone assure us of any matter of fact or existence. We then call the one object, Cause; the other, Effect. We suppose that there is some connexion between them; some power in the one, by which it infallibly produces the other, and operates with the greatest certainty and strongest necessity.

It appears, then, that this idea of a necessary connexion among events arises from a number of similar instances which occur of the constant conjunction of these events; nor can that idea ever be suggested by any one of these instances, surveyed in all possible lights and positions. But there is nothing in a number of instances, different from every single instance, which is supposed to be exactly similar; except only, that after a repetition of similar instances, the mind is carried by habit, upon the appearance of one event, to expect its usual attendant, and to believe that it will exist. This connexion, therefore, which we feel in the mind, this customary transition of the imagination from one object to its usual attendant, is the sentiment or impression from which we form the idea of power or necessary connexion. Nothing farther is in the case. Contemplate the subject on all sides; you will never find any other origin of that idea. This is the sole difference between one instance, from which we can never receive the idea of connexion, and a number of similar instances, by which it is suggested. The first time a man saw the communication of motion by impulse, as by the shock of two billiard balls, he could not pronounce that the one event was connected: but only that it was conjoined with the other. After he has observed several instances of this nature, he then pronounces them to be connected. What alteration has happened to give rise to this new idea of connexion? Nothing but that he now feels these events to be connected in his imagination, and can readily foretell the existence of one from the appearance of the other. When we say, therefore, that one object is connected with another, we mean only that they have acquired a connexion in our thought, and give rise to this inference, by which they become proofs of each other's existence: A conclusion which is somewhat extraordinary, but which seems founded on sufficient evidence. Nor will its evidence be weakened by any general diffidence of the understanding, or sceptical suspicion concerning every conclusion which is new and extraordinary. No conclusions can be more agreeable to scepticism than such as make discoveries concerning the weakness and narrow limits of human reason and capacity.

And what stronger instance can be produced of the surprising ignorance and weakness of the understanding than the present. For surely, if there be any relation among objects which it imports to us to know perfectly, it is that of cause and effect. On this are founded all our reasonings concerning matter of fact or existence. By means of it alone we attain any assurance concerning objects which are removed from the present testimony of our memory and senses. The only immediate utility of all sciences, is to teach us, how to control and regulate future events by their causes. Our thoughts and enquiries are, therefore, every moment, employed about this relation: yet so imperfect are the ideas which we form concerning it, that it is impossible to give any just definition of cause, except what is drawn from something extraneous and foreign to it. Similar objects are always conjoined with similar. Of this we have experience. Suitably to this experience, therefore, we may define a cause to be an object, followed by another, and where all the objects similar to the first are followed by objects similar to the second. Or in other words where, if the first object had not been, the second never had existed. The appearance of a cause always conveys the mind, by a customary transition, to the idea of the effect. Of this also we have experience. We may, therefore, suitably to this experience, form another definition of cause, and call it, an object followed by another, and whose appearance always conveys the thought to that other. But though both these definitions be drawn from circumstances foreign to the cause, we cannot remedy this inconvenience, or attain any more perfect definition, which may point out that circumstance in the cause, which gives it a connexion with its effect. We have no idea of this connexion, nor even any distant notion what it is we desire to know, when we endeavour at a conception of it. We say, for instance, that the vibration of this string is the cause of this particular sound. But what do we mean by that affirmation? We either mean that this vibration is followed by this sound, and that all similar vibrations have been followed by similar sounds; or, that this vibration is followed by this sound, and that upon the appearance of one the mind anticipates the senses, and forms immediately an idea of the other. We may consider the relation of cause and effect in either of these two lights; but beyond these, we have no idea of it.
In other words, as I understand the above passage, Hume is saying: 1) When we observe a single event, we cannot possibly have any idea about cause and effect; 2) When we observe the same sequence of events happening numerous times, we start to talk about cause and effect; BUT 3) All of this talk is really due to how we view these events in our own "imagination"; in fact, we "have no idea" nor "even any distant notion" about cause and effect, of which it is "impossible to give any just definition."

But on the other hand, Hume is a thoroughgoing skeptic about the possibility of miracles:
A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined. Why is it more than probable, that all men must die; that lead cannot, of itself, remain suspended in the air; that fire consumes wood, and is extinguished by water; unless it be, that these events are found agreeable to the laws of nature, and there is required a violation of these laws, or in other words, a miracle to prevent them? Nothing is esteemed a miracle, if it ever happen in the common course of nature. It is no miracle that a man, seemingly in good health, should die on a sudden: because such a kind of death, though more unusual than any other, has yet been frequently observed to happen. But it is a miracle, that a dead man should come to life; because that has never been observed in any age or country. There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation. And as a uniform experience amounts to a proof, there is here a direct and full proof, from the nature of the fact, against the existence of any miracle; nor can such a proof be destroyed, or the miracle rendered credible, but by an opposite proof, which is superior.
Whoa. If it is "impossible" for us to understand cause and effect in the events of nature, why does Hume begin this passage with the insistence that a miracle is a "violation of the laws of nature"? Who says there are any such laws in the first place? According to Hume's first passage above, all we can say is that we have seen various events happening a number of times, but we can't really understand why. Who's to say that what we're observing is an instantiation of a law? Why should "uniform experience" amount to a "proof," if no one can really understand why that experience was uniform in the first place?

Also, by the way, note that Hume is begging the question in the second bolded passage above. He defines "miracle" as "something which has never been experienced," and then concludes -- what a surprise! -- that if no one has ever experienced a miracle, any testimony regarding a miracle must be untruthful. Yes indeed, but when the very question is whether anyone has ever experienced a miracle, playing with the definition of "miracle" won't answer the question.

Friday, August 05, 2005


What do the following locations have in common?

1. Alabama.

2. Chicago.

3. Kansas.

4. Boston.

UPDATE: The first commenter got it right. They're all the names of bands. (I guess I could have added "Texas," as in the country group "Little Texas.")

Now the second question, which may not have an answer: All of these bands date back 20-30 years. How come bands of the 1990s-2000s didn't (or don't) take the names of cities or states? (Or do they? I can't think of any recent examples.)

Question about Internet Explorer

Here's a question: When I'm browsing, I sometimes load several different browsers at the same time. For example, I've done some research on LEXIS, and 5 cases look to be of interest. So I right-click on each one, and open in a new browser. So five different browsers are loading at once.

Here's what then happens -- and what I want to stop. The browser that most recently loaded pops to the front. So while I'm still trying to look at the research results, I keep getting interrupted by each of the five browsers popping to the front when they've finished loading.

It's even worse when I try to pay bills online. Sometimes, I open 2 or 3 browsers at the same time. Then in the first, I start filling in my ID and password for the site in question. But then the second browser finishes loading, and I find that I'm suddenly typing part of my password for the first site into the ID field in the second site. Again, I want to stop this from happening.

S0: How do you get Internet Explorer to load different browsers in the background, without constantly popping to the front?


The encyclopedic Michael Barone now has a blog.

Recipe for Fried Okra

Whenever you get "fried okra" in a restaurant, each piece is invariably a thick coat of breading, deep-fried, under which you might find a shriveled and tasteless piece of okra. Pathetic.

Here's a perfect recipe for fried okra:

1. 2-3 months before dinner, plant some okra seeds in your garden.

2. When ripe, pick the okra. (Don't let it get too big, or it gets wooden and chewy.)

3. Slice.

4. Lightly dust with cornmeal and salt.

5. Fry until tinged with brown in some olive oil (or butter).

Simple, but incomparably better than anything that you can ever get in a restaurant.

Monday, August 01, 2005


Richard Posner has been often accused of favoring "baby-selling," with the implication nearly always being that anyone who favors such a notion could not possibly be named to the Supreme Court, or is outside the pale, etc., etc.

Three points:

1. In the first place, what Posner actually recommended was that "some adoption agencies be permitted to pay women contemplating abortion to carry the fetus to term and put the newborn child up for adoption." Considering how many thousands of dollars are earned by everyone else who participates in the adoption process -- agencies, attorneys, etc. -- I don't see what is so remarkable about this proposal. Indeed, birth mothers are usually paid a good deal of money by the adoptive parents on the theory that they are covering her "expenses" related to the birth. (But, of course, money is fungible.)

2. Why isn't it also "baby-selling" to sell the creation of human embryos via IVF? The parents fork over several thousand dollars, and they expect a viable baby in return.

3. In any event, even if you can think of various reasons not to deem IVF "baby-selling," why would it be the case that (1) Posner's proposal, and (2) getting rid of IVF would both be unthinkable? Why should IVF and Posner's proposal be classified as opposite extremes?