tv Antony Davies Cooperation Coercion CSPAN February 27, 2022 3:00pm-3:26pm EST
in the soil the toxins, right? and so then we'll plant the crop and we'll have a baseline. we'll have a first-year result second year results. so stay stay tuned really for that. any other questions? create time for one more. anything else all right. thank you guys so so much for being here and we'll see you across the hall for assigning and enjoy the rest of the conference. thanks for being here. and now on book tv more television for serious readers and now joining us on book tv is anthony davies. he is the co-author of cooperation and coercion. professor davies in your book you write that early on children learn a word for people who tell others how to live their lives
busy bodies. why is that included why is that important to the theme of your book? the subtitle to the book is how busy buddies became busy bullies and what that means for economics and politics and a busy buddy. of course, we all know from children up to our you know ants that stick their noses in our business at thanksgiving. but when you pair busy buddies with government coercion, they transform into busy bullies people who decide how it is that you should live your life and they're going to use the force of government to see to it that you live your life the way they think you should and ultimately the idea of busy bully kind of ironically is a repudiation of diversity because if you take diversity, seriously, we're all different we have different preferences different abilities different constraints and what might be a good and right decision for you may not be a good and right decision for me
and when a busy bully comes along the busy bully has in the back of his or her head just figured out that everybody is just like that person is and whatever works for this person must work for everybody else. it's such a good idea. let's employ the government to force everybody to act this way. when did you come up with the term busy bully? we came up with what the term busy bully my co-author james harrigan and i in writing op-eds about topics like this and i think the thing that that really came to the fore with that term was what happened in philadelphia in this was perhaps a year and a half to two years ago the city council there decided that teenagers were drinking too much sugary drinks, so they're going to impose a 30% tax on sugary drinks why because the city council the busy bullies decided that other people should live the way that they believe they should live
and what happened interestingly is sales of sugary drinks dropped tremendously following this tax and people who were proponents of the tax pointed to and said look this is exactly what we had in mind. you put a tax on things like coke and pepsi and mountain dew and this sort of thing and what happens people will buy less of it to which economist replied. hang on a second. i thought your concerned was how much sugary drinks people were drinking? to which the proponent said well, but look if sales of sugary drinks have declined clearly people are drinking less. well, some economists went and did some studies and what they found was that consumption of sugary drinks in philadelphia did not decline. after the tax and that raises a question. well, how can that be if the sales of sugary drinks are declining but the consumption isn't and what was going on. is that people faced with this 30% tax on sugary drinks. we're driving outside of philadelphia city limits to buy their sugary drinks. oh and while they're driving
outside of philadelphia to buy their sugary drinks. what else are they going to do? they're gonna buy their groceries and all of a sudden there was a tremendous decline in grocery sales within the city of philadelphia. this is an unintended consequence of busy bullying and you see this time and again when people who for good and noble reasons, that they should tell other people how to live their lives more often than not what what you get is an unintended consequence or a sequence of unintended consequences where the outcome that you end up with is not at all. what you had in mind when you passed the legislation in the first place. is that tax still on drinks in philadelphia. my knowledge it is and you know as with taxes taxes are some what easy to come by but they're difficult to get rid of and i give you a case in point we talk about this in our book cooperation and coercion the johnstown city tax. this is johnstown, pennsylvania back in the 50s. it was decimated by a flood and
so pennsylvania said, okay, we're going to put a tax on alcohol and the proceeds from this tax will rebuild johnstown after the flood and of course the tax generated lots of money in the rebuilt johnstown, but once johnstown was rebuilt the tax didn't go away. we still have the tax today. in fact to date pennsylvania has collected. for revenue from that tax to rebuild johnstown six times over and the tax will not go away because once government gets attacks it likes to hang on to it. professor davies you write in your book the essence of government is force. yeah, yeah, the essence of government is forced when when we wrote this book what motivated it was. we look back through history and what we notice is any time humans come together to do anything. they organized themselves either according to principles of cooperation or principles of coercion in principles of cooperation mean what it means
you come together voluntarily and you do something if things work out, that's great if they don't you're free to walk away everything that's going on is cooperative. it's voluntary. and then we also organize ourselves from time to time according to principles of coercion. that is we have somebody who says okay. this is what's going to happen and you're going to do this and we have force behind this edict that we're imposing on you and typically when you think about coercioned you think about government that is the major tool we use for coercion when you think about cooperation people go to markets and markets are a good example of cooperation but all sorts of other things as well that you might not think of things like your parish church community is a cooperative venture social clubs or cooperative venture your friday night poker game is a cooperative venture a families in a large part of cooperative ventures and and so cooperation. is this this form of of
organization by which we come together voluntarily and agreed to do things now as we started this book our intent was to say look cooperation is good coercion is bad and that's the story and the book proceeded along those lines until we got to the last chapter in the last chapter just wasn't fitting things didn't fit together and we realized this is not a story of cooperation good coercion bad rather. it's a story of faced with all sorts of problems. we have these two tools in front of us cooperation and coercion. some problems. in fact most problems cooperation is the free tool but there are some problems they tend to be limited, but there are some problems for which coercion is the appropriate tool and once we came to that realization that these are two tools in the trick is to apply the right tool to the right problem the book all came together into some nice uniform flow. but you're absolutely correct
where we end up with is government is the tool we use for coercion and people will come back at me and say well government's not coercion coercion government is what we do together. that's incorrect cooperation is what we do together co-op coercion. the government is what i do to you and you do to me and anyone who has any doubt about that just ask yourself what would happen if you stopped doing what the government told you take a simple case like a parking ticket. i get a parking ticket. what if i don't pay it? well, i'll get another one what if i don't pay that. well, i got a summons and what if i ignore that the gentleman with handcuffs and guns show up to drag me before the judge and what happens if i resist them now we have force and ultimately at the end of every edict the government makes is this threat of violence and that threat of violence is appropriate in certain very limited circumstances the problem that we have come to in this country
is that we have come to use coercion almost as the default mechanism when we see a problem we turn to the government and we say fix this government isn't designed to fix many of the problems. we throw at it yet politicians are happy to try because in trying they get elected and they get more tax revenue all the things that the politicians want. so in a lot of ways politicians use government as a in its coercive force is a way to get elected. professor davies, what about community standards? i'm thinking about issues such as pornography prostitution tobacco use marijuana use alcohol should community standards be allowed to rise to the top? yeah, this is a good question and it raises it raises a secondary question, which is what is a community standard. i mean you have your idea of what community standards are i have my idea and i'm sure our two ideas of community standards
overlap tremendously, but i'm also sure that around the edges there are places where we'll disagree and they'll be other people who disagree markedly with the two of us. and so we end up where the founders intended us to be when they designed the federal government and that is a place in which the federal government's role is not to establish community standards rather it is to prevent you from harming me and prevent me from harming you not just in the in terms of physical harm, but also in terms of fraud of deception environmental pollution, right if i dump my trash in your yard, this is a harm to you inappropriate use of coercion of government. is in preventing that harm but beyond that you leave it to cooperation and what you'll find is the community standards you're talking about really merge because you'll have a you'll live in a community and the people around you are like-minded. and you say this is the way we
want to grow our community. these are things we want to do and i'll look at that and i'll say that's nice. i want to live there. i want to be part of that. and so i come and i move and i join and if at any point, i think no this is going wrong direction. i don't want to be part of this. i'm free to walk away that's cooperation that kind of free joining and leaving when we agree and disagree doesn't happen with coercion. and so consequently if you get the right people in government who have the right idea about community standards, you might have a decent society. however, the odds of that happening are very low what's more likely is that you'll get people in power whose ideas of community standards deviate significantly from yours. and now they've got the the power to use force to enforce what they perceive to be community standards. what are you doing to cane university? haha, i'm a professor of economics. so i teach economics.
my specialty is statistical analysis, but i spend a lot of time writing op-eds. we have a podcast words and numbers which i encourage you all to listen to and we talk about the application of economic thought to current events. so for example in the book, we have a chapter on the knowledge problem in the knowledge problem says simply look. a single person can't contain in his or her head all of the information necessary to make decisions for others that are better than those others could make for themselves. and so when we allow the government to take on two large of a role in making decisions for us we end up with bad outcomes. i give you a good case and point is our war on poverty. the poverty rate in this country was falling dramatically. up until the instituted the war on poverty once we instead the war on poverty this decline in the poverty rate in the united
states flatlined. and it stated about 13 percent ever since the war on poverty began. and we have devoted trillions literally trillions of dollars to this war on poverty. in fact, we have devoted so much money to the war on poverty that we could have actually completely eradicated poverty if we hadn't used the government to do it if we had simply said, okay, we're going to collect these taxes to to eradicate poverty, and we're not going to build poverty programs. currently we have over 100 different programs in the federal level alone to help deal with poverty instead of establishing those programs each of which takes on a life of its own and starts to have your people involved in who have their own incentives in keeping the the program going if instead of doing that we simply cut checks poor household gets a check. year for $10,000. not even every poor household every poor person.
a check every year for $10,000 we could have been doing that for the past 50 years. eradicating poverty for a lesser price tag than what our war on poverty cost. and our warm poverty is left us with a 13% pretty constant plus or minus poverty rate and so as i talk about economics one of the things that i emphasize with my students is it economics is not about making profit economics is about thinking about how humans behave and once you understand how humans behave that applies of course to the business world, but it applies to politicians and to voters also and you can better understand how government in society interact. tell us about your co-author james harrigan. james harrigan is a political scientist. so between the two of us we have we have all the bases covered between economics and political science and much of the of the politics that you'll see in the
book come from james. and he's at the university of arizona. is that correct? he is at the university of arizona. he's a professor of political science there and he and i have written together in probably 200-300 op-eds published throughout the country over the past decade. we have our podcast words and numbers and probably several hundred videos on economics public policy and government and all of this in an effort to educate the public at whatever age you happen to be from grade school up to retirement. the key to building a more healthy society to moving taking all the wonderful things. the united states has done and progressing forward into next generation the key to it and it sounds trite but it's true the key to it is an educated populace and by educate populists. i don't mean people who can you know read priest and quote shakespeare. i mean people who understand how
this shared system we live in works. because if they don't they become for politicians and a politician could come along and say look elect me and i will give you free college and everybody cheers and says yes, i want free college and so i like this guy and actually you find out after it's too late that there is no such thing as free college and you've just made your own life worse off because you didn't understand that the the system in which we were working the incentives the politician had to offer something he couldn't deliver and what subsequently happens to the economy when he to do so professor davies you have a case study in here on the minimum wage and the number 550,000 appears. what is that? yeah, we have an entire chapter on the minimum wage and i've written a tremendous. wage people will say to me from time to time if the minimum wage
is such a bad idea. how come economists don't write about it, and there's quite literally hundreds of academic peer-reviewed studies on the minimum wage and of these hundred studies, i would say 98% of them find that the minimum wage actually is harmful to the people that attempts to help. there's maybe one and a half percent that says, it's unclear what's going on with minimum wage and maybe half a percent that say, it's actually beneficial but of course what happens is the politicians the media focus on that one half of a percent. largely speaking what happens with the minimum wage issue have the government coming in and saying to workers? if you cannot find someone willing to pay you $15 an hour. you may not. work now thought of that way it seems horrible, right because the way it's presented is well, we're going to have this minimum wage. we're going to force the employers to pay you more and what comes across is this image of the minimum wages about a
conflict between workers on the one hand and employers on the other and the government's going to come down on the side of the worker and force the employer to pay more and in practice. that's not what happens. the minimum wage is not about workers versus employers. it's about high-skilled workers versus low skilled workers. so if the government comes along and says, okay all your businesses, you've got to pay your workers fifteen dollars an hour the first thing that an employer does is he looks around at his current workers and he asks who here is worth 15 dollars an hour those who are worth $15 an hour keep their jobs those who aren't lose them. and if you want to think about an example of this we all do this every single day think to yourself how many people do you hire to clean your house to make your bed to do your dishes and people say well nobody i do that stuff myself. why? well, because to hire somebody
to do that is going to be more costly than what it's worth to you, right? so imagine hiring somebody coming every day and make your bed and clean your room, right? what's that going to work? what's that worth to you? is that well, it's worth maybe a buck an hour. maybe two bucks an hour. it just rather do it myself. okay, but nobody's willing to do that at one or two dollars an hour so notice what just happened you put a value on that work. that was low. and you concluded that it's not worth hiring somebody to do this work. this is exactly what the employer does and when the minimum wage comes along what the government is saying is. all right, you got to pay $15 an hour and the employer says what is the work work that i'm hiring people for worth if it's not worth 15 dollars an hour you lose your job and so you can look at. dating what you find. is that as we raise them minimum wage who gets not in every case but on average who gets hurt are the low skilled low educated low
experienced workers. the very workers were most concerned about helping. and what surprised me in your analysis was you say that only about 550,000 americans actually get the minimum wage. yeah, that's correct. there are a couple of misconceptions here when i ask people how many americans earn the minimum wage. i'll get numbers like 30% 40% because why people are repeating sorts of things they hear in the news. the actual number of americans who earn the minimum wage is around 1% 1% of the workforce. it's a very small number it in fact what you find if you track these workers over time take a take a bunch of minimum wage workers today within one year 60% of them have moved on to earn a higher wage within five years virtually all of them have moved on to earn a higher wage. this these minimum wage jobs are entry-level positions their their places principally not
exclusively, but principally for people who have no no job experience someone that you're asking employer to take a chance on. at five bucks an hour an employer would easily take a chance on a worker at fifteen dollars an hour not so much. so as we raise this this minimum wage, we make it harder and harder for employers to take chances on new workers and that delays those new workers from entering the workforce and when we're done as you say we end up with trying to solve a problem that's afflicting only about 1% of the workers now again, i'm not saying that we should ignore these workers. what i am saying is that the problem is much much smaller than what is perceived in the media. and why is that so because politicians want to get elected and how do they get elected they get on the news and say we have a problem and they show you people who are suffering from this problem and they say elect me and i'll fix this. white literally politicians are machines that turn problems into votes for themselves.
almost no part of our lives is free from regulation by some level of government if not multiple levels government has its hands in everything. that's from cooperation and coercion how busy bodies became busy bullies and what that means for economics and politics the authors our guest anthony davies and james harrigan. thanks for being on book tv. my pleasure. thank you. weekends on c-span 2 are an intellectual feast every saturday american history tv documents america's story and on sundays book tv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors funding for c-span 2 comes from these television companies and more including cox. cox is committed to providing eligible families access to affordable internet through the connect to compete program bridging the digital divide one
connected and engaged student at a time cox bringing us closer cox along with these television companies support c-span, 2 as a public service. was the trump presidency a threat to american democracy democratic congressman adam schiff of california reflected on that question and his role in the president's first impeachment trial on our author interview program afterwards. if kevin mccarthy were ever to become speaker, essentially donald trump would be speaker. he would not. disagree with him ever and you would have an outside party effectively running the house of representatives and an ethical one to boot the story as you know that i tell in the book i told because i think it's so characteristic. mccarthy and i were sitting on a plane flying back to washington. this was in 2010. the midterms were about six months away and we were having an idle conversation about who was going to win the midterms, and i said the democrats would
win and he said the republicans were when would win and the movie started. i was relieved to to escape to the movie and we landed i thought nothing of the conversation and we went our separate ways and that night unbeknownst to me. he did a briefing for the press in which he told the press that everybody knew the republicans were going to win the midterms that he sat next to adam schiff on the plane and adam schiff admitted republicans were going to win the midterms. and so i didn't learn about this till the morning when the newspaper came out and i was just aghast i was astounded and i saw him out on the house floor, and i said kevin first of all for having a private conversation, i thought i thought it was a private conversation, but if it wasn't, you know, i said the exact opposite of what you told the press. he looks at me and he says. yeah, i know adam, but you know how it goes and i was like kevin. no, i don't know how it goes. you just make stuff up and that's how you operate because that's not how i operate. but that is how he operates and you cannot have someone.
with such literal guard for the truth serving as the speaker of the house. to watch the rest of this program visit booktv.org use the afterwards tab to find adam schiff's interview along with all previous episodes. afterwards is also available as a podcast. well, hello, good evening. welcome to the virtual norwich bookstore event space and thank you for joining us tonight. my name is sam. i am as many of you have pointed out new here and thanks to all of you who have come by the store and said hello to me and introduce yourselves on it's great to meet so many of you and those of you who i've yet to meet i hope to soon tonight. i am delighted to be here with two folks who i admire quite a great deal, of course be great political cartoonist and author jeff danziger and the norwich book stores,
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