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The Case for Supermajority Rules

by John O. McGinnis, Michael B. Rappaportvia Policy Review
Wednesday, December 1, 1999

This century ends, as it began, with extraordinary ferment about the soundness of our constitutional structures. In a series of recent decisions, the Supreme Court has appeared to revive doctrines of federalism and carve out spheres of autonomy for the states. In Congress, each house gave majority support to serious constitutional amendments setting term limits, requiring balanced budgets, and limiting tax increases. In fact, the Balanced Budget Amendment came within one vote of being sent to the states for ratification. Congress has also passed rules to restructure the federal legislative process. In an attempt to promote accountability and protect the autonomy of the states, both houses have required separate votes on unfunded mandates. The House of Representatives has passed a rule requiring a three-fifths majority to raise income tax rates.

How to Police the Police

by Joseph D. McNamaravia Hoover Digest
Saturday, October 30, 1999

Do aggressive police tactics reduce crime in our largest cities? Despite what you may have heard, Hoover fellow Joseph D. McNamara argues, they don’t. An urban myth exposed.

The Dangerous Federalization of Crime

by Edwin Meese IIIvia Hoover Digest
Friday, July 30, 1999

Federal crimes used to be limited to matters that truly involved the whole nation, such as treason and counterfeiting. But lately the federal government has been amending its criminal statutes to take over more and more criminal prosecution from the states. Hoover fellow Edwin Meese III on an especially pernicious form of federal aggrandizement.

Silverado Creek: A Tragedy of the Commons

by Tibor R. Machanvia Hoover Digest
Friday, July 30, 1999

Why private property rights are good for the environment. By Hoover fellow Tibor R. Machan.

Judicial Corruption in Developing Countries: Its Causes and Economic Consequences

by Edgardo Buscagliavia Analysis
Thursday, July 1, 1999

Many scholars have provided path-breaking contributions to the institutional analysis of systemic and systematic corruption. Descriptive studies focusing on corrupt practices and on the impact of corruption on economic development are abundant. Yet the literature has not yet isolated the main legal, organizational, and market-related causes of systemic corruption within the public sector in general and within the judiciary in particular.

This essay proposes a framework within which the institutional analysis of corrupt activities within the judiciary can be further understood in developing countries. First, an approach to the study of public sector corruption based on science, not on guesswork or intuition, must be verifiable if we are to develop reliable anticorruption policy prescriptions. Therefore, legal, economic, and organizational factors are proposed here to explain corruption within the judicial sectors of developing countries. Second, the economic theory of corruption should recognize that official corruption is a significant source of institutional inertia in public sector reforms. An account of the private costs and benefits of judicial reforms as perceived by public officials is also considered in this study.

The Economic Effects of the Liability System

by Daniel P. Kesslervia Analysis
Tuesday, June 1, 1999

Liability law has two principal objectives: compensation of parties injured in accidents and deterrence of negligent behavior of potential injurers. Considerable evidence, however, suggests that the current liability system in the United States achieves neither. The system has high transaction costs and fails to compensate injured parties appropriately. There is evidence that liability pressure has distorted firms' incentives for innovation. In the health care sector, liability pressure has led to defensive medicine--precautionary treatments with minimal medical benefit administered out of fear of legal liability.

This essay summarizes recent empirical research on the economic effects of liability-reducing reforms to tort law. The strategy of this research is to compare time trends in economic outcomes from states that adopted law reforms with trends in outcomes from states that did not, controlling for other determinants of the outcomes in question. Differences in trends between the two types of states provide an estimate of the effect of the reforms.

In general, this research suggests that reductions in the level of liability improve productive efficiency. But even if these studied reforms improve efficiency, they may not improve the performance of the system in terms of the compensation goal. The essay concludes with a discussion of the potential effects of a wide range of largely untried reforms to the liability system, some advocating radical changes to the allocation of responsibility for accidental injuries, that seek to address both compensation and deterrence goals.

Impeachable Defenses

by John O. McGinnisvia Policy Review
Tuesday, June 1, 1999

Lawyers pleading the president’s case made themselves targets

Environmental Law 101

by Richard A. Epsteinvia Hoover Digest
Friday, April 30, 1999

The best way to protect the environment? Consult common sense—and common law. By legal scholar Richard A. Epstein.

Megamergers—and Megafallacies

by David Bradyvia Hoover Digest
Friday, April 30, 1999

Is the recent wave of corporate megamergers cause for alarm? On the contrary, argues Hoover fellow David W. Brady. The new corporate giants are incorporating the best management techniques from around the world. Bigger isn’t better. Better is better.

Book ’Em

by Gary S. Beckervia Hoover Digest
Friday, April 30, 1999

The biggest improvement in the lives of ordinary Americans during the last couple of decades? According to Hoover fellow Gary S. Becker, the drastic reduction in the rate of crime. The Nobel laureate explains how the United States finally did it.

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