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Volume 6, Issue 33: August 16, 2004
- How Not To Make Housing More Affordable
- In Defense of Off-Label Drug Treatments
- Bad Incentives Weaken American Security
- Ivan Eland on the Airwaves
- New Independent Institute Website!
1) How Not To Make Housing More Affordable
In the name of making housing more affordable, communities across the country have made it less affordable, according to economist Ben Powell, director of the Independent Institutes Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation.
So-called affordable housing mandates (a.k.a. inclusionary zoning)which require homebuilders to set aside a portion of their developments for affordable unitshave been especially counterproductive. In effect, such mandates act as a tax on developers, greatly discouraging them from building both market-rate and sub-market-rate housing, Powell argues.
In the first year after affordable housing mandates were adopted throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, new home production fell more than 30 percent and the price of a new home increased by up to $44,000 in the typical city, writes Powell in a new op-ed. Because these mandates push builders away, few affordable units even get built: fewer than 15 units per year have been built in the typical Bay Area city. In short, affordable housing mandates help few while making homes more expensive for the vast majority of homebuyers.
Powell also argues that local governments should avoid trying to preserve their communitys existing mix of jobs and businesses and should look to the market for the provision of street construction and maintenance, water and sewer provision, and even security and fire protection.
See How to Make Monterey County More Affordable, by Benjamin Powell (8/13/04)
Is Urban Planning Creeping Socialism? by Randal OToole (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Spring 2000) http://www.independent.org/publications/TIR/article.asp?issueID=22&articleID=257
To learn more about market alternatives to urban planning and to government provision of municipal services, order THE VOLUNTARY CITY: Choice, Community, and Civil Society, edited by David Beito, Peter Gordon, and Alexander Tabarrok
2) In Defense of Off-Label Drug Treatments
Progress in medicine requires fortuitous discoveries, which in turn depend upon experimentation. One of the most important sources of medical knowledge is the off-label use of drugs approved by the FDA for other uses, as Alexander Tabarrok, research director at the Independent Institute, explained in the summer 2000 issue of THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW. Many off-label treatments, in fact, have been successful for so long that calling that use experimental is misleading.
Viagra, for example, was first approved to treat angina before its efficacy in treating erectile dysfunction was discovered. Viagra also has been found useful in the treatment of pulmonary hypertension and has been used to help premature babies breatheall discoveries that originated from off-label clinical use.
Unsurprisingly, medical doctors are well aware of the beneficial role of off-label drug treatmentsafter all, theyre the ones who discover and administer the alternative treatments, as Tabarrok and his colleague Daniel B. Klein explain in a recent article in REGULATION.
In an online survey, we asked nearly 500 doctors whether the FDA should hold off-label uses to proof-of-efficacy requirements; the doctors responded with a resounding no, Klein and Tabarrok write. Fully 94 percent opposed the requirements, and many wrote strongly worded objections that described the requirements as clearly naive, stupid and unethical, dangerous, disastrous, and claimed medicine would grind to a halt.
Curiously, although nearly all doctors surveyed opposed efficacy requirements for drugs used for off-label prices, most doctors favored the FDAs efficacy requirement for a drugs initial, on-label use. Klein and Tabarrok show, however, that many of the reasons the doctors offered for this position dont hold up to scrutiny. Some doctors, for example, replied that initial efficacy requirements enhance the knowledge of safetyto which Klein and Tabarrok answered, if stronger safety testing is the goal, it ought to be pursued and justified in those terms.
The experience with off-label prescribing and the experience of pre-1962 America suggest that initial efficacy requirements may do more harm than good. Dropping efficacy requirements is a proposal that should be taken seriously, Klein and Tabarrok conclude.
See Who Certifies Off-Label? by Daniel B. Klein and Alexander Tabarrok (REGULATION, Summer 2004), at http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv27n2/v27n2-8.pdf (PDF requires Adobe Acrobat)
Assessing the FDA via the Anomaly of Off-Label Drug Prescribing by Alexander Tabarrok (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Summer 2000) http://www.independent.org/tii/content/pubs/review/tir51_tabarrok.html
For a comprehensive critique of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, see http://www.FDAReview.org.
To order AMERICAN HEALTH CARE: Government, Market Processes, and the Public Interest, edited by Roger D. Feldman, see http://www.independent.org/store/book.asp?id=33
3) Bad Incentives Weaken American Security
Why have Americans stayed away from the Athens Olympic games in droves? Why are American athletes and spectators encouraged to hide their national identity at the Olympic games?
The answer is simple, writes Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institutes Center on Peace & Liberty. Although the U.S. government repeatedly warns its citizens of imminent terrorist attacks and takes draconian measuresboth at home and abroadin the name of national security, it really does not have many incentives to actually make those citizens safer.
Instead of improving security for Americans, the U.S. government has pursued foreign policies that have fueled anti-U.S. sentiment in the Middle East and the Islamic worldand has done so because it faces incentives to cater to special-interest groups, according to Eland. It is U.S. foreign policy and not, as President Bush has said, Americas wealth, culture and freedom that has made Americans the targets of enraged Islamists.
The presidents statements fly in the face of opinions of experts on Osama bin Ladens motivationssuch as [Mikethe anonymous intelligence official who authored IMPERIAL HUBRIS] and Peter Bergen, one of the few Western reporters who has interviewed the head of al Qaeda. President Bushs rhetoric also contradicts poll after poll in Islamic countries (and much of the world), which indicate that those populations dont hate U.S. culture, freedoms, wealth, or technology, but U.S. foreign policy, writes Eland.
American citizensincluding U.S. athletes and spectators at future Olympicscould be made much safer by rapidly making a meddling U.S. foreign policy overseas more humble. But then the latter change would be a new form of terrorstriking fear into the hearts of the U.S. foreign policy elite and the interests they represent, Eland concludes.
See Does Your Government Really Have an Interest in Protecting You from Terrorism? by Ivan Eland (8/17/04)
4) Ivan Eland on the Airwaves
Tune in to hear Ivan Eland discuss the 9/11 Commission Report:
August 20th (noon, Pacific Time) on KALX 90.7 FM, Berkeley, Calif. Webcast at http://kalx.org
August 24th (7:45 a.m., Central Time) on KFYO 790 AM, Lubbock, Texas, The Jane Prince-Jones Show (http://www.kfyo.com/main.html).
5) New Independent Institute Website!
If you havent yet visited the Independent Institutes website (http://www.independent.org) recently, we think youll be pleased with its new look and functionality. The website has a new Newsroom page (http://www.independent.org/newsroom/), to keep you abreast of upcoming media appearances of Independent Institute scholars, as well as an improved Issues index (http://www.independent.org/issues/), a more functional Membership page (http://www.independent.org/membership/), and new, advanced search engine (http://www.independent.org/issues/adv_search.asp).
To enjoy 651 documents of insightful Independent Institute commentary, 316 documents of THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, 67 documents of research articles, 52 documents of working papers, 70 documents about Independent Institute events, 32 documents of event transcripts, 33 documents of past issues of THE LIGHTHOUSE, 33 documents of press releases, and 120 Spanish-language documents, please visit http://www.independent.org. We will be adding additional content in the coming weeks.