Saturday, December 16, 2017

The legal market for marijuana in Uruguay

The Guardian has the story
How Uruguay made legal highs work
The South American country’s move to full legalisation of cannabis has so far proved a success, especially for its 17,391 users

"“On the street 25 grams of marijuana would cost you 3,000 pesos, that’s about $100 for something with probably a large amount of pesticide, seeds and stems,” says Luciano, a young buyer who is next in line. “But here the same amount would cost you only $30, and it comes in guaranteed, premium quality, thermosealed 5g packs.”

"In July this year, tiny Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalise the sale of marijuana across its entire territory.
"Only 12 of the country’s 1,100 pharmacies have signed up so far to supply the 17,391 government-registered consumers served by the system, which explains the long queues outside. The low price and slim profit margin partly explain their reticence. “But the main problem is that banks have threatened to close the accounts of pharmacies selling marijuana,” said one chemist who sells marijuana in Montevideo, but who did not want to reveal his name for fear of such bank intervention.
"Although sales of the drug have been legalised in various US states, they remain illegal at federal level, leading to a situation where most banks refuse to handle marijuana-related accounts anywhere in the world. Even now that sales in Uruguay have been completely legalised, the fear of running into trouble with the US federal authorities has become concrete.
...
"The transformation of consumers has been astounding,” says Blasina. “They’ve gone from buying low-quality products from street dealers to becoming gourmet experts who compete with the crops at their clubs.”

Friday, December 15, 2017

Scott Kominers had a big market design class at Harvard this year

Scott may eventually educate a high percentage of market designers: here's a picture of his class this year.


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Japan's health insurance will pay for overseas transplants

In Japan, the national insurance will now pay for some transplants done overseas, when they cannot be done at home. The discussion reflects concern that they may be accused of organ trafficking. (Thanks to Fuhito Kojima for the link...)

海外臓器移植、一部保険給付へ 1千万円程度 現在は全額自己負担

(Google translate: Overseas organ transplantation, partial insurance benefit To ten million yen now All costs self-burden)  http://www.sankei.com/politics/news/171212/plt1712120018-n1.html

"Katsuobu Kato Kunihiro Kato revealed a policy to pay part of expenses from public health insurance to patients who are going abroad and get organ transplants because they are not provided domestically at the Cabinet meeting after the Cabinet meeting on December 12 . Consider using "overseas medical care expense system" to reimburse overseas treatment expenses from medical insurance of subscribers. The relevant patient seems to be around ten people a year, mainly children.

 "Currently, all overseas organ transplant patients are borne entirely by themselves, and in the case of the heart, since it costs several hundred million yen, there are many cases where fund raising activities are carried out. There is also an international declaration that "Organs necessary for transplant surgery should be secured in the home country", and this policy can lead to promotion of transplantation and international criticism is also anticipated. Kato Atsushi said, "It is fundamental to implement organ transplants under the domestic regime and it will not change anything."

 "The subjects to be covered by insurance are limited to patients who satisfy certain criteria such as being registered in the Japan Organ Transplant Network and being in danger of maintaining life in the standby state. When applying for overseas medical expenses, it is also necessary to prove that it is an operation not applicable to organ trafficking."
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 I'm reminded of current controversies concerning global kidney exchange, which involves cross-border kidney exchange.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Tax credit for adopting a child

Philip Held draws my attention to this oped from the WSJ, by By Jedd Medefind (who is president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, and formerly led the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives (2008-09)).

The Adoption Tax Credit Saves Money
The foster system costs over $25,000 a year for each child.

"The adoption tax credit, which provides up to $13,570 to aid families in adopting a child, has teetered on a razor’s edge in tax-reform negotiations. But the bills passed by the House and Senate both ultimately preserved it, and now the conference committee should follow suit. Eliminating the credit would harm children who need families, while hitting America in the pocketbook.

"There are more than 115,000 children in foster care today. About half of them will be adopted, but without the tax credit that number would drop significantly. The rest “age out” of foster care, likely without family for life.
...
"Families don’t adopt to get a tax credit. But the costs of going through the process—and then meeting the needs of a child coming from a hard place—can be a major barrier. After the adoption tax credit first became widely available in 1997, adoptions from foster care nearly doubled in three years.

"A drop in adoptions would mean fewer [children] finding families. It would also push government spending higher in many areas. Government’s replacement for parents—the foster system—costs taxpayers well over $25,000 a year for each child, according to a 2011 report by the National Council for Adoption. That doesn’t count spending on a huge number of other programs that chip in, including food stamps, Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families."
***********


Here's the 2011 report.
"Comparing the per-child cost ofsubsidized adoption from fostercare with the cost of maintaininga child in foster care, one concludes that the child adoptedfrom foster care costs the publiconly 40 percent as much as thechild who remains in fostercare. The difference in cost perchild per year amounts to$15,480."
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I can't help seeing a strong analogy between
  • adoption saving kids from foster care;
  • kidney transplants saving patients from dialysis; and
  • adoptive parents being analogous to kidney donors...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ed Glaeser reviews Who Gets What and Why in the Journal of Economic Literature

Ed has written a generous review in the Journal of Economic Literature, of my book and of the field of market design. His review gave me an inkling of what it was like to read the book rather than to have written it*.

Glaeser, Edward L.. 2017. "A Review Essay on Alvin Roth's Who Gets What—And Why." Journal of Economic Literature, 55(4):1602-14.

Abstract: Alvin Roth’s Who Gets What—And Why provides a richly accessible introduction to his pioneering work on market design. Much of economics ignores the institutions that allocate goods, blithely assuming that the mythical Walrasian auctioneer will handle everything perfectly. But markets do fail and Roth details those failures, like the market for law clerks that unravels because clerks and judges commit to each other too quickly. Roth combines theory and pragmatic experience to show how the economist can engineer successful markets. He has even enabled welfare-improving trades in kidney exchanges, where law and social repugnance forbids cash payments.


*To put it another way, I'm reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson's line "“Tis the good reader that makes the good book...," or maybe Samuel Johnson “A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.”

Monday, December 11, 2017

Wales' organ donation opt-out law has not increased donors--BBC

Here's the story from the BBC:
Wales' organ donation opt-out law has not increased donors

"Wales' opt-out system for organ donation has not increased the number of donors in the two years since it was introduced, a study has confirmed.
"Adults in Wales are presumed to have consented to organ donation unless they have opted out.
"The data was published in a Welsh Government report about the impact of the Human Transplantation (Wales) Act.
"In the 21 months before the law changed in December 2015 there were 101 deceased donors in Welsh hospitals. The data showed there were 104 in the same time period since the law change.
Every quarter NHS Blood and Transplant releases figures for organ donation for each county in the UK.
Mr Gething acknowledged the figures and added: "The report suggests this may be because there have been fewer eligible donors over the short period since the change in law.
"It's important to remember that it's too early to know what the true impact of the change will be, but I'm confident we have started to create a culture where organ donation is openly discussed."


HT: Frank McCormick

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Different ways of being a bad apple

Readers of this blog may be familiar with the article by Judge Alex Kozinski about how he hires and interacts with law clerks, earlier than his competitors:
Confessions of a Bad Apple, The Yale Law Journal, Vol. 100, No. 6 (Apr., 1991), pp. 1707-1730

It began as follows:



I was sad to notice this Dec 8 Washington Post story which reports that Judge Kozinski is the latest public figure to face credible allegations, from six of his former clerks, of being a different sort of bad apple.

Prominent appeals court Judge Alex Kozinski accused of sexual misconduct