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UP Links 30 November 2012

+ Kari Kohn

Laws to norms in Singapore:  Scott Sumner’s post “Inequality without poverty”

They raised the fine for littering from $300 to $500 when I was here.  But my source told me that the famous draconian legal penalties are something of a myth.  It seems the government will crack down on something like people using cell phones in cars (with a 3 month jail sentence), but then let up after a few months.  They’ve made their point, and the people become so well behaved that the laws hardly need to be enforced.  There are very few police on the streets, but nonetheless very low crime rates.

Using trial runs to experiment:  New Rules on Sharing Colorado River Water (ht: Volokh Conspiracy)

Mexico will begin to surrender some of its Colorado River allotment when Lake Mead drops to 1,075 feet above sea level and begin to reap surpluses when it rises to 1,145 feet. Mexico will be allowed to store up to 250,000 acre-feet of water in the reservoir and draw on nearly all of those reserves whenever needed. The agreement expires in five years and is being billed as a trial run, potentially making it more palatable in Mexico.

Private Property Rights and the Pilgrims

Bad weather or lack of farming knowledge did not cause the pilgrims’ shortages. Bad economic incentives did. In 1620 Plymouth Plantation was founded with a system of communal property rights. Food and supplies were held in common and then distributed based on equality and need as determined by Plantation officials. People received the same rations whether or not they contributed to producing the food, and residents were forbidden from producing their own food.

…Faced with potential starvation in the spring of 1623, the colony decided to implement a new economic system. Every family was assigned a private parcel of land. They could then keep all they grew for themselves, but now they alone were responsible for feeding themselves. While not a complete private property system, the move away from communal ownership had dramatic results.

Technologies Used to Enforce Repressive Rules in Saudi Arabia

The problem is not that there is now an electronic system that sends an SMS when women travel. Some people might actually want this service. The problem is that the government is enforcing rules of male guardianships even on the rest of us who don’t believe in such rules. One day, MOI could choose to provide a checkbox in their system that says: “My female relatives don’t need my permission to travel.” That day, unfortunately, has not come yet.

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