What Causes Riots?

Riots are shocking events where the ordinary rules of society break down. London 2011 was gripped by the sight of burning cars and hooded youths looting shops. But why do riots happen? What reason could there be for such destruction? Is it poverty and unemployment? Are people alienated from society? Or was it simple opportunism by criminals? Are they provoked by police brutality? Or did the police do too little to stop them? Are they the sign of a breakdown in morality? Are they a product of a “culture of dependency”? Or do some people just want to see the world burn?
Continue reading “What Causes Riots?”

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United We Stand, Divided We Fall

On Monday students of UCD will vote on whether or not they want to remain affiliated with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). As we are the largest college in Ireland our decision will have a huge impact on the future of the student movement. I want to ask everyone who reads this to please vote yes to the USI. The simple fact is that we are far stronger united than we are divided. The USI means all students have a voice in the national debate, whereas if we disaffiliate we will splinter into insignificance. A divided movement won’t be able to achieve anything. The USI certainly has flaws but disaffiliation will make things worse not better. Continue reading “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”

Challenging Economics – Marginal Productivity Of Labour

Whenever there is a great debate over wages, be it the minimum wage or unions effect on wages, opponents cite the marginal productivity of labour. They argue that this prevents businesses from paying higher wages and if they did, it would only lead to higher unemployment. This theory is unquestionably stated as fact in all textbooks and the impression is given that there is an iron law of economics that fixes wages. Despite its wide use, it is completely false. The vast majority of workers do not have a marginal productivity of labour and those that do are not paid it. It is a theory that has long outlived its day and continuing adherence to it means the wrong decisions are being made. Continue reading “Challenging Economics – Marginal Productivity Of Labour”

Do We Ever Reach Equilibrium?

If were to ask a 1st year economics student what the first and most important idea of economics, they would probably mention equilibrium. Neo-classical economics is based upon the theory that the economy is in equilibrium. This literally means balance or stability, but is usually expanded to mean not just any balance between supply and demand, but that there is only one and it is the optimal position for the economy. From this comes most neo-classical arguments about the economy, in particular the idea that the government only distorts the market and any intervention is necessarily inefficient. But is it actually true? Does the economy ever reach equilibrium? Continue reading “Do We Ever Reach Equilibrium?”

Horse Burgers And Food Regulation

Abolish government regulation of food, what could possibly go wrong? Over the last few weeks the Irish and UK food industry has been rocked by the discovery that many beef products actually contained horse meat. This has raised all such of questions and it is highly likely that other frauds were committed. In this context, it is worth examining why we have government intervention in the economy. It is regularly asserted that the government is only a burden on the private sector and that we would all benefit if the market was left alone. Do consumers need the government to protect them from unscrupulous businesses or can the market regulate itself? Continue reading “Horse Burgers And Food Regulation”

No, I’m Not Giving Anything Up For Lent

Today is the start of Lent where Catholics traditionally give up something they love. Now as a child I had to go along with this like everyone else. It was just something that was done, we never thought about it. Since becoming an Atheist, I’ve looked at Lent in a whole new light. Why does everyone celebrate a period of suffering? Why do we deprive ourselves of the joys of life? Why do we self-flagellate and call it good? Continue reading “No, I’m Not Giving Anything Up For Lent”

Who Will The Next Pope Be?

The world has been stunned by the shock resignation of Pope Benedict. Once this sinks in, the inevitable question is who will replace him? Who can best represent the one billion Catholics in the world? Who will be able to make the reforms the Church needs to avoid sinking into irrelevance? Who can repair the Church’s severely damaged credibility? Who will face the Church’s dark history of abuse? Who can make the Church relevant in a world that is increasingly abandoning faith? Can anyone? Continue reading “Who Will The Next Pope Be?”