Calling All Freakonometricians

| A challenge for our readers: the Fraser Institute is offering a $1,000 top prize for proposals on what economic or public policy issue it should try to measure. More information is here. Submit a brief essay or video with a clear thesis on what should be measured, why it should be measured, and how it might be measured. Let us know what you come up with! [%comments]

Alex Cruise

Note that the FrasEr Institute is Canada's most prominent right-wing think tank. :)


With no judgment on the quality of relevancy of the Frasier Institute's work, it must be noted that they are traditionally extremely conservative. If you want to win the contest you might want to keep that in mind.

So I'd like to suggest that we put the homeless in the army and then cut taxes.


In 2004, I wrote a paper called "Fools and Their Money" for my Law and Econ final. I called for a regulator who would measure what I called the "Market Cognition Differential." Basically, the regulator would indirectly and unobtrusively quantify the standard deviation of the amount of brains in a particular market. Since "sharp" investors trading with "fools" on a frequent basis is a good formula for wiping out 401(k)'s, sending misleading pricing signals and generally causing mayhem, I thought this regulator should be empowered to tell everyone how lopsided the playing field was at any particular time. And if it got worse after some intermediate steps I proposed, I said the regulator should shut that market down.

I got a B. My professor liked the work, but thought my solution (shutting down businesses or de-listing securities) was way out of proportion. Fast-forward to 2009 and Secretary Geithner is before Congress asking for this authority - without any solid theoretical or empirical criteria for exercising it.


C. Larity

Fraser is right-wing? In that case, I propose they measure the additional taxes collected by not allowing gays to marry and file jointly.

Ana Moure

How much would it make economic sense for the government to pay for creating new taxpayers?
My first draft:

Joe Smith

"I got a B."

There are stories, possibly apocryphal, that Fred Smith got a C for a term paper that proposed Fed Ex and Maya Lin got a B for the design of the Vietnam Memorial.

Eric M. Jones

Question: Why (as Canadian Bill Jones said), it is intellectually dishonest to allow a sucker to keep his money.

Extra-Credit Question: ...Does (as above claims) a Smith and Wesson really beat four aces?

Tim Hodges

They should measure the increase in prices after minimum wage is increased. My anectodal study found that a sausage and egg Mc.Muffin went from $1.89 to $2.49 after the last minimum wage increase in Ontario. Broccoli went up from an average of about 99 cents to $1.49. Dole's classic iceberg lettuce went from 99 cents a bag to $1.29 a bag. Cottage cheese went from $2.39 to $2.49 for the generic grocery store brand. The name brand went up from $2.59 to $2.79.

Science minded

In my mind, there is only one such economic and public policy issue that this and every other institute conservative or liberal should be measuring for the moment. Are Obama's economic policies working (as far as the objectives that he set --how and how not? I am sure that Obama would be interested in really finding out-- forget the politics for the moment- let's talk reality testing- so that he can make the necessary adjustments for them to work for us all in the long run to benefit somewhat-- If there are conservatives out there, who wants Obama (our president) to fail (as some suggest that there are), I am not one of them. I say you have lost sight of what can make this country real great-- If there are liberals out there, who still think "free for all"--forget it-- there are no real free lunchs--

Having acquired a bit of stock recently, I started doing my own monitoring of the different sides of the problem of the banking industry and one banks situation in particular. Weeks end- objectively things are very slightly better, subjectively dk- too soon to tell- so my suggestion would be-- we all begin to take a bit of economic responsibility for out fate-- as the start of holding Obama accountable to meeting his stated economic objectives -- that won him our trust.

As far as the 1,000 prize is concerned- I would like that money to be given to someone who wants a college education and cannot pay for it.. Just kidding- since I have obviously not won it---yet--


Art Kupferman

I propose measuring the impact of universal health care coverage on the unemployment rate. One would expect to see that workers will spend more time searching rather than take a job "just for health coverage" and thus unemployment should rise if they can get health insurance without the job.


Why fuel economy declines with higher gasoline prices.


Measure the relationship between inequality and "happiness" possibly as measured by the human development index or whatever happiness index they have out there. (Maybe Fraiser could make a new one for themselves).