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March 02, 2007


Mike Huben

The major problem with steroids is not that high-ranking professional or amateur athletes are taking them. It is that the vast pipeline of high-school (or younger) athletes should not be based on steroid usage. They are too young to be making such decisions responsably. All the vast number of unrealistic hopefuls should not be taking excessive amounts of steroids in desperate hopes of making up for their other lacks (talent, body type, practice, etc.)

We have the most out-of-shape nation in the world, and Miron wants to cut funding for athletics. Not because it is an important part of government budgets, but for mere ideological consistency. The market has no obstructions to endless athletic activities: but doesn't provide enough.

I'd agree that some government expenditures are very expensive for the number of people they serve: such as golf courses and college football. We could probably get a lot more bang for those bucks.

Dave Johnson

Mike - I'd like to know in a little more detail what you mean by the statement, "The market has no obstructions to endless athletic activities: but doesn't provide enough."?

I'm mostly curious as to how one might demonstrate that a lack of athletic opportunities exists and, if such a shortage does exist, why "the market" isn't providing those activities.


John Pertz

I too am interested in hearing what exactly is Mike's take on the inadequacy of the market in undersuplying a healthy lifestyle. Does he not notice the absolute endless supply of gyms and organic food marts that are dotting the entire U.S landscape? Does he really believe that the government needs to open up even more gyms and health food stores? Id say that the market does a pretty damn good job. The obesity problem goes back to the individual. It isnt about ideological perclivities. It is about the individual taking control of his or her life and living responsibly. The market offers an array of lifestyle options, whether it be eating healthy foods and excercise or sitting on the couch and munching on an endless supply of fast food. Entrepuneurs will satisfy all types of demands and as always it is up to the individual to chose.

If I were to guess, I will assume that Mike is a paternalist and believes in government restrictions on lifestyle choices. He probably supported the trans fatty acid ban in New York and would cheer a larger amount of funding for public health warnings. I, as a libertarian, understand the logic behind such a faith, however, like Miron, I believe that it is ultimately a huge waste of government resources due to the fact that the warnings will likely fall on deaf ears.

Mike Huben

Dave and John: you apparently haven't noticed that the US has the most overweight children in the world. And that the private gyms are primarily aimed at adults with plenty of disposible income.

So, for example, college athletic facilities are important in establishing healthy lifestyles at a time when there's little money for discretionary purposes. And of course they should be available in all schools as well. In addition, Title 9 encourages more equal spending and thus further outreach to women.

Dave Johnson

Mike - Thanks for the response. I think, since I did ask a very broad, two-part question, that your answer helps me refine my questions a little more. And yes, I have, in fact, noticed that US children tend to come in a bit chunkier size than non-US children. I have been to Branson, Missouri ;)

My refined question is: How does one show that providing athletic facilities in colleges and schools, for example, makes a country less out of shape?

I can see how there might be a strong relationship between the presence of athletic facilities and healthier lifestyles for people later in life, but does it necessarily follow that our country's fatness is due to the market not providing enough athletic activities?

Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks!

John Pertz

Mike Huben said:

"Dave and John: you apparently haven't noticed that the US has the most overweight children in the world. And that the private gyms are primarily aimed at adults with plenty of disposible income."

Then what exactly is the Y.M.C.A, pop warner football, little league baseball, and every other little league sport aimed at young childeren? Markets provide plenty of oppurtunities for childeren to enjoy healthy lifestyles. Whether or not the parents guide the childeren down that path or not is something that government will have little ability to decide.

BTW, we have strayed far far away from Prof. Miron's original post. He was arguing that it was a severe waste of scarce resources to go catching steroid users. I know that many government advocates tend to look away from the idea of scarce wealth and the oppurtunity cost of misalocations. However, if government waste is not addressed then we will continue to foregoe larger stores of wealth had the capital stock not of been depleted by public sector misalocation. Every dollar spent on something that doesnt create more wealth generates more poverty no matter what ideology you subsume.

Mike Huben

John: There's about one YMCA for every 100,000 Americans. That's hardly enough athletic facilities. The NON-MARKET opportunities you list generally exploit publicly funded and operated recreation areas such as school fields and parks0.

Your idea that we'd profit more from using enforcement resources for something else sounds good but is completely wrong for the simple reason that the easiest dollar to earn is the one you don't have to spend. Prevention of drug use is vastly cheaper than the harms the drugs produce in ill-health, etc.

This principle works well for conservation of energy, disease prevention, prevention of expensive pollution cleanups, and a host of other economically important activities.


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