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Your Health Choices: Should You Make Them, or Should Government?

December 30, 2014 in Economics

Obesity remains a serious health problem and it is no secret that many people want to lose weight. Behavioral economists typically argue that “nudges” help individuals with various decisionmaking flaws to live longer, healthier, and better lives. In an article in the new issue of Regulation, Michael L. Marlow discusses how nudging by government differs from nudging by markets, and explains why market nudging is the more promising avenue for helping citizens to lose weight.

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Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Slovak Politics and Gay Rights

December 30, 2014 in Economics

By Dalibor Rohac

Dalibor Rohac

Post-Communist countries can be likened to Western societies operating with a time lag — repeating the same debates that their Western counterparts had some 10 years ago. One such example is Slovakia’s current controversy over gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.

Although the institutionalization of gay marriages or child adoptions by same-sex couples hardly figures on the agenda of most political parties, the country has come a long way since its first Gay Pride event in 2010, which was disrupted by neo-Nazi youths. Because it is probably just a matter of time until gay unions and same-sex adoptions become palatable to most Slovaks, opponents of these reforms have launched a pre-emptive assault to make these reforms legally and politically costly.

Earlier this year, Slovakia’s Christian Democrats teamed up with the governing left-populist party, “Smer” (“Direction” in Slovak) of Prime Minister Robert Fico to pass a constitutional amendment to “protect the Slovak family,” vaguely reminiscent of the infamous Defense of Marriage Act, overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court last year. Since this past September, the Constitution of Slovakia thus stipulates that “marriage is a union solely between man and woman. The Slovak Republic fully protects marriage and provides all means to secure its wellbeing.”

Encouraged, Slovakia’s traditionalists are on the offensive. Following a petition organized by the civic campaign Alliance for Family, a nationwide referendum has been called for February to provide answers to several questions, including whether any form of partnership other than between a man and a woman could be called a marriage and whether a ban should be imposed on adoption of children by same-sex couples. The initial proposal contained another question — whether any other form of cohabitation should be given the legal attributes of marriage — which was ruled invalid by the country’s Constitutional Court, as it could violate people’s fundamental rights.

Anton Chromik, one of the leaders of the Alliance for Family, claims that “homosexuals are not asking just for ‘rights,’ but want to shut the mouths of other people. They will be making decisions over other people’s lives, careers, and that has always in history resulted in dictatorships and sometimes even in mass murders.”

Supporters of the campaign also question why professional psychological and psychiatric associations, or the World Health Organization, declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in the latter half of the 20th century, and point to allegedly successful examples of “therapy” provided to gay people.

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Source: OP-EDS