Parking Crimes

I ate lunch with Randy Barnett yesterday, following a speech Randy gave at Georgia State University law school to promote his new book, Restoring the Lost Constitution. When we arrived at the restaurant, I parked my car, and placed a few quarters in the parking meter. Randy asked me if I needed any more, as I had only put in enough for approximately half the time we would be parked there. I thought about it for a moment, and told him that based on my economic analysis of parking meter laws, with the associated risks of getting caught and paying a fine compared to the costs of putting a few additional quarters into the meter, I concluded that the benefits did not outweigh the costs.

As we walked to the restaurant, I mentioned to Professor Barnett that the economic analysis of crime was originally inspired by the very same problem I just described. I knew it was a University of Chicago economist who came up with the idea, but I couldn't remember which one. The first name that came to mind was George Stigler.

Now, via Andrew Chamberlain, I see that I was mistaken. The University of Chicago economist who extended economic analysis to crime was Gary Becker, not George Stigler. I always confuse those two.

Here is an interview with Gary Becker in which he explains how he came to develop an economic theory of crime while searching for a parking spot.

Incidentally, while I was waiting for Professor Barnett to arrive at Georgia State, I picked up a magazine written by and for law students (I can't remember the name) and read a few of the articles. The first article was a scathing attack on student-edited law journals, in which the author presented various arguments attempting to show the incompetence of student editors and advocating a move towards more peer-review by professionals. After reading the article, I noticed that the author was none other than the blogosphere's very own Greg Goelzhauser, of Crescat and Law and Economics fame. Greg was also the one who reminded Andrew of this Gary Becker story, and Andrew in turn reminded me. Small world.

Share this

I thought about it for a

I thought about it for a moment, and told him that based on my economic analysis of parking meter laws, with the associated risks of getting caught and paying a fine compared to the costs of putting a few additional quarters into the meter, I concluded that the benefits did not outweigh the costs.

You're scaring us non-economists.

Okey-dokey, very nice. Now

Okey-dokey, very nice. Now what we want to know is -- did you get a ticket?

Hmmm.. I always thought of

Hmmm.. I always thought of parking meters in terms of whether it was worth avoiding the city if I did get too many parking tickets. :-)

You are a hoot, Micha.

You are a hoot, Micha.

I wish I could take credit

I wish I could take credit for the article (actually I don?t), but it was so heavily edited I barely recognized it. The original piece was called ?Cognitive Psychology and the Economics of Article Selection.? After they finished dumbing it down, I believe they changed the title to something (I don?t recall now) that I?m not sure I actually agreed with. Of course, no one bothered to run even one of the many, many changes they made by me.

Anyway to add to the small world effect, we had Barnett in the day after you.

It is an excellent

It is an excellent coincidence that I should be reading your Blog just now. I had a drink with Randy Barnett (that is to say, I tagged along with three other guys from the Federalist Society who were having a dtink with him) and basked in awe after I had listened to his speech at UGA. This was the evening before you met with him in Atlanta.

Small world indeed.