Issues of the Underground Economy

The Ohio State University

Economics 4597.01, Issues of the Underground Economy

William J. White

Spring, 2018

Fifth (and Last) Homework Assignment

Please answer each of the following three questions with a 3-4 paragraph essay (3-4 paragraphs for each question). Your response should be well-organized, factual, and persuasive. You will likely need to support your positions with data and solid economic reasoning.

I ask that you adopt a third-person objective point-of-view, avoiding such phrases as “I believe” or “it seems to me”. (First person voice is seldom appropriate for social science writing unless you are recounting an event in which you participated.) Writing mechanics will be an important part of the evaluation, as they have been throughout the semester.

This assignment is due by 8:00am on Thursday, April 5th. For this last assignment, I would like to receive it as a Carmen upload in Word (.doc or .docx) or pdf format.

1. You have been assigned to read some of Jeffrey Miron’s thoughts on the history of laws related to alcohol and marijuana, and we have discussed many of them in class. Provide a brief history of alcohol prohibition and subsequent repeal, highlighting several of the economic and social costs discussed by Miron. Discuss also whether you find his comparisons with the economic and social costs of marijuana enforcement reasonable.

2. We spent a couple of class periods discussing the legal status of marijuana in the United States, and the resulting high levels of enforcement spending, incarceration, and social distress. Assuming that Congress and the President work to end the current state of uncertainty by re-scheduling marijuana to Schedule II or III, a good deal of regulation will be needed in order to create safe and orderly markets. Please outline a comprehensive regulatory system for production, sales, purchase, and acceptable use of marijuana, including the prevention of negative externalities in the home, in the workplace, and in public.

3. There is little doubt that over-prescription of opioids has played a major role in creating the current heroin epidemic in the United States. Briefly describe this evolutionary process, from the development and marketing of oxycodone to the recent innovations in the distribution and marketing of black tar heroin. Given that societal expectations regarding pain treatment and relief are almost certain to persist long into the future, banning these substances is not likely. Please provide 2-3 other potential solutions for this deadly dilemma. You may consider changes in law, policy, medical practice, and/or technology in formulating your answer.