Saturday, August 27, 2011

Law and Econ Update

Heading to the airport presently, but updating nDrafts is a priority. I did indeed complete this round of revisions for Chapters 2 and 3; even managed to continue to tinker with the wealth maximization stuff in Chapter 1. None of them are in final form, alas. As for reading, I was aiming to get to page (.6*291= about) 175 of the Banner book on property law. Here, less successful, though I am 56% of the way through, at page 164.

My reading during my trip will not be focused on the Law and Econ project. I will try to read Marx's General by Tristram Hunt; I teach some Marx in the fall, and this book is about Friedrich Engels. In an effort not to neglect L&E too much, however, I also intend to make some revisions on the hard copies of Chapters 4 and 5.

Hope to check back in in about 9 days...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Inauspicious Start

My goals for the past week were to make revisions to Chapter 2 and to prepare revisions for Chapter 3; plus, I hoped to make it halfway through American Property, by Stuart Banner. Things didn't quite work out as intended.

I have prepared but not finished making (that is, entering into the computer) revisions of Chapter 2; I did not look at Chapter 3. The Banner book is 291 pages of normal text, followed by many pages of notes, which I keep up with as I read the text. So to be halfway through, I would have to have read about 146 pages of the text. In truth, I have finished but 104 pages, about 35% done. So my plans were under-fulfilled for both reading and writing.

The good news is that I wrote a couple of short pieces on vice policy -- one on drugs, one on casino gambling. Not sure either of them will ever see the light of day, but I can derive a sense of accomplishment from such minor victories. I also returned to Chapter 1 and changed the Kaldor-Hicks material -- eliminating the use of the Kaldor-Hicks terminology -- and added a short section on willingness-to-pay. The Banner book also contributed to Chapter 1, in discussing the development of the law of takings. Specifically, when does the government have to pay compensation for a regulation that reduces the value of privately owned property? Banner gives a nice historical discussion of how this law developed.

At the end of the week I will be heading out of town, and will be beyond work for a week or so. I will try to check into nDrafts on Friday, then. What do I hope to have accomplished by then? Uh, how about finish entering those revisions to Chapter 2, plus make the Chapter 3 revisions? I'll aim to have 60% of the Banner book behind me at that point, too -- I already am scaling back my ambitions.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Reading this Week

I eventually used the Five Drafts project to commit to reading as well as to writing, and I will try to extend that feature to nDrafts, too. For this week, my Law and Econ reading goal is to get at least halfway into American Property, by Stuart Banner (Harvard University Press, 2011). I have some other academic reading that is not related to the Law and Econ Work in Progress, but I am not ready to commit to that just yet.

The Law and Economics Project

The project that I would like to make serious progress on during the rest of 2011 involves a book manuscript concerning Law and Economics. Five chapters (out of an envisioned, er, five chapters (plus preface and conclusions and other extraneous(?) material)) already exist in rough draft form. My goal is to revise and improve these chapters, create the related non-chapterial material, and mold the whole thing into a sleek, coherent, publishable book. Or at least to develop a complete manuscript that is not too embarrassing.

OK, maybe I will invoke a deadline or two, in the spirit of the nDraft commitment device. December 11, 2011: by that date I would like to have a complete, new and improved draft of the Law and Econ book. Notice that I do not yet have a title, or at least one I am willing to publicize -- OK, I'll have to come up with a title by December 11, too. In honor of James Joyce, perhaps the draft manuscript for the time being will go by the name fragments from Work in Progress.

During the upcoming week, I want to make revisions to Chapter Two, and begin to revise Chapter Three. "Making" revisions entails entering the changes into the e-copy, not just producing comments on a hard copy.

Inaugural Post (August 14, 2011)

Eight months before a symposium paper was due, I set up a blog, Five Drafts, to establish a schedule for producing, well, five drafts of the paper. The idea was that the loose public commitment to meet the self-imposed intermediate deadlines -- and later, to update the blog with regular progress reports, in between drafts -- would help me overcome procrastination and would spur effort. To some extent, the Five Drafts experiment worked. My hope is that nDrafts will successfully adopt the commitment-via-blog technique to other academic projects. My fear is that nDrafts will instead demonstrate a virtual Peter Principle, where a successful idea is promoted to the point that it will no longer be viable. But here we go...