Saturday, September 1, 2007

Philip J. Cook's "Paying the Tab"

Philip J. Cook is professor of public policy and economics at Duke University and former director of the university's Sanford Institute of Public Policy. His books include Gun Violence, The Winner-Take-All Society, and Selling Hope.

He applied the "Page 99 Test" to his new book, Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control, and reported the following:
P. 99 of Paying the Tab deals with a bit of history and its lessons. During the 1980s MADD was very active and successful in promoting a tougher approach to drunk driving. Numerous states adopted per se laws and other measures to facilitate conviction in DUI cases, and Congress enacted a national minimum age of 21. Yet the percentage of highway fatalities that involved alcohol was exactly the same in 1990 as in 1980, namely 41%. One solution to this puzzle, suggested by the economist Chris Ruhm, is that the price of alcoholic beverages declined (adjusted for inflation) during this period. The political will to raise excise taxes to keep up with inflation was simply lacking, then as now. One result was to negate all the good efforts of MADD.
Read Chapter One from Paying the Tab and learn more about the book at the Princeton University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue