Lies, Damned Lies, and Aggregates

Robert Higgs - one of our most underrated economists - wrote In economic theory, a high level of aggregation conceals a multitude of sins. The more removed a concept is from genuine, individual, economic choice, the more misleading it is likely to be. The highest-level aggregates, such as GDP, are almost impossible to invest with… Continue reading Lies, Damned Lies, and Aggregates

A Deficit of Proper Language

The words and phrases we use shape our thought. Bad language can lead to bad policy decisions. Daniel B. Klein and Donald J. Boudreaux take aim at a deeply misleading phrase: "trade deficits." Deficits sound bad. But deficits look only at part of a trade: the units of account, or dollars in the United States. What… Continue reading A Deficit of Proper Language

Freedom Zone Confronts City Council

"Let's bring this meeting to order," said the Mayor. "Order, please." He banged the gavel. Quiet emerged in the packed City Council Chambers. Cameras flashed. "All right, to begin, this is a highly informal meeting, at the request of a group which calls themselves the Freedom Zone. This group, and the area where they reside,… Continue reading Freedom Zone Confronts City Council

Politics Applies To Thee, Not Me

At a standard political hot-air snoozefest, a typical politician was making the usual empty promises that his inspired plan for spending taxpayer dollars would bring huge economic and cultural benefits to the rest of us. Magic Multipliers, right? I turned to a fellow standing next to me, who happened to be a lawyer, and remarked… Continue reading Politics Applies To Thee, Not Me

Liberty: Enemy of Crony Capitalism

Quite understandably, most people now deeply distrust the government. Many of these same folks have become aware of the extent to which crony capitalism - an unholy marriage of State and private interests - impedes and impoverishes their lives. Up to this point, libertarians such as myself can say "welcome to the club." But here things oft… Continue reading Liberty: Enemy of Crony Capitalism

Home Education: Public Benefit?

Random comment from the 'Net: "I think a tax break for home schooled families is a great idea. However, you forget that we live in a community, and no man is an island. Those families do benefit from living in a community where others are educated." Whoa! This argument cuts both ways: the community arguably… Continue reading Home Education: Public Benefit?

Pedants: Converting Good to Bad

A standard argument for government provision of education is that it would otherwise be under-provided. The theory is that, since one's education also benefits other people, one who purchases education for one's own self would only pay enough for the benefits to oneself. If we take this argument seriously, we must determine how much education… Continue reading Pedants: Converting Good to Bad

Skip The Whereases

My father taught me something wise. "When you hear somebody say 'blah blah blah but such-and-such,' the word 'but' is a signal. Everything before the 'but' is preamble, which you can safely ignore. After the 'but', that's the real substance, that's what they were leading you to. That's the important part." Whenever politicians speak, I… Continue reading Skip The Whereases

People: Resource or Burden?

Economist Julian Simon passed away on the 8th of February, 1998. This anniversary is a good time to recommend one of his books, the Ultimate Resource II. Published in 1996, this book updated Simon's 1981 book Ultimate Resource, which was itself a response to the many doomsayers who told us that mankind is running out… Continue reading People: Resource or Burden?