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
What's worse than fake news? The news that you don't see. Remember the "memory hole" in the novel 1984? We suffer from a kind of "news blackout" which heavily influences what we think we know. Many of us also, because of our own choices, see a very limited slice of the news which is available.… Continue reading Worse Than Fake News
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
"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
It's no secret that I object to many of Donald Trump's policy proposals. But I can certainly get behind one: deregulation. It has been estimated that the cost to an average household is about $15,000 per year, in terms of more expensive food, housing, education, health care, and many other goods and services. We can… Continue reading Deregulation Of Innovation
Rand Paul - sometimes I love him, and sometimes he seems to forgot to engage his brain before speaking. The following quote was pulled from a recent interview: There was a PEW study that added up data from a lot of different countries, and asked them, if you could, would you go to the United… Continue reading If wishes were horses, this argument would fly.
Standard "Public Policy" and Keynesian theory depends on the existence of a so-called "economic multiplier" effect - government spending is supposed to increase the size of the economy. By this method, government allegedly "primes the pump" or "bootstraps" the economy to greater and greater heights. What if the received wisdom is wrong? This study suggests… Continue reading Public Divisors?
I chose to write about the Vietnam War in the late 60s, while it was still ongoing - it ended in 1975, with the fall of Saigon. In those days, I could say I leaned heavily libertarian by instinct, but I hadn't yet read much, nor developed my ideas. I went to the main branch… Continue reading War and Loathing
Politicians love to plan things. Whenever we express our dismay over their plans, we often hear "We have a plan to bring progress and prosperity to this city. You naysayers have no plan." But a city with millions of people actually has millions of individual plans to put the resources of each individual to work,… Continue reading Coercion Trumps Voluntary Plans
Apologists for government schools, when confronted with the long history of government failure, often respond along these lines: I agree. Government schools have been bad here, there, and everywhere. They are bad today, they have been bad for a hundred years. But if we could only find the right recipe, perhaps using rainbows collected from… Continue reading Rainbow Fart Theories Fail