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Gary Galles

Articles by Gary Galles

Why Congressional “Oversight” of the Bureaucracy Is No Such Thing

1 day ago

I have long been fascinated by both public policy and the interesting crooks, crannies, and oddities found in the English language. Recently, I came across one such tidbit which connected both of those interests. Hugh Rawson, in “Janus Words—Two-faced English” on the Cambridge Dictionary blog, was discussing a number of English words that are sometimes called Janus …

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The Folly of “Ask What You Can Do for Your Country”

3 days ago

Recently, I was reminded of John F. Kennedy’s most famous line, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” when I heard it among several famous sound bites leading into a radio show segment. It also reminded me that we will hear it more soon, as …

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Why Those COVID-19 Models Aren’t Real Science

6 days ago

Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, Americans have been told countless times that public policy was based on Science (with a capital S) and that the public should just obey the scientists. But the accuracy of their predictions and the consequent appropriateness of policies seems to have been little better than Ask Dr. Science and …

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How Words Like “Essential” and “Need” Are Abused by Politicians

10 days ago

Over the years, one of the most common trump cards used to justify government treating people differently, rather than equally, has been the word need. And when used to override individuals’ ownership of themselves and what they produce, its usage has created confusion rather than clarity. In public discussion, “need” has increasingly morphed into one of its …

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The Clenched COVID Fist of Government

14 days ago

Years ago, Leonard Read came up with a fine analogy for understanding what citizens want government to do for them. Now, it also provides insight into the current COVID circus. Read’s analogy arises from the fact that since government has no resources that it does not extract from its citizenry, it can only benefit all …

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Be Thankful for Those Who “Only Do It for the Money”

22 days ago

At least since I first read George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language, I have been a student of the use of weasel words. I have joined what he called the “struggle against the abuse of language,” because “Political language…is designed to make lies sound truthful…and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” …

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Ending the Lockdowns Isn’t about Saving Money. It’s about Saving Lives.

April 28, 2020

“Saving lives versus saving money” comparisons confuse ends with means. The end of saving the economy is not to have more money. The end is to have resources necessary to preserve the lives and health of countless human beings. This Audio Mises Wire is generously sponsored by Christopher Condon. Narrated by Millian Quinteros. Original Article: …

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Ending the Lockdowns Isn’t about Saving Money. It’s about Saving Lives.

April 25, 2020

The relationship between ends and means has long been debated. For instance, the legacy of “the end justifies the means” traces back to Sophocles’s Electra four centuries before Christ, Ovid’s Heroides, and Machiavelli’s The Prince. And more recently, Leonard Read pointed out that if the ends are just hopes that will not, in fact, be achieved, they …

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Why Central Planning by Medical Experts Will Lead to Disaster

April 9, 2020

A great deal of the coverage of the COVID-19 crisis has been apocalyptic. That is partly because “if it bleeds, it leads.” But it is also because some of the medical experts with media megaphones have put forward potentially catastrophic scenarios and drastic plans to deal with them, reinforced by assertions that the rest of …

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The Real Cost of Anti-Price-Gouging Laws

April 8, 2020

As has happened before with many natural disasters, the COVID-19 panic is leading to complaints of shortages and “gouging,” which about two-thirds of US states have passed laws against (often in terms so vague that it makes any enforcement discretionary, and thus discriminatory). But rather than complaining of shortages and gouging, critics should realize that “gouging” …

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Rose Wilder Lane Is Now More Relevant Than Ever

March 7, 2020

March is Women’s History Month. Among the women who have been remembered and honored, however, one who has clearly not received enough attention is Rose Wilder Lane (daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder). Among the past century’s most ardent proponents of liberty, she developed the inseparable connection between life and liberty and the importance of individuals understanding the implications …

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Why Don’t Pro-Tax Millionaires Just Pay More Tax Voluntarily?

February 28, 2020

One need not look far for evidence that many Americans want to help the poor. One obvious piece of that evidence is that many give substantial amounts of time, effort, and money to do so. But given that evidence, why do we need government to be so substantially involved in redistribution, backed by coercion, rather …

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Why Democracy Doesn’t Give Us What We Want

January 30, 2020

That Americans are in the throes of a crisis in democracy has become a commonplace refrain of late. I have noticed that almost all such commentary treats political democracy, implicitly or explicitly, as the ideal. Yet in truth it is a seriously flawed ideal. In fact, as F. A. Hayek noted years ago, all the …

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The Medicaid Expansion Cheat

January 27, 2020

Because my courses focus on public policy, I often discuss benefit-cost analyses (BCA) in them. While little discussed in public, the central idea is simply to identify and include all the relevant benefits and costs of a decision, do our best to estimate their values, then choose the option that provides the greatest net benefits. …

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“Low” Tax Rates Often Mask Much Larger Tax Burdens

January 9, 2020

Discussions about the incentive effects of taxes can be misleading. The focus is usually on the tax rates imposed. But one’s incentives are not best measured by tax rates, but by how much value created for others (reflected in consumers’ willingness to pay) is retained by the creator, which I refer to as take-home income. …

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New Year’s Resolutions with F. A. Harper

December 31, 2019

Some Americans take New Year’s resolutions seriously. But over the years, I have been struck by how frequently the search for self-improvement ignores areas that would benefit people generally, not just a person as an individual. For instance, I hear of few people who resolve to advance liberty in the coming year or to give …

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The Trade “War” Is Only Making War on Our Freedoms

September 27, 2019

In school, we were taught how analogies, metaphors, and similes describe one thing in terms of others. While those terms may have faded from memory or been tossed on the scrap­heap of forgotten minutiae, they have turned out to be even more important than our teachers said, because much of what we “know” is by …

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How to Know if Government Is Too Big

September 7, 2019

At least since the time of Socrates, teachers have asked questions of students to elicit critical thought, evoke ideas and expose presuppositions. That has been part of my professor toolkit as well. But with the current political environment, particularly the Democratic nomination follies, reminding me of Will Rogers’s quip that “If we got one-tenth of …

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2020 Candidates Offer New Government Ponzi Schemes

August 7, 2019

Seeing the Democrat debates has reminded Americans just how much of campaigning is promising something-for-next-to-nothing in attempts to buy electoral support. But when you think about historic Democrat bragging points, like Social Security and Medicare, that is not surprising. They have long been “something for you today partly at someone else’s expense tomorrow” programs. In …

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The Prophetic Antifederalists

July 24, 2019

The Free Market 24, no. 10 (October 2006) Most school kids are left with the impression that the US Constitution was the inevitable followup to the Declaration of Independence and the war with King George. What they miss out on is the exciting debate that took place after the war and before the Constitution, a …

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The Supreme Court’s Dubious “Wall of Separation” between Church and State

June 25, 2019

The Supreme Court has just issued its American Legion vs. American Humanist Assn. ruling that a nearly century-old cross built to honor WWI dead in Bladensburg, Maryland, does not violate the Establishment Clause. Hot Air’s Allahpundit wrote that the primary takeaway was: The Court doesn’t want to be bothered anymore with questions about longstanding religious …

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Remembering George Mason and the Virginia Declaration of Rights

June 19, 2019

Every July 4, Americans throw themselves a party to celebrate our Independence Day. But while the date is heavy on flags, fireworks, and red, white and blue-themed BBQ, understanding the reasons why America’s founding is uniquely worthy of celebration often gets little attention. However, rather than bypassing the principles and ideals involved in order to …

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Mexican BMW Factory Shows Us the Benefits of Free Trade

June 19, 2019

President Trump’s trade approach seems to be telling foreign producers and countries, “Do what I demand or I will punish you with higher tariffs that will make you wish you had.” The fact that such tariffs would largely burden American importers, rather than foreign producers, as he repeatedly claims in his errant focus on trade …

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Social Security’s Winners and Losers

May 15, 2019

The latest annual Social Security trustees report recently came out. One of its “lowlights” was the program’s massive unfunded liabilities (currently a $42.1 trillion cumulative shortfall under intermediate population and economic growth assumptions), reiterating what has long been known, though frequently ignored. The program is far from sustainable. Continuing the status quo, is not an …

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Anti-Car Policies Mean Even More People Are Dying on LA’s Highways

May 8, 2019

In an April 29 Los Angeles Times article titled, “More dying on L.A. streets,” Laura Nelson reported on Mayor Garcetti’s Vision Zero plan and the City Council’s corresponding Mobility Plan 2035 so far. Vision Zero intended to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2025 through street system management. Echoing its vision of improving accident safety as the …

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Capitalism (aka Self-Ownership) Is the Only Moral Economic System

April 6, 2019

With all the “turn that over to the government, too, so someone else will have to provide it for you” proposals that have come from Democrat Presidential hopefuls already, candidates are actually being asked if they are a “socialist” or a “capitalist.” Bernie Sanders, who has called for “economic rights” guarantees to be treated as …

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