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Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken

Ryan W. McMaken is the editor of Mises Daily and The Austrian. He has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado, and was the economist for the Colorado Division of Housing from 2009 to 2014.

Articles by Ryan McMaken

The Washington Post’s Latest (and Lamest) Attack on the Mises Institute

4 days ago

Earlier this year, when Nancy MacLean released her book on economist James Buchanan, Democracy in Chains, many of Buchanan’s supporters were shocked that someone would manufacture such an intricate and strained conspiracy theory to attack Buchanan. MacLean employed all the usual tricks of innuendo and hearsay to arrive at her conclusions: Buchanan was a racist. Buchanan supported dictators. Buchanan pushed a dark agenda of undermining America’s most cherished institutions. All accusations relied on guilt-by-association tactics and assigning motivations to Buchanan that MacLean could not possibly have known. "But Buchanan was such a harmless guy!" went up the chorus from Buchanan’s supporters, who were surprised by the personal nature of many of the attacks. What Buchanan’s

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Trump’s China-Sanctions Madness Imperils the Dollar

5 days ago

Last week US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin warned the US will impose new sanctions on China if it doesn’t conform to UN sanctions on North Korea:"If China doesn’t follow these sanctions, we will put additional sanctions on them and prevent them from accessing the U.S. and international dollar system, and that’s quite meaningful."In other words, the administration wants to sanction one of the US’s biggest trading partners, and the world’s second-largest economy.China is the world’s third-largest recipient of Americans exports, behind only Canada and Mexico. China is the world’s largest source of imports for Americans, slightly ahead of both Mexico and Canada.In 2016, Americans exported $169 billion in goods and services to China while importing $478 billion of goods and

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If the Majority Votes to Secede — What About the Minority?

5 days ago

In recent years, left-wing groups have often been the driving force behind secession movements. This has been the case in Scotland, in Catalonia, and in California. In each case, the secession movements have been initiated in part to forward left-wing goals, such as the creation of a larger welfare state or to escape limitations imposed by political interest groups and institutions deemed to be too right-wing. Within the American context, the loudest calls for secession right now are coming from California where leftists are eager to assert their independence from the Trump administration in Washington.Generally speaking, these California secessionists want single-payer health care, an even larger welfare state, confiscation of private firearms, and an ever larger

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US Sanctions Against Venezuela Will Hurt Americans

6 days ago

After fifty years of imposing embargoes and other sanctions, the United States never managed to topple Cuba’s communist regime. After forty years of the same in Iran, the US met with similar amounts of success. Ongoing sanctions against North Korea have not toppled to regime there. But, some people in Washington won’t let decades of failure dissuade them. Last week, Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) introduced new legislation to bar Americans from importing oil products from Venezuela. The Washington Examiner reports: [T]he Protecting Against Tyranny and Responsible Imports Act, or the PATRIA Act … would target Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro after he stripped the country’s democratically elected national assembly of its power and authority. According to the bill,

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Money-Supply Growth Drops Again — Falls to 108-Month Low

7 days ago

7 hours agoRyan McMakenGrowth in the supply of US dollars fell again in August, this time to a 108-month low of 4.2 percent. The last time the money supply grew at a smaller rate was during August 2008 — at a rate of 4.1 percent. The money-supply metric used here — an "Austrian money supply" measure — is the metric developed by Murray Rothbard and Joseph Salerno, and is designed to provide a better measure than M2. The Mises Institute now offers regular updates on this metric and its growth.The "Austrian" measure of the money supply differs from M2 in that it includes treasury deposits at the Fed (and excludes short time deposits, traveler’s checks, and retail money funds). M2 growth also slowed in August, falling to 5.3 percent, a 75-month low. 

Money supply

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Why Natural Disasters Are Worse For Poor Countries

10 days ago

In the wake of hurricane Harvey, disaster experts were shocked by how few deaths resulted from the storm: "“It was astounding that we didn’t have a much larger loss of life,” said Phil Bedient, co-director of a Rice University effort to research severe storms and evacuations. A recent count puts total storm-related deaths at 82,  out of a metropolitan population of more than 6.5 million. The relative lack of lives lost is being attributed to a variety of factors including luck, the timing of evacuation orders, and "swift action by first responders." There’s no doubt that these factors contributed to the relatively low numbers in terms of deaths. A well-developed communications system has been key. A large network of well-maintained highways has been important, as has a

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The Neoconservatives Have Declared War on the Realists

10 days ago

In recent years, I’ve increasingly suspected that when it comes to foreign policy, the realists offer some of the most sane observations. These suspicions were confirmed earlier this year when after the election of Donald Trump, John Mearsheimer, one of modern realism’s current standard bearers, wrote in The National Interest that Trump should "adopt a realist foreign policy" and outlines a far better foreign policy agenda that what we’ve seen coming from Washington. And what is this realist foreign policy? For Mearsheimer, some main tenets include:Accepting that the US attempt at nation building in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen "has been an abject failure.""Washington [should] respect the sovereignty of other states even when it disagrees with their

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Think Gentrification Is Bad? The Opposite Is Worse

11 days ago

We’ve long been told that gentrification is the scourge of many communities, and we’ve become very familiar with the scenario: a stable middle-class community is destroyed when wealthy (usually white) people move in, drive up home prices, and force out the "diverse" population that had been there previously. There are problems with this narrative of course. Very often, the working-class homeowners who leave the neighborhood experience a windfall from selling their property to the incoming "up and comers" who buy out the aging homeowners. There is an upside.On the other hand, there are indeed downsides to gentrification. There are real social costs when a neighborhood disintegrates and the neighbors go their separate ways. As we’ve noted before, communities with a highly

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Is Forced Military Service Good for the Economy?

12 days ago

Conscription, also known as "the draft," is typically justified with appeals to values like partriotism, public service, and "sharing the burden." That’s in peacetime. In times of war, of course, government claims conscription is necessary to provide the manpower needed for military victory.Apologists for the draft keep all of these claims ready, just in case. The US, of course, has never really let go of the draft and continues to maintain the Selective Service, just in case.Is Conscription Good for the Economy? But sometimes, is it even claimed that conscription is an economic-development tool.In the latest attempt at making conscription more popular among politicians, Elizabeth Braw of the Atlantic Council this week announced in the Financial Times that the benefits of

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What If Every Person Paid an Equal Share of the Military Budget?

13 days ago

Government employees and their apologists like to lecture Americans about how "freedom isn’t free." And indeed it isn’t. In recent years, the US military establishment costs the American taxpayer around $700 billion per year. Thanks to the hard work of the American taxpayer, the US military — and other "defense" agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security — the US government is the most well-funded in the world. in spite of numerous ongoing interventions worldwide, casualties in the US military are low thanks to highly-advanced technology funded by — you guessed it — the American taxpayer. Now, for the sake of argument in this article, we’ll just assume that the full $700 billion per year has something to do with actual defense. This is a highly debatable notion,

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Why the War Party Loves to Call Foreign Leaders Insane

17 days ago

When the US government decides it doesn’t like a foreign regime, it’s become something of a tradition for US politicians — with the help of a compliant media — to portray those leaders as irrational, unhinged, or even downright insane. This was true of Saddam Hussein, and it was true of Slobodan Milosevic. In both cases, a foreign head of state was condemned as irrational in order to help justify US invasions and bombings of foreign nations that were no threat to the United States. The US narrative usually goes something like this — as described by Ronnie Lipschutz: Why would so-called rogues — and these are the only countries that, according to Washington, threaten US forces, allies, or interests — choose to [threaten the US]? No rational reason can be given, and so

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Why Houston Doesn’t Need Federal Flood Relief — In Four Charts

24 days ago

In his article today, Christopher Westley noted that Texas’s economy — when measured by GDP — is larger than Canada’s. In other words: If Texas were an independent country, it would be the world’s 10th largest economy (totaling $1.6 trillion), and its citizens would be more than capable of addressing natural disasters of the magnitude of a major flood. Texas’s economy is also larger than those of Russia and Australia.By why stop our analysis at the state of Texas? Indeed, if we look at the GDP of the Houston metropolitan area, we find it comes in at $503 billion. This total is similar to the GDPs of Poland, Belgium, and Austria. It’s significantly larger than the GDPs of Norway and Denmark.1

Nor is Texas’s GDP largely driven by federal spending —

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Grant Statehood to America’s Core Cities

26 days ago

The battle over sanctuary cities is not just a matter of pitting some cities against federal policy. The conflict is also pitting cities against state governments. More than 30 states have moved with varying degrees of success to rein in so-called sanctuary cities that have pledged to not assist federal agents with rounding up and prosecuting suspected illegal immigrants. So far, though, Texas appears to have taken the biggest step with new legislation that "requires local law enforcement agents to honor requests by federal immigration agents to detain jailed immigrants suspected of being in the country without proper documentation. It also empowers local law enforcement officers to ask about a person’s immigration status during routine encounters, such as traffic stops."

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Solve the Sanctuary-City Conflict by Granting Statehood to Cities

26 days ago

The battle over sanctuary cities is not just a matter of pitting some cities against federal policy. The conflict is also pitting cities against state governments. More than 30 states have moved with varying degrees of success to rein in so-called sanctuary cities that have pledged to not assist federal agents with rounding up and prosecuting suspected illegal immigrants. So far, though, Texas appears to have taken the biggest step with new legislation that "requires local law enforcement agents to honor requests by federal immigration agents to detain jailed immigrants suspected of being in the country without proper documentation. It also empowers local law enforcement officers to ask about a person’s immigration status during routine encounters, such as traffic stops."

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Give Sanctuary Cities What They Want

26 days ago

The battle over sanctuary cities is not just a matter of pitting some cities against federal policy. The conflict is also pitting cities against state governments. More than 30 states have moved with varying degrees of success to rein in so-called sanctuary cities that have pledged to not assist federal agents with rounding up and prosecuting suspected illegal immigrants. So far, though, Texas appears to have taken the biggest step with new legislation that "requires local law enforcement agents to honor requests by federal immigration agents to detain jailed immigrants suspected of being in the country without proper documentation. It also empowers local law enforcement officers to ask about a person’s immigration status during routine encounters, such as traffic stops."

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Southern Secession Was One Thing — and the War to Prevent It Was Another

August 24, 2017

There’s an old saying that "he who distinguishes well teaches well." In other words, if one’s going to talk about an important subject, one should be able to define his terms and tell the difference between two things that are not the same. This wisdom, unfortunately, is rarely embraced by modern pundits arguing about the causes of the American Civil War. A typical example can be found in this article at the Huffington Post in which the author opines: "This discussion [over the causes of the war] has led some people to question if the Confederacy, and therefore the Civil War, was truly motivated by slavery."Did you notice the huge logical mistake the author makes? It’s right here: "…the Confederacy, and therefore the Civil War…."The author acts as if the mere existence

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The Afghanistan Escalation and the Triumph of Military Interest Groups

August 23, 2017

There is a common naïve view among many conservatives — and other supporters of a bloated military establishment — that foreign policy is made as part of a rational process in which foreign threats are assessed, and then requests are made to Congress to fund projects that "keep America safe." This credulous approach to foreign policy — expressed by many millions of "red-blooded" Americans who fancy themselves as the hard-nosed, realist "adults in the room" — ignores the immense amount of domestic political power wielded by the military and its allies in the private sector. The advocates of this view instead defer to the belief that the military’s current drive for ever-more spending and military build-up in Afghanistan is based on revelations about the "real threat" in

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Domestic Politics Is Dictating Our Foreign Policy

August 23, 2017

There is a common naïve view among many conservatives — and other supporters of a bloated military establishment — that foreign policy is made as part of a rational process in which foreign threats are assessed, and then requests are made to Congress to fund projects that "keep America safe." This credulous approach to foreign policy — expressed by many millions of "red-blooded" Americans who fancy themselves as the hard-nosed, realist "adults in the room" — ignores the immense amount of domestic political power wielded by the military and its allies in the private sector. The advocates of this view instead defer to the belief that the military’s current drive for ever-more spending and military build-up in Afghanistan is based on revelations about the "real threat" in

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The Eclipse: How Markets Could Have Prevented the “Traffic Nightmare”

August 22, 2017

In a typical illustration of how the news media resorts to exaggeration and hyperbole in order to seem relevant, the national media promised us "chaos" and a traffic "nightmare" in cities and towns where a total eclipse could be viewed yesterday. A month ago, USAToday suggested that too many hikers and forest-fire danger "could cause eclipse-watching chaos during solar eclipse." The Oregonian reported last month that the presence of public lands invite "eclipse watching chaos across Oregon." And then the event came and went. The media, which had promised "chaos" ended up reporting little more than the so-called "traffic nightmare" that was allegedly occurring. If by "nightmare," one means "numerous very boring hours sitting in a climate-controlled automobile," then yes,

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Don’t Like Public Monuments?

August 18, 2017

When I was a student at the University of Colorado, I regularly walked by the Dalton Trumbo memorial fountain which was named after the communist Stalin-sympathizing novelist and screenwriter.
Once upon a time, the fountain had been simply known as “the fountain,” but around 25 years ago, it was unnecessarily renamed after a controversial person.
The reason for the renaming was the same as with any memorial or monument designed to honor a person or idea — to create an emotional connection and familiarity with the person or idea connected to the place; to communicate a certain view of history.
The renaming of the fountain followed an earlier renaming controversy. One of the University’s dorms, Nichols Hall, was named after a participant in the infamous Sand

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Privatize the Public Monuments

August 17, 2017

When I was a student at the University of Colorado, I regularly walked by the Dalton Trumbo memorial fountain which was named after the communist Stalin-sympathizing novelist and screenwriter. Once upon a time, the fountain had been simply known as "the fountain," but around 25 years ago, it was unnecessarily renamed after a controversial person. The reason for the renaming was the same as with any memorial or monument designed to honor a person or idea — to create an emotional connection and familiarity with the person or idea connected to the place; to communicate a certain view of history. The renaming of the fountain followed an earlier renaming controversy. One of the University’s dorms, Nichols Hall, was named after a participant in the infamous Sand Creek

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Decentralize the Gun Laws

August 16, 2017

With a Republican in the White House, the anti-gun-control lobby smells a bit of blood in the water. Now is the time, they suggest, to pass national gun-licensing reciprocity laws forcing gun-restrictive states to recognize permits issued by gun-permissive states.Writing in The Hill, Tim Schmidt sums it up:It is time for there to be national reciprocity for concealed carry permits, instead of the patchwork of laws governing reciprocity that vary by state. Virginia, where the [recent shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise] happened, has reciprocity for some states’ concealed carry permits, but if members would have brought their guns back and forth from D.C., they would have been breaking the law. It should never be a crime to be responsibly prepared to defend yourself in

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Before “Fake News,” America Invented “Pseudo Events”

August 15, 2017

In the wake of the Chalottesville riot, it’s been interesting how quickly the focus has shifted away from the actual events in Charlottesville and toward the public pundits and intellectuals are expressing opinions about the events. Already, the media has lost interest in analyzing the details of the event itself, and are instead primarily reporting on what Donald Trump, his allies, and his enemies have to say about it. This is an important distinction in coverage. Rather than attempt to supply a detailed look at who was at the event, what was done, and what the participants — from both sides — have to say about it, we are instead exposed primarily to what people in Washington, DC, and the political class in general, think about the events in which they were not directly

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It’s Not Urban vs. Rural — It’s Suburban vs. Urban

August 9, 2017

Rural America continues to be a topic of political conversation. For many journalists and pundits, this focus comes out of a belief that rural America is the primary driver behind Donald Trump’s political base. "Rural Resentment," for example, is the title of an article last week at Slate which, in its own words "discussed how rural dwellers see city folk." That’s all well and good, but the rural population in the United States is only a small and shrinking part of the coalition that put Donald Trump in the White House. Moreover, the rural population today, according to Census Data and the Kaiser Family Foundation, comprises only 14 percent of the US population nationwide. That is, only 14 percent of Americans live outside a metropolitan area. 86 percent of the population

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The Plan to “Privatize” the Afghanistan War Doesn’t Privatize Anything

August 9, 2017

Any time we hear the term "privatize" coming from the usual suspects in Washington, DC we should immediately be suspicious. When this word is used, there’s usually precious little actual privatization going on.Thus, we should regard the Trump administration’s proposed plan to "privatize" the war in Afghanistan with extreme amounts of skepticism. USAToday reports: The White House is actively considering a bold plan to turn over a big chunk of the U.S. war in Afghanistan to private contractors in an effort to turn the tide in a stalemated war, according to the former head of a security firm pushing the project.Under the proposal, 5,500 private contractors, primarily former Special Operations troops, would advise Afghan combat forces. The plan also includes a 90-plane private

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Mike Huckabee on the 17th Amendment: Evil Plot or Great Idea?

August 4, 2017

Following the US Senate’s failure to pass a bill repealing Obamacare, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee decided that the Senate would do a better job if the 17th Amendment were repealed. Huckabee took to twitter and said:Time to repeal 17th Amendment. Founders had it right-Senators chosen by state legislatures. Will work for their states and respect 10th am[endment.]Huckabee, of course, is referring the Constitutional amendment that altered the method by which US Senators are elected. Prior to the Amendment’s passage in 1913, Senators were — at least in theory and on paper — selected by the state legislature in each state. Since the amendment was adopted, Senators are selected via popular vote in each state. The response to Huckabee’s very brief missive was fairly

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Mike Huckabee’s Call for Repeal on the 17th Amendment: Evil Plot or Great Idea?

August 4, 2017

Following the US Senate’s failure to pass a bill repealing Obamacare, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee decided that the Senate would do a better job if the 17th Amendment were repealed. Huckabee took to twitter and said:Time to repeal 17th Amendment. Founders had it right-Senators chosen by state legislatures. Will work for their states and respect 10th am[endment.]Huckabee, of course, is referring the Constitutional amendment that altered the method by which US Senators are elected. Prior to the Amendment’s passage in 1913, Senators were — at least in theory and on paper — selected by the state legislature in each state. Since the amendment was adopted, Senators are selected via popular vote in each state. The response to Huckabee’s very brief missive was fairly

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Why Police Prefer Drug Raids Over Investigating Violent Crimes

August 3, 2017

Last year, I reported on a case in which the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office in Kansas had raided the home of a law-abiding, middle-class family in Kansas. The officers, arrayed in SWAT gear, terrorized the family and searched the house for hours, failing to find anything criminal. The raid was the result of a program used by the sheriff’s office in which the police spend hours staking out gardening centers, identifying shoppers who buy hydroponic gardening equipment, and then proceeding to conduct SWAT raids on the homes of the alleged perpetrators — who are assumed to be growing marijuana in their homes. The victims of this particular raid, Bob and Addie Harte, sued in federal court. Last week, a federal appeals court overturned the district court’s dismissal of the case

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Why Police Prefer Raiding Lemonade Stands over Investigating Real Crimes

August 3, 2017

Last year, I reported on a case in which the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office in Kansas had raided the home of a law-abiding, middle-class family in Kansas. The officers, arrayed in SWAT gear, terrorized the family and searched the house for hours, failing to find anything criminal. The raid was the result of a program used by the sheriff’s office in which the police spend hours staking out gardening centers, identifying shoppers who buy hydroponic gardening equipment, and then proceeding to conduct SWAT raids on the homes of the alleged perpetrators — who are assumed to be growing marijuana in their homes. The victims of this particular raid, Bob and Addie Harte, sued in federal court. Last week, a federal appeals court overturned the district court’s dismissal of the case

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Why It’s Not Hypocrisy for Libertarians To Benefit from Government Programs

July 31, 2017

I’m not a big fan of right-wing infotainment personality Tomi Lahren. I think she’s a hack. On the other hand, she ought to be defended from accusations of hypocrisy in the wake of Lahren’s public confession that she’s still on her parents’ healthcare plan. It seems that Lahren has been spared the trouble of securing a healthcare plan on her own because Obamacare requires — among many other things — that people may continue to be included on their parents’ healthcare plans until age 26. In response to Lahren revealing this fact yesterday, she was savaged in social media as a "hypocrite" for opposing Obamacare while supposedly benefiting from it personally. It’s Not Hypocrisy to Use Government Amenities — Even If You Oppose ThemThere are several problems with

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