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George H. Smith, RIP

I’ve held off writing an obituary for George Smith because I wasn’t sure that the obituary friends pointed to was truly of him. But David Boaz has convinced me that it was. I had lost touch with George and so I didn’t know that he had moved to Bloomington, Illinois. David Boaz’s obituary of George is an excellent summing up of George’s many contributions to liberty and to good thinking. So I won’t try to replicate it. Instead I’ll tell a few fun stories. I first met...

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The CMS is Right and the WSJ is Wrong

I find it refreshing when a government agency says no to spending more money. Last month, in an editorial titled “Sandbagging a Alzheimer’s Treatment,” the Wall Street Journal editors criticized the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for refusing to pay for Biogen’s new Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm. In their editorial, the WSJ editors rightly criticize various scientists who had insisted on further trials before the drug was approved. As readers of this blog...

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The problem with fiscal policy

Most fiscal policy consists of adjustments in taxes and transfers.  However, the effects of this type of fiscal policy are largely offset by changes in monetary policy, at least when the Fed is doing its job.  Defenders of fiscal policy respond that changes in real government spending can directly boost output even when there is complete monetary offset of the effects of budget deficits on nominal spending.  In practice, however, even this sort of “real” fiscal...

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Unions Exist to Look After Their Members, Baseball edition

Baseball is back, but it was in doubt for a while. It was only on March 13 that the second longest work stoppage in baseball history – 99 days – came to an end when the MLB and the MLB Players’ Association – the baseball players’ union – struck a deal. The Players Association was pushing for a number of things. One was more money: they wanted the Competitive Balance Tax – which is effectively an upper limit on spending – raised. They were also resisting the...

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Woody Holton’s Not So Hidden History

Woody Holton, Professor of History at the University of South Carolina, has written a nearly 800-page tome entitled Liberty is Sweet and sub-titled The Hidden History of the American Revolution. His previous books include a definitive biography of Abigail Adams and Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution, a work I much admire. Even before this recent Holton book was released, it ignited controversy. Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the New York Times’ 1619...

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“Illegal Birthday Party”: Neoliberalism, For Sure

Speaking of prime minister Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak (among other British politicians), the Financial Times notes (“Police Issue 50 More Fines over Westminster ‘Partygate’ Breaches,” May 12): Johnson, his wife Carrie and Sunak were last month fined £50 each for attending an illegal birthday party held at Downing Street in June 2020. That politicians or other rulers fall under the laws they have imposed on ordinary citizens should be a cause for...

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Inflation is worse than it looks

The government recently announced that the 12-month rise in the CPI slowed from 8.5% in March to 8.3% in April.  But this is not good news, as inflation is actually getting worse. People have become used to thinking of inflation in a “let bygones be bygones” fashion.  Don’t cry over spilled milk; let’s focus on the inflation rate going forward.  That might be appropriate under the Fed’s old inflation targeting regime, but is not appropriate under average inflation...

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How Could Inflation Ever Be Stopped?

The benefit of every government report on inflation is to remind us how even intelligent people are often confused—even if they may have once been acquainted with the economic way of thinking. I read in today’s Wall Street Journal (“Inflation Slipped in April, but Upward Pressures Remain,” May 11, 2022): Those dynamics are pushing up wage gains—adding multiple pressures on inflation. Some employers are raising prices to offset higher labor costs. Strong wage growth...

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Inflation Falls

Alan Reynolds beat me to it, with an excellent analysis of the latest inflation numbers. Alan notes that “CNBC, like others, reported that ‘The consumer price index accelerated 8.3% in April.'” No it didn’t. It rose by 8.3 percent from the same time last year. But the CPI rose by 0.33 percent in April. Compare that to its 1.2 percent rise in March. Inflation came down. Do I expect it to come down further? Not necessarily. But I expect the month-to-month inflation...

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Do all Miami Locals Have the Same Interests?

Different individuals not only have different preferences or values but also, whatever the degree of equality in their society, face different circumstances. Not surprisingly, these two sets of conditions will typically imply different evaluations of specific social (including economic and political) phenomena. A banal example is given by a title in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal: “Miami Locals Are Steamed Over Relocating New Yorkers Driving Up Apartment Rents.” The...

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