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Mises Institute USA

Government

[Excerpt from chapter 3 of the Bastiat Collection.] I wish someone would offer a prize—not of a hundred francs, but of a million, with crowns, medals and ribbons—for a good, simple and intelligible definition of the word “Government.”1 What an immense service it would confer on society! The Government! What is it? Where is it? what does it do? what ought it to do? All we know is, that it is a mysterious personage; and assuredly, it is the most solicited, the most tormented, the most...

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Technological Innovation Is Nothing to Fear

In recent decades, increasingly rapid innovation in medicine, education, means of transport, data storage, and communication have contributed to a general improvement in living standards. Still, from time to time this successful narrative is hit hard by noisy worries about the “job-destroying effect of automation” — a notion that remains lodged in minds of a lot of people. A survey by Pew Research Internet finds Americans are roughly twice as likely to express worry (72 percent) than...

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How Central Banks Promote Money-Creation by Private Banks

Some commentators consider fractional reserve banking as a major vehicle for the expansion in the money supply growth rate. What is the nature of this vehicle? Fractional reserve banking arises because banks legally are permitted to use money placed with them in demand deposits. Banks treat this type of money as if it was loaned to them. However, is this really the case? When John places $100 in a safe deposit box with Bank One he does not relinquish his claim over the $100. He has an...

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Restitution-Based Criminal Justice in Japan

[A selection from "Restitution in Theory and Practice" in Volume 12, Number 1 (1996) of the Journal of Libertarian Studies.] Japan takes restitution very seriously, and it appears to work. A key feature of Japanese culture that apparently underlies the success of restitution is that there is no acceptable excuse for criminal activity. Criminals are expected to acknowledge their guilt, repent, and seek absolution from their victims, and this is the dominant focus of each stage of the criminal...

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The False Promise of Canada’s Health Care System

Canada’s socialized health care is a failure, as measured against the service the government promised to provide. Tom Kent, the senior government policy person when the Medical Care Act was passed in 1966, described the government's objectiv : “The aim of public policy was quite clearly and simply ... to make sure that people could get care when it was needed without regard to other considerations.” However, according to a Fraser Institute survey, the median waiting time for patients in...

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Why Housing Is More Affordable In Tokyo

Housing is one of the main drivers in the cost of living. Government increases this cost through zoning regulations, complicated impact fees, and permitting delays. This is a fact that was even acknowledged by the Obama administration when it stated: “Barriers to housing development are exacerbating the housing affordability crisis, particularly in regions with high job growth and few rental vacancies.” Land-use laws are one of the most prohibitive of housing regulations. It takes a scarce...

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Rent Control: A History of Failure

Governments can and do try to fix prices, but history tells us it never works. From the price-control dikats of the Roman Empire’s Diocletian, to the wage and price controls of President Richard Nixon, governments have tried and failed. The historian Edward Gibbon said the Roman Empire imploded owing to economic disasters and less to barbarians at the gate. More recently, President Nixon imposed wage and price controls before the 1972 elections. He was re-elected when they seemed to be...

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The Meat-Packing Myth

[Editor's Note: The Hill reports today on how the Trump administration has approved new rules to cut back the budget on federal met inspection. The Hill's article highlights how the old myths behind the genesis of federal meat inspection are still very much alive and well. In The Progressive Era, Murray Rothbard examined how it was the inspectors themselves who wanted inspection for reasons that had nothing to do with improving the quality of food.] One of the earliest acts of Progressive...

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What John Law Taught Us About the Perils of Printing Money

In the same year that the Bank of England was created – 1694 – John Law became a fugitive. He killed a man in a duel, was thrown in prison awaiting execution, and escaped to Europe. After some years of gambling his way through the European courts and writing surprisingly prescient texts on monetary economics he landed in France. One of history’s first grand experiments with unbacked paper money was about to begin. Law’s monetary extravagance between 1715 and 1720 was not simply a Ponzi...

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