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Tag Archives: government

Infrastructure All the Way Down

I have argued on this blog that the best practical definition of infrastructure is “whatever the government wants to pay for because it benefits from the expenditure.” The adoption by the House of a $1-trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill reinforces this argument. (See Gabriel T. Rubin and Eliza Collins, “What’s in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill? From Amtrak to Roads to Water Systems,” Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2021.) The standard argument for public...

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Give Leviathan an Inch…

In his 1651 book Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes argued that, in order to protect its subjects, the state—“Leviathan”—need to be all-powerful. The problem, others noted and history showed, is that a non-democratic Leviathan is a recipe for tyranny. But a democratic state will respect every citizen’s interests because we love ourselves. The democratic Leviathan loves you because he is you. This theory took many forms up to the present day. James Sensenbrenner, a former...

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Contra Gensler and the Chinese Mirror

Gary Gensler, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, may be everything a classical liberal wants to avoid. I will take him as representative of the federal bureaucracies that want to control cryptocurrencies and the emerging decentralized finance (“DeFi”) markets. (See Andrew Ackerman, “Stablecoins in Spotlight as U.S. Begins to Lay Ground for Rules on Cryptocurrencies,” Wall Street Journal, December 25, 2021.) In an instructive article, The Economist...

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Incentives Matter

Economics 101 – incentives matter.But politicians often seem to forget this. Or simply ignore it. “Generous” unemployment benefits provide the perfect example. With the US government handing out enhanced unemployment checks, we ended up in a bizarre situation with high unemployment even as job openings hit record levels.Both President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen insisted that the enhanced government unemployment benefits weren’t incentivizing people not to work. In a...

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What Is Infrastructure?

The $1-trillion infrastructure deal between Congressional Democrats and Republicans may at least help us answer the question: What is infrastructure? Economic definitions, when you can find them, are not enlightening. They often provide a mere list of what are supposed to be instances infrastructure without providing a key to their common features. Criticizing the infrastructure deal, a Wall Street Journal editorial provides a list of its own of “traditional public...

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The Centrality of Exchange

Most government interventions consist in forbidding adult individuals (or their voluntary associations) to freely engage in acts of exchange: securities laws, antitrust laws, minimum-wage laws, maximum prices (like in “price gouging” laws, for example), laws and regulations mandating or banning discrimination, legal privileges for trade unions, tariffs and import controls, and so forth. Some believe that all these interventions are required, and required in growing...

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Government “Job Creation” Is a Big Drag on Society

The labor market is a mess.Millions of people are collecting unemployment. Meanwhile, businesses across the country are having a hard time filling positions.In what kind of world does this make sense?Only in a world where the government pays big money for people to stay at home.The fact is, the mess in the labor market is largely a product of government policy. Government shutdowns threw millions out of work. Then the government subsidized the unemployed, making staying home a better deal...

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Peter Schiff: Politicians Are Nothing But Actors

When Peter Schiff appeared on Joe Rogan’s show, he made the case that the Federal Reserve and Congress are the real problems facing America. The central bank and the federal government cripple the economy, destroy opportunity, and generally make life more difficult for the average American. But why? Why would people who claim to be “public servants” harm the very people they supposedly represent? Peter explains in this clip from the interview.Rogan asked what...

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Externalities and Our Children

The reason why things don’t work properly is that the right people are not in politics. Of course, what you think are the right people is not necessarily what your neighbor thinks, so ultimately the problem is a lack of national unity. What is needed is that we share the same values under democratic political leadership. And even this is not enough. Every voter must spend at least as much time studying every major political issue as he spends buying a new car. Add...

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The Pandemic in Europe and America

The pandemic evolution now appears to be more worrying in Europe than in America, as illustrated by the graph below reproduced from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (Marcus Walker, Bertrand Benoit, and Stacy Meichtry, “Europe Confronts a Covid-19 Rebound as Vaccine Hopes Recede,” March 12, 2021). In France, for example, after two very long and restrictive (even tyrannical) national lockdowns, ICUs are close to 80% capacity. The Wall Street Journal explains: Europe’s...

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