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Tag Archives: Political Economy

The Office of Free Speech: A Not-So-Modest Proposal for Academia

Here’s a third post from an anonymous professor here at the University of Texas, printed with his permission.  The proposal is intended in all seriousness. We are now unquestionably at a crisis point for free speech, academic freedom, and intellectual diversity in higher education.  Ritualistic denunciations of faculty who dissent from consensus, under the thin veneer of combating “misinformation,” are now practiced by prominent universities and broadly accepted...

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COVID’s effects on Europe

This article by Wolfgang Streeck for the New Left Review will be disturbing to many. But it is an interesting article, and well worth reading. I would take issue with one claim Streeck makes: that the “supranational extension of the debt state” he rightly considers the Corona Recovery Fund to be, does not entail a change in European institutions toward more “solidarity”. These transfers are financed by issuing European debt, but the way in which member states will...

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Similarity Between Socialism and Fascism: An Illustration

Fortunately, socialism and fascism are not the only two political alternatives, for neither is attractive. Moreover, a well-kept secret is how similar the two ideologies are. Substituting socialism for fascism in many statements from fascists would bring instant approval from socialists. Many antifa agitators would be surprised to realize that they are doing fascism unknowingly, just as Mr. Jourdain was doing prose without being aware of it. The following quotes come...

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The Populists and Napoléon

One of the many fascinating observations in Charles Postel’s The Populist Vision (Oxford University Press, 2007, p. 164) is the sweet spot that American populists of the late 19th century generally had for emperor Napoléon Bonaparte, the French dictator at the beginning of the century: In the 1890s, a Napoleon revival spread in the United States, as many Americans hoped for a strong man to deliver the nation from its multiple ills. Reporting on the so-called “Napoleon...

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188 Years After the Death of Jean-Baptiste Say

Sunday November 15 will mark the 188th anniversary of the death of Jean-Baptiste Say (1767-1832), author of the Traité d’économie politique, whose first edition appeared in 1803. The 4th edition (1819) was translated in English and published as A Treatise on Political Economy (1821). I recently directed a Liberty Fund conference of this great economist, mainly known as the discoverer of Say’s Law (supply creates its own demand), against which John Maynard Keynes more...

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The Freedom to Do What Sounds Wrong

Friends of freedom routinely defend the right to do wrong.  “If you’re only free to do good things, what freedom do you really have?”  Yet on reflection, this sorely underrates the value of freedom.  Yes, the freedom to do bad things is important.  Much more important, though, is the freedom to do good things that sound bad. Why is this so important?  Because Social Desirability Bias is ubiquitous; that’s why.   Long psych story short: When the truth sounds bad, human...

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Do politicians listen to economists?

Congratulations to Paul Milgram and Robert Wilson for their recent award. Tyler Cowen noted that Milgram was a coauthor of this essay: That’s an impressive group of economists.  And here’s the abstract: The ability of groups of people to make predictions is a potent research tool that should be freed of unnecessary government restrictions. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that this will happen, despite that powerhouse line-up of expert opinion.  Nor is it likely that the...

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What Is Populism? The People V. the People

“Populism” has received many definitions and historical interpretations. Some analysts take it simply as a more active form or stretch of democracy, but this may underplay the existence of very different theories and practices of democracy. One analytically useful definition of populism was given by political scientist William Riker in his 1982 book Liberalism Against Democracy. He defines the essence of populism as a political ideal in which the will of the people...

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Will Government be Permanently Larger After the Pandemic Ends?

In his 1987 book Crisis and Leviathan, economic historian Robert Higgs argued that in the 20th century, the U.S. federal government grew mainly as a result of three crises: World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II. During those crises, the feds raised taxes, introduced more spending programs, and took on more regulatory power. While much of the added government power fell after each of the three crises ended, it never fell back to where it was before the...

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The European Union, Italy writ large

It has been called Europe’s “Hamiltonian moment.” It’s true that for the first time the EU has seen a common issuance of debt. As the Wall Street Journal summarizes: On Tuesday European Union leaders agreed to a recovery plan funded by the bloc’s first major issuance of common debt, and some are calling it a historic moment for the Continent’s political and fiscal integration. This is a significant development, but don’t hold your breath for a United States of...

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