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Tag Archives: Politics and Economics

Dominance: Material vs. Rhetorical

Do the rich dominate our society? In one sense, they obviously do.  Rich people run most of the business world, own most of the wealth, and are vastly more likely to be powerful politicians. In another sense, however, the rich aren’t dominant at all.  If you get in public and loudly say, “Rich people are great.  We owe them everything.  They deserve every penny they’ve got – and more.  People who criticize the rich are just jealous failures,” almost everyone will...

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Italy’s new political crisis

Is Italy going to have elections in the fall? Or will it have a new government, supported by a coalition of the populists and the mainstream left, bringing to an end the coalition of the populist left and the populist right which has led the country in the last few months? Jacopo Barigazzi on Politico provides a good summary of a political crisis which is rather peculiar even by Italian standards: For almost 14 months, Salvini has been saying that this government will...

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El Paso etc.: A New Behavioral-Economics Bias?

Over the last few decades, behavioral economists have found rational limitations or biases that, they claim, prevent individuals from pursuing their own good. State agents who intervene to correct individual biases, however, are typically not subject to biases that would prevent them from implementing the common good. (See my recent Reason Foundation paper.) But what if the state instead fuels dangerous individual biases? Consider the “Big Chief bias,” a new bias...

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Reflections on an Interview with Bernie Sanders

If you watch the interview of Bernie Sanders by Joe Rogan, which has been clicked close to eight million times, you will find that the Vermont senator and presidential candidate looks honest and persuasive. One reason is that he has been a politician for nearly all his life, but there is more than that. One thing is that he stands on the shoulders of two centuries of socialists. He is promising lots of goodies: free college, free health care, free dental care, higher...

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The New Tory Zeitgeist: Security over Freedom?

Onward is a new center-right think tank in Britain. I never heard of them before, but I ran into this poll they commissioned and published. It is based over some 5,000 interviews and it looks like a serious thing. The gist of it is basically that Tory voters tend to care more about “security” than about “freedom”. Here are some points of interest: In total, 65% of respondents favored security, compared to 35% who chose society based on freedom.… 71% of people think...

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Dalibor Rohac on Brexit

While I do perhaps naively believe that Boris Johnson is the right man to put lipstick on a pig, that is: to trim some sort of agreements between the EU and the UK, Dalibor Rohac thinks that we should prepare for a No Deal Brexit. Dalibor has lived in England and is a fine observer of European matters. There are several interesting points in his piece but let me highlight a couple. On the one hand, he thinks the European Union has no margin to work a new agreement out...

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Are Trade Wars “Good and Easy to Win”?

“Trade wars are good and easy to win,” President Donald Trump famously tweeted on March 2, 2018. (His circumstantial qualifications do not matter because they are based on a trade-balance fetish.) Anybody with reasonable knowledge, or perhaps even just a good intuition, of economic theory and history would beg to differ. Adam Smith knew something about economics and economic history. In fact, he knew more than nearly all his contemporaries and more than Mr. Trump and...

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Madman or Madwoman in Power: A Simple, Realistic, Urgent Idea

Is it possible that a madman or egomaniac (perhaps combined with an ignoramus) become president of the United States? The same question can be asked for any other country although it takes special importance in the United States given the importance of the country in the world and the extraordinary power of its president. Liberal governments, that is, classical-liberal governments were ideally supposed to be madman-proof. Even a madman at the helm of the government...

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DeMuth on nationalism

Disagreeing vehemently with people you admire is always uncomfortable. But it also helps one to develop a better appreciation of some arguments: how come a person as smart as x believes in that? Chris DeMuth, the former head of the American Enterprise Institute and a true scholar, took part in a “National Conservatism Conference” and the Wall Street Journal has published excerpts of his speech. I have nothing but admiration for DeMuth and his case for a “nationalist...

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Boris Johnson- any reason for optimism?

The new British prime minister, Boris Johnson, is considered a dream politician by some conservatives, and a nightmare by many more. Boris is regarded as a messy organizer, a man affected by attention-deficit disorder, a beloved but not particularly effective mayor of London, an opportunist who chooses to be anti-EU not because of deep convictions but simply to prop his career up, and a demagogue. He is considered by many a clown, and he certainly did all he could to...

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