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Home / Tag Archives: Politics and Economics

Tag Archives: Politics and Economics

Rent-Seeking in Slightly Different Words

We—we, economists and supporters of individual liberty—owe it to Mr. Trump to have reminded us how a powerful state and crony capitalism are dangerous. In fact, state power and cronyism are the two faces of the same Janus. A powerful state has a lot to give and much power to take, so that “capitalists” come to it for privileges (for example, subsidies or tariffs) or to avoid restrictions. Speaking of Mark Zuckerberg and other tech executives, Trump just declared on...

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Removal of Government Statues

The government of Virginia just removed the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, erected in Richmond during the Jim Crow era. Contrary to today’s ruling intelligentsia and government, their precursors were not perfect. But let’s be serious: Jim Crow governments were certainly despicable. So was the federal government, which long promoted policies that favored discrimination. So would be a pure woke government who would simply discriminate against new hated...

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Liberty’s Crisis Crisis

I often remember the parting words of Robert Higgs’ Crisis and Leviathan: [W]e do know something – at least abstractly – about the future.  We know that other great crises will come.  Whether they will be occasioned by foreign wars, economic collapse, or rampant terrorism, no one can predict with assurances.  Yet in one form of another, great crises will surely come again… When they do, governments almost certainly will gain new powers over economic and social...

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Taxes? What Taxes?

Per the Tax Foundation, the chart below shows that since 1980, the share, each year, of tax filers who owe no income tax. This chart of nonpayers who file taxes appears in an excellent article by Garrett Watson. But the author also highlights the data from the Tax Policy Center based on tax units, which is interesting too. Watson writes that: “the Tax Policy Center (TPC) released estimates on the portion of households with no federal income tax liability, finding...

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The Word “Societal”

The current issue of The Economist challenges “the illiberal left.” Among other related phenomena, “the espousal of new vocabulary … is affecting ever more areas of American life. It has penetrated politics and the press.” The magazine observes, perhaps a bit late, that “it is starting to spread to schools.” How can the wokes succeed in changing common terms to advance their ideological agenda? Governments certainly help with their indirect subsidies to universities...

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Conservatism in the 21st century

Americans pay little attention to Canadian politics, even though Canada is by far our largest export market and in many ways Canada is the country that is most similar to the US. In the upcoming election, Canada’s Conservative Party has recently been rising in the polls.  Interestingly, its message seems to be aimed at blue-collar voters: There are plenty of skeptics of O’Toole too. He’s propagating an interventionist, pro-labor and big spending program that...

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The American Experiment in Federalist Dictatorship

During Covid, legislatures became extraordinarily deferential to their executives.  Congress deferred to the President, yes.  But more shockingly, state legislatures across the country virtually abdicated in favor of their governors.  On everything Covid-related – and what isn’t “Covid-related”? – governors have essentially ruled by decree since March of 2020. In short, America is now an elective dictatorship.  Unlike almost all historical dictatorships, however,...

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Comparing Housing in California and Indiana

Summarizing recent research, Bryan Caplan estimates, “It is very plausible that U.S. housing would be 50% cheaper under laissez-faire.” Why do we not live in that less expensive, freer world? “Because regulation is strangling housing supply, especially in desirable locations.” “Yes!” I hear myself saying, no doubt in unison with more than a few readers. Over the past year, mostly as a matter of curiosity and interest, I have kept tabs on a few housing markets across...

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The State as it Is, Not as it Should Be

Many people think that the state is benevolent and wise or, if not, that it would be if it were run by people like them or, more exactly, like the person expressing this opinion. This is “politics with romance,” to paraphrase economist James Buchanan. Although a government sometimes succeeds in doing something with apparent efficiency, it usually fails by its own standards and, irrespective of its success, creates as much discontent as contentment. One problem is that...

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Misplaced Outrage About the Debt Ceiling

It is irksome to read pieces like the recent one in the Wall Street Journal by Alan Blinder – who was on President Bill Clinton‘s Council of Economic Advisers from January 1993 to June 1994 –  lecturing proponents of using the debt ceiling, i.e., Republicans, as a means of slowing the growth of government spending and indebtedness. Their action, Blinder claims, puts us at risk of a US government default. I think the risk is dramatically overstated, even though it goes...

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