Market failure is often cited as a justification for policy intervention. However, one always faces the possibility that the costs of government failure may be greater than the costs of market failure. In the end, there must be a weighing of the costs and the benefits of policy. We witnessed a great example of government … Continue reading The Costs of Creating a “Federally Facilitated Market”
Governments behaving badly... We've all seen it. Get a bunch of libertarians from around the world together, and each seems to take perverse pride in proving that her own government is the worst of all. How can we quantify governments' badness? On the economic side, we might look to the Economic Freedom of the World … Continue reading A New Measure of Political Risk: The DOG Factor
The editorial board of the New York Times has supported liberty twice in the past few days. First, there was the editorial calling for a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana. There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and … Continue reading The New York Times
I know of quite a few people who harbor rather dark conspiratorial theories of how government works. There is this sense that the government possesses some malevolent genius and the technical expertise to execute the most complex strategies with speed and accuracy. Yet, I always respond: “show me the evidence.” There is ample evidence of … Continue reading Close Enough for Government Work
I predicted Oklahoma would win its case against federal exchange subsidies. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has now ruled against the government on this issue. For more on this breaking news story, check out Jonathan Adler at Volokh.
The always entertaining P.J. O’Rourke has some reflections on the recent FreedomFest in Las Vegas (DailyBeast). Much of the piece is good fun (as one might expect). But O’Rourke does end with an important question that has bedeviled libertarians for quite some time: how do you make the leap to mass politics? In O’Rourke’s words: … Continue reading Let Us All Not Get Together!
I have not read something new on the New Deal in some time, so I turned with some anticipation to Ira Katznelson’s Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Times as one (of many) books I am reading this summer. It is a wonderfully interesting analysis that devotes a good deal of coverage … Continue reading Summer Reading
Ron Fournier (National Journal) has a brief but depressing piece on the state of contemporary politics, arguing that “We Don’t Suck as Much!” is the only message either party can deploy as we enter the midterms. The money quote: This is no way to run a country. When both parties in a two-party system measure … Continue reading A Motto Worthy of Both Parties
Alright, straw men... I guess I have been an academic for too long. Elizabeth Nolan Brown (Reason) observes that many journalists who write about libertarianism are in the business of constructing straw men. They simply do not feel the slightest need to do the kind of research necessary to make credible statements: Not only do … Continue reading Persons of Straw
This topic is way beyond the official remit of this blog, but what the heck, I'm hoping we'll get some interesting comments on it. I've been trying to grasp the distinction between atheism and agnosticism for some time, and I've come to the conclusion stated in the title of this post. My reasoning follows. Define … Continue reading All Atheists Are Agnostics, and Most Theists Are Too, So the Term Is Almost Meaningless
Many people are concerned about income and wealth inequality. I am not concerned about economic inequality as such; I care about absolute poverty (how many people live in misery because of wretched physical conditions), and I care about a broad distribution of opportunity (everyone's having a "fair shot" at economic success), but I don't see … Continue reading Putting Economic Inequality in Perspective
There has been no shortage of corporate enemies in the past few years. There appears to be an ongoing search for firms that can be targeted as representing all that is vile, evil and oppressive. There are some good companies out there, to be certain. For example, Ross Douthat (New York Times) describes one company that has … Continue reading Constructing Enemies
The "license Raj" is an epithet often used for India's byzantine code of rules and regulations on businesses under the central-planning system finally dismantled in part in the 1990s. The Economist applies the term to the United States, which buries entrepreneurs under layers of federal, state, and local red tape. According to the Competitive Enterprise … Continue reading America’s License Raj
I returned Sunday from the Porcupine Freedom Festival, and here's a selection of PorcFest stories that have come out so far (I will continue updating this post over the next days and weeks - I know New York Times Magazine, Concord Monitor, and The Economist will have stories as well): Union-Leader on the "DIY" theme … Continue reading PorcFest Roundup (Updated)
This has not been a good Supreme Court term for the Obama administration. Damon Root (Reason) has a quick and delightful overview of some of the key decisions. The most recent defeat—the Hobby Lobby decision—can be viewed as a loss for the administration, but it may provide some political benefits with respect to fundraising and continuing … Continue reading A Return to the Culture Wars?