Economics

Oil Profits and the “Gassy” Political Classes

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In the wake of the twin behemoths, Katrina and Rita, gasoline prices went past $3 a gallon for the first time in U.S. history. Even accounting for inflation, the nation saw its highest prices ever at the pump. It was a made-to-order moment for the political classes in this country, and they did not disappoint, putting on a combination ... [click for more]

The New Mercantilism

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When the old-fashioned colonial powers like Great Britain ruled the waves, and mercantilism was the world’s organizing principle, the developed nations got cheap raw materials from the undeveloped nations and in turn sold them expensive finished goods. We may think that mercantilism and colonialism have been left behind, but ... [click for more]

The Separation of Economy and State

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Hardly a week goes by without some free-market think tank or foundation’s publishing an analysis of some government program, pointing out its inevitable “waste, fraud, and abuse” and then issuing what has become a standard bromide: “The system needs reform.” This game is, of course, endless because all government ... [click for more]

Minimum Wage, Maximum Intervention, Part 2

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Part 1 | Part 2 All arguments for the minimum wage come down to this: since no family can survive on an income lower than the minimum wage, it is the job of government to mandate a minimum wage to keep people out of poverty. No matter how elaborate the argument, this is the bottom line. Even if ... [click for more]

Minimum Wage, Maximum Intervention, Part 1

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Part 1 | Part 2 Many workers in my state of Florida received a pay raise this past May. No, Floridians did not suddenly become more productive and demand a salary increase because they are now more valuable to their employers. And no, Florida businesses did not suddenly become more profitable and decide to share their good ... [click for more]

Stop Consumer Gouging!

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A phone call I’d like to hear: Voice: Price-gouging tip line. How may I help you?Mr. Jones: I’d like to report price gouging. Voice: Yes sir. Where is this price gouging occurring? Jones: At the Exxon station on Route 286, right in my neighborhood. Voice: What is the price being charged? Jones: The price for a gallon of ... [click for more]

Profiting from Misfortune

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Amid the shrieks of price gouging as hurricanes ravaged the Gulf coast were a few voices of good economic sense. They correctly pointed out that when supplies of vital goods are disrupted, nothing matches the price system for restoring normalcy as quickly as possible. It does so by encouraging ... [click for more]

Economics for the Citizen, Part 8

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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 Economic theory is broadly applicable. However, a society’s property-rights structure influences how the theory will manifest itself. It’s the same with the ... [click for more]

Freedom’s Fair-Weather Friends

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In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, some members of Congress are talking about passing a national law against price gouging. One problem should stand in their way: there is no objective definition of “gouging.” Whatever the law says will therefore be arbitrary and unfair. The 20 states that forbid gouging ... [click for more]
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