Economics

TGIF: Frédéric Bastiat and Subjective Marginal Utility

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In the 1870s economics took a radical turn in what is known as the “marginal revolution.” Whereas the classical economists, beginning with Adam Smith, cleaved use-value from exchange-value and thought in terms of the total utility and total supplies of goods, Carl Menger, William Stanley Jevons, and Leon Walras realized that people act at the margin. They never choose ... [click for more]

How to Help Fast-Food Workers

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Doubling the minimum wage may seem like a good way to help fast-food workers, but it would hurt them instead. So what should we do? We must sweep away the government-created barriers to income earning, barriers that protect established businesses from competition and rob the most vulnerable people of options. This week, fast-food workers have engaged in 24-hour strikes throughout ... [click for more]

The Zero Interest Option Could Wreck the Economy

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Economic history is primed to repeat in the nastiest of ways unless the government stops distorting the price of something we use every day. Every product, good, or service has a price, which is essential to rational decision-making. We use prices every day as vital data that guide us. Without true prices, prices not distorted by government fiat, we would ... [click for more]

Book Review: The Moral Case for a Free Economy

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Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy by Robert Sirico (Regnery Publishing, 2012), 213 pages. Critics of the free market assert that it fails the underprivileged, leads to income inequality, exploits the poor, and is at times downright cruel. They charge its defenders with being motivated by greed, selfishness, and materialism, and making a god out ... [click for more]

The Economics Lesson Obama Needs to Learn

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President Obama is again turning his attention to the elusive economic recovery. His “pivot” will be for naught, however, as long as he continues to ignore two important points: first, government is a major squanderer of scarce resources, and second, its regulations are impediments to saving and investment. We live in a world of scarcity. At any given time our ... [click for more]

The Calling: Public and Private Risk

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There’s nothing like a good Facebook debate to provide fodder for explaining core ideas in political economy. I recently expressed concern about the risks of a proposal in Oregon to allow students to pay for their education at state schools by having their postgraduation wages garnished by 3 percent for 24 years. In response, a friend asked ... [click for more]

FFF Webinar: Bastiat’s Economic Harmonies (Audio)

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On May 15, 2013, FFF vice president and editor Sheldon Richman hosted a free, interactive online webinar entitled “Bastiat's Economic Harmonies,” which focused on Federic Bastiat's classic Economic Harmonies. The webinar was an interactive experience with Sheldon and the participants.  Download the audio. Subscribe to FFF Podcasts. [click for more]

The Calling: Markets Turn Waste into Want-Satisfaction

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A frequent criticism of markets is that private owners have every incentive to dump the waste byproducts of their production processes into the air, water, or land without concern about the harmful effects. More sophisticated critics understand the idea of negative externalities and love to jump up and down about how they demonstrate the need for government intervention. There ... [click for more]

Collapsing the Tent on the Mercantilist Revival

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Harvard professor Dani Rodrik’s recent mercantilist apology attempts to illustrate the unappreciated benefits of a much-maligned political-economic system: mercantilism. “Today, mercantilism is typically dismissed as an archaic and blatantly erroneous set of ideas about economic policy,” Rodrik acknowledges. Thus his essay provides a defense of this system, which he believes has much to offer over the alternative ... [click for more]
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