Economics

TGIF: Mind Your Metaphors

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Metaphor consists in giving a thing a name that belongs to something else. — Aristotle, Poetics Language is metaphorical through and through. — Thomas Szasz, Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences In a lecture delivered at the London School of Economics in March 1933, F.A. Hayek, a 33-year-old economist recently appointed to the faculty, lamented that the “oldest and most general ... [click for more]

The Calling: The Everyday Marvels of the Market

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Those of us who live in largely market-based economies can too easily take for granted what we might call the everyday marvels of the market. We find ourselves with things that would have amazed and mystified people just a couple of generations ago. If we think of the marvels the market delivers, we normally think of technology, but fancy ... [click for more]

TGIF: Does the Market Exhibit Cooperation?

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The American Heritage Dictionary defines the verb cooperate as “To work or act together toward a common end or purpose” and “To form an association for common, usually economic, benefit.” Note that these definitions seem to require awareness about some joint effort to achieve a common objective. This would seem to leave little room for the social cooperation that libertarians ... [click for more]

TGIF: Economy or Catallaxy?

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That the champions of the free market have always understood it, first and foremost, as the most basic form of social cooperation is evidenced by a dissatisfaction with the term economy itself. In volume 2 of Law, Legislation, and Liberty, F.A. Hayek claimed that we cannot properly comprehend the market order unless we free ourselves of the misleading ... [click for more]

New Deal Utopianism

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Back to the Land: Arthurdale, FDR’s New Deal, and the Costs of Economic Planning by C.J. Maloney (Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2011), 292 pages. Drive south from Morgantown, West Virginia, and you soon come to the little town of Arthurdale. At the outskirts of town, there is a roadside plaque informing those who stop to read it that Arthurdale was ... [click for more]

The Calling: The Importance of Assuming Self-Interested Politicians

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With the death last week of Nobel laureate economist James Buchanan, the freedom movement has lost one of its most important thinkers. Unfortunately, Buchanan’s work often gets boiled down to the seemingly trivial observation that politicians are self-interested. Put that way, it’s too easy for people to respond, “Everyone knows that!” Although it’s true that the assumption of self-interested politicians ... [click for more]

TGIF: James M. Buchanan and Spontaneous Order

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On Wednesday, Nobel laureate James M. Buchanan of George Mason University died at the age of 93. Best known for his pioneering work in Public Choice — or “politics without romance,” as he described it — and constitutional economics as a way to limit government power, he also made important contributions to subjectivist economics. His ... [click for more]

TGIF: Hayek’s Warning

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A little over 38 years ago F.A. Hayek, then in Stockholm, Sweden, to accept the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel (popularly known as the Nobel Prize in economics), said, Economists are at this moment called upon to say how to extricate the free world from the serious threat of accelerating inflation which, ... [click for more]

The Calling: Why “Rent-Seeking”?

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Public Choice theory, especially in the hands of James M. Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, has given libertarians a very effective set of arguments against government intervention. In the face of cries of “market failure,” when real-world imperfect markets quite understandably fall short of the unrealistic model of perfect competition that mainstream economists use to portray free markets, the Public ... [click for more]

TGIF: Intervention Begets Intervention

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Among the many valuable doctrines associated with the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises is his “critique of interventionism.” Originally published in German in 1929, then published in English in 1977, Mises’s book A Critique of Interventionism summed up his position this way: In a private property order isolated intervention fails to achieve what its sponsors ... [click for more]
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