Sheldon Richman's TGIF

TGIF: The Market Is a Beautiful Thing

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Market advocates tend to respect the intellect of their fellow human beings. You can tell by their reliance on philosophical, moral, economic, and historical arguments when trying to persuade others. But what if most people’s aversion to the market isn’t founded in philosophy, morality, economics, or history? What if their objection is aesthetic? More and more I’ve come to think ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Myth of Market Failure

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In the language of economics, a market failure is, as David Friedman writes, “a situation where each individual correctly chooses the action that best accomplishes his objectives, yet the result is worse, in terms of those same objectives, than if everyone had done something else.” As a rule, the pursuit of individual good in the market ... [click for more]

TGIF: Loving Economics

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“My love affair with economics began in the fall of 1979.” With those words, Peter Boettke begins his valentine to the economics discipline, that is, his latest book: Living Economics: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Independent Institute and Universidad Francisco Marroquin, 2012). Boettke, besides being a University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University, the BB&T Professor ... [click for more]

TGIF: Bastiat on the Socialization of Wealth

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That … veil which is spread before the eyes of the ordinary man, which even the attentive observer does not always succeed in casting aside, prevents us from seeing the most marvelous of all social phenomena: real wealth constantly passing from the domain of private property into the communal domain. Wealth marvelously passing from the private to the communal domain? ... [click for more]

TGIF: Freedom Overlooked

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The idea of freedom counts for little in public discourse. It may come up now and then, only to be quickly shoved to the rear as something quaintly outmoded if not suggestive of paranoia. Examples abound, and this week saw its share. The first that comes to mind is New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s legal setback in his attempt to ... [click for more]

TGIF: Entrepreneurship and Social Cooperation

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We may laud the market order as an indispensable arena for large-scale social cooperation, but let’s not forget that people cannot cooperate with one another if they don’t know that the potential for mutually beneficial exchanges exists. In the real world ignorance is pervasive, and we mustn’t fall prey to the mainstream economists’ unreal assumption that full knowledge about means, ends, ... [click for more]

TGIF: Sequestration and the Chimera of the Informed Voter

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I spent too much time and effort this week trying to figure out the budget implications of sequestration. This made me wonder how many, well, normal people would be willing to do that. If the answer is “not many,” then in what sense can we talk about the “informed voter”? And if the “informed voter” is a chimera, how ... [click for more]

TGIF: What Support for the Minimum Wage Reveals

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Economic law is not suppressed by legislated law. — Armen Alchian Few people really understand what the great economist Armen Alchian, who died the other day at age 98, put so plainly. Considering that in the recent past over a quarter of polled economists said they saw no harm in raising the minimum wage, ... [click for more]

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]

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]

TGIF: Government Undermines Social Cooperation

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I should know better than to take seriously the insipid words of presidential speechwriters, especially those who composed an inaugural address. Still, I can’t let some of the words President Obama read at Monday’s inauguration pass without comment. For example, Obama said this: Preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet ... [click for more]
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