Sheldon Richman's TGIF

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]

TGIF: What’s Need Got to Do with It?

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Recent public-policy debates have taken an ominous turn. Proponents of new government impositions increasingly justify their proposals by asserting that the individuals who would be adversely affected should not complain because they do not need whatever the government action would deny them. We've heard this during debates over both higher taxes on upper-income people and gun control. Those favoring higher ... [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]

TGIF: The Year That Was

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The year coming to an end has hardly been a banner one in the cause of liberty. Once again, high points are tough to find, but low points abound. In mainstream public discussion, freedom counted for nothing, if it wasn’t ridiculed outright. The presidential election saw the marginalizing (again) of the only figure in the race — Ron Paul — ... [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]

TGIF: Right-to-Work Laws and the Modern Classical-Liberal Tradition

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It’s not widely known, but an earlier generation of libertarians condemned so-called right-to-work laws as anti-market. For example, Milton Friedman, in Capitalism and Freedom, compared right-to-work to anti-discrimination laws. Ayn Rand also opposed right-to-work laws. The Spring 1966 issue of the libertarian student-run journal New Individualist Review carried Professor Hirschel Kasper’s article “What’s Wrong with ... [click for more]
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