Category Archives: Economic Liberty

Capitalist Virtues: An Oxymoron?

I am in the middle of reading a couple of really interesting and controversial books on capitalism.  One is Deidre McCloskey’s The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for An Age of Commerce.  University of Chicago Press, 2006.  This is a big book on big subject, a grand sweep type of book with high ambition.  McCloskey is currently a professor in (yes) economics, history, English and communications at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She was at one time a staunch Chicago School economist,… Continue Reading ››

Looking for Microcosms in DC

This is the first of what might be an ongoing series of posts based on our experience here in the District of Columbia (that’s Washington) this Fall.  Today’s post was stimulated by both some visits to public buildings and an article today by Lee Habeeb, in the National Review entitled “Risk Mismanagement.”  My own experience is with security–security everywhere, around (not just in) the Capitol, around the White House, in the National Archives, the Library of Congress, all federal offices,… Continue Reading ››

Crony Capitalism

This summer I asked my colleagues at Bereans at the Gate a question – How might we define “crony capitalism”? The consensus was that “rent seeking” – the explicit and direct use of time and money for economic gain without productive wealth creation – was at the root of crony capitalism. When we think of rent seeking we usually think of time and money spent to curry governmental privilege of some sort (a license, help with regulations, etc.) which will… Continue Reading ››

A Moral Case for Markets?

  Some of you who read this blog and some who have read the recent works by Robert Sirico and Arthur Brooks know that the need of the hour seems to be to make a moral case for markets.  Nearly everyone admits their efficiency and ability to create massive wealth.  But the criticism on ethical grounds has been with us for over one hundred years—or more—beginning at least with individuals such as Walter Rauschenbusch (it is difficult to say that… Continue Reading ››

Believe it or not–The Government is the source of true entrepreneurial innovation!

So says a new book reviewed by Martin Wolf in the Financial Times, The Entrepreneurial State.  The basic thesis is that Yes, innovation depends on bold entrepreneurship. But the entity that takes the boldest risks and achieves the biggest breakthroughs is not the private sector; it is the much-maligned state. Martin Wolf approves of this outcome, as does (not surprisingly) Keynesian economist Brad DeLong, concluding: This book has a controversial thesis. But it is basically right. The failure to recognise… Continue Reading ››

Nanny McPhee and the Nanny State

Director Kirk Jones brought the award winning British actress Emma Thompson to American screens in a humorous and funky children’s tale entitled Nanny McPhee back in 2005. The context of the story is a widower with several untamed children who go through nannies like babies go through diapers. McPhee shows up announced. She is a stern, haggardly, be-moled old woman who scares the children momentarily before they reengage their determination to run off yet another nanny. McPhee, however, uses a… Continue Reading ››

More Hot Air–President Obama on reducing Global Warming via Executive Orders

Yesterday President Obama announced he is not going to be hindered by lack of congressional action on Global Warming; he’ll use Executive Orders to implement his vision, since Mr. Obama avers that “We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.” The WSJ has a nice editorial on this today, noting that his anti-democratic actions will harm many average Americans through reduced economic activity.  Just as the U.S. is on an energy revolution that portends insourcing of… Continue Reading ››

The Perfect Storm

I hope everyone has been watching the unfolding scandal at the IRS (that’s the Internal Revenue Service for the present).  As I see it, this seems like the perfect convergence of several disturbing trends in recent decades. First, we see the increasing use by congress of “big” and “broad” statutes whose language is left (deliberately?) vague.  So we begin with vagueness–even extreme vagueness. Second, Congress then leaves the implementation of these bold and vague laws to the agencies either already… Continue Reading ››

Façade Capitalism

Don Boudreaux has an excellent post this morning at Cafe Hayek discussing the connection between civil liberties and economic liberty. He posted the remarks He made at the Oslo Freedom Forum session “Façade Capitalism and Its Threat to Human Rights”. Boudreaux concludes: “Liberty is whole; it is indivisible.  To treat it otherwise is to threaten it in full – to weaken it on all fronts.  And the consequence will be anything but progress toward a more civil, more peaceful, and… Continue Reading ››