Category Archives: How not to do political economy

Bring Back the History of Economic Thought

I came across an interesting article in the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy out of North Carolina.  The title is “UNC Chapel Hill’s Economics Program Lacks Historical Perspective,” and it can be read here at http://www.popecenter.org/commentaries/article.html?id=3386 (sorry, I haven’t mastered the art of just a “here” to click on—primitive computer skills).  The upshot was not just that UNC lacks much in the way of a historical approach to economics, but that most colleges and universities do.  The author, Alex… Continue Reading ››

This is Not a Shampoo Commercial: It’s Worse

I read another article today on the evils of occupational licensing, this one coming from Tennessee, which requires 300 hours of approved training to (get this) shampoo hair.  And the so-called shampoo degree coats upwards of $5,000 to $12,000! (see The Daily Signal of ma2, at http://dailysignal.com/2016/05/02/it-takes-300-hours-to-become-a-shampooer-in-tennessee).  After reading the entire article I was just a bit enraged and I can say this was “righteous anger” on behalf of the relatively poor African American ladies who sought to better their… Continue Reading ››

Protectionism, Donald Trump and the Kevin Williamson Blast

It seems this blog overlaps one just published by my colleague Jeff Haymond.  But I will publish mine anyway, since it nicely supplements his. Donald Trump has been saying quite a bit recently about the disappearance of (especially) manufacturing jobs in the South as well as the “Rust Belt,” blaming those lost jobs on the trade policies of both Democrats and “establishment” Republican politicians.  But in addition, an article appeared recently by Kevin Williamson, or at least is scheduled to… Continue Reading ››

Taxes Versus Spending

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a DC group, had this to say about Ted Cruz’s campaign proposals: “Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has, by our count, put forward seven sets of policy proposals on his campaign website covering areas such as immigration, military spending, and tax reform. By our very rough and initial estimates, these major initiatives could add anywhere from $3 to $21 trillion to the debt over the next decade, with our central cost… Continue Reading ››

Frederic Bastiat as Prophet

I have been reading quite a few articles lately in which the individuals (politicians, bureaucrats and just ordinary citizens) are asked about various issues related to the presidential campaigns.  One answer I have heard quite a bit is simply that “the government” should do something.  Sometimes the issues are even cast in terms of a “crisis,” about which someone ought to take action now (or NOW!).  “Pass a law” is another common response.  While I realize that this is a… Continue Reading ››

How Big Should Government Be? The Politicians’ Answer

At the Democratic candidate debate last week, Bernie Sanders was asked how big government should be.  His response was illuminating, as was Hillary Clinton’s response to Sanders’ answer.  Here is part of what he said: WOODRUFF: “And, welcome back to this PBS Newshour debate, Democratic debate, here in Milwaukee. Let’s get right to the questions.  Senator Sanders, to you first. Coming off the results in Iowa and New Hampshire, there are many voters who are taking a closer look at you,… Continue Reading ››

President Obama and Executive Power

In 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Herbert Hoover for the presidency of the United States.  In his campaign, he had promised American voters a “New Deal.”  Little known to most Americans today, Hoover had prepared the way for Roosevelt’s New Deal with several initiatives like the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and public works like the Boulder Dam.  Roosevelt, however, would take these precedents and expand them to the extreme.  During his first 100 days in office, Congress passed everything he wanted… Continue Reading ››

Bernie Sanders Looks to Sweden

In the recent Democratic Party debate Bernie Sanders told us we should look to Sweden, Denmark and Norway to see how a successful democratic socialist economic system works.  I have heard others say the same thing.  Even some conservatives have argued that socialism of the democratic kind works pretty well in those Scandinavian countries.  Rich Lowry, in an article in National Review Online, dated October 20, 2015, says “Not so fast.”  And he has some data to back up his… Continue Reading ››

The European Disease

If there is anything more representative of the immense waste, bureaucratic elitism and arrogance, it is this report of the erection of a new, decorative statue of a tree outside the new European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany.  The statue, ostensibly of a Walnut tree, cost about $1 million in American dollars.  The tree has been called the “money tree.”  Would that it worked.  The new building cost over a billion dollars.  Quite an edifice for bureaucrats who can’t… Continue Reading ››

Occupational Licensing: An Economic Hazard to Your Health and Safety

Reason.com of August 16, 2015 has a very interesting article on occupational licensing by J. D. Tuccille.  Occupational licensing is the requirement that individuals desiring to enter certain lines of work or service first obtain extensive and expensive training and also pay a licensing fee, sometimes quite high, in order to legally enter.  Failure to do so will make the person subject to significant fines at the very least.  Examples of such occupations requiring these licenses include plumbers, hair braiders… Continue Reading ››