The Government Shutdown and the Debt Default Issue: The Dreadful Lesson

by Mario Rizzo I grant that the government “shutdown” and the perceived threat of default on the debt was a public relations disaster for the Republican Party. I think that the shutdown problems, like those of the Sequester, were grossly exaggerated by the traditional media and as well as by various left-wing hysterics. Neither of … Continue reading The Government Shutdown and the Debt Default Issue: The Dreadful Lesson

Raise Middle Class Taxes Now!

by Mario Rizzo I now favor expiration of the Bush era tax rates for everyone.  Why? Because the only way to curb spending in the long run is to make as large a number of Americans as possible truly feel the consequences of the expenditures they appear to desire. If Americans saw the cost of the gigantic welfare … Continue reading Raise Middle Class Taxes Now!

Student Debt Bubble Side Effect

by Chidem Kurdas Gore Vidal died a few days ago. He was a remarkably erudite author, as any reader of his marvelous historical novels – Burr and Lincoln are just a sample – notices.  He never went to college.  Born in 1925, he joined the army at age 17 and published his first novel before age … Continue reading Student Debt Bubble Side Effect

Elitist Hokum from Krugman

by Chidem Kurdas It has become a standard left-liberal jibe that those complaining of government largesse receive a piece thereof themselves. Such beneficiaries go against their own interest if they favor smaller government—so it is alleged. Thus Paul Krugman in the NYT  largely agrees with Thomas Frank, who attributed apparent red state ingratitude to the exploitation of … Continue reading Elitist Hokum from Krugman

The Just Distribution of Income and Wealth

by Mario Rizzo There has been a lot of talk this year, and especially during the holiday season, about the inequities in the distribution of wealth and income. But most of what has been written is quite simple-minded, if the writers mean to convey something more than their own personal preferences for a different distribution. … Continue reading The Just Distribution of Income and Wealth

Revolution on Wall Street?

by Chidem Kurdas Protestors have “occupied” a square near Wall Street for weeks. Hundreds of them were arrested, some 700 while blocking the Brooklyn Bridge. The movement may be spreading to other American cities. At least one demonstrator says: “This is a revolution.” They complain of joblessness and the inequities of global capitalism, though the … Continue reading Revolution on Wall Street?

The Führer Principle – Light

by Mario Rizzo David Gergen has written a piece decrying the lack of leadership on the debt-deficit “crisis” and calling for a new Churchill. David Gergen, who saw no problem working for both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, now teaches at the JFK School of Government at Harvard. He has a claim to being a … Continue reading The Führer Principle – Light

The Current Debt and Budgetary Impasse

by Mario Rizzo One of the most important, but frequently ignored, aspects of the current negotiations about raising the debt ceiling is the lack of credible commitment on each side. The problem has two aspects. One is clearly analyzed by Michael McConnell in today’s Wall Street Journal.  (Perhaps also here.) What exactly is “on the … Continue reading The Current Debt and Budgetary Impasse

Confusion Masquerading as Science? Taxes and Spending

by Mario Rizzo I am always amazed that when many economists give policy advice the sophistication and logical rigor that the discipline so values gets completely lost. There are many ways to interpret this. One is that the level of precision appropriate to theory and to applied economics is not appropriate to the “art” of … Continue reading Confusion Masquerading as Science? Taxes and Spending

The Wal-mart Solution

by Jerry O’Driscoll Who should provide disaster relief? Who does provide disaster relief? In the Weekend Wall Street Journal, David Beito of the University of Alabama provides the answer for the victims of the devastating tornado in Tuscaloosa: it’s Wal-mart, churches, students, private individuals and, critically, talk radio. The four Tuscaloosa Clear Channel stations organized … Continue reading The Wal-mart Solution

Medicare Reform, RIP?

by Mario Rizzo The Financial Times  reports today that the Republicans may be backing away from the (Paul) Ryan proposal  eventually to replace traditional Medicare with subsidies for the purchase of  private insurance. The Financial Times  says, “This would shift exposure to rising health costs away from the  government and on to seniors…” Of course, … Continue reading Medicare Reform, RIP?

Toward a Libertarian-Progressive Alliance

by Roger Koppl Ralph Nader recently appeared on Judge Napolitano’s “Freedom Watch” to herald the rise of a coalition between “libertarian conservatives” and progressives.  Within Congress, he says, both groups put principle above party.  The first episode in this new alliance will be cooperation on the whistleblower bill. Let’s hope it happens! Libertarians and progressives have … Continue reading Toward a Libertarian-Progressive Alliance

Sowing and Reaping: The True Sickness of Society

by Mario Rizzo   There has been much moaning, even before the Arizona shooting incident, about why “we” cannot be civil in our political discussions and why political parties cannot work together for the common good.  Most of this is pure logorrhea. There are some simple facts the commentators cannot or will not face. The reason … Continue reading Sowing and Reaping: The True Sickness of Society

Word Games as a Mask for Compulsory Healthcare Equality

by Mario Rizzo   The recent decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to revoke approval of the drug Avastin for late stage breast cancer is an action with considerable significance for the future of government financed or subsidized healthcare. The FDA pretends to do a risk-benefit analysis and comes to the conclusion that the … Continue reading Word Games as a Mask for Compulsory Healthcare Equality

Voters’ Best Interest

by Chidem Kurdas Ronald Dworkin, a well-known legal scholar, describes last month’s election results as depressing and puzzling. In a commentary in the New York Review of Books, he asks, “Why do so many Americans insist on voting against their own best interests?”  The New York University law and philosophy professor is not the only … Continue reading Voters’ Best Interest

Emergency Rooms Just Encourage Drunk Driving

by Roger Koppl I do not understand why so many pro-market commenters are opposed to extending unemployment relief.  The supposedly killer, knockdown, unanswerable argument is that unemployment relief encourages unemployment.  Hospital emergency rooms encourage drunk driving.   Should we therefore close hospital emergency rooms?  Those of us in the Austrian school of economics keep saying, and … Continue reading Emergency Rooms Just Encourage Drunk Driving

Friedman on Social Security Reform

by Chidem Kurdas This may be a good time to revisit Milton Friedman’s proposal for reforming all entitlement programs and social security, in one fell swoop. His idea goes back several decades but is no less powerful in its simplicity. A serious discussion on reform may now start with the Roadmap put forth by Wisconsin … Continue reading Friedman on Social Security Reform

Equality Destroyed in the Name of Equality

by Chidem Kurdas Law and government should treat people equally. This old principle may seem obvious and firmly in place, but in fact it’s much violated. Instead, the focus is on income distribution. Thus Robert H Frank in the NYT points to the bad effects of income inequality – like people spending too much money … Continue reading Equality Destroyed in the Name of Equality

The Second Austrian Moment

by Mario Rizzo   This is an important time for Austrians. During the Great Depression and for many years thereafter, J.M. Keynes and his followers dominated macroeconomic theory (some say they created it) as well as the conventional wisdom about the historical lessons of the Depression and the New Deal.   We are now witnessing many important … Continue reading The Second Austrian Moment

Pragmatic Road to Bankruptcy

by Mario Rizzo In the September 15th Wall Street Journal there is a chart that gives a quick view of the "pragmatic" expansion of entitlement programs that has led to where we are now. Who could have predicted the long-term consequences of case-by-case pragmatic problem solving?  I suggest Herbert Spencer, Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich Hayek. The … Continue reading Pragmatic Road to Bankruptcy

Anniversary of Social Security

by Mario Rizzo   Today is the seventy-fifth anniversary of Social Security.   Only an unreconstructed reactionary (that is, a classical liberal) would, at this late date, be opposed to Social Security Act of 1935.   My purpose here is not to go over that issue, however. It is to comment on a recent Washington Post article on … Continue reading Anniversary of Social Security

Constitutionalism: Point/Counter-Point

By Chidem Kurdas and Thomas McQuade In our previous post, Thomas argued that voter feedback is weak in constraining the exercise of legislative power. Chidem countered that the other fundamental constraint, the constitution, is therefore all-important. Commentators were divided, with cogent arguments pro and con. We continue this discussion. Chidem:  Constitutionalism is the idea of … Continue reading Constitutionalism: Point/Counter-Point

“Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste”

by Mario Rizzo   “They are opportunities to do big things.”   I don’t find myself agreeing with Rahm Emanuel very much. However, he has a good point. Franklin Roosevelt used the Great Depression as an occasion to make permanent changes in the US economic system by creating programs and regulatory agencies that did not vanish when … Continue reading “Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste”

Welcoming the Bankruptcy of the Welfare State

by Mario Rizzo    There are at least two kinds of opponents of the welfare state. There are those who think it has gone too far because, for example, it is very expensive, counterproductive, reduces incentives for economic initiative, depresses general economic growth, and may cause an unsustainable debt burden. You can count many economists in … Continue reading Welcoming the Bankruptcy of the Welfare State