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

Threats to Individual Autonomy: ObamaCare, Salt and Sugar

by Mario Rizzo   I love-hate the word “progressive.” Its political uses derive from the so-called Progressive Era and the less-than-socialist reforms that were enacted during that early twentieth-century period.   Today, of course, few people who use the term think about its historical origins. They think it is simply a word that means “advanced,” “better,” – … Continue reading Threats to Individual Autonomy: ObamaCare, Salt and Sugar

Berlin on Hayek

by Chidem Kurdas Reading a volume of Isaiah Berlin’s letters – Enlightening Letters 1946-1960,  edited by Henry Hardy and Jennifer Holmes (London: Chatto & Windus, 2009) – I came across a puzzling comment on Friedrich Hayek. It is not obvious that Berlin and Hayek, both of them critics of communism and in particular of the … Continue reading Berlin on Hayek

How ObamaCare Might Be Repealed

by Mario Rizzo   As long as Obama is president, it is unlikely that the recently-passed healthcare law will be explicitly repealed. However, it is quite possible that if certain constituent parts of the law begin to fail a radical transformation could take place.   The longer-term Achilles’ heel of the law is the health insurance mandate. … Continue reading How ObamaCare Might Be Repealed

Our Inconvenient Constitution

by Mario Rizzo  The question of questions for the politician should ever be -- "what type of social structure am I tending to produce?" But this is a question he never entertains. (Herbert Spencer, "The Coming Slavery.") It is hard for an abstraction to win against a poor mother with a kid who is uninsured. But this … Continue reading Our Inconvenient Constitution

Gigantism in Lawmaking

by Chidem Kurdas Here’s another aspect of Obamacare. Last week we witnessed a demonstration of how politicians benefit from a massive law. President Obama signed the vast bill – 2409 pages – with great fun fare.  A video of the signing was all over the web.   The media was full of gushing reports.  Mr. Obama … Continue reading Gigantism in Lawmaking

The Moral Paralysis of Obamacare

by Mario Rizzo   The perceptive Alexis de Tocqueville argued that Americans are not as keen on “free speech” as it may first seem. Before an idea or proposal is passed into law they will argue, use invectives, claim that proponents or opponents are bad people, and so forth. But after a law has been passed … Continue reading The Moral Paralysis of Obamacare

Functional Finance Fantasy

by Mario Rizzo When people discuss the fiscal stimulus package of the Obama Administration they frequently use the word “Keynesian” to label those theories that support this policy. But the reality is that these theories owe more to the economist Abba P. Lerner than to John Maynard Keynes. Lerner, building on Keynes, called it “functional … Continue reading Functional Finance Fantasy

Liberty by Design

by Roger Koppl Those of us who love liberty and fear the state support “deregulation.”  We want to unwind the bramble of regulations constraining the dynamic entrepreneurial economy.  But we have not thought enough about how to unwind the unwieldy regulatory apparatus of the current system.  It is one thing to show how a “truly … Continue reading Liberty by Design

The Price of the Mega-State

by Mario Rizzo   The recent Supreme Court decision that “ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections” is a true victory for freedom of speech.    What many people do not realize, however, is that both sides in this dispute had important and valid points. The terrible truth of the … Continue reading The Price of the Mega-State

The Rule of Law Kneels Before the Welfare State

by Mario Rizzo The rule of law always suffers before the political exigencies of welfare state legislation. This is because, contrary to its name, the welfare state has little to do with the general welfare. It is essentially a vehicle by which some groups benefit at the expense of others.  The latest is the sweetheart … Continue reading The Rule of Law Kneels Before the Welfare State

Retreat From Reality: Some Obvious Observations

by Mario Rizzo I am amazed (but shouldn't be) at how far the American political system has evaded the acceptance of reality and how quickly the chickens are coming home to roost: 1. The War on Drugs. This is clearly a fool's endeavor  now that Mexico is being destabilized and the US border towns will … Continue reading Retreat From Reality: Some Obvious Observations

To The Adults On Christmas Day: No Santa Claus

by Mario Rizzo As the healthcare bill moves quickly toward approval, we might contemplate the words of Ludwig von Mises: From day to day it becomes more obvious that large-scale additions to the amount of public expenditure cannot be financed by "soaking the rich," but that the burden must be carried by the masses. The … Continue reading To The Adults On Christmas Day: No Santa Claus

Protecting Ourselves From Our Masters

by Mario Rizzo I have previously blogged about healthcare “reform.” (One example is here.) Both the House and Senate bill attacked the tax-advantaged flexible spending account for healthcare expenses. Now there seems to be a move to reinstate it with a maximum of only $2,500. I understand why the first instinct of economists is to … Continue reading Protecting Ourselves From Our Masters