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How ObamaCare Might Be Repealed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Mario Rizzo   As long as Obama is president, it is unlikely that the recently-passed healthcare law will be explicitly repealed.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 … Continue reading How ObamaCare Might Be Repealed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

Healthcare Constructivism: A View From My Window

by Mario Rizzo  I have taken a quick look at some of the provisions of the recently-passed House healthcare bill. What I want to do here is determine how it will affect me and others in a similar situation. I do not think my own situation is exceptional. I urge others to determine how it … Continue reading Healthcare Constructivism: A View From My Window

Pain in the Fannie

by Chidem Kurdas As Fannie Mae goes for its next withdrawal from the $200 billion kitty the US Treasury graciously made available to this government-created and -sustained mortgage financer, it may be useful to look beyond the current housing slump and consider what it augers for the future. Having made yet another loss, the government-sponsored … Continue reading Pain in the Fannie

Will Obamacare Be Deficit-Neutral? Part 2

by Mario Rizzo To much fanfare the House Democrats just revealed their healthcare plan. Three items from the CNN report caught my eye: "The nearly 2,000 page bill -- a combination of three different versions passed by House committees..." A priori, I say this will be a nightmare to read and a mess to interpret. … Continue reading Will Obamacare Be Deficit-Neutral? Part 2

Will Obamacare Be Deficit-Neutral?

By Mario Rizzo   If anyone doubts that this Administration and the Democrats in Congress live in bizarre fantasy world he should take a look at what is happening with the funding of Medicare.   Premiums are scheduled to “rise” by 15%. Most people will not have to pay because their increases are limited by their Social … Continue reading Will Obamacare Be Deficit-Neutral?

Fast Track To The Single Payer

by Mario Rizzo   For some time I have been interested in the dynamics of public policy – specifically, how particular policies make further policies more likely. Glen Whitman and I explored this in general terms in our paper, “The Camel’s Nose is in the Tent”  and our own Sandy Ikeda's book, The Dynamics of Interventionism offers a … Continue reading Fast Track To The Single Payer

Delusions of Healthcare Policy

by Mario Rizzo   The Wall Street Journal reports, mirable dictu, the latest Senate healthcare plan passes the Congressional Budget Office’s test for not adding to the deficit. In fact, the plan will trim the deficit by $81 billion over ten years. That is an average of $8.1 billion per year in a projected deficit that … Continue reading Delusions of Healthcare Policy

The Real David Hume: A Curmudgeonly Reaction

by Mario Rizzo   I admit upfront that I did not find David Brooks’s New York Times column on Mr. Bentham and Mr. Hume as updated characters at all amusing, funny or informative. I am sure I am in the minority. It is no comfort to me that Brooks seems to favor “Mr. Hume.” I leave … Continue reading The Real David Hume: A Curmudgeonly Reaction

Neither Truth Nor Charity, Part 2: Globalization and the Pope’s Discontents

by Mario Rizzo   Throughout Pope Benedict XVI’s enclyclical (“Caritas in Veritate”) he stresses that scientific knowledge is not enough when trying to determine appropriate government policies or even individual actions. This is quite true.   He fails, however, to appreciate in many specific instances and arguments the importance of the fact that that moral or ethical … Continue reading Neither Truth Nor Charity, Part 2: Globalization and the Pope’s Discontents

Tribal Healthcare

by Mario Rizzo The healthcare debate is bringing out some interesting ideas. Consider what the philosopher Peter Singer (Princeton) had to say in the New York Times: “The death of a teenager is a greater tragedy than the death of an 85-year-old, and this should be reflected in our priorities.  We can accommodate that difference … Continue reading Tribal Healthcare

Exhaustion of the Welfare State’s “Reserve Fund”

by Mario Rizzo   “An essential point in the social philosophy of interventionism is the existence of an inexhaustible fund which can be squeezed forever. The whole system of interventionism collapses when this fountain is drained off: The Santa Claus principle liquidates itself.”  Ludwig von Mises, Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, 3rd edition, p. 858 (1966).   … Continue reading Exhaustion of the Welfare State’s “Reserve Fund”