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Robert Higgs Archive

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute, author or editor of over fourteen Independent books, and Editor at Large of Independent’s quarterly journal The Independent Review.

Full Biography and Recent Publications

The Tangled Web of Anti-immigration Argumentation



Probably the most often voiced objection to open immigration of all peaceful people is that “you can’t have open immigration and a welfare state.” (Even people as smart as Milton Friedman have made this objection.) But why can’t you? Well, people claim, if you have a welfare state, the masses of the world will...
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Is a National Government Necessary for National Defense?



Gordon Tullock used to taunt anarchists by asserting that if the USA abolished its government, people would not have to worry about the Russians taking over the country because “the Mexicans would get here first.” This little story actually incorporates a common objection to anarchy—namely, the idea that because, if a country abolished its...
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Negative Balance of Trade? So What?



The tendency of the USA to have a negative balance of trade (more accurately known as a negative balance on current account) played a prominent role in the recent U.S. presidential campaign. Donald Trump criticized this tendency repeatedly and promised that if elected he would take various actions to reduce or eliminate it. Like...
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Politics without Romance? Yes and No



James Buchanan, a pioneer in the development of public choice, viewed his approach to the study of government and politics as the analysis of “politics without romance.” But Jim couldn’t really live without the romance, and no sooner had he expelled it out the front door than he let it in the back door,...
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The USA—Best Not to Go There Unless You Have an Urgent Reason to Do So



I am a consistent defender of allowing free passage of peaceful people across national borders. I understand full well why someone from an impoverished Mexican village or a violent hellhole such as Tegucigalpa might wish to migrate to the USA, where wage rates are 5-10 times greater for unskilled labor and, for Hondurans, Salvadorans,...
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The State, No Friend of Harmony and Peace



Turmoil and conflict Politics nourishes them Nature of the beast – Private property Free markets and firm contracts Foster harmony – Human rights basic State thrives on war and plunder Freedom works better

Tariffs, Pickpockets, and the Nationalist Snake in the Moral Grass



Like nearly all economists, I am inclined to explain to people who favor tariffs that such taxes entail inefficiencies. They make the consummations of otherwise desirable trades more costly and hence discourage people’s actions that, absent the tariffs, would result in the creation of new wealth. After all, people who voluntarily purchase goods and...
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Trump’s Wall—an Attempt to Insult and Humiliate Mexicans



Suppose the Canadians were to build a wall to keep Americans out of their country, making it clear that Americans are simply not decent, productive, peaceful people and therefore the fewer of them who enter Canada the better. Might Americans take justifiable offense at such treatment? Why does anyone imagine that Mexicans feel any...
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Hate Corporations and Love Governments—an Ideological Monstrosity



Many Americans (and others) obviously fear corporations more than they fear governments. Indeed, they look to governments to “save” them from grave harm at the hands of vicious corporations and to punish corporations for their evil, destructive actions. On such a mindset a large part of modern Progressivism and other leftist ideologies rests. R....
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Ideology, Identity, Solidarity, and Collective Action



The interrelated complex of ideology, identity, solidarity, and collective action form the ground level in fruitful social analysis. Leaving out this complex, as both mainstream and Austrian economists usually do, means that one sacrifices the opportunity to understand what otherwise seems inexplicable or gets explained only by bizarrely twisting the standard model.   At...
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