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

Voluntary Provision of a So-called Public Good



For the past few days, several men and a fair-sized tractor front-end loader have been working on the beach road where I live north of Xcalak. None too soon, either, as the potholes have become immense in the past year or so since the last repairs. A gringo neighbor down the road organized this...
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Knowledge Better Left Unknown



They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. About certain things, however, any knowledge at all is dangerous and potentially fatal. One such piece of purported knowledge pertains to the size distribution of income and wealth. This knowledge serves no good purpose; it is wholly unnecessary for defensible government policy or action....
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A Poor Politician



“Un político pobre es un pobre político” is a well-known Mexican aphorism attributed to Carlos Hank González. My translation: “A politician who is poor is a poor politician.” Bill and Hillary Clinton certainly took that maxim to heart, as have nearly all other politicians who ever got their filthy mitts into the Treasury and...
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The Boon of Growing U.S. Imports from Mexico



Since NAFTA went into effect in 1994, U.S. imports of goods from Mexico have grown from about $4 billion per year to about $28 billion (annual rate as of March 2017). Americans have also purchased a lot more services, not counted in this measure, from Mexicans during the past two decades (e.g., tourist services...
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You Can’t Go Home Again, but . . .



A melancholy saying reminds us that you can’t go home again. I know I can’t. My parents have been dead for decades, and my brother Bill, my only sibling, died three years ago. Moreover, the house in which we lived when I was growing up in the late 1950s and early 1960s has been...
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Hurricane Haikus



Price gouging sounds bad Stupid laws make it a crime Shortage continues **** Houses at high risk Subsidized flood insurance What would you expect? **** Storm’s victims galore Government to the rescue Mixed blessing at best * * * Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute. His most recent...
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A Plea for Do-Nothing Government



Nothing promotes bad public policy as much as disaster. An economic depression gives rise to demands for Keynesian “economic stimulus” spending; elevated rates of unemployment among low-skilled workers give rise to demands for increases in the legal minimum wage; shortages of goods and services caused by floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other such acts of...
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Principal-agent Theory and Representative Government



In recent decades economists have devoted great efforts to the analysis of the principal-agent problem (see for example Milgrom and Roberts 1992 and the Wikipedia article on “Principal-agent Problem”). This area of study has to do with the incentives and disincentives of an agent acting on behalf of a principal that he is presumed or...
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Socialism Is Dead; Participatory Fascism Has Triumphed



“Socialism with Chinese characteristics” = Chinese fascism “American capitalism” = American fascism “Post-Communism in Russia” = Russian fascism “Scandinavian Third Way” = Scandinavian fascism “Italian fascism” = Italian fascism “German fascism” = German fascism “Spanish fascism” = Spanish fascism “European corporatism” = European fascism Are you starting to see a pattern?

Public Choice Analysis a Scheme for Imposing Racist Oligarchy on the USA? Preposterous!



Public choice analysis shows, among many other things, that organized political interests will tend to dominate the political process at the expense of the unorganized members of society. This is not a claim that “the rich” will necessarily dominate “the poor” in the political process, although the rich obviously have an advantage in influencing...
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