The Independent Institute

 
        

Robert Higgs Archive

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at The Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review.
Full Biography and Recent Publications

All Monocausal Theories of Economic Growth Are Wrong



For as long as economic growth has been a noticeable phenomenon—at least since Adam Smith’s day—economists, historians, and others have advanced theories to explain its occurrence. Many of these theories have identified a single factor that is regarded as “the answer” to the question at issue. Thus, the exploitation of wage labor, the enslavement...
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Against the Feel-Good Study of History and Literature



The educational establishment seems to be expending a great deal of effort these days to excise “offensive” material from the curricula of history and literature. For example, Mark Twain’s great anti-racist novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been removed from the study materials in many schools because of its use of the word “nigger”...
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Against “We,” “Us,” and “Our” in Policy Discourse



Rhetoric is often insidious, especially in political and policy-related discourse. The words a writer or speaker uses to express his ideas may easily tilt the reader or listener’s evaluation toward unwarranted acceptance or rejection. Politicians and others who make public pronouncements understand this effect, and they choose their words with an eye toward using...
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My Political Endorsement, as It Were



I notice that many people are making public announcements these days to identify which candidates they will endorse for the presidency and other public offices in the coming elections. Encountering these statements, I often shake my head because I have no idea who the endorser is or, when I do recognize the name, because...
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Dog Barks, Your Fourth Amendment Rights Disappear



Dog barks, that’s enough Cops steal your cash, guns, and car Civil forfeiture Dog’s false positive Cops and judges play along Government at work

U.S. Customs Cash Declarations: Just Another Routine Government Outrage



Anyone (individual or family) who enters the USA is required to fill out CBP Form 6059B, whereupon one must provide various personal information and answer several questions. One of the questions asks whether one is “carrying currency or monetary instruments over $10,000 U.S. or foreign equivalent.” A paragraph on the back of the form...
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Statism—the Broken Window Fallacy Writ Large



The success to date of Bernie Sanders’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination and the visible support for socialism on display among the U.S. public, especially among young adults, demonstrate once again the enduring vitality of economic nonsense and ideological folly. (Please note, however, that the foregoing statement should in no way be understood...
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Beware Survivorship Bias



Suppose you wanted to know how many of the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who served during World War II were killed in that war. So you sent inquiries to a random sample of persons whose names were drawn from a list of all those who served in the military during the war, asking: Were...
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Ideology—a Lens with Blinders



Every ideology has its Great Satan and a supporting cast of demons. These serve as all-purpose targets of blame and of the hatred that animates the ideology’s adherents. Ideology is not simply the distorted belief system of one’s political enemies. In accordance with the “inclusive” conception that I have employed in my writing for...
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Can the State Enforce Virtuous Behavior?



For thousands of years, states (or equivalent ruling organizations and elites) certainly have acted as if they could enforce virtuous behavior—always of course according to the particular conception of virtue they happened to cherish. And many continue to do so today. Thus, most U.S. states still prohibit possession of, use of, and commerce in...
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