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

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

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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Writers Who Cannot Swim Should Stay Out of the Deep Water



I am a fan of astrophysicist Alex Filippenko, a famous prof at UC Berkeley. When I was homeschooling my stepson John Allen Hunley, we used a huge set of DVD’s in which Filippenko presents a fascinating intro course on astronomy and astrophysics. He is a wonderful teacher. My point here, however, is that in...
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Simple Democracy versus Racial Justice in the USA



I spent a large amount of my research time in the 1970s and early 1980s engaged in studies of race and economics in the USA, especially in the South. Among the conclusions I reached as a result of this work is one that pertains to l’affaire Nancy MacLean. MacLean loves simple majority rule, and...
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The Funding Fallacy



People on both the right and the left routinely commit the funding fallacy when they assess research and writing. This fallacy is a variant of the hoary rule, Follow the money. The idea is that if an institution or person funded an analyst’s work directly or indirectly, that analyst was ipso facto a hired...
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One Nation . . . Indivisible?



As a child in government schools, I must have recited the pledge of allegiance thousands of times. And not once did it occur to me that the “one nation . . . indivisible” part of it is simply an embrace of the Lincolnian heresy, a preemptive attack on the potential for any kind of...
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A Kind Word on Behalf of the Mexicans



“The immigration problem” or “the border problem” has been a heated topic of debate and politicking in recent years. (This recent spurt is only the most recent in a series that goes back for centuries in U.S. history.) In large part this debate pertains to the entry of Mexicans, especially undocumented Mexicans, into the...
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