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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

Why the Worst Get on Top: Comparative Advantage



For anyone familiar with F. A. Hayek’s famous 1944 book, The Road to Serfdom, the present electoral campaigning to gain the Democratic and Republican nominations as the party’s presidential candidate cannot help but call to mind Hayek’s chapter, “Why the Worst Get on Top.” As matters now stand, the most likely candidates will be,...
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The USA Is Going to the Dogs, as It Always Has in the Past



Some people say that the USA is going to the dogs (no offense intended, perros), and it’s child’s play to demonstrate many ways in which this claim is true—growing police brutality, burgeoning government debt, ever more numerous and onerous regulations, destructive monetary and credit-allocation policies, boiling ethnic and religious animosity, endless foreign wars, to...
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Populist Fascism and the Politics of Class Resentment



A while back one could have heard the masses chanting lustily, “Peron, Peron, Peron!” Today the masses can be heard chanting with equal fervor, “Trump, Trump, Trump!” And their gut feelings would seem to be much the same. Their dyspepsia springs, they suppose, from the evil machinations of the oligarchs whose actions have denied...
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The Hot-Air Barrier: A Major Reason for the Infeasibility of Representative Government



Between the would-be, public office-holder on the one hand and the citizen in general and voter in particular on the other, lies a huge barrier that precludes the establishment of any rational connection. Think of genuine “representative government” on anything other than a very small scale as a practical impossibility. Many reasons explain the...
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Douglass C. North (November 5, 1920 – November 23, 2015)



I met Douglass C. North exactly forty-eight years ago, during the final week of 1967, when the American Economic Association was holding its annual meetings in Washington, D.C., and I went to Doug’s room at the Shoreham Hotel to be interviewed for a faculty opening at the University of Washington, where he was chairman...
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The Mountain of Legal Injustice in the USA



In view of the thousands of laws in the USA for whose violation people are punished even though no identifiable person has been harmed by their actions, is it not wholly appropriate to say that those who are punished are in fact being punished for political crimes? For example, persons entering or leaving the...
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The Government’s Tax on Peace of Mind



In the USA, thousands of distinct actions that violate no one’s natural rights have been declared illegal. Often the law provides for draconian punishment of those who violate such unjust laws. Sometimes, especially in cases involving alleged violation of tax laws or drug laws, the government may seize an alleged violator’s assets, making it...
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In Memoriam: Nathan Rosenberg (1927-2015)



I have just received the sad news that Nathan Rosenberg has died. Nate was an outstanding economic historian, and in my early years in the profession I viewed him as the very model of the kind of economic historian I wanted to become. He reviewed many of my early papers before their publication, and...
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Employers Do Not Systematically and Persistently Pay Women Less than Men for Equally Valuable Work



The quality of economic journalism in the United States is terrible. Day after day, journalists write about the causes and consequences of economic conditions and events without understanding the underlying economics of the situation, and their articles are, as a rule, simply bunk. Here is an example. I have not examined the actual report...
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Immigration Policy Is Unjust



Like you and every other person, I have no just right to prescribe for another person where he may come and go, with whom he may contract as employer or employee, and with whom he may buy, sell, and otherwise associate, so long as he does not violate anyone’s justly acquired private property rights...
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