Randall Holcombe Archive

Randall G. Holcombe is Research Fellow at The Independent Institute, DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University, past President of the Public Choice Society, and past President of the Society for the Development of Austrian Economics.
Full Biography and Recent Publications

Many Americans Don’t Pay Income Taxes



Here’s an interesting article from the National Taxpayers Union, based on IRS data, showing that well over a third of people who file income tax returns have no tax liability, or a negative tax liability. In 1985, in the middle of the Reagan years, less than 20% of income tax returns showed no tax...
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Aspirations and Policies



Political rhetoric tends to obscure the difference between aspirations and policies. Aspirations are goals people would like to achieve, whereas policies are the means for achieving them. For example, the Obama administration has mandated automobile fuel efficiency standards that require a fleet average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. This is an aspiration,...
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Atlas Shrugs



Three months ago, the CEO of Gravity Payments, a Seattle credit card processing firm, announced that all of the firm’s employees would be paid a minimum of $70,000 a year, according to this story. Now, the firm has fallen on hard times, and some of the firm’s “higher valued” employees have quit. One employee...
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Government’s Burden on Young Americans



The Independent Institute’s Love Gov videos offer an amusing look at the raw deal government policies give to America’s youth. In the videos, sometimes government tempts young people into bad deals, such as student loans, and other times it offers them little choice but to take bad deals, as with health insurance. But the...
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Cake Politics



Following the recent news, I’m not sure under what conditions a baker can decline to provide a cake to potential customers. I’ve seen this story in which an Oregon bakery was fined $135,000 for declining to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, but I’ve also seen this one in which a Wal-Mart refused...
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Red Light Cameras: Safety or Revenue?



Five years ago my hometown of Tallahassee, Florida contracted with Xerox to set up 19 red light cameras at seven busy intersections in town. The contract had the city pay Xerox about $87,000 a month to operate the cameras, and charged drivers a fine of $142 for being caught on camera running a red...
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Donald Boudreaux’s The Essential Hayek



Readers who want to get a flavor for the ideas of Friedrich Hayek will find an excellent introduction in Donald Boudreaux’s The Essential Hayek. The book can be downloaded free by clicking here. Each chapter begins with a quotation from Hayek, but the book’s chapters explain Hayek’s ideas in Boudreaux’s words. Those ideas come...
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Government Charges Hastert with “Crime” of Withdrawing His Own Money



Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, has been charged with lying to the FBI about the reason he was withdrawing money from bank accounts. Should what Hastert did be illegal, or any of the government’s business? Let’s look at the facts. From the charges, it appears that Hastert (1) withdrew...
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Hackers Stole Data from Whom? An Example of Media Bias



This story’s headline reports, “Hackers Stole Data From More Than 100,000 Taxpayers, IRS Says.” The headline is wrong. Hackers stole data from the IRS, not from taxpayers. This is an example of the subtle kind of media bias that minimizes government shortcomings, in this case by pointing the finger at taxpayers. This particular headline...
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Progressivism: Rhetoric versus Reality



Contemporary supporters of an expanded role for government are increasingly moving away from calling themselves liberals and toward referring to themselves Progressives, so it is worth considering what the ideology of Progressivism entails. Progressivism began in the late 1800s as a political movement that advocated expanding the role of government. Before the Progressive era,...
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