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Randall Holcombe Archive

Randall G. Holcombe is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. His Independent books include Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis (edited with Benjamin Powell); and Writing Off Ideas: Taxation, Foundations, and Philanthropy in America .
Full Biography and Recent Publications

Big Government Creates Political Polarization



We’ve heard it said that politics is more polarized today than in the past. If that’s true (and I’m not sure it is), big government is likely to blame. I recently noted that politics creates conflict. Bigger government creates more conflict. Smaller government tends to focus on activities that meet with widespread agreement. Most...
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Politics Creates Conflict



One interesting thing to note about the political statements coming from candidates as the primaries approach is the adversarial nature of their rhetoric. They don’t hesitate to attack their primary opponents despite the fact that they broadly agree on most things. Yes, Republicans will take an occasional jab at Hillary, but mostly they are...
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Government Investment in Self-Driving Cars: Leading from Behind



The Obama administration announced that they were going to invest $4 billion in self-driving cars. Why? Private firms have already developed self-driving cars, and although none are available for purchase now, they are on their way with or without government involvement. Is this really a good use of our tax dollars? What investments can...
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US Drug Laws Destabilize Other Nations



This article in USA Today is headlined, “El Salvador: World’s New Murder Capital.” El Salvador’s murder rate is 104 per 100,000 population, and as the article notes, this is a national average. “If you start looking at where the pockets of violence are, it’s shocking.” Why are things so bad in El Salvador? The...
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Barack Obama: Firearms Industry’s Best Friend



For several years now, President Obama has been threatening to crack down on gun sales and gun ownership, and the result has been... more guns. As this article notes, the firearms industry is booming (pardon my phraseology), largely because of the president’s anti-gun rhetoric. Surely a man as perceptive as President Obama can see...
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The Quality of American Education: Two Types of Evidence



Every so often, articles like this one appear, which seem to show that the American education system is, to use the term in the article, mediocre. What the article shows is that regardless of socioeconomic status, American students score below most developed nations in mathematical ability. The problem with statistics like these is that...
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The Stock Market Reacts to the Fed’s Interest Rate Hike



After the Fed’s November meeting, when the Fed decided not to hike interest rates, the stock market fell, indicating the disappointment of market participants. As I noted at the time, because lower interest rates tend to raise asset prices, the market decline was an indication of disapproval from market participants. At the Fed’s December...
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Police Take More Property from People than Burglars



Most readers of The Beacon are probably familiar with the rise in civil asset forfeiture, which gives police the power to seize property they claim was used in criminal activity, often without accusing the property owner of a crime. They don’t have to. It’s up to property owners to prove they are innocent to...
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Is an Interest Rate Hike Overdue?



While I’m reluctant to attribute movements in stock prices to specific events, this article says that the big run-up in stock prices (around 1.5%) today was due to the release of the Federal Reserve’s minutes of their last meeting indicating that “a core of officials backed a possible rate hike in December.” The conventional...
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Right Problem; Wrong Solution. Obama’s Push for Reduced Prison Sentences



President Obama is pushing for reductions in prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders. As this article notes, the federal prison population is more than eight times higher today than in 1980, before the Reagan administration’s War on Drugs. The United States has a larger share of its population behind bars than any other nation...
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