William Shughart Archive

William Shughart is Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute, the J. Fish Smith Professor in Public Choice at Utah State University, and past President of the Southern Economic Association.
Full Biography

The Silliness Surrounding Mascot Nicknames Continues

“California Bans Use of ‘Redskins’ as School Mascot or Team Name,” according to a recent headline in the Sacramento Bee. Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill implementing that prohibition statewide, apparently “without comment,” on Sunday, October 11. According to the same newspaper story, the new law affects just four California high schools, located in...
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Hollywood Joins the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement

I published an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer recently challenging the mindsets of student activists lobbying to force college administrators to purge coal and oil stocks from their investment portfolios. Now, reportedly, but not surprisingly, Leonardo Di Caprio and a few other left-leaning Hollywood personalities are jumping on the divestment bandwagon. He, along with...
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California’s Proposed $2 per Pack Excise Tax on Cigarettes

A bill introduced for consideration in an upcoming special session of California’s legislature proposes to add an excise tax of $2 per pack to existing state and federal excise taxes on cigarettes. Proponents estimate that the new tax (levied on distributors) will raise $1.5 billion to help pay the healthcare costs incurred by low-income...
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Tennessee’s Fracking Controversy

Shale gas deposits underlie about a third of the State of Tennessee. Tapping that low-carbon resource is essential if electric utilities there and across the nation have any hope of complying with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Energy Plan, which mandates a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. Yet environmental groups...
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The Ex-Im Bank Redux

Adam Smith, the first and still best of all of the world’s economists and moral philosophers, once wrote in opposition to all systems of “preference and restraint”. That lesson is lost on most politicians and all special pleaders who support re-authorization of the taxpayer-financed Export-Import Bank, whose funding is once again set to expire...
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Tax Freedom Day, 2015

The Tax Foundation announces “Tax Freedom Day” every year to mark the date on which the average U.S. taxpayer has earned enough income to pay in full all federal, state and local taxes owed. The date this year is today, Friday, April 24, 2015. “Tax Freedom Day” is determined by taking the ratio of...
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Google Agonistes

News reports on Tax Day suggest that the European Commission wants to nail Google Inc.’s scalp to the wall as punishment for committing alleged antitrust (competition) law violations. At issue is the way in which the company assigns priorities to the links consumers see when they “google” generic search terms like “booksellers”, “cameras”, and...
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Agonizing over Sports Teams’ Mascot Names

I have written several columns on current controversies involving the apparent offensiveness of the Washington Redskins’ nickname, the most recent of which was published by the Washington Times. A later contribution to the same debate, by Hayley Manugia at FiveThirtyEight, finds 2,128 such American monikers, all of which should be equally offensive to people...
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Professor Gruber Strikes Again

According to a recent post by Scott Vorse on Brietbart’s “Big Government” website, MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber, already in hot water for saying that “the stupidity of the American voter” was politically indispensable in getting Congress to pass the Affordable Care Act, previously had advised former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg on tobacco tax...
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Plain Brown Wrappers?

It once was true that copies of Playboy, Hustler, and other (soft or hard) pornographic materials were delivered to subscribers in generic envelopes so that no one, including your local postal carrier, could see what publications you had ordered. I, of course, know that fact only on the basis of hearsay evidence. Nowadays, though,...
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