Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Ronald Coase (from whose essay,”The Lighthouse in Economics” our logo is derived) is rightly renowned for questioning widely-held theories—such as the Lighthouse as the quintessential public good. In the case of the firm, Coase came down from the Ivory Tower and (gasp) visited firms to see first-hand how they actually operated. His findings, starkly contrasted with the large body of theoretical writings on the firm, earned him the 1991 Nobel Prize in Economics.

Kamala Harris and the Bridge to No Accountability

As the world knows, former vice president Joe Biden has selected California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate for 2020. To gain insight on her possible contributions as vice president, dial back to 2010 when the former San Francisco district attorney ran for state attorney general. The Sacramento Bee endorsed Republican Steve Cooley over Harris. She won by less than one percentage point, but as the Bee saw it, “she could be more aggressive on public corruption cases, though her handlers might worry that would cause friction with fellow Democratic politicians.”

Advanced Introduction to the Austrian School of Economics

The second edition of my book Advanced Introduction to the Austrian School of Economics has just been published. The book’s intended audience is people who have some familiarity with economics and are interested in how the ideas of the Austrian school differ from mainstream economic thought.

The Austrian school of economics focuses on the market process and emphasizes that a market economy is a spontaneous order. Everyone makes their own plans, and the market mechanism works to coordinate those plans using decentralized information possessed by market participants to allocate resources. The Austrian school’s approach contrasts with the focus on equilibrium in mainstream economics.

Leaked George Floyd Video: Shedding Light on the Arrest

After weeks of riots, calls to defund the police, and national acceptance of the systematic racism narrative spun buy radicals, the public can finally see the full story of George Floyd’s encounter with law enforcement. The leaked body-cam footage obtained by the Daily Mail shows a legitimate law enforcement investigation, a non-compliant suspect, and a terrible ending that could have been avoided had Floyd simply listened to the police officers and followed simple commands.

The first thing to note is that Minneapolis officers were not simply cruising around looking for a black citizen to harass. The beginning of the new footage shows a store owner reporting to officers that Floyd had passed counterfeit currency. The store owner also pointed out Floyd’s vehicle and suggested that Floyd was under the influence. Floyd was sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle when encountered. Under Terry v. Ohio (1968) and its progeny, police officers had (at a minimum) reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot and thus authority to stop Floyd and to investigate. Once away from his own vehicle, Floyd was informed he was under arrest for passing counterfeit money.

As the Pandemic Demonstrates, Leviathan Feeds on National Crises

Crisis and Leviathan is Robert Higgs’ great work of history exploring how politicians exploit crisis situations to grow their power. As their power grows, so too does the size of government.

Leviathan, of course, refers to the old bible stories of a multi-headed sea serpent with an insatiable appetite — much like today’s U.S. government, which set a new monthly budget deficit record in June 2020. As the coronavirus pandemic continued, it spent $864 billion more than it collected in taxes that month.

California Supreme Court Curtails Pension Abuse by Law Enforcement Officers, Others

How do you rake in more money after retirement than when you worked? One way is to become a California police officer, sheriff, or sheriff’s deputy.

As I reported in my book on government-employee pension systems, California Dreaming: Lessons on How to Resolve America’s Public Pension Crisis, former San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong was paid more than $528,000 in her last year as chief, but more than $303,000 of that were payouts for unused sick, vacation, and comp time before retirement, which was used to increase her lifetime pension.

When Reimagining the Police, Remember These Cases

As we noted, Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor has been sentenced to twelve and a half years in prison for shooting to death Justine Ruszczyk Damond, who was unarmed and had called 911 to report a crime. Those calling for defunding or “reimagining” the police might also consider cases when officers faced heavily armed assailants.

Trump Signs More Executive Orders as a Last-Ditch Effort to Lower Drug Prices

It has been over three years since Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States of America. During his first run for the Oval Office, he vowed to take on drug companies and lower the cost of prescription drugs. With less than one-hundred days until the 2020 presidential election, he has yet to keep his promise.

Hoping to make up for lost time, President Trump recently signed four executive orders to lower the prices for many important drugs. He announced last month, “I’m signing four sweeping executive orders that will lead to a massive reduction in drugs costs” and “completely restore the prescription drug market.”

What Bezos, Cook, Pinchai and Zuckerberg Should Have Told Congress about Antitrust Hysteria

Wednesday, July 29, witnessed the virtual browbeating (via video conference) of the CEOs of four of America’s top companies, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, by members of the House Judiciary Committee, most of whom never have produced anything other than intrusive statutes and convoluted regulations from which Congress often exempts itself.

Lessons from Wilford Brimley’s Best Performance

Actor Wilford Brimley passed away last week at the age of 85. Obituaries hailed the “mustachioed” actor’s roles in Cocoon, The Natural and The Thing but passed over what may have been his most convincing performance.  In the 1981 film Absence of Malice, Miami union boss Joey Diaz has been murdered but the authorities have no suspects. Prosecutor Elliot Rosen (Bob Balaban) targets liquor distributor Michael Gallagher (Paul Newman), son of a deceased gangster. Rosen leaks a fake story that Gallagher is under investigation in the Diaz case.

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