Archive for August, 2015
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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Obama Is Half Right about Katrina

Speaking in New Orleans on the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, President Obama declared: What started out as a natural disaster became a man-made one—a failure of government to look out for its own citizens. He then, typically, dissembled the argument, pointing to a mish-mash of “economic inequality ... a country that tolerated poverty.”...
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Safe, Legal, and Rare, Part 2: Legal?

Forty years following Roe v. Wade, we have been taking a look at how reality accords with the promised outcome of the ruling that abortion would become “safe, legal, and rare.” Last time, we looked at “Safe.” Today, let’s look at “Legal.” First, definitions. Legal can mean either “according to the laws of man,”...
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Follow the Silk Road

Stretching some 4,000 miles, the “Silk Road” was a trade network connecting the continent of Asia. From around 200 B.C., the route, running from China to India, to the Mediterranean Sea, the horn of Africa, and beyond, is largely credited for opening up trade in much of the world, leading to the development and exchange...
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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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The Decline in R&D Efficiency in the Drug Industry

Panel “a” in the graphic below shows that the number of new drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) per billion U.S. dollars spent on research and development (R&D) in the drug industry has halved about every nine years since 1950, in inflation-adjusted terms. This represents a decline in drug R&D...
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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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Bobby Jindal’s Attack on Scott Walker’s Health Plan Is Off-Base

Yesterday, I wrote a column at Forbes addressed Governor Scott Walker’s health plan in largely positive terms. Governor Bobby Jindal, a competing Republican presidential contender, has launched a broadside against Walker’s plan, describing it as a “new federal entitlement.” The charge is way off-base. Governor Jindal proposed a health reform back in 2014, via...
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Anthony de Jasay: Political Philosopher Par Excellence

Anthony de Jasay isn’t a household name, but he should be. The former Parisian banker is one of the most original thinkers in political philosophy today, and his insights on the nature of liberty, justice, and the state have major implications for how we might improve our governments, communities, and culture. The Summer 2015...
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CalSTRS Boss Jack Ehnes Deceives Californians About Funding

Jack Ehnes, CEO of the massive California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), deceived the public in a recent blog post opposing public pension reform in California: CalSTRS has not taken any “pension holidays,”’ which means contributions have been made continuously, thus reinforcing the sustainability of the fund. Ehnes fails to indicate whether: (A) $1...
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