Archive for October, 2016
The Never-Ending Contest in Politico-Economic Life

A contest is under way in the world between the forces of creation, improvement, and progress and the forces of destruction, spoliation, and retrogression. This contest has been going on for thousands of years, and except during brief interludes the negative forces always kept the positive forces firmly in check. Roughly 200 to 300...
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Cubs Fans Swing and Miss on Understanding Basic Economics

Cubs fans, rejoice! This may be the year you can finally stop blaming a goat for all your problems and win a World Series. Without a doubt, sports are a goldmine of economic topics. With the popularity of books and movies like Moneyball: The Art of Winning and Unfair Game, many people have been exposed...
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The Federal Budget in Plain English

According to the President’s Office of Management and Budget, the 2016 federal budget looks like this (p. 115): Now let’s pretend this is a household budget by removing eight zeros: Clearly, this family is financially irresponsible, as rising debt and debt-service costs consume the family budget. To continue the analogy with the federal government,...
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Say What?! Global Charity Rejects Free Vaccines

Doctors Without Borders /Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has decided to reject a donation of one million doses of pneumonia vaccine from Pfizer, Inc. The global health charity’s convoluted reasoning goes like this: There is No Such Thing as “Free” Vaccines Pneumonia claims the lives of nearly one million kids each year, making it the...
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Obamacare Premiums to Increase 25 Percent

Even I did not think it would be this bad: The Obama administration has confessed that the average 2017 Obamacare premium hike for the benchmark (second-lowest-cost) Silver plan will be 25 percent. (Back in June, it looked like the hike would be 16 percent.) Don’t worry, says the administration, tax credits will ensure that...
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Trump and Clinton Are Both (Partly) Right on Economics

Neither of the major party presidential candidates is a font of economic wisdom. However, if you look hard enough, you can find a glimmer of truth in some of their rhetoric. In this post I’ll analyze two of the issues raised by the candidates, showing how each contained some truth but also confusion. Economic...
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Whether You Know It or Not, You Are a Tax Slave

In the antebellum South, it was not uncommon for slaves to rent themselves from their masters. As a young man, Frederick Douglass did so, for example. His owner gave him leave to go out on his own, to find employment where he could, and to pocket the pay he received for such work, except...
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Everybody Gets a Medal: Performance “Incentives” in Medicare Reform

In April 2015, huge bipartisan majorities passed a milestone Medicare reform bill called MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act), which imported all the worst elements of Obamacare into Medicare. At the time, I wrote a series of posts (culminating in this one), which anticipated that physicians would refuse to swallow the medicine MACRA...
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Easterly, Buchanan, Hayek, and Economic Development

When I was an undergraduate student, the vast majority of my readings came from textbooks. For several years I looked at supply and demand graphs, calculated unemployment rates and elasticities, and answered questions about how changes in particular variables would impact inflation and economic growth according to various models. During my senior year, however, our economic...
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Bureaucratic Insolence at the Border: Five Haiku

Syrian Christians Must not enter US church Might be terrorists – Computer whizzes From India and China H-1B required – Parents in Thailand Sorry Charlie, no quota State before mother – Good friends in Iran Stay away you mad bombers US picks my friends – Who chooses for me? Bureaucrats in Washington Arrogant “experts”

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