Sunday, April 30, 2006

Not Much Blogging Next Month

I won't be blogging much in May because I have a number of exams.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tax Freedom Day

Today is Tax Freedom Day in the US. Happy Tax Freedom Day!


Via The Road to Euro Serfdom

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Congratulations to Former Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar for winning the 2006 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. Here's an excerpt:

"I had read only one book on economics—Milton Friedman's Free to Choose. I was so ignorant at the time that I thought that what Friedman wrote about the benefits of privatization, the flat tax and the abolition of all customs rights, was the result of economic reforms that had been put into practice in the West."

If only...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Market Risk vs. Political Risk

If you haven't been reading Greg Mankiw's blog then I recommend you start right now. He links to a paper that examines the risks associated with Social Security. I am always suprised to hear people say that Social Security is a "sure thing" while the market is risky. Well, Social Security has what's called "political risk". Essentially, it means that the Congress can fiddle with the formula used to make Social Security payments (e.g. raising the retirement age).

Update: Greg also has a great post on time inconsistency which I found to be helpful. It sure beats this wikipedia article.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

McClintock on the Minimum Wage

Damn, I should have voted for this guy when I had the chance. Senator McClintock makes a classic reductio ad absurdum case against minimum wage increases here:

"If a simple legislative act increasing the minimum wage to $7.75 is all that is needed to improve the lot of the working poor by just a little, then why not raise it to $10 an hour and get them to the poverty level?"..."For that matter, why not raise it to $50 an hour, assuring every working Californian a comfortable living?"

Via LP Blog

Death and Taxes...and Happy Easter!

Hey, just because it's a holiday doesn't mean there's an excuse to stop blogging. I found this hilariously titled article called Most Americans Still Say Tax System Unjust. It just seems kind of obvious that our tax system is unjust. You can find some interesting information here. The top half of American income earners pay almost all of the income taxes, while the other half essentially enjoys a free ride. That doesn't sound just to me. You know the odd thing is that the free rider argument is usually used against libertarianism, but the status quo is rife with free riders. This reminds of that classic Bastiat quote, "The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else."

Update: Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the AMT. If you want more info Greg Mankiw discusses it.

Update 2: Don't tell me this doesn't make you sad:

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Go Anaheim!

From CapMag:

As the Wall Street Journal reported last week, Anaheim, California is showing what happens when local governments respect property rights and allow the free market to work. Beginning in 2002, the Anaheim city council began deregulating land use, promoting competition, loosening business regulation, and lowering taxes. The city completely eliminated development fees for homeowners undertaking renovations, and repealed all business license fees for home-based businesses.

Unlike Portland, where developers are told in mind-numbing detail how to build their projects, Anaheim deregulated the city center to allow almost any use on any parcel of land. The result has been billions of dollars of private investment in the downtown.

Anaheim has demonstrated that we don't need urban renewal and we don't need to subsidize politically-connected developers. We just need to start showing some respect for property rights and the market process.

Via London Fog

A Reason for Libertarians to NOT vote GOP

Social Issues Top GOP Pre-Election Agenda:

Protection of marriage amendment? Check. Anti-flag burning legislation? Check. New abortion limits? Check.

Between now and the November elections, Republicans are penciling in plans to take action on social issues important to religious conservatives, the foundation of the GOP base, as they defend their congressional majority.

Friday, April 14, 2006

State-funded Political Parties

This is intended for a British audience, but it's one of the best articles I've ever read against the idea of state funding of political parties (free registration required). Here's an excerpt:

Meanwhile, the apparatus of public funding creates a lucrative career structure. A graduate can work for his local party branch, then put in a couple of years at the attached state-funded think-tank, and then stand for parliament. Throughout his life, he has been dependent on the largesse of the taxpayer.

So it is hardly surprising that, when he becomes a minister, he is comfortable with the idea of higher taxes. This is why even the notionally centre-Right parties in Europe tend to be corporatist: it's not just that they have to keep finding state sector posts for their supporters; they simply can't imagine a world in which most activity is independent of the government.

Read the whole thing. The article goes on to mention numerous examples of the corruption generated by the funding of parties.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Tax Rates Matter

From Greg Mankiw:

"Higher tax rates on labor income and consumption expenditures lead to less work time in the legal market sector, more time working in the household sector, a larger underground economy, and smaller shares of national output and employment in industries that rely heavily on low-wage, low-skill labor inputs."

Read the summary here and the whole report here

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Julian Simon (Still) Vindicated

It looks like if Julian Simon made his infamous wager today he would still be right:

"For example, if we were to calculate crude-oil prices in 2005 dollars, then the figure for 1980 would be $85.61 a barrel and the 2005 counterpart about $55 a barrel. It needs to be kept in mind that 1970 oil prices would be even higher. Similarly, the price of rice has plummeted from $1,039 a tonne in 1980 to $288 a tonne in 2005, whereas wheat has sunk from $414.19 a tonne in 1980 to $151.34 in 2005."

Via Johan Norberg

Friday, April 07, 2006

Politics In A Nutshell

Via Smallest Minority:


The California legislature is considering a proposal that would "require school textbooks to include lessons on how gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons have helped California develop." Now if you're not familiar with how California runs its education system you're probably asking yourself why this is an issue in the first place. Believe it or not, the California Government can decide what goes into a text book. As the article shows, this process opens itself to all sorts of rent-seeking organizations that want to get their version of history put into text books. I blogged about this phenomenon earlier.

Immigrants Aren't Lazy

Unemployment amongst immigrants is lower than natives:

Via Marginal Revolution

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Thank goodness for the work done by the Citizens Against Government Waste. They do an excellent job keeping track of waste. Here's a taste of what has come out of Washington recently:

* $1 million for the Waterfree Urinal Conservation Initiative;

* $550,000 for the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington;

* $500,000 for the Sparta Teapot Museum in Sparta, North Carolina;

* $500,000 for the Arctic Winter Games in Alaska;

* $250,000 for the National Cattle Congress in Waterloo, Iowa; and

* $100,000 for the Richard Steele Boxing Club in Henderson, Nevada

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Truth Hurts

From the Guardian:

The president of the world-renowned Sorbonne University has branded French students protesting about the country's new employment law "ignorant and stupid".

Reacting to protests over the law, which makes it easier for employers to fire, and therefore presumably more willing to hire, young workers, Jean-Robert Pitte said the youngsters had no dreams but believed everything was due to them as a right without having to work for it.

"I'm very angry about the demagogy, the ignorance and the stupidity of the young and of the French," said Dr Pitte, 56, a geography professor who has taught at Oxford and Cambridge and holds the LĂ©gion d'honneur.

I don't know if it's fair to say that all of the French feel that way, but certainly a large number of them are demonstrating their ignorance.

Update: This is also a bad sign: