Ask a D.C. insider what’s the best way to solve the debt crisis. Nine times out of ten, they’ll recommend taking on more debt. That’s how things operate in the Potomac swamp. Up is down, right is left, digging yourself into more debt is the best way to get out of it. But it wasn’t always like this. In fact, there used to be common sense when it came to the economy. So where did it all go wrong?
Politicians talk about the uninsured. Special interests argue on behalf of those with pre-existing conditions. But why is no one wondering how doctors are affected by the new law? They’re the ones on the frontlines dealing directly with new patients, as well as the red tape that makes bureaucracies go round.
Politicians proclaim the benefits of small business while on the campaign trail. But when they meet in the seedy halls of Congress, they have no problem doing whatever they can to stifle, regulate, and subdue their progress. Instead of siding with entrepreneurs, these politicians often side with political allies and cronies that helped put them into office.
Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you have to stop working. Especially now that you have all the time in the world to do what you really want. Entrepreneurs don’t only come out of Silicon Valley. They come from all walks of life, from all different ages. If you’re retired and want to stay active while you relax, then find out the steps you need to take in order to start, manage, and grow your next small business.
Austrian economics does more than tell you what happens when the government disturbs market forces. In the hands of knowledgeable investors and entrepreneurs, it can tell you exactly what to expect from the market. Market behavior depends on how people behave. And how people behave is central to the Austrian perspective.
The U.S. dollar has been the world's reserve currency for almost a century, and already there are signs it may be in decline. But that doesn't mean it's not still valuable. On the contrary... As Chris Mayer explains, there are many reasons the U.S. dollar will remain relevant on the world stage for years to come. Read on...
World War II might have dragged the country out of the Great Depression, but it did so at a great price. Central planning took center stage, and politicans and bureaucrats suddenly knew what was best for America, the economy, and your life. On top of that, they replaced the free market with a new economic system… Creditism.
If you’re good at something should you be penalized so others have a chance at success? Should award winning actors and actresses be barred from future Oscar ceremonies to give other men and women the chance to succeed? Success should always be rewarded and encouraged. But what happens when you have a government that wants to even the playing field and take away the spoils of success. Gregory Bresiger finds out...
Practical people often pooh-pooh fiction reading as a time wasting dalliance, dominated by a Marxist coloring of the world. However, fiction readers were given a scientific reason recently for spending hours absorbing fanciful figments of someone’s imagination.
Argentina is suffering the ravages of government debasement of the currency -- i.e., inflation, the process by which government pays for its ever-increasing debts and bills by simply printing more paper currency. The expanded money supply results in a lower value of everyone’s money, which is reflected in the rising prices of the things that money buys.
When government expansion is allowed to continue unabated or when it casts a heavy regulatory shadow on America’s entrepreneurial spirit, the freedoms that we’ve come to know, and perhaps take for granted, slowly begin to slip away.
Its acceptance is as widespread as its justification is important, for it provides the rationale for the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented monetary expansion since 2008. While critics may dispute the wealth effect’s magnitude, few have challenged its conceptual soundness. Such is the purpose of this article. The wealth effect is but a mantra without merit.
Baron Rothschild, the famous French financier, was once heard to say that he knew of only two men who really understood money -- an obscure clerk in the Bank of France and one of the directors of the Bank of England. “Unfortunately,” he added, “they disagree.”
The new reality of Obamacare’s tax credits has left finance reporters to pen articles warning readers to “take care” when considering a tax credit and providing strategies for how best to “protect yourself.” So what do finance reporters know that the White House doesn’t?
Nihilo ex nihilo fit. Out of nothing, nothing comes. First put forward by ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides in the fifth century B.C., Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine later used this axiom to prove that the universe needed a “first mover” to get things going. Even if the whole thing began with some kind of “Big Bang” moment, it still needed a banger to bang it. Who? God, of course.
Economic theories don’t lend themselves to laboratory testing, so the work of a national appraisal firm is especially enlightening. A new study lends support to the Austrian business cycle theory, which says that the less government is involved, the faster a market will recover.
What positive steps can we take? The energy that is now expended by well intentioned, freedom-seeking individuals on the destructive course of politics can be turned into powerful steps that will have a positive effect on the future. All are moral, right and just. None require aggressing. Consider the following...
The Affordable Care Act creates a new health insurance marketplace (the exchange). But because of the great uncertainty about what buyers will enter the market and who will buy what product, the law creates three vehicles to reduce insurance company risk.
Politicians and bureaucrats are notorious for manufacturing euphemisms -- clever but deceptive substitutes for what they really mean but don’t want to admit. That’s how the phrase “revenue enhancement” entered the vocabulary. Some of our courageous friends in government couldn’t bring themselves to say “tax hike.”
It’s easy to be negative about the U.S. economy these days. Find a glint of silver, and folks come running to point out all of the dark clouds looming about. This, of course, is what we got last week when the monthly jobs report was released from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Folks pooh-poohed the number of jobs and whining that they’re not enough or that it’s less than a bunch of economists thought that it might be. But you know what? Stuff ’em.
Facts are easy. You can check facts. What supporters of the Affordable Care Act are doing, on the other hand, transcends factual bungling. It’s far more advanced: a warping of reality so debauched it looks like something out of a tale by H.P. Lovecraft.
The east coast and parts of the southern U.S. were to varying degrees paralyzed by blizzards a few weeks ago. The snow as expected rendered the roads treacherous, and in anticipation of slick streets, shoppers flocked to the grocery stores in advance.The rush into grocery stores, and its aftermath, offers worthwhile lessons in economics.First up, […]
The highest form of charity, argued the 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides, is when the help given enables the receiver to become self-sufficient.But our systems of state charity — aka welfare — have too frequently had the opposite effect: They have actually created dependency. It is time to rethink the way we help people.I’m going to […]
Last year was quite the year for Bitcoin. We’ve seen exponential growth in Bitcoin’s exchange rate and extensive coverage in the media. Another phenomenon we have witnessed is the proliferation of alternative cryptocurrencies, five of which we’ve provided below.What all of these cryptocurrencies have in common is that they rely on a decentralized network to […]
President Obama crowed in his State of the Union speech about the economy, even mentioning “a rebounding housing market.” Maybe he was referring to friends in high places, like the seller of Penthouse One in New York, which just closed for $50.9 million, all cash. Millions of mere-mortal homeowners likely wanted to throw something at […]
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is acting in a bipartisan way to cover up the biggest single threat to the bipartisan political alliance that is stripping America of its wealth: the United States Congress.There is no question that the following policy is bipartisan. Democrats and Republicans in Congress are completely agreed that the following information […]
Recent difficulties with implementing the Affordable Care Act have increased opposition to the program. A majority of Americans now oppose it. Problems with the HealthCare.gov website are in all likelihood temporary. However, there are serious long-term problems, particularly considering long-term finance and labor supply issues. Given the mounting difficulties with and growing concerns about the […]
For many people around the world, the first they had ever heard of the great economist Friedrich A. Hayek came from a rap video. That’s right. Some 3.4 million people have watched “Fear the Boom and Bust” since its release two years ago. It has been shown in classrooms and been featured in countless stories on economics.
This video did more than just educate people on the alternative to Keynesian-style macroeconomic policy of which only a small number had been previously aware. It shocked free-market advocates out of their stupor and made them realize they had to do more than write thick treatises that sit on library shelves to get their message out.
This video made economics interesting and dramatic. It took an intellectual battle that had being going on behind the scenes for nearly 100 years and put it into contemporary imagery. The lyrics were not only clever and intelligent; they were accurate as regards the theories of Hayek and Keynes.
Then there was a follow-up last year: “Fight of the Century.” It already has 1.7 million views, and many people think it is even better than the first one (both videos have their strengths, in my view). Then there have been hundreds of media appearances, thousands of stories and blogs, spinoffs and public debates. Several books have come out on the topic.
You can see here the way ideas work to change the ideological landscape. It is now widely understood that there is another side to the issue — a point few understood in the days of FDR’s “fireside chats” or Walter Cronkite’s nightly instructions on what Washington wanted us to think.
Today, not even mainstream journalists can write about the topic of countercyclical policy and economic stabilization without acknowledging another side to the debate. And this new awareness is leading people to truth that has otherwise been suppressed.
Hayek himself would have been overjoyed. He wrote that liberty is doomed unless we “can make the philosophic foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task that challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds.” (Emphasis mine.)
The minds behind the videos: economics professor Russell Roberts (who has specialized in finding new ways, such as novels and podcasts, to get the word out) and media genius John Papola. I’m focusing on Papola here because he gets the least attention of this duo, and it has been my pleasure to get to know him personally and interview him on several occasions.
Of course, I’m pleased as can be than John wrote the long and thoughtful introduction to Laissez Faire Books’ new edition of Hayek’s outstanding compilation, A Tiger By the Tail. It is available in a fabulous softcover edition or e-book. Or you can get both for free by joining the Laissez Faire Club, which provides an unrelenting stream of digital bling.
John’s background is in media, having done outstanding work for Spike TV, Nickelodeon and MTV. Then in 2006, he watched the PBS documentary Commanding Heights. He caught the economics bug. He realized that the science of economics holds the secret to the rise and decline of societies, the answer to so many of our cultural problems, the crucible that determines whether we thrive or die as a people.
He could have stopped there, but — as he explains in this introduction — he continued his studies and found his way toward a truth that goes beyond the choices we are presented in current political debates. He realized that contrary to conventional wisdom, neither Reagan nor Thatcher represented some kind of free-market ideal. There are more foundational issues in play than any political party represents.
He set out on a gigantic, and even obsessive, reading plan that took him through the works of the Austrian School economists from a century ago to the present. It was a heady intellectual journey that ended up causing a dramatic vocational change in his life. He decided to use his skills and talents to advancing the cause. He would do it not by merely propounding doctrine, but through civil, creative and imaginative means, just as Hayek has suggested. He was pushing ideas that were otherwise ignored.
The most-conspicuous results of his intellectual journey are the two rap videos. He worked with Roberts to create fabulous rhyming couplets and memorable phrases that have changed the way free-market advocates talk about the issues. If you spend some time with him, you can observe his talent for this at work. I swear that he can make a great rhyme out of anything. It is dazzling just to hear him think out loud.
Here are two of the most-famous passages from the second video, put into the mouth of Hayek:
The economy’s not a car, there’s no engine to stall,
No expert can fix it, there’s no “it” at all.
The economy’s us, we don’t need a mechanic,
Put away the wrenches, the economy’s organic.
We need stable rules and real market prices
So prosperity emerges and cuts short the crisis.
Give us a chance so we can discover
The most valuable ways to serve one another.
Just reading those last two lines absolutely warms my heart. This is the language of genuine liberalism. This is the great truth of the market that has been so long suppressed. The second video in particular makes heavy use of the notion that we face a choice between a society organized top down or bottom up. That’s it exactly, a fantastic summary of what liberal minds have been saying for centuries, finally given to us in an easy-to-understand image.
What his introduction to A Tiger by the Tail reveals is that John Papola is not just a media genius. He is also a first-class intellectual. He discusses the history of thought here, along with the misuse of economic metaphors, capital theory, banking institutions, the role of prices and entrepreneurship, interest rates and the role of money. He places special emphasis on the issue of “Say’s law,” which Keynes claimed to have refuted, but which still stands as the theoretical bulwark of the market’s capacity for self-management.
His essay, which stretches to 5,000 words, is a veritable primer on Hayek and the Austrian School. Of course, he ends with a few rhyming couplets. What a performance! As Hayek would observe, this is the way to use ingenuity and imagination to make economics and liberty living intellectual issues.