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America’s Diminishing Economic Liberty

The Index of Economic Freedom is my favorite annual publication from the Heritage Foundation. It’s a rich source of information, using dozens of data sources, about economic liberty around the world. I first wrote about the Index back in 2010 and shared the bad news that the U.S. score dropped dramatically in Obama’s first year. […]

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Just Say No to the Debilitating Drug of Keynesian Stimulus

I’m glad that Donald Trump wants faster growth. The American people shouldn’t have to settle for the kind of anemic economic performance that the nation endured during the Obama years. But does he understand the right recipe for prosperity? That’s an open question. At times, Trump makes Obama-style arguments about the Keynesian elixir of government […]

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Five Illuminating Charts and Tables about Trade and Protectionism

I was recently interviewed on Fox Business Network about Trump’s policies and the economy, and the discussion jumped around from issues such as border-adjustable taxation to energy regulation. Though the central theme of the discussion was whether Trump had good ideas for American jobs and business competitiveness. Given my schizophrenic views on Trump, this meant […]

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Centralization and the Decline of Europe

The famous French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand supposedly said that a weakness of the Bourbon monarchs was that they learned nothing and forgot nothing. If so, the genetic descendants of the Bourbons are now in charge of Europe. But before explaining why, let’s first establish that Europe is in trouble. I’ve made that point […]

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Occupational Licensing: How Government-Created Barriers to Work Are Undermining Mobility and America’s Economy

Red tape is a huge burden on the American economy, with even an Obama Administration bureaucracy acknowledging that costs far exceed supposed benefits. And the problem gets worse every year. If I had to pick the worst example of foolish regulation, there would be lots of absurd examples from the federal government, and the crazy […]

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Will Trumponomics Mean More Freedom and Prosperity?

I was sitting directly under a television in a Caribbean airport yesterday when Trump got inaugurated, so I inadvertently heard his speech. The bad news is that Trump didn’t say much about liberty or the Constitution. And, unlike Reagan, he certainly didn’t have much to say about shrinking the size and scope of Washington. On […]

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The Class-Warfare Crowd (as Well as Donald Trump) Is Wrong on Carried Interest

Time for a boring and wonky discussion about taxes, capital formation, and growth. We’ll start with the uncontroversial proposition that saving and investment is a key driver of long-run growth. Simply stated, employees can produce more (and therefore earn more) when they work with better machines, equipment, and technology (i.e., the stock of capital). But […]

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Tax Competition: A Necessary Liberalizing Process to Discipline the “Stationary Bandit” of Government

Mancur Olson (1932-1998) was a great economist who came up with a very useful analogy to help explain the behavior of many governments. He pointed out that a “roving bandit” has an incentive to maximize short-run plunder by stealing everything from victims (i.e. a 100 percent tax rate), whereas a “stationary bandit” has an incentive […]

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What Can We Learn When the Pro-Tax Hike Crowd Says “Oops”?

I don’t like tax increases, but I like having additional evidence that higher tax rates change behavior. So when my leftist friends “win” by imposing tax hikes, I try to make lemonade out of lemons by pointing out “supply-side” effects. Such as the big drop in soda purchases after a tax on sugary drinks was […]

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Obama Dismal but Forgettable Legacy

President Obama gave his farewell speech last night, orating for more than 50 minutes. As noted by the Washington Examiner, his remarks were “longer than the good-bye speeches of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush combined.” But this wasn’t because he had a lengthy list of accomplishments. Unless, of course, you count the […]

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In One Story, Everything You Need to Know about Big Government and Small Business

All things considered, I like small businesses more than big businesses. Not because I’m against large companies, per se, but rather because big businesses often use their political influence to seek unearned and undeserved wealth. If you don’t believe me, just look at the big corporations lobbying for bad policies such as the Export-Import Bank, […]

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Donald Trump’s Very Good and Very Bad Business Policy

For the next four years, I suspect I’m going to suffer a lot of whiplash as I yank myself back and forth, acting as both a critic and supporter of Donald Trump’s policy. This happened a lot during the campaign, as Trump would say very good things one day and then say very bad things […]

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The Negative Macroeconomic Impact of Overpaid Bureaucrats

Last year, I shared some remarkable research from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development about the negative relationship between government spending and economic performance. The economists at the Paris-based bureaucracy looked at data from its member nations (primarily Europe, North America, and the Pacific Rim), discovered that the countries with bigger government experienced less […]

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A New Year’s Message for Interventionists: Workers Do Best in Unregulated Labor Markets

It’s time to channel the wisdom of Frederic Bastiat. There are many well-meaning people who understandably want to help workers by protecting them from bad outcomes such as pay reductions, layoffs and discrimination. My normal response is to remind them that the best thing for workers is a vibrant and growing economy. That’s the kind […]

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Trump, Entitlements, and America’s Potential Greek Future

At the risk of sounding like a broken record (or like Donald Sutherland in Animal House), I’m going to repeat myself for the umpteenth time and state that the United States has a big long-run problem. To be specific, the burden of government spending will inexorably climb in the absence of big reforms. This isn’t […]

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The Sensible Way to Help the Poor and Reduce Poverty

If there was an award for the most dramatic political development of 2016, it would presumably be the election of Donald Trump. If there was an award for the best policy reform of 2016, my vote would be the constitutional spending cap in Brazil. If there was an award for the greatest outburst of sensibility […]

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All I Want for Christmas Is…a Spending Cap

What could be more fun than to spend the day before Christmas reading about fiscal policy? I realize there are probably endless ways to answer that question, particularly since normal people are probably more concerned about the rumor that the feds are going to arrest Santa Claus. But America’s fiscal future is very grim, so […]

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The Illinois Death Spiral

There’s a somewhat famous quote from Adam Smith (“there is a great deal of ruin in a nation“) about the ability of a country to survive and withstand lots of bad public policy. I’ve tried to get across the same point by explaining that you don’t need perfect policy, or even good policy. A nation […]

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Wonderful Things Happen When the Private Sector Has Breathing Room to Function

In the spirit of the Christmas season, I’m going to be uncharacteristically happy and upbeat today by pointing out that we don’t need perfection to have more prosperity. We don’t even need very good policy to enjoy growth. All that’s really necessary is adequate policy. Just allow the private sector a bit of freedom (I’ve […]

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Creative Destruction, Job Losses, Technological Change, and Human Progress

There’s a meme on Facebook and Twitter that asks people to “confess your unpopular opinions.” I suppose I could play that game by saying that I’d rather eat fast food than patronize most fancy restaurants (especially if I have to pay the bill!). And I’ve unintentionally played that game already by admitting that politicians aren’t […]

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