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Carbon Taxes: Worrisome in Theory, Bad in Reality

I don’t have strong views on global warming. Or climate change, or whatever it’s being called today. But I’ve generally been skeptical about government action for the simple reason that the people making the most noise are statists who would use any excuse to increase the size and power of government. To be blunt, I […]

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Exposing the Cronyist Argument for Carbon Taxes

In one of my periodic attempts to create themes for these columns, I developed a “fiscal fights with friends” category. Part I was a response to Riehan Salam’s well-meaning critique of the flat tax. Part II was a response to a good-but-timid fiscal plan from folks at AEI. Part III was a response to Jerry […]

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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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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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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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The Insane World of Agriculture Subsidies

I’ve argued before that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should be the top target of those seeking to shut down useless and counterproductive parts of the federal government. And if President-Elect Trump’s choice for HUD Secretary, Ben Carson, is as sound on housing issues as he is on tax issues, presumably he […]

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Government, Cronyism, and the Gambling Industry

I have a very consistent view of victimless crimes. I don’t approve of drugs and I’ve never used drugs, but I think the social harm of prohibition is greater than the social harm of legalization. I don’t particularly like alcohol and I am almost a teetotaler, but I’m glad there’s now a consensus that the […]

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Shut Down the Department of Energy, Yesterday if Possible

President-Elect Trump has picked Ben Carson as his Secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which immediately produced two thoughts. First, since he had the best tax plan of all the 2016 candidates, too bad he wasn’t named Secretary of Treasury. Second, I hope his job at HUD is to shut down […]

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New Zealand and Singapore Get Best Scores, America Drops to #8, in 2016 Doing Business Rankings

For data-loving policy wonks, the World Bank’s Doing Business report is a fascinating look at the degree to which nations have a policy and governance environment that is conducive to economic activity. Unlike Economic Freedom of the World, it’s not designed to measure whether a jurisdiction has small government. Doing Business is probably best described […]

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Markets Should Guide Mergers, not Politicians and Bureaucrats

Last year, I explained the theoretical argument against antitrust laws, pointing out that monopoly power generally exists only when government intervenes. There’s monopoly power when government takes over a sector of the economy (i.e., air traffic control, Postal Service, Social Security, etc). There’s monopoly power when government prohibits or restricts competition in a sector of […]

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Clinton and Trump (Clump?) vs. Taxpayers and Free Enterprise

When Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton agree on things, it’s always bad news for taxpayers. They both want to boost the capital gains tax rate on private equity investment. They both want to let the entitlement problem fester and worsen. They both want more federally financed pork-barrel spending on infrastructure. Now they both agree that […]

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The War against Cash, Part IV

The War against Cash continues. In Part I, we looked at the argument that cash should be banned or restricted so governments could more easily collect additional tax revenue. In Part II, we reviewed the argument that cash should be curtailed so that governments could more easily impose Keynesian-style monetary policy. In Part III, written […]

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Another Lesson from Bastiat: So-Called Employment Protection Legislation Is Bad News for Workers

Frederic Bastiat, the great French economist (yes, such creatures used to exist) from the 1800s, famously observed that a good economist always considers both the “seen” and “unseen” consequences of any action. A sloppy economist looks at the recipients of government programs and declares that the economy will be stimulated by this additional money that […]

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Is Anybody Shocked that Higher Minimum Wage Mandates Are Resulting in Fewer Jobs?

While economists are famous for their disagreements (and their incompetent forecasts), there is universal consensus in the profession that demand curves slope downward. That may be meaningless jargon to non-economists, but it simply means that people buy less of something when it becomes more expensive. And this is why it makes no sense to impose […]

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Hillary’s Statist Agenda

I’ve been accused of making supposedly inconsistent arguments against Hillary Clinton. Make up your mind, these critics say. Is she corrupt or is she a doctrinaire leftist? I always respond with the simple observation that she’s both. Not that this should come as a surprise. Proponents of bigger government have long track records of expanding […]

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Trump’s Social-Engineering Scheme to Make the Tax Code More Complex and Increase the Cost of Child Care

When I wrote last year about “Hillary Clinton’s Plan to Increase the Cost of College,” I explained that colleges and universities boost tuition when the government hands out more subsidies to students, so the main effect is to make higher education even more expensive. Today, let’s look at Donald Trump’s plan to increase the cost […]

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The Supposed Crisis of Student Debt Is Actually the Predictable Consequence of Government Subsidies

Normally, leftists get upset if there’s a big industry that charges high prices, engages in lots of featherbedding, and manipulates the political system for handouts. But for some reason, when the industry is higher education, folks like Hillary Clinton think the answer is to shower colleges and universities with ever-greater subsidies. She says the subsidies […]

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A Very Depressing Chart on Creeping Cronyism in the American Economy

Last year, I shared the most depressing PowerPoint slide in Danish history. Back in 2011, I wrote about a depressing picture of tax complexity in America. Let’s continue with the “depressing” theme today. James Bessen, from Boston University Law School, has an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review about the source of corporate profits […]

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The Productive People in France Need a Frexit

The United Kingdom is getting a lot of attention because voters just chose to leave the European Union. I think this was the smart choice. Yes, there will be some short-run economic volatility, but the long-run benefits should make it worthwhile. Sort of like chemotherapy being painful, but still being much better than the alternative […]

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