Ideas on Liberty

Articles from Vol. 51, No. 12, December

America and "The World's" Resources
At the heart of almost all economics is the idea of mutually beneficial exchange. When two people voluntarily engage in an activity, economists assume that both parties are better off. Otherwise, one of them would have refused the deal. It doesn't mean...
Don't Expect Much from Politics
Ideas and Consequences The older I get and the more I learn from observing politics, the more obvious it is that it's no way to run a business-or almost anything else, for that matter. The deficiencies, absurdities, and perverse incentives inherent in...
Education in a Free Society
Education in a Free Society edited by Tibor Machan Hoover Institution Press * 2000 * 149 pages * $16.95 paperback Editor Tibor Machan states in his introduction to this collection of four essays that "The primary concern in this book is whether human...
Energy Production versus Conservation
One of the most important insights in economics was made by F.A. Hayek in a famous article titled "The Use of Knowledge in Society" (American Economic Review, September 1945). Hayek's insight was simple, but powerful: the information necessary for making...
How Henry Ford Zapped a Licensing Monopoly
More books have been written about auto pioneer Henry Ford than any other person in the car business. Though he had critics, the judgment of history is that he put the world on wheels with his famous Model T. But less well known is the fierce independent...
How War Amplified Federal Power in the Twentieth Century
After surveying the Western world in the past six centuries, Bruce Porter concluded: "a government at war is a juggernaut of centralization determined to crush any internal opposition that impedes the mobilization of militarily vital resources. This...
Imperfect Knowledge
Imperfect Knowledge Three economists have won the Nobel Prize in economics for studying the "asymmetric" (uneven) distribution of information in markets. The winners are Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University, George A. Akerlof of the University of California...
It Didn't Happen Here: Why Socialism Failed in the United States
It Didn't Happen Here: Why Socialism Failed in the United States by Seymour Martin Lipset and Gary Marks W.W. Norton & Company - 2000 - 379 pages - $26.95 Readers of this magazine will automatically be inclined to look askance at the title of this...
It Just Ain't So!
Terrorism Is Good for the Economy? Following the disastrous attack on New York, Washington, and our country, the purveyors of economic quackery began spilling gallons of ink in describing how they think the tragedy will affect the U.S. economy. One of...
Knut Wicksell: A Sesquicentennial Appreciation
In the early months of 1889 a 37-year-old Swedish student named Knut Wicksell was walking through the streets of Berlin in Germany when he happened to notice in the window of a bookstore a recently published volume by the Austrian economist Eugen von...
Let Our Allies Defend Themselves
When US. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Canberra for the annual AUSMIN (Australia-US Ministerial) consultations earlier this year, mutterings of disappointment were heard. Peter Hartcher of the Australian...
Microfoundations and Macroeconomics: An Austrian Perspective
Microfoundations and Macroeconomics: An Austrian Perspective by Steven Horwitz Routledge * 2000 * 276 pages * $100.00 Professor Steven Horwitz of St. Lawrence University has written an important new book laying the foundation of an Austrian school approach...
No Yahoo! for New Shareholder Plan
Last March Yahoo! announced that its board of directors had adopted a shareholder-rights plan, which it described as "designed to deter coercive takeover tactics, including the accumulation of shares in the open market or through private transactions,...
One Market under God: Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy
One Market Under God: Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy by Thomas Frank Doubleday - 2000 - 414 pages - $26.00 Reviewed by Brian Doherty Thomas Frank is the hippest leftist theorist around. He publishes The Baffler,...
Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men-Through Capitalism and Freedeom!
From The President's Desk "A great multitude of religious sects ... might in time [become] free of every mixture of absurdity, imposture, of fanaticism." -ADAM SMITH1 In this time of thanksgiving and holiday cheer, we here at the Foundation for Economic...
Rolling Back the Market: Economic Dogma and Political Choice
Rolling Back the Market: Economic Dogma and Political Choice by Peter Self St. Martin's Press * 2000 * 265 pages * $26.00 paperback Reviewed by Michael D. Mallinger Critiques of the market system are a dime a dozen. Authors of these critiques typically...
Socialized Medicine Is the Problem
Recently, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien changed his mind about his country's system of socialized medicine. After long and hard opposition, he now favors a two-tier health system, including user fees and private provision. This makes it all the...
Tethered Citizens
The welfare state exists to transfer resources from those who produced them to those who did not. There can be countless motives for effecting a transfer: to equalize incomes; to feed and house the poor; to eradicate drug use; to promote exports; to...
The Importance of Feedback
I'm a sucker for factory tours. Though this plant was noisy and humid, I learned a little about extruding plastic film and a lot about the value of feedback. The plastic film made by this firm let ions flow from one side to the other, with nothing else...
The Ultimate Externality
Pick an economist at random and ask him or her, "What is government's chief role?" The likely answer will be, "To correct market failures." Economists have long understood that markets aren't textbook perfect. Sometimes they fail, most notably when part...
When in the Course of Human Events: The Case for Southern Secession
When in the Course of Human Events: The Case for Southern Secession by Charles Adams Rowman & Littlefield * 2000 * 272 pages * $24.95 Reviewed by Joseph R. Stromberg Some reviewers have had a hard time with the present book. They imagine that there...
Wire and Rails: Comparing the Web and Railroads
Not long ago the television show Silicon Spin glumly reviewed the latest news of the cellular phone industry. The guests concluded that even if tech stocks, especially telecoms, had hit bottom, it would be 2003 before the experts thought the majority...