The Tobacco Manufacturer and the State

Here is the typical dialogue between a standard tobacco manufacturer and the state (it is stylized but only slightly):

The State: “You intentionally sell a product that has no benefit for your idiotic customers and just kills them.”

The Tobacco Manufacturer: “Yes, I intentionally sell a product that has no benefit for my idiotic customers and just kills them.”

The State: “We shall impose a legal prohibition.”

The Tobacco Manufacturer: “No, you cannot do that, it’s a perfectly legal product!”

A Student Who Still Needs to Study and Think

From tonight’s Financial Times: “Colin Dudgeon, a student at University of New Hampshire Manchester, said he had been choosing between Mr Trump and Mr Sanders but ultimately went with Mr Trump because he believed the property billionaire needed his help more. ‘They’re two sides of the same populist coin,’ he said. ‘I wanted to stick the finger to the establishment.'” Poor little guy! He still has some non-romantic studies and thinking to do about politics. Trump does not need his help at all. And were it not for this Financial Times story, nobody would have noticed his finger to the establishment.

What Would Happen to Taxes if Cash Were Banned?

Here is a little exercise in Public Choice economics: If a government banned cash (as some are proposing), what would happen to its tax rates? Answer: they would increase as the cost of tax resistance would be lower and Leviathan would take advantage of this. On this topic, see my article “The Economics of Tax Dodging” in the Library of Economics and Liberty. The same would happen to a lesser extent if the size of large denominations is further restricted.

The Modernity of Say’s Treatise on Political Economy

Does a foreign tourist who spends $2,000 in America bring $2,000 in benefits? Of course not. But this was not always obvious. In fact, it is still not obvious to many of our contemporaries. But it was already well explained by Jean-Baptiste Say in his book A Treatise on Political Economy, first published in 1803. Say explains that, for his $2,000, the tourist obtains the equivalent value in goods and services, and it is just as if he had imported goods worth $2,000 to wherever he lives. It is an exchange like any other exchange of something for something else, from which each party to the exchange benefits, but nobody gives away money. Continue reading

Why We Don’t Need Jobs

My new book, Jobs-veryverysmall-BuYQYxWIUAAeFSTWho Needs Jobs? Spreading Poverty or Increasing Welfare, is just out at Palgrave Macmillan. In this book, I explain why jobs are costs, not benefits; and why, consequently, we need as few of them as possible. I also explain the economic concepts necessary to understand this (rather standard) economic result, so the book is accessible to the lay reader. It may even be considered as an introduction to the economic way of thinking.

You can order the book from Amazon.com, from Palgrave Macmillan, or from your favorite brick-and-mortar library.

Perhaps after reading it you will want to leave a comment on Amazon?

Duncan Black on Lewis Carroll

Ducan Black (1908-1991) was an economist who made important discoveries in the theory of elections: the median-voter theorem and, rediscovered after Condorcet, the paradox of voting. Charles Dodgson (1832-1898), a.k.a. Lewis Carroll, was a mathematician who explored the same field, although he is better known for his literary work, mainly Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Here is a remarkable observation by Black Continue reading

Obama and the Seventh Century

I cannot get excited against air strikes on 7th-century violent barbarians persecuting civilian populations. However, I believe any supporter of liberty must get excited against Barack Obama when he says: “I don’t want to get in the business … of being the Kurdish air force.” (Financial Times, August 9, 2014).

Who does he think he is? Does he think he is an airforce?

The conceit of rulers, so-called democratic, is despicable, but alas symptomatic of their power.