This week marks the 219th birthday of the great 19th-century French economist Frederic Bastiat. It's the perfect time to talk about his famous essay, "That Which is Seen, and that Which is Not Seen," published in his book, "The Law." This timeless work remains an essential guide to thinking about policymaking.
In that essay, Bastiat writes: "In...Read more
The Payroll Protection Program, or the PPP, is the crown jewel of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act's attempt to rescue small businesses from effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, the program has been a mess in its implementation and its results. This predictable failure is likely to distort and delay our ...Read more
The economy is reopening. Consumer spending increased by almost 18% last month, sending the stock market soaring. That's the good news. The bad news is that with no COVID-19 vaccine or cure on the horizon, consumers have not fully resumed their prepandemic activities, and they might not do so for quite a while. There are no silver bullets to ...Read more
Apparently, the United States now has a Lobster King. This great title was bestowed upon the Trump administration's trade adviser, Peter Navarro, when the president recently threatened to impose tariffs on European Union cars if the bloc does not drop its tariff on American lobsters. Needless to say, the president is upset.
Trade wars are ...Read more
Spain is the latest country talking about adopting a universal basic income, or UBI, program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many libertarians, including myself, have always been open to the idea of moving away from traditional welfare programs to cash payments. That said, I have never come around to endorsing the concept, which suffers ...Read more
The world has lost a great economist. Alberto Alesina suddenly passed away from cardiac arrest while on a walk with his wife on May 23. He was 63. A prolific researcher, his voice will be missed in the coming years, as we must yet again debate the merits of austerity in the aftermath of COVID-19-inspired, all-out spending.
For the few last ...Read more
One of the new ways critics like to slice and dice rich people these days is to question the value they provide to others by minimizing the importance of their charitable giving. For instance, the top 20 richest people in America gave a cumulative $8.7 billion to charity in 2018, but we are told that this sum is only 0.8% of their wealth....Read more
It was going to be the party of the year: my 50th birthday. I rented a fantastic place, picked a great menu and sent funny invitations designed by my hilarious friend Brooke. I was counting down the weeks. Then COVID-19 hit. Lockdowns were ordered. No party for me. Yet what replaced it was the purest expression of the best that humanity has to ...Read more
The coronavirus did apparently originate in China. Now President Donald Trump wants to punish that country for its role in letting the virus spread to the United States. This is just another poor excuse to push the same protectionist policies he has always favored. It's also a way for him to deflect responsibility for the failures of his own ...Read more
Have you ever wondered why it seems like some places have a high concentration of elected officials with little to no economic knowledge whatsoever? I have. While I don't have a solution for this deficiency, I'd like to highlight one city in particular where this seems to be the case: San Francisco.
The COVID-19 pandemic now underway in the ...Read more
In times of crisis like the one we are now going through, calls to grow an already-bloated bureaucracy abound. Whether it's through more centralization, more powers to the federal government or the creation of new bureaucracy to address the pandemic, the hope is that next time around, a new arrangement will allow for a better and faster response...Read more
In good economic times, the burdens of big government and excessive regulation are easy for many to ignore. When the system comes under heavy strain, however, those costs quickly become intolerable.
That's why, even as freedoms are being restricted to unprecedented degrees in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19, politicians are also lifting...Read more
A pandemic is not the time for imprudent public policies. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis, like many earlier ones, has resuscitated some seriously flawed ideas. I fear we may see two such notions implemented within the next few days or weeks.
One such unwise idea is a call by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro for an executive order to ...Read more