Category Archives: Economics

Economics in one volume

If only life’s problems had simple solutions, we sigh. But often they do. Not easy ones, but simple ones, as Ronald Reagan liked to say. And nowhere is it more true than in economics, where we really do know what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t. 

There’s even a simple way to get on top of it that actually is easy: Read Henry Hazlitt’s classic, plain-language, common sense Economics in One Lesson. It’s 70 years old now but still absolutely timely because we keep making the same simple mistakes. 

Not to worry, if we give up that bad habit we’ll still have plenty to bicker about in foreign and social policy. But in economics, there are simple solutions. Read Hazlitt and you’ll know what they are.

Been there, done that…

It gives me great pleasure to announce the first installment of “Been There, Done That… Shouldn’t Have”, a print and video commentary for the Economic Education Association of Alberta’s “Freedom Talk”. One of the most frustrating things about economic policy is we’re not even making new mistakes, just repeating old ones we forgot about. Sometimes so old they were first made in Latin.

That’s why the focus of the series will be stories from economic history and, sometimes, mythology as well, to remind us that on at least 90 percent of the policies labeled bold and new we’ve been there, we’ve done that and we shouldn’t have. You can find them on the Freedom Talk site, of course, and we hope you’ll want to share them with your friends and help us keep the series going.

The Internet of… oh darn

Very interesting Washington Post piece about the security of the Internet and the “Internet of things” largely based on Linux, given the eccentricities of Linux’ founder and the incentives that don’t operate when people are giving stuff away rather than selling it.

Read that alongside Ted Koppel’s piece (in Thursday’s National Post among other places) about the vulnerability of America’s power infrastructure (and ours, I assure you) and you might well conclude with Woody that “This is the perfect time to panic.”

But don’t worry if you miss it. You’ll get another chance.

When sheep go to court

Our friends at the Canadian Constitution Foundation are asking for help in the case of two Ontario farmers at odds with the Canada Food Inspection Agency. You can read their appeal here and Brigitte’s post about it here. And I’m asking you to consider chipping in to the Indiegogo defence fund for Montana Jones and Michael Schmidt.

I’m not familiar with the detailed facts of the case. But it certainly sounds as though they’re being ground down by the bureaucratic machine in a way that undermines the rule of law. Especially as Karen Selick of the CCF inform us that there’s some sort of publication ban on the whole business.

Magna Carta guarantees access for all to the justice system. But when enormous regulatory agencies with the financial resources of the state behind them go after the little guy, or gal, the latter just can’t fight back unless we rally round them. This case has already dragged on for nearly three years, an eternity for defendants but just more time on the clock for the system.

If you can spare even a few bucks, please read the CCF appeal and consider helping out.

Tax freedom day already?

Just kidding. Yes, the Fraser Institute’s annual calculation reveals that June 10 is indeed Tax Freedom Day this year. But we’re nearly halfway through this year and this magnificent event is a day later than last year.

I’m constantly hearing how some heartless administration has slashed this, gutted that, neoliberalism is rampant, Occupy is protesting, we need a national strategy, it’s time to restore our faith in government and so on. Then you turn around and find the blob hasn’t gotten any smaller.

Maybe it’s time some conservative party in power somewhere actually, you know, made government smaller the way we keep hearing that conservatives do.

A road to nowhere

My latest National Post column takes aim at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for buying into a false historical account that undermines its otherwise commendable effort to get from truth to reconciliation.

My criticisms of unrealism in aboriginal policy have opened me to predictable accusations of bigotry. But the reverse is true. Nowhere is frank talk more desperately needed because nowhere in Canada is policy a worse mess and it is aboriginals who suffer most even from well-meaning nonsense.