I’m with Bryan Caplan: people are resources, and the world needs more of them.

Here’s George Selgin on the “local currency” movement.

Here’s a video from last-month’s debate at The Urban Institute on the merits of private community associations.  (HT Daniel Kuehn)  Defending private community associations is the always-wise Bob Nelson.  (And here’s an abstract of one of my favorite pieces of research on the topic;-)   )

John Stossel discusses playwright David Mamet’s new-found appreciation for the economic and ethical merits of free-market capitalism.

Undercover Economist Tim Harford delivered this superb talk, on trial-and-error, at last-week’s TED conference in Edinburgh.  Superb!

Hmmm….. I wonder, I just wonder, if this might have something to do with rising health-care costs.

David Henderson debates Ian Fletcher.  Fletcher clings to the ancient superstition that voluntary exchanges that take place across the political borders of nations are mysteriously transformed by those borders into a class of exchanges fundamentally different than voluntary exchanges that take place within the political borders of nations.  And, frankly – as this dialog reveals – he argues as all defenders of indefensible superstitions argue: by distorting others’ arguments and by conflating issues that must be kept separate when doing analyses.  It’s to his credit – and my discredit – that David has more patience with such people than I have.

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DG Lesvic July 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm

I enjoyed Mamet’s book. It’s more than just a rehashing of the lessons he learned from reading Hayek and Friedman, but from his own life and observations and intelligence. It’s far from a polished, well organized dissertation. After all, he’s not an experience writer in this field. But he speaks from his own heart and mind, and though about things I knew, I still learned and profitted from it.

Krishnan July 17, 2011 at 6:17 pm

I have NOT read the book … and while it is indeed a welcome sign that someone used to be highly thought of my Hollywood Capitalists has come out of the closet – I am still puzzled as to why it took so long. Yes, he may have finally read some books that opened his mind – but till he spoke to some neighbor, he had NO IDEA of a world beyond his immediate nose? He truly and really did not know that what Hayek and Friedman and Sowell and others had written made more sense than what he used to read?

How can anyone NOT see the bias and the hypocrisy in Hollywood? How could he have NOT questioned what he was likely experiencing every day?

Just very surprising – that’s all – but welcome nevertheless –

So, what is the likelihood that Paul Krugman were to come back to this world and write a column extolling the virtues of limited government and agree with Hayek that no one can know everything – that we can indeed let market forces alone and watch prosperity arrive/thrive -? Prior to the Mamet conversion, I imagine the odds of Krugman getting back to senses would have been higher than Mamet finding something he now agrees with …

Then again – perhaps not …

Observer_Guy1 July 18, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Krugman makes you look 2 in. tall. I was about to say 2 ft. tall, but there are people that small who surpass you in every meaningful way. You just parrot libertarian talking points, and are mediocre at best at that.


Michael Mace July 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Harford’s TED talk is a must watch video. It is simply brilliant. What makes it so delicious is that, in all likelihood, many or most of the TED audience suffer from the “God-complex.”

Scott G July 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Interesting abstract. I’m tempted to buy.

I also noticed other articles by the same author that I could buy there. Thanks for sharing.

M.R. Orlowski July 17, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Bryan Caplan wrote a nice blog post a few months back concerning the topic of what constitutes are foreigner (he uses the term “stranger”). I think Ian Fletcher should read it so that he won’t be afraid of “foreigners” owning more than their “fair share” of the U.S. capital stock.

Krishnan July 17, 2011 at 5:29 pm

I doubt Fletcher can be reached at any level … He is stuck in the mud like many liberals …

Reminds me of this commentator/writer from Canada who was alarmed at the world’s population and spoke glowingly of China’s one child policy – She had 4 kids – and the interviewer failed to ask her as to which of her children she regretted and which one(s) she would be ready to kill if she implemented the one child policy in the “first world”

To say that I am appalled and horrified that is coming out of the mouths of many “progressives” is an understatement – Next, I suppose these progressives would write glowingly about people like Mao (who killed 60 million plus) or Pol Pot (who killed several million) and ofcourse Hitler who killed 6 million plus – Imagine the world (in their mind) if those people indeed did survive and created more humans – the depth to which some minds will sink has ceased to astonish me – even as I am horrified at what they say

ArrowSmith July 17, 2011 at 5:00 pm

I can’t believe you’re advocating the 3rd worlders should breed more.

Krishnan July 17, 2011 at 5:21 pm

I am not sure of where this came from … but let me answer – I sure hope he is – Population, by itself has never been a problem – and that with more people (oh yes, the non white and dark skinned kind also) more problems are solved, more things are invented (oh yes by those dark skinned, short, pygmy types or whatever)

Today, India is growing like crazy (yes, population is also increasing) – yes, we can place much of the credit on the liberalization/opening of the Indian economy – but the population INCREASE has as much to do with it – amazing things can (and have) happen with more people trying to solve problems … Even Africa – that strange, dark place (to many) is growing and prospering wherever the system of government allows people to do what they know best – innovate, grow …

Krishnan July 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Here is something to horrify you – there are many from the “third world” who are in the US (“first world”) and in some states are growing more rapidly than the “natives” (No, not the Native Americans, but “white americans”)

So, write your Congressman or whoever to make it illegal for these “third worlders” to create any more of “them” – with punishment on what would happen to them if they do …

Gil July 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Yeah right. Yes, there are people who are effectively anti-resources. You’re quick to quote the likes Mao, Pol Pott and Hitler – far from being resources these men were highly wealth and human capital destroying. Consider Hitler – Jewish people tend to highly intelligent and quite good at wealth creation yet all of a sudden a great deal of Germans decided to become marauders and exterminate one of country’s most productive groups. In other words, not did the violent and stupid cull the smart and productive they also made the populaton worse because now the stupid and violent would make babies while the lineage of the highly productive was almost wiped out. It’s reminiscent of Ghengis Khan and his violent ways combined with his fathering means that a woefully disproportion people have him as an ancestor.

Scott G July 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Regarding David Mamet’s new-found appreciation for the economic and ethical merits of free-market capitalism…..

This is a fantastic start! Now what’s the best way of getting movie directors like these interested in libertarianism?

James Cameron
Peter Jackson
Coen Brothers
Clint Eastwood
John Carney (director of Once)
Tom Hanks
Sofia Ford Coppola
Drew Barrymore (director of Whip It)
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others)

What do you guys think about starting an email campaign in which libertarians try to get the attention of movie directors in an attempt to teach them about libertarianism with the hope of them creating movies about free-markets and voluntarist worlds.

As I commented in response to one of John Papola’s Facebook Wall posts earlier this week, “the next movie I’d like to see is one in which politicians are locked up for lying about Social Security, spending reductions and various other ‘crimes’ of government. The court room scenes would be intense.”

I’d also like to see James Cameron create an Avatar-like movie depicting a world without government. Call it Voluntar.

I’d like to see a Clint Eastwood movie after he reads David Friedman’s, The Machinery of Freedom.

Sofia Ford Coppola could, after listening to 50 or so Econtalks and reading Russ Robert’s, The Invisible Heart create an Academy Award winning version of that book.

The Coen Brothers could create a thriller about a letter-writing libertarian professor who has ruffled one too many feathers. He goes missing from his GMU office one day. His wife hires a private protection service provider who discovers that the government has been trying to silence him.

Drew Barrymore might update her excellent romance and sports comedy, Whip It, by creating a romance and sports comedy about two bike messengers living in a voluntarist world in which all services including roads are provided by private markets. Learn how private roads are paid for while laughing and crying your ass off.

Tom Hanks could create an updated version Band of Brothers and D-Day in which large-area defense, also known as free-zone defense, (and formerly known as national defense), is provided by private markets. Here’s an audio clip from the movie’s trailer: “After the Age of Governments, in the year 2062, the Sowell Insurance and Protection corporation in the free-zone Hayekland embarks on a mission to forcefully recover wealth for its customer Caplan, whose employee has been murdered by politicians from Politica, one of the last countries on Earth.”

Tom Hanks might also create an update version of Forest Gump in which, instead of Forest running coast-to-coast eight times we follow a libertarian professor who writes eight letters to editors a day (incredible)! Forest would be just as logical and funny as he was in the original, but now he would be thinking as a libertarian. Maybe Don could help write this.

John Carney might update his movie Once with a musical about a prostitute living in a world in which all prostitution and drugs are legal. What corporations does she buy services from in order to protect herself?

If anyone out there is interested in helping me make voluntarist movies like these just drop me a line over at Studio Hayek.

Krishnan July 17, 2011 at 7:26 pm

James Cameron? It may be easier to get water to freeze in hell than getting him to change an iota …

This should give you an idea of who Cameron is


Scott G July 18, 2011 at 12:23 am

Okay, we won’t bother trying to change James Cameron.

By the way, that was a really well made video. Thanks for sharing!

Subhi Andrews July 17, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Clint Eastwood is sorta libertarian…

Scott G July 18, 2011 at 12:25 am

Yeah. And he makes one movie each year.

brotio July 18, 2011 at 1:24 am

Because he’s 81 years old. :)

Dr. T July 17, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Mark Perry blames the increased numbers of Medicare patient clinician office visits almost entirely on increased demand due to minimal co-payments. His analysis is flawed because he completely disregards the effects of Medicare reimbursement policies on health care providers. The federal government repeatedly reduced inflation-adjusted reimbursements to clinicians for office visits by Medicare patients. Clinicians have responded to these reduced reimbursements in three ways: 1. Stop seeing Medicare patients, 2. Reduce time spent with Medicare patients and order more laboratory tests and imaging studies to compensate, 3. Schedule more visits such that a problem that previously required two visits now is handled with three or four shorter visits. The latter two responses are most common. The proportion of Medicare patient office visits due to response 3 is unknown but likely exceeds one-third and possibly exceeds one-half.

The above explanation fits the facts and logic. Few retirees rush to their clinicians whenever they sneeze, cough, ache, or feel fatigued, because going to a physician has costs. Even if the direct monetary cost is low or zero, there are other costs such as travel time and travel hassles (especially for those who can’t drive), filling out forms and questionnaires, waiting in the clinician’s office, undressing and donning flimsy gowns, answering numerous questions (some embarrassing), feeling cold stethoscopes, undergoing poking and prodding, etc. Because of the above costs, one of the common difficulties clinicians face is Medicare patients failing to keep their appointments. Visits by Medicare patients for trivial medical problems are much less frequent than missed appointments.

Steve Turetzky July 20, 2011 at 10:20 pm

“Clinicians have responded to these reduced reimbursements in three ways: 1. Stop seeing Medicare patients, ….”

And I wonder how long it will be before one or more politicians propose ending such an “undemocratic and unethical” practice. With the political influence of those who gave us the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” aka “Obamacare,” I’m guessing it will be less than 12 months. :(

Subhi Andrews July 17, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Tim Hartford’s talk reminded me of “The Pretense of Knowledge”. It deserves its own seperate post, IMO.

Paul Andrews July 18, 2011 at 3:29 am

Harford’s talk serves as a reminder of why Government programs are unlikely to be as productive as private programs.

Government programs are not quickly killed off when they fail (in fact there is no clear cut way of determining whether they have indeed failed), so the beneficial effects of trial and error are greatly diminished.

Harold Cockerill July 18, 2011 at 5:50 pm

That’s why his call for supporting politicians that want to try lots of different things is so scary. That’s the approach FDR took during the 30s. I see it as a huge source of regime uncertainty and something that freaks out businessmen. You see a company or private individual trying something new you don’t worry about it until it becomes successful and threatens to put you out of business. With the government it’s the failures that can put all of us out of business.

Usually with government failure is seen as evidence the program needs to be expanded in order to be effective.

Manuel Álvarez July 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Great links.
Tim Harford is outstanding.

John Dewey July 19, 2011 at 9:29 am

Dr T: “Few retirees rush to their clinicians whenever they sneeze, cough, ache, or feel fatigued, because going to a physician has costs.”

I agree. But I don’t think Mark Perry made the argument that treatment of minor illnesses and symptoms is driving up medical care costs in the U.S.

As I see it, it is major medical care which accounts for the overwhelming majority of medicare costs. Third party sharing leads to increased demnad for expensive treatments, such as:

- balloon angioplasty
- hip replacement
- cataract surgery
- spinal fusions
- end of life ICU/CCU care
- prostatectomies
- coronary bypass surgery

If seniors were unable to take advantage of cost sharing through third party payment, I have no doubt that many would be unable to afford expensive treaments such as these and others. Patients and their families would be faced with many very tough decisions.

vikingvista July 19, 2011 at 11:49 pm

“many would be unable to afford expensive treaments such as these and others”

Many more, once given the choice of spending that same money on something else, would choose to spend it on something else even though they could afford the health care. And that in turn, would help drive down costs by opening up cheaper alternatives. Competition isn’t always a choice between two similar products. It is also a choice between buying and not buying a product. Medicare abolishes the latter form of competition by forcing massive prepayment.

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