Some Links

by Don Boudreaux on December 7, 2011

in Country Problems, Economics, Myths and Fallacies, Property Rights, Regulation, Seen and Unseen, Trade

Ross Kaminsky deals nicely with Andy Stern’s recent WSJ essay on the alleged failure of free markets.  As does James Pethokoukis.  And as does Dan “Bulldog” Mitchell.

As my dear friend Roger Meiners points out to me, by e-mail, that the pro-government-regulation crowd should applaud this government effort to protect them from themselves.

Heather Mac Donald opens her recent essay on OWSers:

There’s no more full-throated a defender of property rights than a member of the anticapitalist Left asserting the right to colonize someone else’s property. “Whose park? Our park!” chanted members of the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park as the New York Police Department belatedly broke up the illegal occupation yesterday morning. “This is our home!

(Armen Alchian surely isn’t surprised by the conflicts that Heather documents.)

Greg Mankiw reflects on the students who walked out of one of his economics lectures at Harvard last month in protest.  (HT my colleague Omar Al-Ubaydli)

I, Cheeseburger  (HT Fred Dent and Robert Howard)

John Goodman asks “What is a Progressive?

Mark Perry reviews a foundational truth about trade.

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W.E. Heasley December 7, 2011 at 10:21 am

“Andy Stern believes that “it is troubling that we [the United States] have no plan…for growth and innovation.” If the disastrous first three years of the Obama Presidency have proven anything (although FDR and Europe proved it first), it’s that there are few things more dangerous than a politician with a plan“. – Ross Kaminsky

“As my dear friend Roger Meiners points out to me, by e-mail, that the pro-government-regulation crowd should applaud this government effort to protect them from themselves“. – Don Boudreaux paraphrasing Meiners


“How can we get bad legislators to pass a law which shall hinder bad legislators from passing a bad law”? – William Graham Sumner, What Social Classes Owe to Each Other, 1883, page 67.

sethstorm December 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm

FDR saved the US from the Depression, unlike our current President and this continued recession. FDR was willing to go the extra mile to thwart bankers that nearly ran him out of office. As much revisionism is being applied to FDR, he must have been effective.

It is a shame that no President is willing to follow in the steps of FDR or outdo him – in thwarting business interests that withhold opportunity due to their displeasure with the political landscape.

Josh S December 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Yes, thank God there was no Depression after FDR became President. If I remember my history books correctly, it ended about six months after his inauguration.

W.E. Heasley December 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm


Exactly. Amity Shale’s book The Forgotten Man and Jim Powell’s book FDR’s Folly , the thousand’s of footnotes therein, where surely all made up…..pure fairy dust. Matter-of-fact, did the depression last six months or did it just-never-happen?

Josh S December 8, 2011 at 11:12 am

Never happened. Just like stagflation in the 1970s never happened, and the expansion of the 1980s never happened, either.

muirge0 December 7, 2011 at 10:15 pm

That’s right there was no Great Depression once FDR took office. It officially ended the very month he took office.

The average GDP increase his first 3 years was >10%.

Ubiquitous December 8, 2011 at 8:06 am


No one gives a shit about GDP, you phony. Unemployment shot up to 25% under FDR.

Go pound sand.

muirge0 December 8, 2011 at 9:41 am

Whatever you say DingDong;

I suggest you brush up on both your history and your math…and stop letting Fox News and Rush Limbaugh control your little brain.

Greg Webb December 10, 2011 at 1:53 am

George, your comments are really stupid and factually incorrect.

Randy December 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I’m familiar with the idea that business interests “withhold opportunities” due to political considerations, but it makes no sense to me. To a business interest, an “opportunity” is an opportunity to make a reasonable return on an investment. A reasonable return is one which fully covers cost and risk and provides a profit to make the effort worth the time. So, as long as the political environment allows said reasonable return, it will never cause a business interest to stay away from an opportunity. Certainly, though, if the political environment is such that it increases costs or risks which reduces the likelihood of a reasonable return, then a business interest will find fewer “opportunities” to pursue.

Rugby1 December 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm

He was super effective, its not like unemployment was 15% from 1930 to 1940, oh that’s right it was. How anyone can say that FDR ended the depression is beyond me.

Sam Grove December 7, 2011 at 4:45 pm

FDR saved us from the depression?
Hello, it lasted like eight years after he saved “us”.

vikingvista December 7, 2011 at 11:47 pm

He saved us by dropping dead.

Greg Webb December 10, 2011 at 1:54 am

Yes, he did! Thank God!

Nuke Nemesis December 7, 2011 at 10:53 am

How you gonna buy votes by doing nothing?

Don’t you realize the guys in office now (elected, appointed or Czars) are much, much smarter than the guys who came before? We’re in charge now, we can make it work.

Dances with Wolves December 7, 2011 at 11:11 am

Should physics departments of universities be shut down because of the development of nuclear weapons that threaten the world daily with annihilation? Should economics departments be shut down because of life-threatening industrial pollution such as this:

What is shameful is that Harvard has such a corporate shill such as Mankiew teaching there for the last 25 years. He took a break from his teaching duties to help Bush bring down the national economy. It is also a shame that the entire class didn’t walk out en masse shouting (how dare they be silent) at the top of their lungs “No more right-wing, pro-fat-cat, tax-cuts-for-the-rich, global-warming-inducing, haliburton-blackwater-killing-machine -supporting economists like Mankiew teaching at Harvard! Lets flush the rubbish instructors out of the department!!!

Mankiew tries to appear innocuous and centrist; he is neither. Harvard, please dump him. And to the student protestors, remember that this is war, not politics anymore. Fight, fight, fight, until victory is in sight!

Josh S December 7, 2011 at 11:18 am

If it’s “shameful” for an academic department to employ someone who was once an adviser to either a politician or a private company, I’m afraid you’re going to find far more universities covered in shame than you expect.

Dances with Wolves December 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Here is the link to the open letter that the students engaged in the walkout handed to Prof. Mankiew.

Seth December 7, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Thanks for the link. I was hoping for some specific criticisms of the class and specific recommendations on how to improve it.

This is as close as they got:

“There is no justification for presenting Adam Smith’s economic theories as more fundamental or basic than, for example, Keynesian theory.”

Josh S December 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Surprise, freshmen who haven’t even completed an introductory course don’t really know what they’re talking about.

Emil December 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm

If these guys already “know” that Keynes is better than Smith then there does indeed appear to be little need for them attend classes that teach the content of either Smith’s or Keynes’ theories

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools December 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Somebody needs to tell these idiots they are students, not faculty chairman.

And of course, they’ll be coddled and applauded, calcifying their hubris and error.

Its this kind of snot-nose that really needs some old-school Marine Corps DI breathing on their face and snarling like Cujo to remove their “pretense of knowledge”.

Seth December 7, 2011 at 3:28 pm

“And of course, they’ll be coddled and applauded, calcifying their hubris and error.”

That’s the key problem. We encourage folks to ‘get their voice heard,’ rather than doing researching and thinking through what they want to say.

Greg Webb December 7, 2011 at 10:21 pm

“And of course, they’ll be coddled and applauded, calcifying their hubris and error.

GAAPRules, how else can you make Keynesians?

Josh S December 7, 2011 at 1:34 pm

You realize that just about every econ faculty of any relevance in America has faculty members who have, at one time or another, worked in advisory roles to presidents, governors, and other policy makers, right? Your insistence that all such economists be barred from academia is silly.

Drinks with Hyenas December 7, 2011 at 2:16 pm

In the immortal words of Ren:

(Stimpy).. you eeeediot.

EG December 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Huh? You clearly failed to understand what Mankiew was saying. Then again, you probably think you should walk out of your math class too if you don’t score as well as you wanted to in your soccer game: 3 shouldn’t be bigger than 2! Its not FAIRRRR!!!

I hope Mankiew has a strict attendance policy in his class, although I recognize that’s its not FAIRRR!!

Spars With Keyboards December 7, 2011 at 2:38 pm

“Let’s you and him fight, until I feel like I matter to history!”

Nuke Nemesis December 7, 2011 at 3:33 pm

It’s a shame that the rest of us have to waste our time reading nonsense like this.

If this crap is an example of the idiocy the Harvard student body is concerned with, the it’s true that an Ivy League education is just a waste of money these days.

sethstorm December 7, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Greg Mankiw reflects on the students who walked out of one of his economics lectures at Harvard last month in protest.

That’s the same guy that supported offshoring and proved that offshoring is something that businesses are afraid to disclose or talk about until they deliver the pink slips.

Given that, it should be no surprise that Mankiw was targeted. Mankiw supports dishonest (and fraudulent when it comes to H1-b’s) measures that contribute towards higher unemployment instead of releasing people to do something better(when there really isnt).

I’d like to hear him make a meaningful case against offshoring, especially if he argues against his own policy as an economic advisor.

Josh S December 7, 2011 at 1:39 pm

I’m sure Mankiw will make a meaningful case against the division of labor right around the time Stephen Hawking makes a meaningful case against the Big Bang.

Salt Water Economist December 7, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Mankiew . . . took a break from his teaching duties to help Bush bring down the national economy.

If Mankiew were a doctor or lawer his ticket would have been pulled for malpractice, yet the guy is allowed to teach? End tenure

Josh S December 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm

No one who worked for George W Hitler should be allowed to have a job of any kind. The administration was one massive conspiracy to destroy America, and only Jesus H Obama is keeping this country from becoming a total hellhole.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools December 7, 2011 at 2:27 pm

I think he’d be prefer to be called Muhammed H. Obama (peace be upon him).

(that ought to get the usual suspects frothing at the mouth)

Ken December 7, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I can’t decide whether Josh S or Drinks with Hyenas wins the Internets for today.

Methinks1776 December 7, 2011 at 4:32 pm

It’s a tie!

Hank R. December 7, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Nobody has bothered to point out what a wimpy response Prof. Mankiw offered to the snot-nosed brats who presumed to lecture him on economics. Pathetic.

Economiser December 7, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Seriously. Mankiw comes close to agreeing with them.

Darren December 7, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Were those who walked out on Mankiw’s lecture penalized in their grades? First, they need to learn that actions of this kind have consequences. It would behoove the university to teach this. Besides, a protest doesn’t really mean anything if there is no cost. At least the OWS protesters made do with less comfortable accomodations for a while.

Ken December 7, 2011 at 2:54 pm

If it were my class, and they left without undue disruption, I’d have been inclined to ignore ‘em.

Jon Murphy December 7, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Which is largely what Mankiw did. However, the unreported fact is, about 15-20 minutes later, those students came back into the class. Apparently, they didn’t want to miss the lecture.

Doc Merlin December 8, 2011 at 8:42 am


Jon Murphy December 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm

At the risk of incurring wrath and opening a whole new can of worms, I must say I don’t like Goodman’s article one bit. It seems sort of…trollish. The whole thing is a straw man argument: rather than look at the policies advocated by modern “progressives,” he chooses the most extreme examples of “progressives” and attacks them. All due respect, Prof. Bordeaux, this was a rare miss.

Randy December 7, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Didn’t see this before posting my comment below. The thing is, I read Goldberg’s book, and it seems to me that modern Progressives have only tentatively stepped away from their Fascist roots.

And it really all boils down to the knowledge problem. Their (stated) intent is to make a better humanity, but they don’t know how, and the only method they know is force, so they use force, and they will use more and more force until they are stopped – or until they settle for a totalitarian state that they control.

Jon Murphy December 7, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I’ll agree with all that, Randy. I am not opposed to what Goodman said. I just didn’t like how he chose to say it. Semantics, sure, but if we want to rise above the fray, we should not stoop to the troll rhetoric.

Randy December 7, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Goodman is channeling Goldberg from his book “Liberal Fascism”. An outstanding book – though it really should have been titled “Progressive Fascism”.

Slappy McFee December 7, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Don or Russ:

I hope you can elaborate more on what Prof Mankiw means when he states:

“Widening economic inequality is a real and troubling phenomenon…”

This Pavlovian bell has been ringing so long that I can no longer hear it. Posts after posts, papers after papers, news segments after news segments all state that income inequality is bad, yet they never say why.

What is the end of this sentence? Income/economic equality is bad because…..?

Randy December 7, 2011 at 5:43 pm

It means that Mankiw wants to keep his job. Gotta talk the PC talk.

Chucklehead December 7, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Some believe that the income disparity delta should be minimised at the expense of the well being of the poor, the aggregate is more important than the total, the rate of growth is more important than output.

Economiser December 7, 2011 at 8:53 pm

I would like to know too. If anything, America is a remarkably equal society when it comes to daily quality of life. From a pure functional standpoint, a middle-class person can enjoy nearly all of the day-to-day conveniences that a billionaire enjoys. It’s quite amazing.

Randy December 7, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Yep, and mobility is good too. Many a millionaire came from humble beginnings. So seriously, what do they want? I’d say that the problem is not the inequality (which is actually a good thing), but a socio-political movement that deems it honorable to whine and complain about inequality.

Doc Merlin December 8, 2011 at 8:49 am

Yep. The difference in actual quality of life between a millionaire and a billionaire is pretty small, despite the quantity of money being orders of magnitude different.

Greg Webb December 7, 2011 at 10:51 pm

“So when you hear people — especially non-economists with political agendas — long for the statism that characterizes most of America’s economic competitors, listen with great skepticism.”

Wise words from Ross Kaminsky!

Greg Webb December 7, 2011 at 11:14 pm

“State capitalism is really Crony Capitalism.”

Excellent quote from James Pethokoukis!

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