Some Links

by Don Boudreaux on August 12, 2014

in Complexity & Emergence, Crony Capitalism, Environment, FDA, Health, Inequality, Regulation, Seen and Unseen, War

My former teacher Randy Holcombe is rightly upset by the propaganda and lies used to justify war – propaganda that Uncle Sam uses frequently and without shame.  A slice:

Governments often misuse language to build emotional and patriotic support for their policies. This Orwellian use of language is clearly evident in the way that US government policy uses the words “war” and “peace.”

Everyone is well aware of the US military invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Initiated during the Bush administration and continued through the administration of Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama, the US enlisted the assistance of other countries (but both invasions were mainly undertaken by the US military) to bomb those countries, occupy them with ground troops, and overthrow their governments. There was no declaration of war in either case. Those invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the subsequent occupation by American troops, were called peacekeeping operations.

When we bomb other countries, invade them with our troops, and topple their governments, that is what we call peace.

Meanwhile, we refer to many of our domestic policies as wars. We have a war on drugs, a war on poverty, a war on terror, and lesser wars like the war on obesity, the war on smoking, and the war on coal. The list could go on.

Scott Sumner reminds us that the economy is more complex than many people – including many social scientists and statisticians – think.  A slice:

The economy operates in very subtle ways, and often when I read academic studies of issues like discrimination, the techniques seem incredibly naive to me. They might put in all the attributes of male and female labor productivity they can think of, and then simply assume than any unexplained residual must be due to “discrimination.” And they do this in cases where there is no obvious reason to assume discrimination. It would be like a scientist assuming that magicians created a white rabbit out of thin air, at the snap of their fingers, because they can’t think of any other explanation of how it got into the black hat!

Scott’s post stirs my vanity to prompt me to link to a related essay that I wrote in 1998.

Wendy McElroy identifies cronyism in the so-called ‘war on drugs.

Ben Zycher exposes “disingenuous environmentalism run amuck.

Marty Mazorra writes wisely about income and wealth inequality.

In today’s Wall Street Journal, my colleague Alex Tabarrok reviews a book on how the F.D.A. endangers our lives.  Alex has more here.

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