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by Don Boudreaux on October 15, 2016

in Books, Crony Capitalism, Housing, Immigration, Inequality, Politics, Science, Scientism, The Future, Trade

Alex Tabarrok extracts core passages from Gianni La Cava’s explanation of how restrictions on the supply of housing – including restrictions imposed by the state – drive much of the data that Thomas Piketty presents as evidence of growing concentration of wealth in the coffers of owners of capital.

Ron Bailey reviews Johan Norberg’s new book, Progress.  A slice:

Being healthier has gotten cheaper. In 1900, for example, the infant mortality rate in countries with a per capita income of $1,000 was 20 per 100 live births. Today, in a country with exactly the same per capita income, the infant mortality rate is 7 per 100 births. “So even if a country had not experienced any economic growth in a 100 years, infant mortality would have been reduced by two-thirds,” he writes. Spillovers in sanitation and medical knowledge help even the very poorest live longer and healthier lives.

And here’s Johan himself on progress.

From discussions of progress to a discussion of the forces of regress, Bob Higgs identifies the victims of state-imposed obstructions on the free movement of goods and people.  A slice:

But this hurt [falling on foreigners from domestic barriers to trade] would be far from the only kind. Also harmed would be Americans of many sorts. Most important are American consumers, who will gladly purchase products made abroad if those products can make it across the hurdles thrown up by the U.S. government. It should go without saying that depriving American consumers of opportunities to purchase goods that, all things considered, suit them better than domestic alternatives causes them harm. For more than two centuries economists have been laboriously demonstrating how trade restrictions harm consumers in general and benefit protected domestic special interests in particular. And for just as long, of course, many if not most Americans have failed to understand the lesson or have chosen to disregard it, being bamboozled by the privileged special interests, their lobbyists, and their kept politicians.

Domestic consumers, however, are far from the only Americans hurt when the government obstructs international trade. Many kinds of producers rely on raw and intermediate materials from abroad. In some cases they have no other sources of supply. In most cases perhaps they can obtain domestically produced alternatives, but only at higher prices, in poorer qualities, or on other inferior terms, such as slower speed of supply, lesser availability of complementary services, and so forth. When foreign suppliers are shut out, such domestic producers suffer and ultimately the consumers of their products, perhaps several steps farther downstream in the supply stream, also suffer. Again, the idea that trade obstructions simply help Americans and hurt foreigners is revealed as rank nonsense.

My colleague Bryan Caplan reminds us of Eugen Richter’s (1838-1906) visionary dystopian novel of long ago.

Sarah Skwire celebrate’s Bob Dylan’s receipt of the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature.

Jeffrey Tucker explains that politics poisons the human spirit.

Here’s yet more wisdom from Arnold Kling.


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