David Henderson explains that wages – like all prices – are not arbitrary terms of exchange that can be altered at will by government without unleashing consequences that well-meaning people regard as regrettable.  (The fact that Pres. Obama, like the great majority of people in government, do not understand this reality is powerful evidence that he and others who share his economic-policy views are totally unscientific about economics and not members of a reality-based community.)

A nice complement to David’s blog post is this report in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.  (gated)  A slice:

At Famous Toastery, a restaurant chain with six locations in North Carolina and South Carolina, some jobs are changing [in response to government’s new overtime rules] to ensure the company doesn’t face runaway labor costs. The chain is moving managers from salaried to hourly pay, and asking employees to perform new duties.

In my most recent column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, I highlight some of the work of the great scholar Bob Higgs.  A slice:

As summarized by the late Nobel laureate economist Robert Fogel in his review of Bob’s book [Competition and Coercion (1977)], “Those who seized control of the state machinery not only disenfranchised the blacks, but used their political power to transfer income from blacks to whites, to restrict blacks’ access to such public institutions as schools and hospitals, to restrict the occupational mobility of blacks, and to bar them from certain occupations…. While such coercion restricted the rate of black economic progress, it did not prevent it. Higgs concludes that the forces of competition proved strong enough to check the forces of coercion and made possible a fairly rapid rate of economic improvement.”

Competition in the market is the best friend that disfavored people can have. Not so the state.

On Facebook, David Boaz understandably questions my description of Competition and Coercion as being Bob’s first major work.  David notes that Bob’s 1971 book – I believe his first – was on David’s reading list at Vanderbilt in the mid-1970s.  That book is The Transformation of the American Economy.

Writing in Forbes, Bob McTeer weighs in on the question of whether or not productivity is really slowing down.  A slice:

Inventions and innovations in the industrial age drastically reduced the labor component of output and chalked up substantial productivity statistics. That isn’t necessarily true for the products of Silicon Valley even though there’s no doubt that they are making our lives easier, more efficient, and more fun. But not necessarily more productive in the traditional way we measure it.

If I were more social, I would invite friends over—preferably young friends—for an app party. Everyone would bring his favorite app and show us how it works. During the past week I got two new “free” apps that are already making my life easier. When I use them, it won’t add to GDP. Only the development of those apps did that. This may be a shortcoming in the way we measure things, but it really isn’t a legitimate criticism of productivity as traditionally defined. To do so is a bit like criticizing an orange for not being an apple or criticizing GDP for not measuring happiness.

Last week in the Wall Street Journal, Roger Pilon of the Cato Institute asked what is becoming of freedom of religion.  (gated)  Here’s his conclusion:

No one enjoys the sting of discrimination or rejection. But neither does anyone like to be forced into uncomfortable situations, especially those that offend deeply held religious beliefs. In the end, who here is forcing whom? A society that cannot tolerate differing views—and respect the live-and-let-live principle—will not long be free.

Mark Perry discusses yet another of the many ways that the Institute for Justice truly works for justice.


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