Some Links

by Don Boudreaux on September 23, 2015

in Books, Economics, Health, Man of System, Myths and Fallacies, Politics, Standard of Living

Thomas Sowell is unimpressed with Pope Francis’s economic and political commentary.  (HT W.E. Heasley)  A slice:

Pope Francis’ own native Argentina was once among the leading economies of the world, before it was ruined by the kind of ideological notions he is now promoting around the world.

In 1900, only 3 percent of American homes had electric lights but more than 99 percent had them before the end of the century. Infant mortality rates were 165 per thousand in 1900 and 7 per thousand by 1997. By 2001, most Americans living below the official poverty line had central air conditioning, a motor vehicle, cable television with multiple TV sets and other amenities.

A scholar specializing in the study of Latin America said that the official poverty level in the United States is the upper middle class in Mexico. The much criticized market economy of the United States has done far more for the poor than the ideology of the left.

Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn is among those who, like Sowell, believe the pope to be peddling poisonous policy advice.  (gated)  A slice:

But this pope’s assault on the global economy suggests he believes the whole idea fundamentally disordered, leading to a world where competition is exalted over cooperation and people grow rich by exploiting the poor.

Only one problem. Even the most cursory look at the world confirms the opposite: The more fetters imposed on competitive markets, the harder life gets for those stuck at the bottom.

In fact, the poor fare much better in places such as Hong Kong, Taiwan or Korea, where markets and competition are relatively open, than they do in Latin America or Africa, where competition is far more limited. To put it another way, it isn’t global competition that makes nations poor but their isolation from it.

In my latest column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, I highlight some of the reasons why I refuse to vote in political elections – and I explain that this fact does not mean that I’m politically voiceless.

James Pethokoukis weighs in on the zombie-like myth of middle-class economic stagnation in America.

David Hart reassesses the contributions of Frederic Bastiat to economic theory.

Tyler Cowen points us to an important new study, by scholars of unquestioned objectivity, of Obamacare.  Here’s the abstract (emphasis added):

This paper estimates the change in net (of subsidy) financial burden (“the price of responsibility”) and in welfare that would be experienced by a large nationally representative sample of the “non-poor” uninsured if they were to purchase Silver or Bronze plans on the ACA exchanges. The sample is the set of full-year uninsured persons represented in the Current Population Survey for the pre-ACA period with incomes above 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The estimated change in financial burden compares out-of-pocket payments by income stratum in the pre-ACA period with the sum of premiums (net of subsidy) and expected cost sharing (net of subsidy) for benchmark Silver and Bronze plans, under various assumptions about the extent of increased spending associated with obtaining coverage. In addition to changes in the financial burden, our welfare estimates incorporate the value of additional care consumed and the change in risk premiums for changes in exposure to out-of-pocket payments associated with coverage, under various assumptions about risk aversion. We find that the average financial burden will increase for all income levels once insured. Subsidy-eligible persons with incomes below 250 percent of the poverty threshold likely experience welfare improvements that offset the higher financial burden, depending on assumptions about risk aversion and the value of additional consumption of medical care. However, even under the most optimistic assumptions, close to half of the formerly uninsured (especially those with higher incomes) experience both higher financial burden and lower estimated welfare; indicating a positive “price of responsibility” for complying with the individual mandate. The percentage of the sample with estimated welfare increases is close to matching observed take-up rates by the previously uninsured in the exchanges.

My GMU Econ colleague Dan Klein reviews Charles C. W. Cooke’s The Conservative Manifesto.


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