Some Links

by Don Boudreaux on December 23, 2015

in Economics, Education, Environment, Immigration, Inequality, Other People's Money, Seen and Unseen, Trade, Work

My colleague Bryan Caplan continues – here and here – his EconLog series on the wisdom that is imparted by a good undergraduate course in labor economics – a course very much like the one Bryan regularly teaches at George Mason University.  Here’s a slice from the second of these two links:

I’m well-aware that many – perhaps most – labor economists – consider labor regulation on balance helpful for workers.  Not critical, just helpful.  Even if they’re right, they should still spend ample time dissecting Tenet #1.  Why?  Because you can’t have a reasonable discussion of the costs and benefits of labor regulation until you root out all the silly hyperbole students bring to the table.

Think about how few successful politicians of either party openly favor the abolition of the minimum wage.  A few support the minimum wage because they’re convinced labor demand is highly inelastic.  All the rest just rely on our secular religion: passing “pro-worker” laws is clear-cut way to dramatically help the common man.

My fellow labor economists’ mistake: Since they weigh the merits of labor regulation for a living, they forget that non-economists can’t even imagine what the downsides might be.  If professors fail to spell them out in gory detail, students will remain oblivious to the downsides for the rest of their lives.

Jeff Jacoby eloquently explains our inalienable right to freely trade.  A slice:

Human beings, by virtue of being human, are entitled to worship as they choose, to own property, to emigrate from their country, and to form peaceable associations. Those are fundamental rights, not dependent on the government’s political preferences or utilitarian considerations. The freedom to engage in mutual and honest commerce is just as fundamental, and it should be just as immaterial whether lawmakers approve of the bargain struck between seller and buyer. Jones shouldn’t have to lobby public officials for the right to hire Smith or teach Smith or pray with Smith, or seek Smith’s opinion. Nor should he have to win government approval for the right to sell his goods and services to Smith. Not even if Smith lives in another neighborhood, or another state, or another country.

In my most-recent column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, I give a gold star to free markets.  A slice (emphasis added):

With rare exceptions — namely, the small handful of people who inherit great wealth and the even smaller number who profit by defrauding consumers or investors — wealth accumulated in markets is produced by those who have much of it [that is, by those who accumulate much wealth]. Such wealth would not exist were it not for the productive efforts of those who accumulate it. Nor would such wealth exist if the efforts of those who accumulate it did not actually improve the well-being of other people.

George Will reflects on the recently completed Paris pow-wow on climate change.

My colleague Alex Tabarrok points us to new research by Grey Gordon and Aaron Hedlund that finds that government subsidies of college tuition cause such tuition to rise.  Who’d a-thunk it?

My former research assistant at GMU Mark Perry offers some demographic data that help to explain why statistics show stagnating household real income in the U.S.

My former GMU student Alex Nowrasteh asks: When is the risk of terrorism so high that it justifies closing the borders?


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