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In today’s Wall Street Journal, David Henderson remembers Harold Demsetz, who died last week at the age of 88. A slice (link added):

Perhaps Demsetz’s most enduring contribution to social science came in 1969, when he coined what is now known as the “nirvana fallacy” in a critique of fellow economist Kenneth J. Arrow’s assumption that government could make markets more efficient. Demsetz conceded that perfect government intervention might improve things, but noted that Arrow, like many economists, had failed to show that actual government intervention would: “Those who adopt the nirvana viewpoint seek to discover discrepancies between the ideal and the real and if discrepancies are found, they deduce that the real is inefficient.”

Jeffrey Tucker writes about Friedrich List, a 19th-century popularizer of countless protectionist fallacies. A slice:

List posited a conflict between the interests of commercial society and the interests of the nation as a whole. In that sense, his thinking is squarely in line with the Right Hegelianism popular during his educational formation. It’s a devastating concession to turn over trade policy to the state. In the worst possible rendering, he subjected trade policy to the Fuhrerprinzip.

Scott Sumner clarifies a Trumpian confusion about trade, the trade deficit, and manufacturing jobs.

Bruce Yandle explains that tariffs are taxes paid by people – and that higher U.S. tariffs increase the tax burden of American consumers.

Chris Edwards correctly concludes from the current ‘shutdown’ of the U.S. government that that government controls too much of the economy.

Also writing wisely and well – and contra Paul Krugman – on this government ‘shutdown’ is Ryan Bourne. Here’s Ryan’s conclusion:

Krugman knows it is disingenuous to suggest that the current chaos is some libertarian policy experiment. But as some Republicans do make the case that the programs above are vital for the health of the economy, and libertarians continue to make the case for their abolition, perhaps he will finally cease lumping Republicans and libertarians together in his columns.

Robert Samuelson calls the creative destruction that is inseparable from capitalism “tough love.

Nominal prices and wages over the past 20 years.

This past August, John Stossel spoke to students at a Fund for American Studies event.


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