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Tyler Cowen understandably accuses Thomas Piketty of being “out to lunch” in the latter’s bizarre and, frankly, ignorant attempt to justify the Soviet Union’s hostility to the private ownership of even minor means of production [2]. A slice from Tyler’s post:

The sections [in Piketty’s forthcoming tome] on Soviet and socialist experience can only be called “delusional.”  In his account, if only a few political decisions had gone the other way, the USSR might have ended up on a path similar to that of Norway….

Joakim Book – here [3] and, additionally, here [4] – identifies several weaknesses in the case for raising carbon taxes. A slice from the first essay:

Provided that what scientists tell us about the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet is accurate — economists are usually not equipped to assess that conclusion — the task of balancing economic needs with environmental harm is an economic (or at worst a political) question rather than a scientific one. While the science of what happens might be “settled” (and no, that does not include the most extremist [5] and alarmist wings [6] of the environmentalist movement [7]), the actions necessary to address that are most certainly not.

Carbon emissions are not, contrary to what many economists and non-economists seem to believe, approaching the idea of a pure externality; their costs are only partially external to the main transaction.

Bruce Yandle looks forward with optimism [8].

Here’s a list of books that Steve Horwitz regards as being most foundational to Austrian economics [9].

Pedro Schwartz writes of David Hume, Adam Smith, and Charles Darwin [10].

Deirdre McCloskey warns against hubris [11]. A slice:

The policy notion on the left, including Sanders, is that running the economy is easy, and easily achieved in legislation. “What lawyers design,” the lawyer-politicians declare, “will be how it actually turns out. After all, we say so, right here in the whereas-preamble to the legislation—that poor people will be better off if we enforce schemes for rent control, a minimum wage, usury restrictions on consumer loans, tariffs on goods supplied to Walmart, ordinances preventing Walmart from opening downtown, trade-union restrictions on entry to professions, and industrial policy to pick winners to be subsidized out of free public money.”

It’s childish. Since when has adding weight to a racehorse improved its speed? Adding weights on Peter to pay Paul can’t make both better off, with rare exceptions such as taxes to finance elementary education for Paul’s kids. Most such laws cause deadweight loss to the society taken as a whole and regularly damage poor Paul.

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