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GMU Econ alum Adam Martin writes insightfully about the essence of socialism. A slice:

Entrepreneurship, for Mises and Kirzner, is not the province of an elite class of businessmen. It is a part of human action. “In any real and living economy every actor is always an entrepreneur and speculator” (Mises 2007, p. 252). The more expansive freedom of entry is, the more likely is it that errors will be detected and corrected. We do not know ex ante whose knowledge will prove relevant to producing what we want at least cost. Freedom of entry means that anyone can have a go, tapping maximally into the dispersed knowledge of a modern society.

Following Kirzner, then, an essential component of a free economy is freedom of entry. By contrast, as Murray Rothbard notes, “a centrally planned economy is a centrally prohibited economy (p. 831). In order for there to be a central plan at all, private entrepreneurs must be prohibited from driving production decisions. A Central Planning Board may still act entrepreneurially in changing The Plan. But they will act without prices shaped by other entrepreneurs’ knowledge, alertness, and judgment. It is precisely the prohibition on exercising the entrepreneurial function that makes calculation in a socialist economy arbitrary.

George Will accurately describes Californians’ concern these days with slavery reparations as part of “a plague of solemn silliness.” Two slices:

A relatively parsimonious California task force, whose final report is due this month, last year initially suggested $223,200 (the $200 was a whimsical touch) as recompense just for housing discrimination. A more recent figure is $360,000 for all the state’s Black residents who had enslaved ancestors. Although the total cost might be about three times the state’s budget, a task force member who mints novel verbs is disappointed that the news media has focused on dollars and is “not able to nuance better.”


Reparations are another example of a metastasizing phenomenon: solemn silliness. All calculations of costs are fanciful, depending as they do on capricious inclusions and exclusions of categories of people from access to the trough. The multibillion-dollar race industry (“diversity, equity, inclusion” consultants, governments’ spoils systems of racial set-asides, etc.) involves some awkwardness. A piquant New York Times headline announces on page one: “Reparations Put Democrats in a Quandary.” Do tell.

Progressives bandying the idea that the nation was born racist and remains so cannot tiptoe away from reparations without seeming insincere. Advocacy of reparations involves, however, the culminating denial of Blacks people’s agency: Crippled by history, they necessarily have the status of permanent wards of government. The progressive vocabulary of “equity” says disparate social outcomes are definitionally the results of racism that is “systemic,” therefore it is incurable until a new social system arrives. Meaning: never.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague, Veronique de Rugy, applauds the REINS Act.

Iain Murray decries Britain’s regulatory state.

Jane Shaw Stroup reviews economic growth theories. (DBx: Sometime in the Spring of 1981 Fritz Machlup offered, to students in his international-trade-theory course, this assessment of the sub-discipline of economic development: “It’s a shame that most ‘development’ economists are among the least developed economists.”)

My GMU Econ colleague Bryan Caplan – inspired by research by our colleague Vincent Geloso – writes insightfully about bets that Julian Simon did not take against Paul Ehrlich.

David Henderson shares some of his favorite quotations from Adam Smith.

Jim Bacchus reports the dismaying (but unsurprising) news that the Biden administration is doubling down on “costly ‘Buying American’ mandates.”

Michael P Senger tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

Lockdowns and the ensuing “response” to COVID were, quite simply, the most dystopian thing thats’s happened to the western world since the end of World War II. If you still don’t see it, then you’re missing the only political story your kids will ever care to ask you about.