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The Lesson Applied

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A Robust Food Truck Culture Breeds Innovation

Sat, 17 May 2014 05:37:27 +0000

Alexandria City Councillor Justin Wilson (no, unfortunately not that Justin Wilson) invited me to provide testimony for a food truck regulatory hearing, so here’s what I sent to him: Although I live just outside the city proper, in Fairfax County, Alexandria city is in many ways still my community. I shop at Giant, Whole Foods, […]

53 Hours With Kafka in St. Louis

Wed, 05 Mar 2014 01:05:49 +0000

UPDATE: I discussed this incident as a podcast guest, starting at 1:04:00. I spent the two worst nights of my life in the St. Louis City Justice Center. I did not experience nor witness any physical violence, not even credible threats. What I got was plenty of apathetic incompetence, banal sadism, and agonizing obtuseness. The […]

Spot all the Fallacies, Part II

Sat, 19 Oct 2013 22:47:29 +0000

Yesterday, I critiqued a video that used Pascal’s Wager to implore us to take drastic action in order to fight the threat of global warming. It occurred to me that my critique might be a bit more forceful if I showed how trying to predict future outcomes using incorrect assumptions leads to unintended, bad consequences. […]


Fri, 18 Oct 2013 15:06:02 +0000

I was sent this video this morning and asked to comment on it. It was described as, “One guy with a marker just made the global warming debate completely obsolete,” on The person making the argument starts out with this challenge: “Nobody I’ve shown this argument to has been able to poke a hole […]

Reasoned Out, Reasoned In

Tue, 08 Oct 2013 17:31:55 +0000

This weekend, Justin Stoddard brought up Arthur Koestler’s views on faith, in the context of Mises on human action. The discussion at first struck me as tangential to the main thrust of the first chapter of Human Action, which we both read as part of an attempt at a tandem, co-ordinated reading. But considering that […]

The Faith of Human Action

Mon, 07 Oct 2013 17:43:11 +0000

Sometime back in the beginning of September, several of us decided to form a somewhat losely affiliated book club in order to read and discuss Human Action by Ludwig von Mises. Though some of us have read all or part of it in the past, a chance to collaborate with like-minded people on a work […]

Repurposing Capital: Human Action

Tue, 24 Sep 2013 02:54:54 +0000

In an economic downturn, when massive business failures appear simultaneously, owners of the means of production need to find new uses for their discarded capital-intensive production processes, and investors need to find new forward-looking enterprises to place their funds, in hopes of some future return. This is part of the recalculation necessary during the cluster […]

Ponynomics: Economic Lessons from My Little Pony

Sat, 19 Jan 2013 14:02:23 +0000

There are a number of important economic concepts illuminated by the excellent My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode “The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000” (season 2, episode 15). I want to talk about them here, but warning, there are some pretty heavy spoilers within. First off, here’s an episode summary from wikipedia(NB, the Apples […]

Krugman Gets The Broken Window Wrong

Wed, 12 Sep 2012 06:03:22 +0000

Recently, Krugman wrote that if you think the iPhone 5 will boost the econonmy, then you believe in the Broken Window theory. The Broken Window Theory, more accurately described as the Broken Window Fallacy, is the belief that destruction can boost the economy, as people, companies, and governments spend to replace them. Krugman is a […]

Demand Is a Consequence of Production

Tue, 14 Aug 2012 18:26:37 +0000

A question to you of a chicken and egg sort. If you have a group of people in a flat empty world with nothing in their possession, how do you get them to have things? Would you: A) Give everyone pieces of paper with faces on them, call it money, and tell them to wait […]

First, Do No Harm

Sat, 04 Aug 2012 05:30:53 +0000

Just as the Kony 2012 phenomenon swept through the Internet earlier this year, so now does the current Chick-fil-A kerfuffle. Don’t worry, this post isn’t about Chick-fil-A specifically, but instead about some things I’ve learned and observed over the past few weeks as I followed (and often commented upon) the controversy. The comments Dan Cathy […]

Nobody Believes What They Say They Believe

Thu, 02 Aug 2012 03:20:53 +0000

According to a recent Gallup Poll, 46% of Americans believe in creationism over evolution. That is, they believe that the earth was formed roughly 10,000 years ago and was first inhabited by Adam and Eve. Another 32% of Americans believe that evolution was/is theistically guided; meaning that life took millions of years to evolve, but […]

I Have a Very Simple Question

Wed, 01 Aug 2012 23:28:27 +0000

Conor Gaughan makes a very good and salient point about Chick-Fil-A and the current controversy surrounding the company. When gays get so angry about a chicken sandwich, it is because Chick-fil-A has given around $5 million to fight to discriminate against us. When we praise brave Eagle Scouts who give up their badges in protest of the […]

It Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

Sat, 28 Jan 2012 06:38:43 +0000

In the It Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means category, I’m having to add the terribly abused No True Scotsman fallacy. I’m starting to see this unfortunate abuse with ever increasing frequency. Here is a short version of it [I know this isn’t the full version, but for the sake of brevity…]: Person A: […]

To Protect and Subvert

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 06:42:27 +0000

Public choice article of the day, from The Atlantic: Roughly 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are given to healthy farm animals to foster rapid growth and make up for unhygienic living conditions. Many bacteria that live on animals adapt and transfer to humans, spreading superbugs that are often resistant to […]

The Method of Sachs

Fri, 20 Jan 2012 07:43:57 +0000

There exist trenchant criticisms of the libertarian idea. Henry Sidgwick, in his The Methods of Ethics (seven editions, 1874-1907), provided a concise set of challenges to the doctrine as he understood it. Each of his points is well worth addressing. And yet when today’s major thinkers muster up their inner dialectician to rail against the […]

The Reign of Fonzie Economics

Sat, 10 Dec 2011 06:10:52 +0000

When I was a kid, I loved watching “Happy Days,” even at its shark jumpiest. A big part of the appeal was the adolescent power fantasy of Arthur Fonzarelli, a disco-era caricature of a 1950s motorcycle hoodlum-with-a-heart-of-gold. As the series progressed, Fonzie developed an almost mystical aura, becoming somebody who could make almost anything happen […]

Coke Buyers Are Sovereign

Fri, 02 Dec 2011 03:42:27 +0000

The good folks at Coca-Cola really want to innovate. They probably admire the late Steve Jobs. They’ve lots of neat ideas. Helping polar bears is one of them. So, to honor the polar bears (or at least ballyhoo their cause and plight), Coke folk changed the color of the can of their main product, Coca-Cola™. […]

Steve Jobs: A Man of Good Works — Part I

Sun, 06 Nov 2011 16:30:10 +0000

First, allow me to clarify a few points about the video below before I start into the meat of the matter. The video is obviously edited — for what purpose, I do not know. It could have been to cut down its length or to stitch together a narrative that puts the person being interviewed […]

‘We Don’t Need a Special Master to Level the Playing Field’

Wed, 26 Oct 2011 21:59:51 +0000

Cafe Hayek‘s Russ Roberts tells the House Oversight Committee that he wants his country back. Highlights of his testimony: We are what we do — not what we wish to be, not what we say we are, but what we do. And what we do here in Washington is rescue large companies, large financial institutions, […]

More Bailouts for the Rich

Fri, 21 Oct 2011 01:45:48 +0000

The rich on Wall Street are demanding more bailouts: The Demands Working Group of Occupy Wall Street unanimously endorsed and is circulating for discussion the following demand, which will be submitted to the General Assembly of OWS: Jobs for ALL – A Massive Public Works and Public Service Program We demand a massive public works […]

The Keynesian Celebration of Destruction

Wed, 19 Oct 2011 06:05:10 +0000

Here’s a great cartoon from Completely Serious Comics published earlier this year, currently being passed around on Facebook by critics of Keynesian stimulus: I doubt the cartoon’s creators were thinking about government stimulus of aggregate demand when they conceived this, so it has become a piece of appropriated satire. And, like pretty much all great […]

What if there were deficit thinking, thinking deficit, on a desert island?

Tue, 09 Aug 2011 07:43:52 +0000

Let’s attempt the program of “economic stimulus” on a desert island. Five persons have survived the shipwreck. Joe is good at gathering berries and reeds, and dressing wounds; Al is good at fishing, hunting and basket-weaving; Bob is good at making huts and gourd-bowls; and Sam, who wants to spend all his time sharpening sticks, […]

Not Even Close

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 07:25:21 +0000

Sometimes an article comes along that is so blindingly stupid and misinformed that the mind reels in a vain attempt to understand how such a thing could be published by any semi-reputable organization. In my personal experience, these articles often discuss the history of the libertarian movement or libertarian ideas. I’m certainly not contending that […]

Do Markets Need Fairness?

Sun, 19 Jun 2011 23:11:50 +0000

I was surprised by this post on Common Sense Concept, a blog published by the American Enterprise Institute. Although the author has written in support of private charity, in this post he argues that fairness in terms of material outcomes is not desirable. He supports this argument with quotations from various Christian texts and concludes […]

The Language of Markets

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 22:29:00 +0000

Diane Ravitch of NYU talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in her new book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. Click here for the podcast and the supplementary information. Here’s the money quote from the very end of the discussion: I […]

Burn This Post

Tue, 05 Apr 2011 01:20:32 +0000

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law! Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that! Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was […]

Government Is a Broker in Pillage

Sat, 05 Mar 2011 22:20:01 +0000

H.L. Mencken summed up public choice theory in 1936: The state—or, to make the matter more concrete, the government—consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal […]

Tough Luck for (Un)elected Officials, The Beast Ya See Got Fifty Eyes

Sat, 05 Feb 2011 07:44:37 +0000

I used to follow foreign policy with a passion that bordered on obsession. I’ve always been a news junkie, but, like many Americans, my focus shifted to foreign affairs after 9/11. But after about five or six years, I started drifting away from it somewhat, I think mainly because it just got too damn depressing. […]

Against the Simple Scenario of Rescue

Mon, 31 Jan 2011 00:03:02 +0000

Social causation cannot be simply drawn on a line, so public policy cannot be conceived in a one-dimensional fashion. See a goal? Find a means. Stick to it. No. It doesn’t work, because each cause has more than one effect, and the selected effect, the end, is not all that must be considered. You will […]