Tuesday, January 17, 2006


The founding ideas were right: "When discussing the incentives granted by government to people thinking about settling in America, Benjamin Franklin cited only those "derived from good laws and liberty." Recent arrivals would have to roll up their sleeves and put their backs into it because, as Franklin noted, streets were not "paved with half-peck loaves," houses were not "tiled with pancakes," and edible fowl did not "fly about ready-roasted, crying `Come eat me!'" But if a person were "sober, industrious, and frugal," he could "establish himself in business" and "enjoy securely the profits of his industry." Pursuing happiness could be hard and possibly very rewarding work".

The Media's Top 10 Economic Myths of 2005: "The Media Research Center's Free Market Project spent 2005 tracking news reporting on business and economic issues and compiled a list of the most common and most egregious errors. They ran the gamut from omissions to exaggerations and plain misinformation: America should follow French fashion in business; We must raise taxes to cope with ballooning deficits; Global warming is causing stronger hurricanes; America is cheap with its foreign aid; Hurricane Katrina will send the economy into a tailspin; The housing bubble is about to burst; Americans are dying of fat; Consumers are choosing between food and fuel; Big, profitable companies are up to no good; The U.S. economy is hopeless

Leftists never learn: "An attempt by Venezuela's leftwing president, Hugo Ch˜vez, to double the price that coffee producers pay farmers for a sack of beans has led to empty shelves in supermarkets throughout the country and fears of shortages of other basic foodstuffs. President Ch˜vez, who maintains price controls on basic foodstuffs, raised the price of coffee beans by 100% last month after weeks of protests by coffee farmers. But most of the country's coffee producers, who buy, roast and grind the beans, refused to sell on the coffee yesterday, claiming their margins had been cut, and began hoarding thousands of sacks of unprocessed beans... Some supermarkets in the capital, Caracas, said they had also run out of sugar, chicken, powdered milk and maize. Store managers said they were not being supplied with new stock from wholesalers and producers, who were complaining that their profit margins were too low. Frustrated customers were told that coffee, milk and sugar suppliers were sitting on their goods until the government raised retail prices. Some owners of street cafes in Caracas said they would run out of coffee within days if the government and coffee producers did not reach an agreement. Venezuelans love their morning cup of coffee and there was growing unease among office workers yesterday that their daily shot of espresso or cappuccino might soon be unavailable. The increase in the price of raw coffee beans was initially applauded by impoverished farmers. But the government did not raise the price at which retailers sell processed coffee to the shops".

Can trade ever harm a country? "A recent article from the Guardian joins the growing outcry against free trade. Its central message is that countries adopting 'neo-liberal' market reforms, recommended by academic economists, have done worse than those countries that ignored the supposed experts and spurned free trade. Every time I reread the article -- with the subtitle 'A look at Vietnam and Mexico exposes the myth of market liberalization' -- I discover more and more fallacies. To economize on the reader's precious time, I finally decided to quit digging for more errors and jot down the ones I'd already found..... this article hasn't focused on the positive case for free trade, as it has been made in countless other places. What I have done above is merely illustrate the invalid (and sometimes downright silly) arguments that, unfortunately, even trained economists use to justify bigger government."

Left/Right economics summarized: "The subject of this article is Kuttner's column about the debate, rather than the debate itself -- Kuttner the fight judge, not Kuttner the boxer. I was particularly struck by Kuttner's statement above. Evidently, the concept of genuine humility is so foreign to Kuttner that he regards an expression of humility as a debating tactic. In a sense, that is why Kuttner belongs on the left. Contemporary liberalism without hubris is Hamlet without the Prince.... Genuine humility is a feature of libertarian conservatism, which may be the fundamental reason that it differs from neoconservatism. If you think you have all of the answers, then it is difficult to resist passing No Child Left Behind Laws and other expressions of government hubris. Libertarian conservatives believe that we do not know enough to justify imposing our will on others through government. Supporters of activist government believe they know more than we do. I fear that they know less."


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