Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Ignorant tribal thinking: "Mention any topic touching on international trade and you are sure to provoke multiple discussions, ranging from child labor to parity in workplace safety, and including catchy terms like "dumping," "outsourcing," and "brain drain." It seems as if many of our best and brightest scholars are devoting their precious talents to enumerating all of the horrible ills that will beset humanity if we do not act immediately to combat each and every development in the global economy. Yet what do these various proposals to regulate trade all have in common? They are all attempts to prevent people from cooperating with each other. The critics of recent developments in international trade relations, though they have couched their arguments in sophisticated economic rhetoric, are ultimately relying on the tribe mentality: It's us versus them, and anything that they are for must be bad for us. Fortunately for those who cherish harmony and peace, the tribe mentality is factually incorrect. Trade is a positive-sum game"

How about fairness toward employers and landlords? "The Louisville Council is debating whether to reinstate its 'fairness' ordinance, which prohibits employers and landlords from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. The proponents of this ordinance claim that it expresses the community's tolerance and fairness toward all its citizens, but, in fact, it really expresses bigotry and intolerance against employers and landlords."

Economies as ecosystems: "Are economies ecosystems? The parallels are striking. The energy driving ecosystems ultimately comes from the sun, while the energy driving economies ultimately comes from another boundless of energy source -- human imagination and innovation. Inspired individuals -- energetic, enthusiastic, and perhaps just a bit sun-struck -- plant their seeds of innovation, creating new products and starting new companies. Those seeds are fragile at first. Many fail, crushed by competition, starved by high costs or strangled by burdensome regulations."

Even Leftists can learn eventually: "The Boston City Council voted down a rent control proposal yesterday, sparking a dramatic protest by tenants and housing activists... The 8-to-5 defeat of the ''community stabilization act," a milder version of one proposed by Mayor Thomas M. Menino and killed by the council two years ago, probably means the end of efforts to cap rents and provide other tenant protections in the city -- at least for the foreseeable future".

How to discourage job-creation in one easy lesson: "Today, in Germany and France, divorcing your spouse is easier, and in most cases cheaper, than dismissing an employee under due observance of the provisions of the contract of employment. The administrative hurdles can be a long nightmare. Court approval may be required and failing it, the employees in question must be reinstated. The labor union representing a majority of the employees must agree to the "social plan" by which the employer company undertakes to assist the employees who lose their jobs."

The myth of wartime prosperity: "It is clear enough that war stimulates certain sectors of the economy. But it is logically and economically unjustified to equate that stimulus with prosperity for the American people as a whole. Ludwig von Mises summed up the correct position when he observed, 'War prosperity is like the prosperity that an earthquake or a plague brings.' Fr,d,ric Bastiat exposed the 'broken window' fallacy in the mid-nineteenth century. A shop window broken by a man's 'incorrigible son' is said to benefit the economy, since the company that fixes the window enjoys a 'stimulus,' which in turn is passed along to those with whom the window company does business."


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