Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Totalitarian State

"[T]he theory of output as a whole, which is what the following book purports to provide, is much more easily adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state, than is the theory of production and distribution of a given output produced under the conditions of free competition and a large measure of laissez-faire."

John Maynard Keynes, in the forward to the 1936 German edition of his General Theory.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bailout Hearings

"Satire is fascinating stuff. It's deadly serious, and when politics begin to break down, there is a drift towards satire, because it's the only thing that makes any sense."

British artist Ben Nicholson (1894 - 1982)

Today's Dilbert is not to be missed! View it below, or click here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Seeking Status

Arnold Kling, at EconLog, writes...

"Market-oriented economists are accused of merely crafting an elaborate rationale for extreme status competition among the rich. I think there may be a grain of truth to this.

I feel the same way about economists who trumpet market failure and support strengthening government. On some level, they are merely crafting an elaborate rationale for extreme status competition among politicians."

Read the rest here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Chicago Tea Party

Rick Santelli gets stirred up on CNBC:

"Cuba used to have mansions and a relatively decent economy. They moved from the individual to the collective. Now they're driving '54 Chevys -- maybe the last great car to come out of Detroit!"

Later in the video, he calls for a "Chicago Tea Party."

Watch the whole thing here...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Free Market Career

From Reason magazine's Hit and Run...

Interested in a job that will allow you to gain valuable management skills while working to advance liberty? The Koch Associate Program is a very selective, competitively paid career opportunity for talented young professionals who are interested in working with free-market non-profits such as think tanks and grassroots organizations. During the year-long program, each Associate works in a full-time position with a market-oriented think-tank or policy organization, while also receiving valuable management training in a seminar setting one day out of each week at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. Visit for more information.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bailing Out the Big Three


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hiding Behind the Numbers

CNBC recently broadcast a documentary, Saving General Motors.

Listening to the executives defending the company's performance, I could not escape the impression that I had heard this kind of argument before. Their claims of improving quality, increasing production, and increasing efficiency even though the company's sales had cratered sounded eerily familiar.

Such rhetoric was commonly used by industry managers in the old Soviet Union and its infamous Five Year Plans.

Shoe manufacturers, for example, would boast about the quality of Soviet shoes, about how they made more shoes this year than last year, and how they made them as efficiently as possible. Soviet shoe manufacturing was an unqualified success, at least in the eyes of the shoe manufacturers.

Unfortunately, shoe consumers did not agree. They found Soviet shoes to be of poor quality, unfashionable, and offered in just a few sizes. Given a choice, Soviet citizens preferred Western shoes, when they could get them.

The only meaningful measure of an industry's success is how much money it can make by satisfying its customers in mutually beneficial, peaceful trades. An industry that hides behind production numbers is a dying industry in denial.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy

On February 11th, Larry Reed addressed the Bastiat Society in Charleston, SC. He outlined seven principles of sound public policy. They are:

1. Free people are not equal, and equal people are not free.

2. What is yours, you tend to take care of; what everyone owns, everyone tends to ignore.

3. Sound economics requires looking at the long run, and considering the effects on more than just a few.

4. If you encourage something you get more of it; if you discourage something, you get less of it.

5. Nobody spends somebody else's money as carefully as he spends his own.

6. A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.

7. Liberty makes all the difference in the world.

Larry also shared the inspiring story of Sir Nicholas Winton, who personally saved the lives of 669 children, most of them Jewish, in the face of Nazi aggression in Eastern Europe.

You can read more about Sir Nicholas and the Emmy award winning documentary of his life, The Power of Good, by clicking here.

Larry Reed is President of the Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, NY.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Really Bad Bank

We've heard quite a bit about bad banks lately, but here's a story that really puts the "bad" in bank.

In the new movie, The International, the focus of evil in the modern world guessed it, a bank. 

The tagline: "They control your money. They control your government. They control your life. And everybody pays."

This movie will do for banking what The Da Vinci Code did for theology.

NPR takes a sober look at the movie and concludes it might be a good thriller, but it's a ridiculous smash-up of the business of banking. Listen to the story here.

I modestly suggest an immediate remake. Instead of a thriller, it should be a musical comedy entitled "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Bank."  

Tagline: "Something from everyone."

Here is the first song of the first act (with apologies to Stephen Sondheim):


Something familiar,
Something peculiar,
Something from everyone:
A comedy tonight!

Something appealing,
Something appalling,
Something from everyone:
A comedy tonight!

Nothing with kings, nothing with crowns;
Bring on the lovers, liars and clowns!

Old situations,
New complications,
Nothing portentous or polite;
Tragedy tomorrow,
Comedy tonight!

Something convulsive,
Something repulsive,
Something from everyone:
A comedy tonight!

Something aesthetic,
Something frenetic,
Something from everyone:
A comedy tonight!

Nothing with gods, nothing with fate;
Weighty affairs will just have to wait!

Nothing that's formal,
Nothing that's normal,
No recitations to recite;
Open up the curtain:
Comedy Tonight!

Something erratic,
Something dramatic,
Something from everyone:
A comedy tonight!

Frenzy and frolic,
Strictly symbolic,
Something from everyone:
A comedy tonight!

Something familiar,
Something peculiar,
Something from everybody:
Comedy tonight!
Something that's gaudy,
Something that's haughty

Something from everybody!

Comedy tonight!

Stunning surprises!

Cunning disguises!

Hundreds of actors out of sight!








No royal curse, no Trojan horse,
And a happy ending, of course!
Goodness and badness,
Panic is madness--
This time it all turns out all right!
Tragedy tomorrow,
Comedy tonight!

(For those who would like to experience the original, click here)

Friday, February 13, 2009

The People's Stimulus

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Just Say "No Stimulus"

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Laughing at Locksmiths

“One should always assume that rules, then as now, were made to be broken. Business, like love, laughs at locksmiths."

David Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, pg. 42.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Government Cause, Financial Effect

"My research shows that government actions and interventions -- not any inherent failure or instability of the private economy -- caused, prolonged and dramatically worsened the crisis."

John B. Taylor, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the forthcoming book Getting Off Track, writing in the Wall Street Journal.

Monday, February 9, 2009

"Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy"

Every policy of government at every level, whether we realize it or not, is rooted in ideas that are either flawed and short-sighted or time-tested and sound.

Economist Larry Reed's next talk on February 11th, entitled "Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy," has been delivered to audiences around the world from Beijing to Nairobi. He will explain the ideas that can produce the best policies for now and future generations. At this critical time in America's economic history, Reed will offer thoughts on the principles that should guide policy makers so that our economy can recover.

Date: Wednesday, Feb. 11
Time: 5 pm reception, 6 pm speaker
Location: Imaging Arts Gallery, 175 King Street, Charleston, SC
RSVP: April Herrera

About Our Speaker:
Lawrence W. (Larry) Reed is president of the Foundation for Economic Education, headquartered in Irvington, New York.

After serving as President of the Mackinac Center for its first two decades, Reed became president emeritus of the Center upon assuming his duties as president of FEE.

Reed holds a B.A. degree in Economics from Grove City College (1975) and an M.A. degree in History from Slippery Rock State University (1978), both in Pennsylvania. He taught economics at Midland's Northwood University from 1977 to 1984 and chaired the Department of Economics from 1982 to 1984. He designed the university's unique dual major in Economics and Business Management and founded its annual, highly-acclaimed "Freedom Seminar." In 1982, he was a major party candidate in the general election for the U. S. House of Representatives from Michigan's 4th district. He moved to Boise, Idaho in 1984 to direct a policy institute there before moving back to Michigan to head up the Mackinac Center in December 1987.

Under his leadership, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy emerged as the largest and one of the most effective and prolific of over 40 state-based "free market" think tanks in America. He served a term as president and 15 years as a member of the board of directors of the State Policy Network, a national organization whose membership consists of those state-based groups.

In 1994, Reed was invited to give the Commencement address to the graduating class of the Colleges of Education, Health, and Human Services and Extended Learning at Central Michigan University (CMU) before an audience of 6,000. CMU conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Public Administration. In 1998, Grove City College (his undergraduate alma mater) bestowed upon him its "Distinguished Alumni Award."

In the past twenty years, he has authored over 1,000 newspaper columns and articles, 200 radio commentaries, dozens of articles in magazines and journals in the U. S. and abroad, as well as five books. His articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, Baltimore Sun, Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, among many others. Reed's most recent book is Striking the Root: Essays on Liberty. Since 1978, he has delivered more than 1,000 speeches in 40 states and 15 foreign countries, including one at People's University in Beijing, China.

Reed's interests in political and economic affairs have taken him as a freelance journalist to 69 countries on six continents since 1985, including five visits to Russia, five to China, four to Nicaragua, three to Poland, five to Kenya, and others to such places as Cambodia, East Germany, Mozambique, Haiti, Japan, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras, Greece, Italy, Australia, Slovenia, Croatia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Singapore, Israel, Egypt, Malaysia, Vietnam, Iceland and New Zealand.

From firsthand experience, he has reported on hyperinflation in South America, voodoo in Haiti, black markets behind the Iron Curtain, reforms and repression in China and Cambodia, the recent stunning developments in Eastern Europe, and civil war inside Nicaragua and Mozambique. Among many foreign adventures, Reed visited the ravaged nation of Cambodia in 1989 with his late friend, Academy Award winner Dr. Haing S. Ngor; recorded an authentic native voodoo ceremony in a remote region of Haiti in 1987; traveled with the Polish anti-communist underground for which he was arrested and detained by border police in 1986; interviewed presidents and cabinet officials in half a dozen nations; spent time with the contra rebels during the Nicaraguan civil war; and lived for two weeks with the rebels of Mozambique at their bush headquarters in 1991, at the height of that country's devastating civil war.

Reed was first elected in 1994 to the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) in Irvington, New York-one of the oldest and most respected economics institutes in America and publisher of the journal, The Freeman, for which he writes a column entitled "Ideas and Consequences." In 1998, he was elected chairman of FEE's board of Trustees and reelected chairman in 1999 and 2000.

His spare-time interests include reading, travel, flyfishing, hiking, skydiving, and animals of just about any kind.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

CEO Calls for Higher Income Taxes

More evidence that many successful business people don't really understand the way freedom works.

More evidence why the world needs the Bastiat Society.

In the New York Times, Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, says "President Obama should celebrate our success, rather than trying to shame us or cap our pay. But he should also take half of our huge earnings in taxes, instead of the current one-third."

Can anyone help arrange an intervention, before more harm is done?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ward Three Morality

"What you must realize, above all, is the rich no longer control the economy and its mores. Ward Three people do, and their rule has just begun."

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Thirsty for Some Good News?

"In sum, moderate drinking has links to good health, fortune, humor and character."

Forbes, Feb. 16, 2009