Archive for July, 2012

Today the great Milton Friedman would have celebrated his 100th birthday. No doubt he was one of the greatest economists of all time. His thoughts on various topics from inflation to minimum wages have had a profound impact on liberty and prosperity around the world. Here is a brief collection of my earlier posts on Friedman:

Friedman on Greed:

Friedman on Free Markets:

Friedman on School Choice:

Friedman on Bailouts:

Friedman on the Role of Government:

Friedman on the Military Draft:

 

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One of the many reasons for the decline in the educational system in several Western countries might be nice teachers, as Thomas Sowell points out:
(text to be found here)

After a couple of decades of treating children as if they were as fragile as tissue paper, the net result is that Johnny can’t read and can’t think but often has a presumptuousness that deep thinkers call maturity.

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It is now more than four years since the beginning of the financial crisis. And ever since economists have discussed whether we will face an L-shaped, a U-shaped, a V-shaped, or a W-shaped recession. If you don’t know what that means, there is a simple explanation on Wikipedia.

Let aside theory, what counts is actual experience. And unfortunately, as Greg Mankiw pointed out the data support the L-shaped story:

Employment population ratio

To some extent this development is similar to the 1930s. Despite (or because) of massive government intervention job growth in the private sector has been very slow. This view is supported by two videos: the first from an interview with Dr. Thomas Sowell, and the second from ReasonTV:

Once you start to intervene, it is not just the question of the merit of the particular intervention, it is the fact that nobody knows when you are going to intervene again.

Unemployment stood at 17 percent in 1939, a decade after the stock market crash.

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A few days ago Greg Mankiw from Harvard discussed the most recent report from the Congressional Budget Office. One of his striking findings is that in 2008 for the first time ever the middle twenty percent of American households received more dollars in transfers than they paid in taxes. In other words, a majority of the American people is now a net recipient of government support. No doubt this will have some impact on the presidential election this year.

Here you find Mankiw’s blog post:

The Progressivity of Taxes and Transfers

The middle class, having long been a net contributor to the funding of government, is now a net recipient of government largess.

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no crisis

Pascal Salin, professor emeritus of economics at the Université Paris-Dauphine, argues for the Wall Street Journal that there is no such thing as a Euro crisis:

There Is No ‘Euro Crisis’

The “euro crisis” is a pure political construction without any economic content. It could even be said that the crisis is a splendid opportunity for many politicians to impose some of their longstanding goals on everyone else.

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In less than four months the United States might have a new president or confirmed Obama in office. Either way you should not expect to see much of a difference, as Barton Hinkle argues for Reason:

Obama and Romney Are As Different as Two Peas in a Pod

Apparently I’m supposed to be more outraged by what Mitt Romney does with his money than what Barack Obama does with mine.

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Thomas Sowell (born June 30, 1930) is an American economist, political philosopher, and author of more than 30 books. A National Humanities Medal winner, he advocates laissez-faire economics and writes from a conservative and libertarian perspective. He is currently the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Although it is already seven years old, the following Fox News Special on Sowell is still worth watching:

Prices are symptons, much like fever. But you don’t help patients with fever by putting them into cold water. Many people think that you can control the prices but all it is going to do is cut off the supply.

Democrats are the only reason to vote for Republicans.

People think that they are doing black kids a favor when they pass them along without holding them to the same standards. But that kid is going to pay the rest of his life for your apparent generosity.

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In case you lack some topics or questions to discuss, here we have Walter E. Williams providing a bunch of thought-provoking statements:

I believe people have the right to sell their organs, to bequeath them to their heirs.

There is nothing older in history of mankind than the idea that wisdom resides in the few, the elite.

I support greed, that is I want people to try to get as much as they can for themselves in honest ways.

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Every once in a while newspapers write about something that happened five, ten, twenty, or fifty years ago. It is a common practice and it helps to understand history and development if you think in those long-term periods.

The other day I read about something that happened exactly five years ago: the launch of the first Apple iPhone.

So I went on the internet and found this video of the presentation of the first iPhone in January of 2007. Former CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs presents it and talks about a revolutionary product. And you notice the amazing development private enterprises have achieved when you consider that those things that were outstanding in 2007 are now either common standard or completely outdated. Just compare the audience’s reactions and what you can do with an ordinary cell phone everyday in 2012:

It’s funny how everyone was so amazed when he scrolled down! (16:10 min)

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