The cramped morality of trade protectionism

“If a product is seen only as the opportunity for work, it is certain that the anxieties of protectionists are well founded.” –Frédéric Bastiat, Economic Sophisms Drawing inspiration from a 1847 essay by the inimitable Frédéric Bastiat, economist Donald Boudreaux tackles a popular argument from today’s trade protectionists: namely, “that protectionism is justified if enough consumers or voters are willing to pay higher prices in order to help workers.” The problem, of course, is that such a perspective debases the value of labor to the value of products and vice versa, ignoring the many other relationships and ripple-effects that production and trade are bound to inspire. Continue Reading...

Why the culture matters for economic flourishing

“Moral ecology is the new frontier of political economy: the culture in which the free society thrives — or destroys itself.” –Michael Novak In assessing and addressing the economic issues of the day, we tend to look first to tangible or mathematical solutions, cutting and re-cutting various economic pies as we ponder different policies and pathways to higher employment, better wages, and all-around material prosperity. Continue Reading...

The political implications of bitcoin

Prior to the publication of John Maynard Keynes’ The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, balanced budgets reflected the received wisdom for governments. By making the case for debt spending in times of recession (and the virtually ignored case for restricting spending in times of growth), Keynes gave political leaders a license to abandon the requirement of balance. Continue Reading...

Reining in the EPA’s regulatory overreach

President Donald Trump turned heads and drew criticisms for his efforts to curb the regulatory reach of the Environmental Protection Agency. With the appointment of Scott Pruitt to lead the agency, Trump has vowed to create a leaner bureaucracy by requiring agencies to repeal two regulations for each new regulation enacted. Continue Reading...

Why truly free trade is also truly fair

Throughout our political discourse, we continue to hear critiques of free trade from left and right, each of them ultimately aiming to prod us closer to an abstract notion of so-called “fair” or “fairer” trade. Continue Reading...