Haiti’s solar entrepreneurs

Jean-Ronel Noel and Alex Georges began their company in a garage in Haiti, tinkering with solar panels and light bulbs, wondering how their experiments might translate into an actual product. “We have plenty of sunshine, so is there a way that we can harvest energy from the sun to resolve the energy problem?” they asked. Continue Reading...

Protectionism is economic suicide

The most charitable assumption you can make about people who support tariffs and other forms of protectionism is that they are economically illiterate. But if they are able to demonstrate they understand the economics of protectionism and still support such policies, then we are justified in assuming they don’t care about harming their neighbor. Continue Reading...

Economic man is a myth, but ‘nudging’ is a distraction

The University of Chicago’s Richard Thaler recently won the Nobel Prize for his contributions in behavioral economics, much of which centers on challenging rational choice theory. “Renowned for his use of data to observe and predict how people behave in the real world,” writes Derek Thompson, “Thaler’s career has been a lifelong war on Homo economicus, that mythical species of purely rational hominids who dwell exclusively in the models of classical economic theory.” Victor Claar has helpfully summarized Thaler’s work at length, noting his popular framework of “nudge units, which provide a government mechanism for prodding us into “making choices that are better than the ones we might make otherwise.” Claar rightly challenges us to consider the risks of promoting the government as “nudger-in-chief,” and Rev. Continue Reading...

More victims of the $15 minimum wage

The deleterious side effects of the $15-per-hour minimum wage have continued to manifest across the country, affecting cities from Seattle to Minneapolis and states from California to New York. To illustrate the damage, the Employment Policies Institute is maintaining a catalog of suffering businesses across the country, highlighting stories of raised consumer prices, increased unemployment, reduced working hours, and outright business closures. Continue Reading...

Should we be nudged toward libertarian paternalism?

If the boy is father to the man, then I was raised by a profligate dunce. Even though I had learned the power of compound interest in high school, I foolishly squandered my trivial savings at a time when the “eighth wonder of the world,” as Albert Einstein called it, would have had the greatest impact. Continue Reading...

What a Chinese economist learned from American churches

“Only through awe can we be saved. Only through faith can the market economy have a soul.” -Zhao Xiao When French diplomat and historian Alexis de Tocqueville visited America in the 1830s, he marveled at the “associational life” of American communities, noting the particular influence of religion and local churches. Continue Reading...