Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
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Note: This is the eleventh post in a weekly video series on basic microeconomics.

Who bears the burden of a tax, the buyer or the seller? Or what about the health insurance mandate in Obamacare—does the employer or the worker pay the tax? In this video, Marginal Revolution University examines these questions and explains why the more elastic side of the market tends to pay a smaller share of a tax.

(If you find the pace of the videos too slow, I’d recommend watching them at 1.5 to 2 times the speed. You can adjust the speed at which the video plays by clicking on “Settings” (the gear symbol) and changing “Speed” from normal to 1.25, 1.5 or 2.)

Previous in series: How to read a supply curve

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
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How Castro is Like the Minimum Wage
Bryan Caplan, EconLog

In my mind, then, Castro is a lot like the minimum wage: something we must stubbornly decry even though there are far greater ills in the world.

How Do You Solve Crony Capitalism?
James R. Rogers, Library of Law and Liberty

“Crony capitalism” is the idea that politically well-connected owners of productive factors – land, labor, capital, entrepreneurial skill – can use the government’s coercive power to limit competition and increase their return on those factors. More generally, it’s the use of the coercive powers of the state to redistribute resources to specific groups and their associates.

From prisoner to entrepreneur
Gerard Robinson and Elizabeth English, AEI

Finding employment is by far the most difficult — and critical — part of the reentry process for returned citizens. But survey data suggests that over half of those released from prison are unemployed for up to a year after being released.

Your 9-to-5 Is Not in Vain
Andre Yee, Desiring God

What do you do when you experience fruitlessness or even failure in your work? How do you respond when your hard work yields poor results?

genesis-bible“In our search for economic principles in the Bible, we need to begin with the story of Creation found in the first two chapters of Genesis,” says Hugh Whelchel. “Here we see God’s normative intentions for life. We see life as ‘the way it ought to be.’ Man is free from sin, living out his high calling as God’s vice regent in a creation that is ‘very good.’”

Whelchel lists three major economic principles laid out in Creation, the first being creativity and freedom:

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In a new article at The Stream, Acton Director of Research Samuel Gregg offers good reasons why a move toward economic nationalism is not in the best interest of America.  He starts with this:

Whatever the motivations for such policies, their costs vastly outweigh their benefits. In the first place, protectionism discourages American businesses and workers from focusing on producing those goods and services where they enjoy a comparative advantage vis-à-vis other nations. Not only does this undermine productivity, efficiency, and international competitiveness of American businesses. It also encourages American workers to enter industries that, no matter how much protection they enjoy, won’t be able to compete in the long term.

Gregg continues to give reasons against economic nationalist policies throughout his article, but one reason that seems to be quite relevant at the time is crony capitalism.  Gregg says this:

Yet another problem with economic nationalism is that it encourages a growing problem in American economic life: crony capitalism.

Giving certain American businesses subsidies or lumbering foreign products with tariffs may seem like economic questions, but in practice they are ultimately political. Such policies encourage companies prefer to seek profits by lobbying legislators and bureaucrats rather than serving customers and creating value.

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Fidel CastroFidel Castro, the former dictator of Cuba, died this past weekend at the age of 90. Here are five facts you should know about the long-ruling Marxist despot.

1. Castro was baptized a Catholic at the age of 8 and attended several Jesuit-run boarding schools. After graduation in the mid-1940s Castro began studying law at the Havana University, where he became politically active in socialist and nationalist causes, in particular opposition to U.S. involvement in the Caribbean. By the end of the decade he became interested in the writings of Marx and Lenin and the cause of revolutionary socialism.

2. During his law school days Castro began to adopt the practice of revolutionary political violence. In 1947 he journeyed to the Dominican Republic to participate in a failed attempt to overthrow of the country’s dictator, Rafael Trujillo. That same year Castro was also accused of instigating an assassination attempt on Cuba’s president, Ramón Grau. When in 1952 General Fulgencio Batista seized power, Castro began making plans to overthrow him too. Castro’s use of political violence continued even after he seized power. The Cuba Archive project has documented almost 10,000 victims of Castro between 1952 and today, including 5,600 men, women, and children who died in front of firing squads and another 1,200 in “extrajudicial assassinations.” Thousands more Cubans also died trying to flee his repressive regime.
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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, November 28, 2016
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Conservative Lawmakers Say Current Welfare System Is ‘Anti-Family’
Kelsey Harkness, The Daily Signal

With a new Republican administration in tow, conservative lawmakers are renewing their call for welfare reform that incentivizes families rather than punishing them.

One Way Trump Could Strike an Immediate Blow Against Cronyism
Tom Rogan , Opportunity Lives

Seeking election, Donald Trump promised his supporters three things: a wall to prevent illegal immigration, protectionist trade reforms and restrictions on political cronyism. But out of these three, only Trump’s anti-cronyism agenda attracts support from across the U.S. political spectrum.

Judge blocks Obama administration rule extending overtime pay
Catherine Garcia, The Week

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant of Texas blocked a rule by the Obama administration extending mandatory overtime pay, deciding it runs counter to the federal law that governs who is eligible for overtime.

The Costs of Being Poor
Adam D. Reich, The American Prospect

Two new books explore how difficult the housing market and criminal justice system make it to climb out of poverty.

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, November 25, 2016
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Black-Friday-LineToday is the unofficial first day of the holiday shopping season. Here are five facts you should know about “Black Friday.”

1. The term “Black Friday” was coined by the Philadelphia Police Department’s traffic squad in the 1950s. According to Philadelphia newspaper reporter Joseph P. Barrett, “It was the day that Santa Claus took his chair in the department stores and every kid in the city wanted to see him. It was the first day of the Christmas shopping season.” Barrettt first used the term in the city’s newspaper, the Evening Bulletin, in 1961 to refer to the traffic problems on that day. Local merchants complained to police commissioner Albert N. Brown about the negative association of the term, so Brown released a press release describing the day as “Big Friday.” By then it was too late; the media had already started referring to the day after Thanksgiving as  “Black Friday.”

2. Because so few people were aware of the origin of the term Black Friday, analternative explanation became popular: that it is the day on which retailers finally began to show a profit for the year (in accounting terms, moving from being “in the red” to “in the black”). The earliest use of this meaning, though, dates only to the early 1980s.
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