A polite rebuke of Pope Francis’ economic confusion

Review of Pope Francis and the Caring Society, edited by Robert M. Whaples; The Independent Institute, Oakland, CA; 2017, 234 pp. Having toiled in the free-market research universe for nearly two decades, perhaps the most common misperception I’ve encountered is “whataboutism.” Readers know of which I write: “What about BP and Deepwater Horizon?” or “What about Enron?” and, perhaps most stridently, “What about the mortgage-lending industry’s complicity in causing the Great Recession?” When this rhetorical strafing fails, there’s always the “What about the poor?” and the “What about the environment?” macro-strategies. Continue Reading...

Adam Smith on the causes—and cures—of crony capitalism

“For Adam Smith, crony capitalism fails on two grounds,” says Lauren Brubaker. “It is unjust, favoring a few at the expense of the many, and it is destructive of the desired end of political economy—economic growth.” Brubaker says Smith’s writings can help us properly frame the problems of crony capitalism, understand the causes, and formulate solutions for preventing or mitigating the corruption of free markets: For Smith, the tendencies to cronyism, which are anchored in human nature, can be tempered by: (1) limiting government to a few essential powers (defense, administration of impartial justice, and certain limited public works and institutions); and (2) educating the public concerning the “folly” of attempts to direct the economy by legislators. Continue Reading...

The J. Wellington Wimpy crony capitalist policy

“I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today,” was a catchphrase made famous by J. Wellington Wimpy, a character in the comic strip Popeye. But it also describes, with slight modification, the attitude of crony capitalist companies to American taxpayers: “I’ll begrudgingly pay you in the future for services provided today.” A couple of week’s ago I wrote about the greatest crony capitalist deal in Wisconsin history. Continue Reading...

What Pope Francis doesn’t understand about speculation

In a recent visit to a steel factory in Italy, Pope Francis said, “One sickness of the economy is the gradual transformation of entrepreneurs into speculators.” “The speculator doesn’t love his business, doesn’t love the workers, but only sees the business and workers as the means to make profit,” the pontiff added. Continue Reading...

Why it matters how ex-presidents make their money

Embed from Getty Images   The President of the United States makes an annual salary of $400,000 a year for doing one of the toughest jobs in the world. While the pay may seem relatively low compared to CEOs of major corporations, the real payoff for presidents comes once they exit the White House. Continue Reading...

What are the unintended consequences of American protectionism?

Protectionism is often associated with patriotic zeal and concern for America. While citizens should certainly have concern for their nation, protectionist measures do not necessarily secure the economic results desired. Acton’s director of research, Samuel Gregg, writes about the unintended effects of protectionism in a recent article for The Stream. Continue Reading...

Subsidies or tax breaks, both are cronyism

Last week, President-elect Donald Trump along with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is the current governor of Indiana, struck a deal with United Technologies, the parent company of Carrier, in order to save over 1,000 jobs from being sent from Indiana to Mexico.  Continue Reading...