Since at least the days of Adam Smith, economists have suspected that economic freedom was a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for human prosperity. Smith wrote of freedom as a “system of natural liberty” and declared that “Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice.”…
The theory of rational irrationality suggests that voters are biased and do not face sufficient incentives to choose rationally; instead they vote for various private reasons. As a result, socially and economically destructive policies can receive widespread public support.
Theories of political entrepreneurship usually focus on the construction of coalitions necessary to change policy. We argue that political entrepreneurs who are unable to secure favored policies may redirect their efforts to a “higher tier,” attempting to change the rules of the game to enable the exploitation of future political profit opportunities.
To the extent public utility-style regulation has been debated within the Intemet policy arena over the past decade, the focus has been almost entirely on the physical layer of the Internet. The question has been whether Internet service providers should be considered "essential facilities" or "natural monopolies" and therefore regulated as public utilities. Such concerns served to drive the debate over "net neutrality" regulation.
Cybersecurity proponents often rely upon cyber-doom scenarios as a key tactic for calling attention to prospective cyber-threats. This essay critically examines cyber-doom scenarios by placing them into a larger historical context, assessing how realistic they are, and drawing out the policy implications of relying upon such tales. It draws from relevant research in the history of technology, military history, and disaster sociology to examine some of the key assertions and assumptions of cyber-doom scenarios. It argues that cyber-doom scenarios are the latest manifestation of fears about “technology-out-of-control” in Western societies, that they are unrealistic, and that they encourage the adoption of counter-productive, even dangerous policies. The paper concludes by offering alternative principles for the formulation of cybersecurity policy.
When OSHA was established, proponents believed it would dramatically improve the safety and health of American workers. During the forty years of its existence, workplace fatalities and nonfatal injuries and illnesses have fallen but OSHA is not the major cause of this decline. Changes in the industrial mix of workers and improvements in safety technology have combined with expanded employer incentives unrelated to OSHA to decrease worker injuries and illnesses. The financial incentives for employers to expand expenditures on worker safety and health created by the labor market, states' workers' compensation insurance programs, and the legal system swamp the meager incentives created by OSHA.
Richard Wagner's chapter in 'Public Choice, Past and Present' explores the legacy of James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock as it pertains to the establishment of public choice as a field of scholarly inquiry.
Market supporters have consistently emphasized that markets make it so that selfinterested or even greedy individuals can only help themselves by serving their fellow men and women. This channeling of self-interest away from predation and toward profit seeking explains why market economies tend to be materially prosperous. Yet if markets only succeed in providing a wealth of goods and services at the cost of turning people into myopic hedonists, then it might very well be reasonable to despise them. The moral meanings of markets, however, are not suspect. This article offers a critique of the traditional defenses of the morality of markets and explains how markets depend on and promote virtue.
The notion that state capitalism (an economic system “in which the state functions as the leading economic actor and uses markets primarily for political gain”) is a new form of capitalism emerging in the global arena has been recently advanced by several authors. This paper explores the problem of the nature of this system in the light of these claims to novelty.
As the 100th anniversary of the 1913 Federal Reserve Act approaches, we assess whether the nation’s experiment with the Federal Reserve has been a success or a failure. Drawing on a wide range of recent empirical research, we ﬁnd the following: (1) The Fed’s full history (1914 to present) has been characterized by more rather than fewer symptoms of monetary and macroeconomic instability than the decades leading to the Fed’s establishment. (2) While the Fed’s performance has undoubtedly improved since World War II, even its postwar performance has not clearly surpassed that of its undoubtedly ﬂawed predecessor, the National Banking system, before World War I. (3) Some proposed alternative arrangements might plausibly do better than the Fed as presently constituted. We conclude that the need for a systematic exploration of alternatives to the established monetary system is as pressing today as it was a century ago.
Doug Badger appeared in front of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to discuss funding for the Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) program of the Affordable Care Act. …
On September 7, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and the Cato Institute’s Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives will team up for a day-long academic conference, hosting a distinguished group of scholars, to explore pressing questions about monetary policy rules.
Rebounding after disasters like tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods can be daunting. How do residents of these communities gain access to the resources they need to rebuild while overcoming the collective action problem that characterizes post-disaster relief efforts?
Please join the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University for a panel discussion featuring Hayek Program Senior Fellow Virgil Storr and his new book Community Revival in the Wake of Disaster: Lessons in Local Entrepreneurship.
As the world’s first decentralized digital currency, Bitcoin has the potential to revolutionize online payment systems and commerce in ways that benefit both consumers and businesses. Individuals can now avoid using an intermediary such as PayPal or submitting credit card information to a third party for verification—both of which often involve transaction fees, restrictions, and security risks—and instead use bitcoins to pay each other directly for goods or services.