COMMENTARIES

Matt Yglesias Discovers Public Choice

Matt Yglesias Discovers Public Choice

He writes: “If you want to understand the economic policies that wrecked Argentina . . . . What started as a little effort at protectionism and industrial policy sprawled over the years into a vast web of clientelism and patronage, where political connections determined who could do business and on what terms.” Here is what’s missing: In the United States, tax law, labor law, employee benefits law, environmental regulation, public school finance and even the Defense Department budget – all of these areas suffer from the same special-interest push-and-pull that have plagued Argentina. More.

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Reason for Our Health Care Crisis: Government

Reason for Our Health Care Crisis: Government

Michael Cannon argues that all of our major health care programs (Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, etc.) came into existence primarily to solve problems created by previous government interventions. And, the reason why there is a continuing push for further reform is because all the programs that are supposed to be solving problems are creating new ones. More.

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Why We Hate Each Other, Part II

Why We Hate Each Other, Part II

The vast bulk of people who are writing and evaluating health care programs reveal a bias based on which party designed the program, not on how well it works relative to other programs. The biggest problem with tribalism is this: It is in the self-interest of politicians to come up with new solutions to persistent problems; but once an idea is proposed, the knee-jerk reaction is for everyone in the other party to dismiss it– no matter how good the idea is. More

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Fact Checking the Two Presidents

Fact Checking the Two Presidents

Although news articles often call Donald Trump a “liar,” I don’t think I have ever seen that term used when discussing Joe Biden. Following the first presidential debate, fact-checkers at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal accused Trump of numerous falsehoods. But they couldn’t find a single Biden falsehood. With respect to Trump, they can’t see the forest for the trees. With respect to Biden, they can’t see the trees. More.

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Why We Hate Each Other

Why We Hate Each Other

When we were polarized in the past, there were arguments and (sometimes not so civil) debates over a major public policy issue. What are the major public policy issues that are dividing us today? I suggest that there aren’t any. What is driving a wedge between us today is tribalism – not government policy. More.

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Riots over the Bible? Yes. In Philadelphia.

Riots over the Bible? Yes. In Philadelphia.

When we think of conflicts between Catholics and Protestants, we think of the wars following the Protestant Reformation in Europe in the 1500s and 1600s. The United States, we assume, has followed a policy of free expression of religion, as promised in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Sad to say, that is not true. I would like to share with you (briefly) the story of the “Philadelphia Riots of 1844.”

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Inflation is a Hidden Tax

Inflation is a Hidden Tax

A new study lays out the toll of lifelong high inflation on consumers. It estimates that permanent 5% inflation would lower household lifetime spending by 3.62%. Permanent 10% inflation would lower lifetime household spending by 6.82%. Even if inflation ran permanently at the Fed’s 2% target, consumers would still feel a pinch, with a 1.5% reduction in lifetime household spending. More.

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Common Sense as Health Policy

Common Sense as Health Policy

America is thought to have a market economy. Yet it is striking to consider all of the ways our health-care system prevents the market from solving our health-care problems.

Since most of the restrictions were created by Democratic legislation, it is tempting to view the liberation of health care as a Republican project. But there is no reason that it couldn’t be bipartisan. Here are several principles to guide reform.

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The Inflation Tax

The Inflation Tax

With 10% inflation, the average family can expect to lose 7% of its lifetime income to government.

This is the startling conclusion of a first-ever study by Laurance Kotlikoff and Alan Auerbach and their colleagues. The sources of the loss: (1) large parts of the tax code are not inflation indexed, (2) those parts that are indexed are indexed with a lag, and (3) Social Security benefits and other entitlements are also indexed with a lag. Our fiscal system is so incredibly complex that it has been impossible to measure the overall effects of inflation before now. Given the 20 largest federal/state entitlements, all administered differently by 50 states, that gives us 1,000 fiscal systems– to say nothing of all the different tax regimes. Hats off to the economists who spent several years developing the model that could give us a reliable answer. See John Goodman’s explanation of the study at Forbes.

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Do You Trust your Health Insurer?

Do You Trust your Health Insurer?

Why do employers (including government employers) and insurers mistreat enrollees with costly health care problems?  When the New York Times describes the abuses, you are encouraged to believe that the blame rests with private insurance. In fact, the source of the problem is perverse incentives created by bad government policies. More.

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