Donald J. Boudreaux 3

05 Jul 2017, 06:53 PM

I'm Don Boudreaux, Professor of Economics at George Mason, Getchell Chair at the Mercatus Center and FEE.org author. Ask Me Anything, Friday July 7th, 12pm-4pm EDT

Ask me anything about economics - especially about microeconomic topics such as the minimum wage and trade (but I'll field any and all economic questions).  My passion is use basic economics to make the world around more understandable.

Comments (80)

  • Tricia Beck

    about 2 years ago

    Your article "You Are Richer than John D. Rockefeller" was shared almost 7 thousand times. I think it's a great article that really articulates why so many of us are grateful for the free market. Yet we still live in a world where we have to convince people that capitalism is a good thing. How can we spread the idea that capitalism has been the driving force of human progress in a way that resonates with our friends on the Left?

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Great question.  We can do only what we can do.  As FEE's founder, Leonard Read, often said, our tool is persuasion.  Fortunately, we've mountains of facts on our side.  In reality, the freer the society, the richer are not just "the rich" in that society, but also the poor - who become rich compared to ordinary people in less-free societies.  I will come back in a few minutes to answer this question in greater detail.  First, though, I want to answer some others.

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Tricia: I'm afraid that all my additional pondering of your good question leaves me with nothing much of substance to add.  Each of us has a role to play in furthering the cause of free society.  Some do it by writing highly technical articles in economics or in law.  Others by writing op-eds.  Others by talking casually with friends.  The ways and opportunities are many, and each person must discover where he or she best fits in.

  • Richard N. Lorenc

    about 2 years ago

    You've inspired me through your constant/relentless letters to the editor (so much so I began writing--and ocassionally getting published--my own letters). What is your actual goal with these?

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Thanks for the question.  My goal originally was both to relieve the personal frustration that I feel whenever I encounter some piece of economic illiteracy or gross historical misinformation, and to get each letter published in the hope that it'll be read.  More recently, my goal - while it still embraces the personal-theraputic one! - is to post each letter on my blog as my chief means of teaching basic economics to young people.  My goal is not to change current policy outcomes; I don't believe that such change is possible.  Those outcomes will be what they will be given the current state of ideas and ideology.  I hope to help change policy outcomes only in the future by doing my small part in helping to  make free-market, classical-liberal ideas more widely understood and appealling.

  • Dylan Wiliam

    about 2 years ago

    Here's something that has intrigued me for years, and which I have never heard anyone address. Why is it that when buying a non-changeable, non-refundable airline ticket, it is common to get a discount of well over 50% compared to the refundable fare, whereas for a hotel room, the discount is rarely more than 10%

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       I wish that I had a good answer to this question, but I don't.  I will, however, use your question as a springboard to make a larger point.

      The real world is a far more complex place than most of us realize.  This complexity gives rise to a correspondingly large number of different market arrangements and commercial practices.  My presumption is that if a market is reasonably competitive, then any long-standing practice likely serves a useful purpose even if no one knows what that purpose is.  So while I haven't a clue why the practices that you mention are what they are, my presumption is that there is a good reason why they are what they are.

    • Richard Fulmer

      about 2 years ago

      Here's a guess:  Airlines overbook their seats.  So, if I buy a non-changeable, non-refundable ticket and don't show up, the airline can sell my seat to someone else.  The fact that I didn't show up doesn't cost them any money - in fact, they benefit if I don't show.  Hotels, on the other hand, have to keep my room available (I might show up at 1am) unless I call and let them know that I won't be coming.

  • Ross

    about 2 years ago

    Can you please explain your views on property rights of Native Americans? I don't buy into the alarmist rhetoric of cultural genocide peddled by the left. But, its hard to deny that injustice occured somewhere along the way. Were property rights violated? Was it simply because natives had no means of enforcing them? Was there in fact no harm done by the "free market" approach to settling the Americas? I run into this argument from liberals very frequently and I don't really have a very good defense or or response.

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       I've no expertise in history, but my understanding is that there certainly were many rights violations by European explorers and settlers in the Americas against the native populations.  These violations continued well into the 19th century in the United States.  And the fact that the native populations in the Americas themselves often committed rights violations against each other doesn't excuse the violations that were committed by Europeans.  Yet the question now, presumably, is: what to do about these past violations?  My answer is: nothing.  Nothing can undo the past harms and violations.  Transferring, say, land from an American today who acquired that land peacefully to descendant today of, say, the Cherokee from whom the land was wrongfully seized 200 years ago rights no wrong.  Any such forcible transfer merely doubles-down on the wrongdoing.  The individuals from whom the land was wrongfully seized have long since died, as have the wrongful seizers of that land.  The current owner of the land - who, let's assume, is named O'Malley and is descendend from the Irish - committed no wrong.  And anyone today with Cherokee blood who would get O'Malley's land suffered no injustice at the hands of O'Malley or any of O'Malley's agents.

      At some point, wrongs - even horrors - are too far gone in the past to make any attempt to rectify them, at best, counterproductive or, more likely, themselves instances of further injustices.

  • Richard Fulmer

    about 2 years ago

    There are a number of proposals for rules-based monetary policy (e.g., the Taylor rule).  Could any of them enable the Fed to eliminate boom-and-bust cycles?  Why or why not?  How could the free market regulate the money supply?  What books or articles on this topic can you recommend?

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       I realize that the name of this forum is "Ask Me Anything," but, unfortunately, I know too little about monetary policy to offer any recommendations about policy.  But I know enough to know who to recommend you consult.  The works of George Selgin and my colleague Larry White are where I'd start.  George and Larry - working as a team, and each independtently - have between them produced a large body of impressive scholarship on money and banking.  Selgin's latest book (whose title now escapes me) is probably the best place to begin.  (I'll look up the title later and send it to you.)

  • Robert Watkins

    about 2 years ago

    I believe that free markets are absolutely the best system for trade.  With all of the conversations about health care, there seems to be very little made of a truly free market approach.  Is there a reasonable way to get from where we are to where we could/should be?  I know I'm asknig this when even something as simple as the impact of raising the minimum wage seems to be beyond the understanding of most people (and I say this fully acknowledging my ignorance of many things economic).

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Health care (like money & banking) isn't my forte, so I've no good and detailed answer.  I'm quite sure that reducing government's role in health care would improve matters, but the transition costs of scaling back the state's involvement would be huge.  So, I fear, the state will continue to be a big player in the health-care market, causing that market to perform worse over time, and, thus, leading to calls - however misguided - for further state involvement.  I'm not optimistic about the future of the health-care market.

  • Michael S. Wolf

    about 2 years ago

    Starting from Friedman's insistence that "inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon," and understanding that monetary velocity is variable, can you explain some of the mechanism by which monetary expansion results in general price inflation?  When I try to point out the inflationary effects of Fed policies, I find skepticism from persons who deny that expanding the money supply must cause prices to rise. 

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Well, if nominal spending increases - that is, if M(oney) x V(elocity) goes up - then there must occur some combination of P(rices) rising and Q(uantity-of-goods-and-services-and-assets) rising.  In reality, if MV is believed to have risen and P is believed not to have risen, then some possible explanations are (1) Q rose by enough to absorb all of the additional spending; (2) MV really didn't rise; (3) P did in fact rise by more than is believed; (4) the additional spending caused the prices of assets to rise and this rise in asset prices is overlooked when doing the simple equation of exchange.

      Perhaps the skeptics you encounter make the implicit assumption that any increases in the money supply (M) are offset by corresponding decreases in the rate at which money is spent (V).

    • Michael S. Wolf

      about 2 years ago

       Thank you for the helpful comment.

  • Buck Enomics

    about 2 years ago

    2 things...

    Why is socialism so popular. Can you share any success stories of countries that tried it and it worked?

    Also, in your opinion, which government agencies do you feel are a waste of time and should be eliminated? What would the impact be on unemployment in the long term?

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Why is socialism so popular?  Well, it's more popular today than it was 20 years ago when more people still had vivid memories (many first-hand) of the realities of actual socialism, especially as it was practiced in eastern Europe in the Soviet Union.  But socialism, I think, is still less popular today than it was 80 years ago when it was all the rage.  As for why socialism is popular, I think the reason is that most people do not understand that free markets work as well as free markets work.  People tend to distrust processes that are unguided by human intention.  The market is such an unguided process (although it does have an internal logic that guides it).  Socialism is appealing, I believe, because it offers the false promise of a benevolent group of leaders looking out for the masses.  Those who understand neither that intentions are not results, nor that workable and productive social orders can and do arise spontaneously, slip rather naturally into a yearning for a powerful 'good guy' to take control of the economy.

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       As for your second question, I'd eliminate nearly every govenrment agency.  Some (such as the Federal Trade Commission) I'd eliminate immediately; others (such as the Fed) I'd arrange to dissolve gradually over time.

  • John Aiton

    about 2 years ago

    How much prosperity is our government costing( growth / wages / national I come ) us ?

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Good question.  There are in the literature several attempts to put a dollar value on this figure.  I am skeptical of all such attempts.  The free market is so creative that we have no way of knowing what the economy would look like in the absence of any significant chunk of government interference.  All I'll say is that such interference is costing us "quite a lot" - almost certainly more than is offered by any existing empirical estimate.

  • Severin Reinhardt

    about 2 years ago

    Some economists like Steve Keen insist that individual banks actually create money "out of thin air." Can you explain why they believe this?

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1057521914001070

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       As I mentioned in an earlier reply, I'm no expert on monetary economics.  My colleague Larry White has somewhere a splendid explanation of why individual banks do not create money out of thin air, but I don't now recall just where.  I'll try to find the cite and share it with you.

  • Dan Sanchez

    about 2 years ago

    Professor Boudreaux,

    Thank you for all the educational work you do and for making yourself available to our audience.

    How did you develop such a strong passion for explaining the logic of free trade?

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Thanks Dan.

      Trade is among the least-complicated economic matters to understand but also among those (along with monetary policy) that are most widely misunderstood by the general public.  Not having a mind deep enough to adequately grasp monetary theory, I stick to the simpler subject of trade.  The public misunderstanding of trade is so deep and wide - and the damage done by bad trade policies is so significant - that it's worth my time to keep hammering away at all the many fallacies on this front.  The relative ease, and absolute fun, of exposing trade fallacies are made even more attractive to me by the fact that, to the extent that protectionism is thwarted, privilege-seeking producer groups are thwarted.  I have an intense aversion to cronyism.

  • Alex Dixie

    about 2 years ago

    Hello Professor - my question relates to wages and productivity. Econ theory states that there should be a relation between (real) wages and productivity. However, what does the empirical evidence say? From what I read, the evidence is not all too clear. Thanks.

    Love Cafe Hayek - my favorite Econ blog. 

    Manfred

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       My read of the empirical literature differs from yours.  I believe that it does show a tight connection.  Liya Palagashvili and I had a piece three years ago in the Wall Street Journal on this very topic.  I'll try to find a link and send it to you.

      If there's a political demand for some empirical result, there will be a supply of that empirical result.  And there's a political demand for the empirical result showing no or only a slight connection between worker productivity and worker pay.  But, again, the best and most careful studies, in my view, continue to find a tight connection.

      In the 4th edition (2015) of Doug Irwin's excellent book, Free Trade Under Fire, there's reproduced a table from an article by a woman economist (whose name escapes me) showing a tight connection across many different countries of worker productivity and worker pay.

  • Bob Coli

    about 2 years ago

    Do you think economically sound fiscal and monetary advice from Steve Moore, Larry Kudlow and the Heritage Foundation staff can ameliorate the foolishness of the administration's current account deficit policy?

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Well, sound fiscal and monetary policy are good in their own right and will mitigate the ill effects of bad policies.  But this reality does not mean that we should cease our efforts to criticize the administration's ignorant trade policies.

  • Brian Kayes

    about 2 years ago

    Do you believe that people who approve of gay marriage because what 2 consenting adults do is none of the government's business but don't apply the same principle to minimum wage are hypocrites?

  • Justin Wilson

    about 2 years ago

    Don, 

    I'm also an Auburn alum (c/o '11), and my views on economics (bachelors of Econ degree) and politics were transformed during my time there. Came in as a liberal (enthusiastic Obama voter) and left a libertarian. The Mises Institute being so close (Mark Thornton taught one class I took), as well as the perspective of a few old professors (Garrison and Ault) were big factors in that change. 

    So my question (finally!) is in what ways, if any, Auburn helped shape your views from that age going forward?

    Thank you for your time! 

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Justin: I loved my three years at Auburn (1982-85 - the Bo Jackson era, BTW!)  I transferred there as a PhD student from NYU because I met Roger Garrison who was visiting NYU during the Spring 1981 semester.  (That and the fact that I then hated New York City.)  So I was already libertarian when I arrived at Auburn.  That said, my instruction there - ifrom the likes of Garrison, Leland Yeager, Randy Holcombe, Bob Hebert, Jim Long, and my dissertation supervisor Bob Ekelund - was first-rate.  I learned much.

  • steven kaufman

    about 2 years ago

    Can you briefly discuss the relationship between fiscal deficit and debt of an economy and its impact on balance of trade?

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       If a government borrows more (which it is likely to do if its budget deficit rises), then it's also likely some of the additional borrowed funds will come from foreigners.  To the extent that foreigners lend more to the government, that country's current-account ("trade") deficit rises.

      I believe, in short, that a rising government budget deficit puts upward pressure on (although it doesn't necessitate) a rising trade deficit.  But I do not believe that the causality runs in the opposite direction; that is, I don't believe that a rising trade deficit causes the government to run larger budget deficits.

    • steven kaufman

      about 2 years ago

      Seems to me that lower or no fiscal deficit means less demand for $us from foreigners which means lower dollar and higher foreign currency resulting in less imports by US and therefore a drop in trade deficit?  Magnitude, i am unsure of.

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       It's not clear to me that a higher U.S. government budget deficit would increase foreigners' demand for U.S. dollars.  If the budget deficit was a symptom of fiscal imprudence - or if it is taken to signal inflation or higher tax rates in the future - then investing in dollars and other dollar-denominated assets becomes less, not more, attractive.

  • Bob Coli

    about 2 years ago

    In his April 9, 1944 review of The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek and The Mirror of the Past by K. Zilliacus, George Orwell concluded that “Capitalism leads to dole queues, the scramble for markets, and war. Collectivism leads to concentration camps, leader worship, and war.”

    https://thomasgwyndunbar.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/george-orwell-review/

    Do you think the irrefutable evidence of what Deidre McCloskey describes as “the Great Enrichment for the poorest among us” over the last 73 years would eliminate his pessimism about the societal value of free market capitalism?

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Orwell was an astute man.  I suspect that, were he born a couple of generations later than when he was born, he would have judged the historical evidence as I judge it: capitalism does not lead to queues or to war, and its scramble for market is healthy competition that enriches the masses.  And his assessment of collectivism would, I think, have been even more harsh.  (Of course, perhaps I'm just projecting my own worldview onto this hypothetical younger Orwell.)

  • HM

    about 2 years ago

    Dear Prof Boudreaux,

    I greatly enjoy your blog, especially your work on the cost of products relative to work hours needed, i.e. over time we need to work less to get the same material goods in a market economy. But is there anything to the critique (which I have encountered) that these goods may simply be easier to obtain nowadays because they're less durable or generally lower-quality?

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       No, I do not think that that critcism holds up.  First, the vast majority of goods today are better quality than were their predecessors.  As the late Stanley Lebergott pointed out somewhere, nearly every good sold today competed when it was introduced with some earlier version of itself.  If the earlier version were better, then that earlier version would continue to be around and available in the market.

      Of course, what matters is not absolute product quality, but price-adjusted product quality.  So it's possible that, say, today's reading lamps are of lower average technological quality than were reading lamps of 40 years ago, but the price-adjusted quality of today's lamps is nevertheless higher.  And, again, it's the price-adjusted quality that matters.

      But let me say a bit more, if only anecdotally.  Choose any good that is readily available today and compare it to its 1977 counterpart.  You'll find a strong pattern of improved technological quality improvement (and price-adjusted quality improvement).  Today's consumer electronics are indescribably better than were there counterparts of 40 years ago.  (Who, today, would choose to watch t.v. on a cathode-ray tube?)  Food selection is much greater.  (Blueberries are today available year round even in the north.)  Medical care is much better.  Kitchen appliances are vastly improved.  (Trust me, you don't want to trade your 2017 microwave oven for a 1977 microwave oven.)  Maybe - maybe - on purely technological basis household furniture is today no better than it was in 1977, but I would dispute even that claim.  A 2017 mid-range automobile is a miracle-machine compared to the most luxurious automobile available in 1977.

      The quality of air travel is worse, but that only because that quality was artificially high prior to deregulation.  (Airlines, unable then to compete by lowering prices, competed instead by increasing their quality.)  Flying today is no longer the rare luxury that it was when I was a boy.

      I'm quite certain that anyone transported back from 2017 America to 1977 (or even 1987) America would find the living conditions incredibly disagreeable in comparison with the conditions today.

  • Jason Riddle

    about 2 years ago

    Professor Boudreaux,

    What are some of the toughest challenges or criticisms of markets that you have encountered?

    p.s. Your work has been incredibly influential on my own intellectual journey. Thank you!

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Thanks for your kind remark.

      Technically tough challenges center on explaining how markets are far better at supply goods and services that are classified as "public goods" (such as pollution abatement) or "network goods" (such as money).  I want to ponder your question a blt more.  So more later.

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Your question is a surprisingly challenging one.  (How's that for irony!)  In one sense, some of the easiest (for an economist) arguments present the greatest challenges.  Take the argument for free trade.  That argument, in my opinion, is rock-solid.  And it's not difficult to explain.  Yet it seems to fall upon deaf ears for most of the general public.  The challenge, then, is to figure out how to explain the case for free trade in a way that gets traction in the public..

  • Max Maz

    about 2 years ago

    Dear Mr. Boudreaux,

    I know you are familiar with the idea of entrepreneurial communities substituting the coercion of the State, providing an exit option instead to force all of us to fight each other through political means. Do you think this theoretical approach has the potential to bring about a stateless world? Do you think there are other approaches that have a better chance? Do you think we have a meaningful chance to see in our lives (I am more or less as old as you) any theoretical approach toward a stateless society become reality, at least in some small areas of our planet?

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

      I, too, hope to live to see a genuine stateless society.  Alas, I don't think it'll happen in my lifetime.

      I love the idea of entrepreneurial communities.  These have been around for quite some time.  The historian David Beito documents the extensive role of private entrepreneurial developers in the creation of St. Louis.  Expansions of the opportunities for individuals to escape the monopoly state are all to the good.  And who knows?  Perhaps these enterprises will soon expand so rapidly that I'll dwell in one before I die.  Markets are always full of surprises!  (But, again, I don't see it happening.)

      I'm an idealist - by which here I mean that I'm convinced that human society is governed largely by ideas.  If enough people truly want to be free and are willing to accept the responsibility that true freedom entails, then society will become freer.  But if people have no strong desire for freedom, then no matter how many practical escape routes there are - such as in the form of private communities - people will be ruled according to their wishes.

  • steven kaufman

    about 2 years ago

    Would you provide a list, maybe through your block of best books on US economic history?

    While i have been a long time believer of what your points of view are re: trade and min wage, you should be glad to know that some i know who have thought the minimum benefical have now changed their view basd upon Seattle and Maine experiences!

    So, some of your efforts may actually be having positive results!

    Thanks!

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       In no particular order, my favorite books on general American economic history include:

      - Robert Higgs, Competition and Coercion (1977 [I think is the date])

      - Robert Higgs, The Transformation of the American Economy (1971)

      - Robert Higgs, Crisis and Leviathan (1987)

      - Stanley Lebergott, The Americans: An Economic Record (1984)

      - Stanley Lebergott, Pursing Happiness (1993)

      - Stanley Lebergott, Consumer Expenditures: New Measures and Old Motives (1996)

  • B. Light

    about 2 years ago

    Hi Professor Boudreaux,

    What are some of your all-time favorite non-fiction books and novels that explain and defend the free-market?

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Do you mean fiction books and novels?  If so, here are some (although a few of them are not explicitly about the promotion of markets, but they convey insights and values that are central to classical liberalism):

      - The Rise of Silas Lapham (William Dean Howells)

      - This Perfect Day (Ira Levin)

      - Middlemarch (George Eliot)

      ---  Hmmm....  I'm drawing a surprising blank now.  Of course, I very much like the big three: Animal Farm & 1984 (Orwell) and Brave New World (Huxley).  I read no science fiction, so that puts me at a disadvantage on this front!

      For what it's worth, my favorite novelist is Thomas Hardy, but his stuff isn't political in any obvious way.

    • Joshua A

      about 2 years ago

      Thank you!

      What are your all-time favorite non-fiction books that defend free-market capitalism and/or individual liberty? (besides the obvious like the works of Smith, Hayek, Bastiat, and Rand)

      I'm a high-school student and free-market enthusiast so I'm always hungry for more books devoted to freedom! :) 

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Ah, there are so many!  Here are just a few (in no particular order):

      - Economics In One Lesson (Henry Hazlitt)

      - The Road to Serfdom (F.A. Hayek)

      - Law, Legislation, and Liberty, Vols. 1&2 (Hayek)

      - The Constitution of Liberty (Hayek)

      - Economic Sophisms (Frederic Bastiat)

      - The Incredible Bread Machine (R.W. Grant)

      - Liberalism (Ludwig von Mises)

      - Planning for Freedom (Ludwig von Mises)

      - Common Sense Economics (James Gwartney, et al.)

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Joshua:

      Here are three other books that should have appeared on my earlier list.  Each is by Russell Roberts:

      - The Choice

      - The Invisible Heart

      - The Price of Everything

  • B. Light

    about 2 years ago

    What are your thoughts on environmental regulations? Do you believe it's necessary to maintain some moderate federal regulations over environmental pollution (ie, interstate rivers, dams,  and air quality)?

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       I can imagine federal regulation of the environment generating net benefits.  But I think it is too likely to be abused - to be captured by interest groups and serve as a pretty mask for ugly anticompetive restrictions.

      Someone asked earlier what is among the most difficult ideas of free markets to convey.  Here's an answer: the fact that the optimal environmental regulation is supplied by private-property markets and common-law processes.  PERC, out of Bozeman, does a really good job on this frong.

  • Phil Baylor

    about 2 years ago

    Banks appear to make money from nothing , when they lend money . Why are they allowed to do this ? They make billions in profit . Why does the government not run the banks and use that huge profit ? 

    Governments borrow billions . Who do they borrow from ?  Hard to believe that the people they borrow from are so rich that they have billions sitting around in some bank account . Or am I getting into some conspiracy theory ?

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

      I don't understand why you think that banks make money out of nothing.  If I lend money to you and then you repay me with interest, did I make money out of nothing?

  • B. Light

    about 2 years ago

    How would you approach the assertion that healthcare is a "human right" or a "right"?

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       I believe in no rights that impose positive obligations on other people - that is, obligations for others to take positive actions (as opposed to refraining from taking actions.)  So while I believe that each of us has a right to pursue health care for ourselves and for our families, I do not believe that anyone is entitled to receive health care that is supplied by forcing others either to actually supply it or to pay for it to be supplied to us.

  • B. Light

    about 2 years ago

    What are your all-time favorite articles (besides your own) defending free-trade?

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       The single best set of such essays are Frederic Bastiat's Economic Sophisms.

  • B. Light

    about 2 years ago

    Could you explain why it is necessary to eliminate the federal debt? Can you briefly explain why the US government can't maintain a federal debt perpetually, continuously paying off loans and borrowing? Thanks so much!

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Let me (first, at least) answer your question with a question of my own: Do you believe that it is necessary for, say, Apple, Inc. to eliminate any debt that it has?  Couldn't Apple maintain Apple debt perpetually, continuously paying off loans and then borrowing more?

    • B. Light

      about 2 years ago

      It is (probably) in Apple's interest to avoid perpetual debt in order to have a better credit score, which, in turn, attracts investment and growth.

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Why should a government be any less interested in preserving a good credit score than a private company?  If the answer is "Unlike a private company, the government can always tax or print money to repay its debt," then the implicit assumption is that the government is in fact an untrustworthy borrower.

      From the government's perspective, perpetual debt is perhaps possible and desirable; from society's perspective, government debt is too likely to be excessive and poorly spent.

  • Joshua A

    about 2 years ago

    If you had to choose, would you choose "nationalism" or "globalism" and why? I understand both are vices that undermine individual rights; I am wondering which you think is worse.

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       If by "globalism," you mean one-world government, then I agree that that's a very bad idea.  If, however, you mean simply a world economically integrated with no or minimal national barriers to obstruct commerce, then I am a huge fan of that sort of globalism.

      But assuming you mean one-world government: while such an thing would have some advantages over a world of many nation-states, these advantages would, I'm sure, be far outweighed by the great disadvantage of there being one gigantic monopoly of sovereign power.

  • Jeff Harding

    about 2 years ago

    Do you have an opinion on Mark Skousen's Gross Output component of GDP? Is B-to-B just double counting or is it valid? Thanks! Big fan of Cafe Hayek.

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       I'm chagrined to confess that, while I should be familiar with Mark's alternative to conventional national-income accounting, I'm not.  So I can't express an opinion on it.  My apologies.

  • Jeff Harding

    about 2 years ago

    Accepted. Can't be all things to all people.

  • Sam Raptis

    about 2 years ago

    Prof. Boudreaux:

    How would you respond to those who argue that because other countries harm the United States throufh protectionist policies, it isn't unreasonable for Trump et ap. to attempt to "hit back" in order to discourage future poor behavior by such protectionist foreign countries? How does the libertarian response to ignore bad behavior by protectionists square with game theory which suggests letting such things go unpunished might encourage more of it in the future?

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       What is commonly called "bad behavior" by other governments is, in fact, not harmful to us but, rather, beneficial.  If a trading partner of yours insists on giving you more for your money, that's good for you.  If then your neighbor offers to get tough with this trading partner of yours in order to prevent this trading partner of yours from continuing to offer you more for your money, the party who is harming you isn't your trading partner, it is your officious neighbor.

  • Rick Tucker

    about 2 years ago

    Decentralized political structures will most often be more accommodating to liberty and property rights, therefore libertarians tend to be advocates for federalism and local decision making, but what happens when it is a central authority that acts to prevent a more localized government body from intruding on property rights?  Some states have adopted legislation that prevents localities from banning fracking or other methods of energy production.  A harder example for a strict constructionist might be an enactment by the federal government that effectively prohibits individual states from raising the minimum wage.  Should this type of interference from above be cheered, or is there some inherent value in the principle of federalism that is worth defending? 

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Yep.  That's a classic trade-off.  Many years ago Clint Bolick wrote a short book about this matter.  I think the name of it is Grassroots Tyranny.

  • Meredith Kapushion

    about 2 years ago

    Don!

    My Facebook feed just informed me that I can ask you anything.... what fun!  So here goes:

    (1) If you could only listen to one Beatles' album from here on out, which would it be (no compliations, that's cheating!)?

    (2) Elon Musk: Net benefit or net cost?

    (3) What is a subdwarf?

    Cheers!

    Meredith

    • Donald J. Boudreaux

      about 2 years ago

       Mederith (not a misspelling!):

      You are a dear!  Here goes:

      (1) Beatles song: "Please, Please Me"

      (2) Musk: Difficult to say for sure, but I think net cost.

      (3) Subdwarf: Ask Thomas.  (It's some kind of star.)

    • Meredith Kapushion

      about 2 years ago

      (1) Picking a song is a little cheaty, but I'll take it.

      (2)  Yeah, I go back and forth on this one.  At least he makes the news less depressing...

      (3) I'd like to think my showing of The Empire Strikes Back to a certain young man may have contributed to his subsequent space interests.  ;)

      Best to you and let me know if you're in Denver.  

      Mederith!

  • Pedro Tavares Fernandes

    about 2 years ago

    Don,

    Two years ago your Essential Hayek work inspired me leaving engineering school because I was really into austrian economics and hayekian theories. It took me one more year to leave engineering, but now I've started law school — actually, I've just presented my last semester seminar. 

    My question is: what are your tips for a person studying law, specially in a country which its jurists and intelligentsia are highly socialist?

  • Kenneth vasko

    about 2 years ago

       

     

    Kenneth Vasko

     

    I've been wanting to ask this fir a long time but couldn't find a link from Cafe Hayek.

    What do I tell my high-school age grandchild who wants to major in Economics about job prospects other than government/politics or academia?

    TIA