LearnLiberty's videos are getting better and better. Along with Madsen's excellent Economics is Fun series, they provide neat, entertaining, informative and, best of all, short takes on controversial economic and philosophical issues.
Daniel Hannan notes that Adam Posen, Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member and noted inflation “dove”, promised last year to resign his post if inflation didn’t fall to meet the MPC’s inflation target. With inflation at around 3.5%, it looks like he will have to stick to his promise. There is only one person fit to replace him: monetary economist Professor Kevin Dowd.
The video above is a nice snippet of FA Hayek's view of "social justice". Hayek wrote that, "To discover the meaning of what is called 'social justice' has been one of my chief preoccupations for more than 10 years. I have failed in this endeavour — or rather, have reached the conclusion that, with reference to society of free men, the phrase has no meaning whatever." Just so.
"Cigarette plain packaging laws are an illiberal, authoritarian attempt at social engineering. What’s more, they probably won’t work.
"Adults should be free to smoke and to advertise their cigarettes as they choose. The consultation makes no mention at all of civil liberties or individual responsibility. The government assumes, wrongly, that its job is to control the behaviour of adults.
The Keynesian and Austrian schools of economics may differ most starkly in their policy recommendations but, as Steve Horwitz reminds us, their differences are based in a fundamentally different view of how economics should be done. Keynesians, wishing to treat economics with the same tools as the natural sciences, aggregate economic activity into broad categories. The Austrian view is that this aggregation conceals the real things that we should be examining:
The Economist reports on “Nudging”, the idea that governments can non-coercively steer people towards towards making the right decisions for themselves. In other words, make things like pensions opt-out instead of opt-in, so that lazy people end up with pensions, instead of without them.
The overall impression the article gives is how shallow Nudging is as an idea. One example:
In December 2011, the Adam Smith Institute asked one of its Senior Fellows, Miles Saltiel, to form a team to compete for the Wolfson Prize for an essay on the best course for the Eurozone if members decide to drop out. He assembled a crew of City professionals and economists, who pored through the law-books, worked up the sums and took the counsel of an international group of seasoned veterans.
After my optimistic blog this morning, this photo from India is a slightly less positive spin on how things are going in the developing world. (The image comes from a strike by jewelers over a proposed new tax. If only that was the sort of thing we striked about...)
It's often striking how dim a view of humanity people on the left tend to take. Nowhere is this clearer than when it comes to international development. Poor countries are suffering from a "poverty gap", many claim, which they cannot cross without the West's help. Funnily, the West did not need this kind of help when it grew rich, nor did a decent number of now-rich countries in East Asia. But Africa, we're told, cannot do this.