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The Main Blog of Independent Institute

The Essential James Buchanan
Tuesday May 11, 2021 | Randall G. Holcombe

I am delighted to announce that The Essential James Buchanan, which I co-authored with Don Boudreaux, has been published by the Fraser Institute. The book can be downloaded at no charge from the Fraser Institute’s website, and is also for sale in hardback and paperback for those who like to hold real books. (more…)

Reality Check Ahead on Deficit Spending
Tuesday May 11, 2021 | Craig Eyermann

George Orwell has a famous insight from his 1945 work Notes on Nationalism.

“One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.”
Most people run into this insight in a paraphrased form.
“There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.”
That’s not something Orwell said or wrote, but is often attributed to him because of the power of his insight. Orwell’s insight comes to mind because of the Biden-Harris administration’s implicit adoption of what’s called Modern Monetary Theory, which holds that “deficits no longer matter”. (more…)

Lockdown-Led Big City Exodus: An Economic Boost to Small Towns?
Tuesday May 4, 2021 | Chloe Anagnos

Smaller cities and bigger towns in the heart of America are seeing a considerable influx of new residents, and with this, we should soon expect to see a boost in their economies as well. But while there is enough data to support the notion that Americans in large cities like New York City and San Francisco are moving to smaller metros, legacy media is resisting it, choosing to, instead, deny that the government-led interventions prompted by covid-19 have hurt Americans enough to force them to flee.  But despite their attempt to ignore the economic reality of a large portion of the urban population, the economic downturn brought by the lockdowns forced some people to rethink their living arrangements.  (more…)

Bobby Kennedy, Joe Biden, and the Fallacy of Shaw’s Serpent
Monday May 3, 2021 | James A. Montanye

The progressive U.S. Senator and presidential aspirant Robert (“Bobby”) Kennedy campaigned successfully during the 1960s on the strength of a line pinched from the playwright George Bernard Shaw (Back to Methuselah, 1921): “You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’” These hypnotic words were uttered by the Serpent in the socialist playwright’s Garden of Eden. Progressive politicians who seek to “perfect” individuals and societies by governing in this cavalier manner succumb to the fallacy of Shaw’s Serpent. The proof of fallacy is revealed in the thick history of failed utopian attempts to govern as if individuals and societies were as malleable in fact as they are in political theory. Such attempts have condemned hundreds of millions of ordinary individuals to lives of abject misery and desperation. (more…)

Fed Chief Says U.S. on Unsustainable Fiscal Path
Friday April 30, 2021 | Craig Eyermann

Do the U.S. national debt and the government’s budget deficits matter? If you listen to the economists shaping the Biden administration’s policy agenda, they say they do not. Their basic argument is that with interest rates so low, the government can borrow as much as politicians want to spend. They think they never have to worry about paying the debt. (more…)

Progressivism’s Life Cycles
Friday April 30, 2021 | James A. Montanye

Political and social experiments come and go like the seasons. Grand ideas for perfecting humanity flare, run their course, and then pass away, leaving behind only their smiles, wreckage, unpaid bills, and national catharses. Glorious summers of impossible, something-for-nothing progressive promises are followed by discontented winters of squandered opportunities for restoring eternal, classical-liberal values. Radical social experiments, whose outcomes routinely fall short of their intentions, fail in part because of their dead weight, and partly because postmodernist individuals balk at the social coercion that gives progressivism its traction. (more…)

President Biden’s Climate Pledge: Aspirations Versus Policies
Monday April 26, 2021 | Randall G. Holcombe

President Biden has pledged to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, and to achieve net zero emissions no later than 2050. This is nothing more than political rhetoric: an aspiration, but not a climate policy. For those who support those announced goals, the president’s pledge, if it has any effect, will hinder actually accomplishing them. With regard to climate policy, the main problem with President Biden’s declaration is that he has suggested no actual policies that he would promote to reach those goals. The announcement is designed to appeal to those who support reducing greenhouse gas emissions, thereby creating the illusion that he is doing something to further those goals rather than actually doing something. This should reduce any pressure from that group, making it less likely that he will actually implement policies to advance those goals. (more…)

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