Economics

Rothbard explains the proper response to climate change

Author: Curtis Williams

In 1982, Murray Rothbard published a lengthy article titled “Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution” which laid out a free-market, private-property-based approach to environmental issues. Discussing air pollution Rothbard concluded:

If A is causing pollution of B’s air, and this can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then this is aggression and it should be enjoined and damages paid.

In his view, the legal system, not government regulation, is responsible for solving environmental issues because:

In libertarian theory, it is only permissible to proceed coercively against someone if he is a proven aggressor, and that aggression must be proven in court (or in arbitration) beyond a reasonable doubt. Any statute or administrative regulation necessarily makes actions illegal that are not overt initiations of crimes or torts.

In reality, there is no such thing as “environmental issues.” There is only human conflict over the use of … Read the rest


Why Stan Grant is wrong about Hayek and the ball tampering saga

Recently Stan Grant wrote to tell us that F.A. Hayek — of all people — not only founded the global order we have today, but gave us a set of ideas that lead directly to ball tampering in cricket! It was another one of those cliched “other people consider mere economics but ‘I’ consider higher ideals” articles. The bogeyman of “Neoliberalism” strikes again, we are told.

The message of Grant’s article is that economics is pretty much the science of greed. He complains of the “reduction of all human motivation to the one-dimensional rational self-interest of Homo-economicus”. The concept of homo-economicus was constructed by the early classical economists because homo-real-life didn’t fit their mathematical models. But anybody familiar with economic history would know that Hayek was from the Austrian school, which robustly rejected this approach.

The Austrian method starts with humans as they actually are – purposeful, choosing, acting beings, … Read the rest


Changing the world, one block at a time

With all the hype – and subsequent bad press – Bitcoin has been receiving the past few months, it’s easy to overlook the most fundamental and game changing aspect; the blockchain technology.

Cryptocurrency Is Not The Only Game In Town
As we all have probably heard by now (and if not, start here), Bitcoin is a decentralised alternative to fiat currency. It is currently receiving a lot of attention due to its dizzying returns as an investment product. The trouble with this is that everyday investors are going into cryptocurrency with the same principle as any investment, which is to say, they see money instead of the technology. This blockchain technology enables private and centralised (read: non-governmental or corporate) record keeping on asset transfers, and has the potential for a new concept known as “smart contracts”.

The blockchain principle that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency is based upon, Read the rest


Austrian economics: please explain?

Austrian economics or Austrian School economics has been cited in a number of online LibertyWorks articles to date, not including this one. However, none of us has really expounded on what Austrian economics is. As Pauline Hanson, the ‘boss’ of my former ‘boss’ Malcolm Roberts would say: “Please explain?

This piece is based mainly on a speech I gave in 2017 to an audience of Libertarians from the Liberal Democrats Party (LDP) which relied, in significant part, on a lesser-known book entitled Understanding The Dollar Crisis by Percy Greaves. The speech was entitled Austrian School Libertarianism, and it was aimed at a free-market-friendly audience that may or may not know much (if anything) about Austrian economics.

The various economics schools of thought provide most but not all of the intellectual foundations for political worldviews including that of Libertarianism, Conservatism and Populism on the Right as … Read the rest


The Macron Paradox: internal liberalisation, external statism

In last year’s French presidential election between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, I joked that voters should choose the socialist over the socialist, but made a serious point that Macron – despite having been part of Hollande’s disastrous government – was preferable since there was at least a hope of market-oriented reform.

…the chance of Macron being good are greater than zero. After all, it was the left-wing parties that started the process of pro-market reforms in Australia and New Zealand. And it was a Social Democrat government in Germany that enacted the labor-market reforms that have been so beneficial for that nation.

And after Macron won the election, I reviewed some of his initiatives to restrain government, including plans to reduce the burden of government spending, lower France’s corporate tax rate, and to shrink the size of the bureaucracy.

His ideas sounded so good that I wrote … Read the rest


Disenchanted youth turn politics into a free-for-all

This story, like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, begins simply, with a house. The house is something few young or youngish Britons or Americans can afford, despite doing everything their wealthier elders told them to: studying hard, going to university, working hard, not doing drugs, delaying parenthood.

Their parents, by contrast, have houses. From time to time those houseless young and youngish people are forced to call on their parents to stabilise their own financial position. They do so because real incomes for British residents 60 and older grew 11 per cent between 2007 and 2014, while those 30 and younger suffered a 7 per cent loss. In the US, the share of young Americans earning more than their parents did by age 30 has plunged from nine in 10 for those born in the 1940s to barely half for those born in the 80s.

Deprived of a … Read the rest


Trump’s tariffs: free, fair or foul trade?

Many Democrats and Republicans were in uproar in early March after the imposition of American import tariffs on steel and aluminium by President Donald Trump. He has long complained, as president, candidate and citizen, that the US has so many bi-lateral “trade deficits” and is “losing on trade”, particularly with the countries like Mexico and China. It is very important to note that these two tariffs are only the latest in a very long line (of literally dozens of rounds) of such taxes from President Washington through to Bush 43 and Barack Obama.[1] Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has been at the forefront of the Trump Administration in defending such a policy. He said, in part, that:

Unfair trading practices from countries like China have distorted the global steel and aluminum markets. Since 1998, countless steel mills and aluminum smelters have closed. More than 75,000 steel jobs alone have disappeared.

Read the rest

Dividend Imputation Credits – or how to send non-accountants to sleep

Accountants, and particularly tax accountants, have a wonderful way of making themselves indispensable. They use explanatory terms that induce creeping somnolence and decreasing sentience amongst the general population. In other words, they use sentences that put you to sleep. Once you are asleep, they can issue their bills and there is not much you can disagree with them on as you slept through the entire process. Sign here, please.

Dividend imputation is one of those terms that just seems to cause abject boredom to everyone else but gets many accountants excited.

First, an explainer. In most of the world companies pay tax and then, when they pay dividends, those dividends are also taxed as income to the shareholders. This, as you may have noticed, is effectively taxing the same income twice. The result is that many companies don’t pay much in dividends or they seek out tax havens to reduce … Read the rest


Trump’s infrastructure plan: making infrastructure great again?

The President of the United States (POTUS), Donald Trump, once again publicly talked about his “bold”, “new” and “transformative” infrastructure plan in his recent State of the Union (SOTU) speech:

“[I]t is time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. … Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a Bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need. Every federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with state and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment — to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit. Any Bill must also streamline the permitting and approval process — getting it down to no more than two years, and perhaps even one. Together, we can reclaim our building heritage. … And we will do it with American heart, American hands, and American grit.”[1]

The SOTU statement above is typical Trump. On the one hand, he … Read the rest