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  • Originally published 06/25/2013

    Niall Ferguson: The Regulated States of America

    In "Democracy in America," published in 1833, Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at the way Americans preferred voluntary association to government regulation. "The inhabitant of the United States," he wrote, "has only a defiant and restive regard for social authority and he appeals to it . . . only when he cannot do without it."Unlike Frenchmen, he continued, who instinctively looked to the state to provide economic and social order, Americans relied on their own efforts. "In the United States, they associate for the goals of public security, of commerce and industry, of morality and religion. There is nothing the human will despairs of attaining by the free action of the collective power of individuals."What especially amazed Tocqueville was the sheer range of nongovernmental organizations Americans formed: "Not only do they have commercial and industrial associations . . . but they also have a thousand other kinds: religious, moral, grave, futile, very general and very particular, immense and very small; Americans use associations to give fetes, to found seminaries, to build inns, to raise churches, to distribute books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they create hospitals, prisons, schools."

  • Originally published 10/28/2015

    The Great Myth of the Free Market

    Steve Hochstadt

    We can joke about the conservative effort to deregulate our economy. “How many conservatives does it take to screw in a light bulb?” Answer: “None. If the government would just leave it alone, it would screw itself in.” But saving lives is no joke.

  • Originally published 10/07/2015

    Bugs in the Volkswagen System

    Steve Hochstadt

    Cheating on an unprecedented scale was a simple business decision. Volkswagen executives had spent billions to develop a new diesel engine, but executives realized it could not meet the pollution standards of many nations, including the US and Germany. They could have scrapped the new model. Instead they put a software “bug” into the cars’ computers.

  • Originally published 07/03/2014

    Burgeoning Regulations Threaten Our Humanity

    Liberty and Power

    Insofar as mainstream economics may be said to make moral-philosophical assumptions, it rests overwhelmingly on a consequentialist-utilitarian foundation. When mainstream economists say that an action is worthwhile, they mean that it is expected to give rise to benefits whose total value exceeds its total cost (that is, the most valued benefit necessarily forgone by virtue of this particular action’s being taken). But nearly always the economists make no attempt to evaluate as part of their benefit-cost calculus any costs that might be incurred as a result of how and by whom the action is taken.