Google Reader turned up a few gems from some of the blogs I follow. Here are links:
1. Steven Landsburg, “You Can’t Tax a Dead Man.” Landsburg is a master of using basic economic principles to demolish conventional wisdom. Here, he uses a thought experiment to explain a standard insight from econ 100–the economic incidence of a tax is independent of the statutory incidence of a tax–and concludes that attempts to soak the rich through the tax system are probably going to soak someone else. I’ve asked my friends in labor economics and public finance about whether we have good estimates of the economic (as opposed to statutory) incidence of the income tax, and as far as I can tell, we don’t.
2. Bryan Caplan, “The GMU Difference.” I was going to make a comment, but I can’t think of anything to add. I’m reviewing Bryan’s new book Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids for Forbes and The Freeman. His first book, The Myth of the Rational Voter, is one of my favorites and, I think, an essential reading that sits at the intersection of economics and political science.
3. Adam Martin, “An Ignorant Perspective on Libya.” Adam is one of my favorite young economists even though it is obvious from this post that he hates America and wants the terrorists to win. I’m currently teaching Mises and Hayek on economic calculation and the impossibility of socialism; they offer, as Martin points out, an important lesson for how we approach international relations.
UPDATE, 8:57 AM: I was just notified that Adam Martin wrote the post I referenced here; the first version of the post attributed it to William Easterly. My apologies to Adam for mis-attributing authorship.
Careful economic reasoning brings to the table a crucial insight that kicks the legs out from under interventionism. Policies need to be defined by and interpreted according to their impact on social processes rather than the alleged desirability or undesirability of their stated goals. We all want to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and house the homeless. The problem is that a lot of the interventions advanced in the name of these laudable goals will lead to precisely the opposite of what the interventionists claim to want. Sheldon Richman once wrote that advocating policy without a careful understanding of how those policies will play out is the intellectual equivalent of drunk driving. We apply these insights and standards to issues like minimum wages, rent control, protectionism, taxes, and a whole litany of other interventions all the time. We need to apply them to war.