Commentary

One look at statistics – from GDP growth to the unemployment rate – and it’s obvious this isn’t the worst economic time in U.S. history. But it might be the worst journalistically. The major media give us only two degrees of economic news – close to “apocalyptic” and worse. They are so outlandishly negative that coverage of the Bear Stearns buyout was vastly worse than reporting of the 1929 stock market crash. As the stock market reeled from the Bear Stearns collapse back in March, ABC News asked: Is the “economy heading over a cliff?” Journalists made it seem so,... continue reading
The $307-billion, five-year farm bill recently passed both houses of Congress with more than the two-thirds majority necessary to override a presidential veto. The Cato Institute has estimated that the last 20 years of farm programs have cost the taxpayer more than $1.7 trillion, and there is no end in sight to the direct payment subsidies to be given to certain farmers. This mammoth piece of legislation ought to lead us to ask the question: why should the government give certain groups subsidies? Economists generally agree that the market system will yield the most efficient allocation of resources. There are,... continue reading
Angry about the price of gas? It used to be you could simply blame Bill Clinton. In December 1995, Clinton helped make sure our margin for error with oil supplies would one day be no margin at all. Clinton vetoed a budget that authorized drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Cowardly congressmen refused to overturn that veto that placed our oil security firmly in the hands of nations that hate our guts. Just this week, Congress repeated its mistake. According to the Associated Press, the Senate “rejected a Republican energy plan that calls for opening an Alaska wildlife refuge... continue reading
If you’re not too concerned about global warming, you’re probably a regular American. If you think, however, that it’s on par with World War II as a threat to the nation, you’re the managing editor of Time magazine. Al Gore’s “We” ad campaign drew a parallel between fighting global warming and storming the beaches of Normandy. Then Time took the iconic photo of Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima and replaced the Stars and Stripes with a tree. “[W]e say there needs to be an effort along the lines of preparing for World War II to combat global warming... continue reading
Candidates for president of the United States are being judged on their “plans” for the economy, health care, retirement, housing, etc. However, in 1920 the renowned Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises published “Socialism,” in which he pointed out that central planning cannot result in a prosperous economy. One of his main points was that a planner cannot accumulate and process the information needed to allocate resources to their highest and best use. This idea was made in a concrete fashion by Leonard Read in his 1950 article, "I, Pencil," where he showed that a planner cannot possibly determine how to... continue reading
Pity poor Al Gore. The former presidential candidate has a trophy room Tiger Woods would envy. He’s got the Nobel Peace Prize, an Emmy, even an Oscar. But much like his failed presidential campaign, Gore can’t win the big game. Gore’s big game is climate change. He’s been trying to force America to embrace his apocalyptic vision for years and Americans still don’t agree. His failure is almost stunning – like Woods losing at miniature golf. He’s been completely set up for an easy victory: The mainstream media long ago fully embraced everything he says about global warming. They rarely... continue reading
Skyrocketing gasoline prices may be pushing the U.S. economy over the edge, but the oil-rich lords of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil cartel don’t give a hoot. Chakib Khelil, OPEC’s president and Algeria’s oil minister, has warned that oil may go to $120 a barrel. Khelil is an optimist – if one or more of the major oil producers, such as Iran or Venezuela, gets embroiled in a conflict or otherwise destabilizes, oil could go up beyond $130 a barrel, experts say. And OPEC, whose members are getting rich and fat strapping astronomical oil prices on the... continue reading
To hear the mainstream media tell it, we have a Titanic problem with global warming. Not large, but Titanic in that they believe “unsinkable” mankind is facing a looming cataclysm. How do they know? Because some scientists tell them that’s the way it is. But when other scientists tell them that might not be the case, they only half listen and soon forget. Such is the fate of the unprecedented 2008 International Conference on Climate Change put on by the Heartland Institute. That event drew 500 scientists, economists and public policy experts to New York to discuss the flaws in... continue reading
The 2008 campaign season features sharp disagreements among the leading presidential aspirants from both parties. Climate change, however, seems to be the exception that proves the rule, as all three frontrunners have embraced broadly similar policy prescriptions that would supposedly combat global warming. Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) have declared their support for mandatory emissions reductions and heavy investment in renewable fuel technology. All three are also co-sponsors of the 2007 Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act (S. 280), a bill that would establish a cap-and-trade system to restrict carbon dioxide emissions over the next... continue reading
Some in the media try claim that we are in the beginnings of a recession in an attempt to make the case for larger government intervention in the economy. It is instructive to consider an era when there was a truly severe economic downturn, the Great Depression, in order to give some perspective to our current situation and whether government action is likely to help or hinder things. Great Depression by the Numbers Economic growth : The Great Depression was a period of decline that involved not just the economy of the United States but that of the entire world... continue reading