Competition: Just What the Doctor Ordered

– April 3, 2017

By now we should have figured out the cure for what ails the American health care system: a regimen of unadulterated competition. It’s just what the doctor (of sound economics, that is) would order.

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Tomato Entrepreneur Avoids Government Squeeze

– March 31, 2017

If California regulators thought tomato baron Chris Rufer would roll over and quietly pay a $1.5 million fine then they picked the wrong guy.

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The Federal Deficit and Debt: Trouble Ahead?

– March 30, 2017

Ongoing federal budget deficits have required the U.S. Treasury to issue substantial amounts of debt to finance government spending. The Treasury has been able to easily issue debt since the federal government enjoys the highest credit rating, which lowers the interest rate that creditors demand. Historically low interest rates in general have further helped limit interest expense.

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The Death of Bimetallism and the Gold Standard Act of 1900

– March 30, 2017

In 1900, President William McKinley signed the Gold Standard Act, explicitly making gold the only commodity exchangeable for U.S. paper money.

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Abolish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

– March 30, 2017

On May 24 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral arguments on whether the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is unconstitutional. The CFPB was created under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which passed in the wake of the 2008 Great Recession. The en banc court review of the CFPB, which follows a previous ruling that the bureau is unconstitutional, is a response to a claim it, unlike other regulatory agencies, is unaccountable to both presidential authority and Congress’s appropriations power. Its single director, who has a five-year term, cannot be removed by the president except “for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office,” and it is funded not by Congress but by the Federal Reserve, which has no oversight power.

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Separating Culture and State

– March 23, 2017

President Trump’s first budget proposal would zero out funding for the national endowments for the arts and humanities (NEA and NEH), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). From the outcry you’d think the abolition of these agencies as government entities, whose combined 2016 appropriations totaled $971 million out of a nearly $4 trillion national budget (roughly 0.0003 percent), would leave America a cultural wasteland. We know this can’t be true, however, because America was the furthest thing from a cultural wasteland before the national government became subsidizing cultural activities. But historical memory is short, so it’s worth reminding ourselves that jazz, the blues, rock and roll, and modern dance, theater, and literature all flourished without the government’s help. Indeed, we have reason to think that no government bureaucracy would have appropriated money to these edge art forms when they first came on the scene.

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Time to End the Fed’s Credit-Allocation Policies

– March 23, 2017

In 2007, at the initiative of Chairman Ben Bernanke and New York Federal Reserve Bank President Timothy Geithner, the Federal Reserve System began a set of unprecedented credit allocation policies that have been wasteful, morally hazardous, studded with favoritism, and in some cases of dubious legality.

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Blockchain: Innovating Our Way to Economic Freedom? 

– March 22, 2017

Those who dream of a world with greater economic freedom have traditionally relied on the pen, the ballot box, and sometimes the sword to effect change. But a relatively new technology called blockchain may make the computer a potent tool to achieve greater liberty.

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The Evolution of Bitcoin: To China and Beyond?

– March 16, 2017

We have written recently at AIER about how blockchain – and bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that is one early and prominent application of blockchain technology – may be important to the future of money and exchange. In this article, I discuss how in the past few years, the center of gravity of the bitcoin world moved to China and the lessons we can draw from the resulting cycle of consolidation and regulation. This may have important implications for the future of bitcoin, as well as a being a potential challenge to the decentralization that is part of the fundamental appeal of cryptocurrencies.

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Blockchain: Government and Civil Liberties

– March 8, 2017

New technologies that bring major changes to society rarely do so in ways that are straightforward or easy to predict. In a previous article, we described the basics of blockchain technology and how it could enhance and safeguard fundamental economic rights. Viewing adoption of this technology as an inevitable force that will protect civil liberties and reduce government dominance over legal and economic affairs is therefore tempting.

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India’s Demonetization Experiment

– March 7, 2017

In a recent blog post on Alt-M, an alternative money website, Lawrence H. White, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and professor of economics at George Mason University, discussed how two groups—Baptists and bootleggers—have largely become one and the same. He referred to the two types of groups that tend to spearhead prohibitions, the former on ethical grounds, and the latter with the goal of eliminating legal competition. In the blog post, the prohibition he is concerned about is on the use of cash.

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Blockchain: Changes Coming to Wall Street?

– March 3, 2017

New technology can both disrupt and entrench existing large and powerful players in a market. In a previous article, I explained the importance of blockchain technology. A blockchain is a type of database that is distributed to all users without a centrally managed hub and that stores unalterable digital records. It is most commonly known today as the technology underlying bitcoin, keeping records of the cryptocurrency’s ownership and allowing ownership to be transferred.

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