The Decline of Laissez-Faire

Perhaps it all began when President Lyndon Johnson called Wilbur Mills, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. “Wilbur, I’ve just been looking through the polls here, and I’ve only got a few weaknesses, and the worst of them…

Why China Will Make a Better Ballpoint Pen

Until Chinese innovation produces better ballpoint pens, the tips for billions of exports will have to be imported from Germany, Switzerland and Japan.

A Tale of Two Adam Smiths

Whereas Adam Smith might have valued the Real Junk Food Project, he knew that the market’s agricultural productivity was what really fed people.

Why We Should Like Uber’s Surge Pricing

People who get angry with Uber’s surge pricing should be willing to accept the tradeoff. Without a higher price, the number of drivers would plunge.

Traffic Lights and the Downside of Entitlement Spending

An island without traffic lights is like a country with less entitlement spending. By minimizing a national mandate they encourage more individual virtue.

Why a Hungry Country Might Have Enough Food

Focusing on production and distribution, economists look at the role of markets and of government when they try to determine what causes and ends famines.

Adam Smith and Traffic Lights

Located 30 miles from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the island of Nantucket has no traffic lights. Instead, drivers respond to stop signs, rotaries, and courtesy. More often than not, if a pedestrian, a walker, or a biker needs to cross the…

The Rotten Kid Theorem and Other Gary Becker Ideas

Gary Becker image courtesy of University of Chicago. All too often, if you say you are looking at the economics of the family, people assume you are talking about money. Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, who died this week (1930-2014), changed…

How To Divide the Rent, a Cake and a Country

Assume for a moment that you have just rented a 4th floor walk-up apartment for $3000 with 2 friends. One bedroom is mid-sized and near a fire escape, the second is rather large and has a view of a magnificent…

The Big Impact of a Little Salamander

The woodland salamander made me think of Adam Smith. In North American forests, wherever it is dark and damp, under a rock or a log, a very hungry salamander could be devouring her daily diet. Eating 20 ants, 2 flies…