An Economic Classic

“If you wish to keep slaves, you must have all kinds of guards. The cheapest way to have guards is to have the slaves pay taxes to finance their own guards. To fool the slaves, you tell them that they are not slaves and that they have Freedom. You tell them they need Law and Order to protect them against bad slaves. Then you tell them to elect a Government. Give them Freedom to vote and they will vote for their own guards and pay their salary. They will then believe they are Free persons. Then give them money to earn, count and spend and they will be too busy to notice the slavery they are in.”

How I Manage My Slaves; Slaves need electricity so that they can stay up later to work and study to be able to pay their electric bills and pay for…

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Minimum Wage Laws, Jobs, and the Sobering Impact of Decentralization

“If you admire hypocrisy, here’s a headline to celebrate Equal Pay Day”

International Liberty

The real world is like a cold shower for our friends on the left. Everywhere they look, there is evidence that jurisdictions with free markets and small government outperform places with big welfare states and lots of intervention.

That’s true when comparing nations. And it’s also true when comparing states. That must be a source of endless frustration an disappointment for statists.

Speaking of disappointed statists, the real world has led to more bad news. The left-wing Mayor of Baltimore campaigned in favor of a $15 minimum wage, but then decided to veto legislation to impose that mandate. The Wall Street Journalopines on this development.

Mayor Catherine Pugh, a Democrat, has rejected a bill that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. She did so even though she had campaigned in favor of raising the minimum wage, which shows that economic reality…

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Examining the ‘Gender Wage Gap’ Among Similar Men and Women.

“Based on over 500,000 salaries shared by US employees, a 2016 study by found that, once controlling for other factors like education and occupation, women earned approximately 95 cents for every dollar a man earned. conducted their own study. They found the unadjusted “wage gap” to be 76% for 2016 (meaning the median woman earned 76 cents for every dollar the median man earned.)

However, once they accounted for job type, education, and other variables, the authors concluded that women made approximately 98 cents for every dollar a man earned.”

Today is Equal Pay Day, the symbolic day dedicated to raising awareness of the “gender pay gap.”

On this day, the statistic that women make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns is repeated all over the media and throughout government. It is often taken at face value that this statistical disparity alone is entirely the result of discrimination against women.

“Why is it that I make much less than a man for the same amount of work?,” many women have openly inquired on social media and elsewhere.

But the famous 77 cents statistic only looks at the median wage for women relative to the median wage for men. It ignores many other variables, such as occupation, education, experience, etc. It therefor does not tell us anything about whether comparable men and women are being compensated equally. 

Going for a more “apples to apples” comparison, a number of studies have examined…

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The Paris-Based OECD (Financed by American Tax Dollars) Urges Bigger Government in the United States

“American #taxpayers are sending money to the #OECD in Paris so that #bureaucracy can urge higher #taxes in America…and the rest of the world.”

International Liberty

I wrote yesterday about how the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is pushing for bigger government in China. That’s a remarkable bit of economic malpractice by the Paris-based international bureaucracy, especially since China is only ranked #113 in the latest scorecard from Economic Freedom of the World. The country very much needs smaller government to become rich, yet the OECD is preaching more statism.

But nobody should be surprised. The OECD, perhaps because its membership is dominated by European welfare states, has a dismal track record of reflexive support for bigger government.

It supports higher taxes and bigger government in Asia, in Latin America, and…yes, you guessed correctly…the United States.

And here’s the latest example. In a new publication, OECD bureaucrats recommend policy changes that ostensibly will produce more growth for the United States. Basically, America should become more like France.


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Anti-Piracy: Seastead Foreign Policy

Startup Societies Foundation

By Joe McKinney

Seasteading has always captivated the startup societies movement, and is exciting for many political and technological reasons. However, seasteading has two major obstacles: sovereignty and maritime piracy.


Seasteading supporters like to imagine that they would be immune from external politics. They are sadly not. Diplomacy is necessary to prevent a seastead from being strangled in the crib. For example, the first modern seastead, Operation Atlantis, was largely ended by the Haitian government. A floating platform of foreigners complicated an already tenuous diplomatic background in the Caribbean. Consequently, Haiti shut down Operation Atlantis at gun point, claiming that the Atlanteans were pirates. Since the seastead was not a sovereign entity, they had no recourse and the project quickly ended. In the future, sovereignty will continue to be a problem. States treat international politics as a zero sum game and must be given incentives to cooperate.


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Based on His Leaked 2005 Tax Data, Donald Trump Should Move to Italy (or the Isle of Man)

“If you think all of this sounds too good to be true, you’re right. At least for Donald Trump and other Americans. The United States has a very onerous worldwide tax system based on citizenship.

In other words, unlike folks in the rest of the world, Americans have to give up their passports in order to benefit from these attractive options. And the IRS insists that such people pay a Soviet-style exit tax on their way out the door.”

International Liberty

The multi-faceted controversy over Donald Trump’s taxes has been rejuvenated by a partial leak of his 2005 tax return.

Interestingly, it appears that Trump pays a lot of tax. At least for that one year. Which is contrary to what a lot of people have suspected – including me in the column I wrote on this topic last year for Time.

Some Trump supporters are even highlighting the fact that Trump’s effective tax rate that year was higher than what’s been paid by other political figures in more recent years.

But I’m not impressed. First, we have no idea what Trump’s tax rate was in other years. So the people defending Trump on that basis may wind up with egg on their face if tax returns from other years ever get published.

Second, why is it a good thing that Trump paid so much tax? I realize I’m a…

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The World’s Most Inefficient Healthcare System, Part I: Created by Government, Financed by Government

“Regardless of whether #Obamacare is repealed, the U.S. #health system will be a mess until the third-party payer system is fixed.”

International Liberty

I shared last year a matrix to illustrate Milton Friedman’s great insight about the superior results achieved by markets compared to government.

Incentives explain why markets work best. When you spend your own money on yourself (box 1), you try to maximize quality while minimizing cost. And that drives the businesses that are competing for your money to constantly seek more efficient ways of producing better products at better prices.

This system generates creative destruction, which sometimes can be painful, but the long-term result is that we are vastly richer.

Governments, by contrast, don’t worry about efficiency or cost (box 4).

Today, though, let’s  use Friedman’s matrix to understand the shortcomings of the US healthcare system. Way back in 2009, I opined that the most important chart in healthcare was the one showing that American consumers directly paid for less than 12 percent of health expenditures.

For all…

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