Ep. 154 The Economic Freedom of the States Proves Our Point, Not Krugman’s

1 September 2018     |     Tom Woods     |     19

The Cato Institute recently issued a ranking of economic freedom in the 50 U.S. states. Krugman thinks they’re defining freedom too narrowly, for surely workers in New York, where they have many protections, feel freer than workers elsewhere. He further suggests a positive correlation between economic freedom and infant mortality. These and other Krugman claims are ground into sausage.

Krugman Column

Capitalism, Socialism, and Unfreedom” (August 26, 2018)

Book Mentioned

Contra Krugman: Smashing the Errors of America’s Most Famous Keynesian

Contra Column

People Love to Move to States Paul Krugman Hates Most,” by Bob Murphy

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  • http://bradcollins.com/ Brad Collins

    Bob, your example of modern communication by mobile phone is spot on! Someone recently observed that the problem at the heart of something like half of all “Seinfeld” episodes would have been solved in two minutes with a cell phone.

  • mary

    Non other than Murray Rothbard noted that incomes had been stagnant from 1973 until just before his death. The stat that’s usually quoted is family income, which means that the comparison is 1970’s one wage earner income to today’s two wage earner income. Despite tech “progress,” obviously inflation has been persistent and higher than reported this whole period.

    As to smart phones being so great, I can’t agree with that. Seems that currently, computers have become a drag on productivity rather than a boon. For example, how many people are on fakebook when they are at work? Is it really necessary to talk on the phone while you’re taking a piss? Sorry, but 24/7 connectivity is highly over rated. And how are you going to factor in to your economic calculations the disruption in family life due to all these modern inconveniences?

    Btw, I had to laugh at the crazy idea that cancer isn’t a death sentence any longer. You must be joking, right? We’re in period of barbaric medicine. I’m certain that 100 years from now, our descendants will wonder how the best and the brightest who were shunted into medicine could have been so stupid.

    • JimD

      Yes. You seem not to like to the median income trend and then just assert that it can’t be right. Tom waves his hands about smart phones and cars without any real analysis. The BLS (or whoever did the stats) is aware and tries to take into account the tech advances.

      • http://www.TomWoods.com Tom Woods

        Your insult here is properly directed at Bob. Get it together!

        • JimD

          Stand corrected. Not an insult, more a constructive criticism. Thanks.

          • http://www.TomWoods.com Tom Woods

            Bob’s point is a good one, though. It is extremely obvious that people in 2018 live at a much higher standard of living than people in 1978. I know of no one who would switch places.

          • JimD

            I think it’s complicated. Clearly we did not have smartphones in 1978. But the trend in housing and auto costs might not be positive. BLS tries to take account of these changes but it’s a challenge. And at least part of the populace would like to turn the clock back and MAGA.

          • mary

            I’d switch places.

          • mary

            We didn’t lock our doors at night.

            Sitcoms didn’t portray men as stupid, women as nasty and children as percocious in every way, especially sexually.

            The abortion disaster was not yet the roaring freight train it is now.

            Little to no sex ed in schools. Obvious correlation to the two above points.

            No swat teams.

            No SJWs. Colleges concentrated on teaching academics, and college tuition didn’t bankrupt a whole generation.

            Academic science wasn’t corrputed by patents, although the fed govt had already taken over basic research.

            People had the patience/ability to read real, adult books. You probably didn’t know this but adults now read children’s books. And, frighteningly, the best selling book of all time is 50 Shades of Gray, essentially written in baby talk.

            You could walk into a bank, say your name is Jane Doe and open an account. Yes, there was bank privacy in the US.

            You could go to a doctor OF YOUR CHOICE, have a conversation with him and pay in cash on the way out. Most could afford the prices without insurance, and those who couldn’t would be given a break by the md becasue that was his code of ethics.

            The news media wasn’t dominated by six multi-nationals, and one or two conduits on line. There were thousands of small local newpapers, and most large cities had at least two dailys.

            Appliances didn’t have short-lived, buggy computer chips in them and they lasted 30-40 years.

            Clothing was higher quality, no doubt about it. People had fewer clothes of higher quality.

            Cars have improved in many ways, but also are much more expensive due to govt regulation. The back up cameras are only needed because the feds mandated safety nonsense forcing the manufacturers to make the windows too small. Most of the pollution controls are not necessary, either and just add cost while sacrificing safety. See Eric Peters on this.

            Illegal immigration was modest. For example, CA was 90% caucasion.

            No 24/7/365 data collection and surveillance.

            Mortgage applications didn’t weigh three pounds.

            Incadescence light bulbs weren’t demonized in favor of unhealthful LEDs.

            We weren’t irradiated with wifi 24/7.

            Cops didn’t arrest you for drunk driving. They would take your keys from you and drive you home. I went to the local county court house for the afternoon a few years ago and the vast majority–like 90%–were there for drunk driving. This is mostly tax collection by another name.

            In fact, in the towns I’ve lived in when younger, the cops were actually “peace officers,” no chips on their shoulders, and not petrified for their personal safety. Wasn’t until the 1990s when the state I lived in started using the cops for tax collection.

            I could go on and on, but this is the low hanging fruit. Yes, there are tech advances, mostly evolutionary, not revolutionary but I’m willing to say that most over the past 15ish years are not for the betterment of mankind but for the aggrandizement of the state. Once you take the very negative social changes into account, I’d gladly give up the intrusive spy phone to have a healthier society.big picture.

          • http://www.TomWoods.com Tom Woods

            As far as I can see, none of this is relevant to the question.

          • mary

            Really ,Tom? Pleeease. R u cranky or something? Ur simply being contrary. Most of ithe list has to do with changes due to the proliferation of computers and Telecom. The rest with a failing culture. U made the statement that no one u know would want to go back to 1970s life. I”d do it a heart beat.

          • http://www.TomWoods.com Tom Woods

            The podcast is speaking about material well-being. We are not seeking the meaning of life on Contra Krugman. Whatever the merits of your arguments above, they have zero to do with Bob’s point.

          • mary

            ????

          • https://www.geico.com/ thevindicatedgecko

            “I know of no one who would switch places.”

            While true that you know no one would would switch places, it’s not true to say that no one would switch places with someone from 1978. An individual with preferences for goods that were cheaper in real terms in the late 70s (lakefront cabins, pre-AIDS sexual mores, disco lovers) would prefer that time.

        • martinbrock

          Of course, informational (as opposed to material) wealth has exploded for everyone in recent decades, but why reflexively dismiss the stagnation of material wealth for the middle of the population? Why not analyze causes instead? Why can Elon Musk raise (and lose) many billions to produce luxury electric cars, but Paul Elio can’t raise a few hundred million to produce an economy commuter vehicle, arguably better for “the environment” despite its IC engine, with over 65,000 reservations? Something’s very fishy there, and it’s not limited to electric cars, but right libertarians often seem more interested in defending anything and everything labeled “capitalism”. Eric Peters and David Stockman address these questions more than Contra Krugman.

          • Intersnooze

            And the alternative to the market is what now? Oh yes, authority. I suppose you ‘left libertarians’ love Trabis and Ladas then.

          • martinbrock

            I never say a word about any alternative to the market. Musk is hardly the poster boy for a free market, and I’ve never heard of “Trabis and Ladas”.

  • ProfessorBernardoDeLaPaz

    Krugman may be on to something here. Greater infant mortality just naturally leads to greater freedom for parents.

  • https://www.geico.com/ thevindicatedgecko

    The authors note improvements in standards of living, but fail to make the important point that industries with heavy government interference (housing, education, healthcare) have seen increasing real costs.