When Does Trade Become Extortion?

When does trade become extortion? Economists say never, at least in principle. Free trade is a voluntary exchange between two parties who both stand to gain from the trade. Where’s the extortion? Let’s consider a criminal transaction in the airport of some backwoods country. A customs agent says you have to pay him a thousand… Continue reading When Does Trade Become Extortion?

Is Consumerism a Mental Illness?

Is consumerism a mental illness? Well, that depends on what it means to be mentally healthy. A paper from the World Psychiatric Association defines mental health as a state of internal and external equilibrium that produces a feeling of personal well-being. Let’s look at those pieces. Internal equilibrium is a matter of finding a satisfactory balance… Continue reading Is Consumerism a Mental Illness?

Corporate Libertarian Socialism

We live in a bizarre world where we believe in libertarian free-market ideology, while we let the corporate sector practice socialism. Yet we don’t admit to either of them. “Wait”, you say. “I’m no libertarian. I believe in public parklands, and city street cleaning, and municipal firefighters and all kinds of other public services. The… Continue reading Corporate Libertarian Socialism

A Bizarre Theory That All Economists Believe

Back when I taught Economics to gullible undergrads, and to even more gullible grad students, I posed a conundrum. (I couldn’t push it too hard for fear of heresy.) But it’s actually not that difficult if put in straightforward terms, so those who have not been afflicted with Economics courses should bear with me. It… Continue reading A Bizarre Theory That All Economists Believe