No one likes being in a prisoners’ dilemma. The tragedy of the prisoners’ dilemma, as it were, is that all the players in the game can see the cooperative, Pareto-superior outcome, but they can’t reach it, at least not without changing the game. They can’t reach it even though it’s right there, seemingly within grasp, and even though they all agree they’d all be better off if they did reach it.
Skincential Sciences is a small company and something of a curiosity: a significant portion of its capital comes from In-Q-Tel, the investment fund of the Central Intelligence Agency.
“Crony capitalism” is the idea that politically well-connected owners of productive factors – land, labor, capital, entrepreneurial skill – can use the government’s coercive power to limit competition and increase their return on those factors. More generally, it’s the use of the coercive powers of the state to redistribute resources to specific groups and their associates.
As Gordon Tullock was fond of pointing out, while government protection is not a factor of production, it can be a factor of profit.
With the closing ceremonies over, we can breathe a sigh of relief about Rio. The worst snafus of the Olympics were the algae in the diving pools and vandalism by a mendacious American swimmer. As with the Sochi games, the press ran scary pre-competition reports of substandard conditions. In the event, the Russian and the Brazilian just-in-time habits of organizing an international spectacle turned out to be good enough to get by.
There was extra nervousness with Brazil, a country in the midst of economic and political turmoil that claimed the presidency of the recently impeached Dilma Rousseff. According to Moody’s, the credit rating agency, in the wake of the 2016 summer games, the city of Rio de Janeiro gained by its new infrastructure and transportation projects but Brazil will “wake up once again to its deepening recession.”
The GOP needs more than cosmetic surgery. It’s either showing signs of great health or is in crisis, or perhaps a little of both. The party controls both houses of Congress and is hitting historic highs in governorships and state legislatures. An array of bright, young, plausible Republican Presidents campaigns for the Oval Office—a far cry from 2012, when former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won largely because he seemed to be the only person who was truly up to the job.
There is a great and dangerous Trust seeking to form globally. Like any monopoly in days past, or OPEC now, its aim is profit. But its means are far more sinister, and potentially far more effective, than anything ever investigated by the Pujo Committee.
Rather than merely raising revenues on some good or service, this Trust will follow you wherever you might run. Nothing like it has been seen since the days of the fugitive slave acts. It is more controlling than when medieval lords bound their serfs to their estates, or the Roman latifundia forced Romans back to the land. The idea: To attach a uniform worldwide rate upon the surplus of your productive endeavors for the benefit of its members.
Over the weekend Elizabeth Warren, the Senator from Massachusetts and a former professor at Harvard Law School, outlined eleven propositions, dubbed by the National Journal as “eleven commandments” for progressives. Warren is a very bright leader of today’s progressivism. Her propositions provide a window on the future trajectory of the Democratic party and its approach to law, three aspects of which seem particularly notable:
1.Opposition to crony capitalism. Warren wants government to make sure the banking system and Internet are run for the benefit of the people not big corporations.
2.Use of the regulatory system rather than tax system. Nowhere does Warren expressly call for higher taxes. But she does endorse a slew of regulatory interventions—a higher minimum wage, stronger protections for unions and “equal pay” provisions for women.
3. A relentless focus on equality. In marriage, in pay, and in access to higher education and contraceptives paid for by the government.
If these are the tenets of future progressivism, friends of liberty need to sharpen their critique.
1. They need to co-opt the attack on crony capitalism.
The key message of Stephen King’s book is that “we” have been living beyond our means. In his words: “We became delusional. We convinced ourselves that capital markets could deliver ever rising prosperity. We thought we could borrow without limit, always confident that the future would be better than the past.” And not for one moment, he adds, “did we think we would ever succumb to Japanese-style economic stagnation or Argentine-style broken promises.” King emphasizes that we are all in the same boat, and that we were all wrong. It is fair to say, however, that some raised a voice of…