Issue CXXXV - December 19-21, 2007

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The One Lesson:
Henry Hazlitt
December 19, 2007
Henry Hazlitt writes that the whole of economics can be reduced to a single lesson, and that lesson can be reduced to a single sentence: The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.

Can You Say "Marginal Rate of Substitution"?:
Gary M. Galles
December 19, 2007
The marginal rate of substitution (MRS) is the term describing the rate at which a person would willingly give up one good or service in exchange for another, from his current situation (i.e., at the current margin of choice). Its focus is on the trade-offs, made necessary by scarcity, that individuals are willing to make between alternatives, a focus often absent in how we reason, which leads to serious misunderstandings and impaired choices. Gary M. Galles explains.

"Social VAT" is Not the Solution for French Social Security:
Molinari Economic Institute
December 19, 2007
A new study by the Molinari Economic Institute explains the universally detrimental effects of France's new "social VAT" (value-added tax).

The Rule of Planned Money (1948):
Garet Garrett
December 21, 2007
There is a long history of monetary experience. It tells us that government is at heart a counterfeiter and therefore cannot be trusted to control money, and that this is true of both autocratic and popular government. The record has been cumulative since the invention of money. Nevertheless it is not believed. There is also a history of sound money, and if its lessons are likewise disregarded, asks Garet Garrett, what shall one conclude but that monetary delusions are, by some strange law of folly, recurring and incurable?

Waltz #5, Op. 48:
G. Stolyarov II
December 21, 2007
This brief and cheerful waltz is the first work created by Mr. Stolyarov on Anvil Studio, a musical composition program that permits greater versatility than simply recording a piece played on a piano. Right-click to download this mp3 file. 

Waltz #6, Op. 49:
G. Stolyarov II
December 21, 2007
This waltz experiments with harmonies not found in Mr. Stolyarov's previous works, while remaining true to Mr. Stolyarov's conviction that music must be pleasant to the ear and convey a joyous, confident sense of life. Right-click to download this mp3 file. 

Liberty Defined (1957):
F. A. Harper
December 19, 2007
Confusion over the meaning of a key word such as liberty may seem strange. For liberty is not a new issue in the world. Presumably it has been a concern of mankind from the very dawn of his existence. As he battled for life and life's betterment, he must surely have faced constant threats to his liberty, just as he was confronted with the tides, the tornadoes, and pestilences of all sorts. All these must have been a part of man's experience from time immemorial. F. A. Harper offers an exploration into the meaning of liberty and its prospects in the world.

Analogies and Liberty:
Gary M. Galles
December 19, 2007
How can one "fight" for liberty while renouncing the use of coercion against others? That problem gets more difficult when one is also unwilling to lie, since that amounts to a form of coercing others. What is left is reason, as only that can make the case for liberty. You could say that liberty has a comparative advantage in logic. Gary Galles gives examples of F. A. Harper's brilliant use of analogies to illustrate the nature and value of liberty.

Climate Change Rallies, Realities, and Sacrifices:
Paul Driessen
December 21, 2007
The recent conference in Bali generated consternation about catastrophic climate change, along with demands and ultimately vague promises that we “do something” about “dangerous manmade climate change.” It was also characterized by intimidation and censorship of scientists who sought to present different views on these subjects.
Meanwhile, the US Congress is pushing ahead with initiatives that would be very costly to consumers and would “transform” our lives and economy in numerous ways … many say for little or no environmental gain. Poor, elderly and minority families would be affected most severely of all, according to many analysts. Paul Driessen discusses the horrendous losses that would result from implementing the kinds of controls global warming alarmists want.

Communing With Fidel:
Fred Reed
December 21, 2007
Fred Reed shares his experiences from a recent trip to Cuba. Mr. Reed discusses the irrationality of the American embargo against Cuba and his impressions of the country in general. A hellhole? No. Threat to anyone? No. Danger to international stability? No. In need of embargoing? No. Dictatorship? Yes. Adherent of the Bill of Rights? No. While Cuba is mired in poverty and tyranny, it is nowhere near as threatening or oppressive as many communist regimes of the past have been.

"Tolerance in disagreement demands acceptance of separate domains within which a person is allowed to make his mistakes, if he does so with what is his rather than with what is yours. Private property within the economic arena of scarce and desired things operates to this end." 
~ F. A. Harper