In his recent work Jonathan Rauch has been writing about what I’ve unwillingly concluded are some uncomfortable home truths about politics. In a lot of places, especially the U.S., politics is more counterproductively fraught and fractious than it has been in the past century. This is true despite a near century of Progressive and populist … More Jonathan Rauch on the uncomfortable necessity of middlemen in transactional politics
Should we make it politically profitable for policymakers to do the right thing, or should we make it less profitable for policymakers to do anything? Abigail Hall, writing a pair of posts for the Independent Institute blog The Beacon, urges liberty-minded people not to get too excited about electing the “right people.” (First post, second) … More Should we make it politically profitable for policymakers to do the right thing
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it had launched an investigation into possible “unfair practices (e.g., price gouging) affecting air travel during the period of time that Amtrak service along the Northeast Corridor was delayed or suspended as a result of the May 12th derailment.” Five airlines received letters from the agency seeking … More DOT’s airline price gouging investigation and a political economy-based prediction
At the Master Resource blog today: “In Defense of Price ‘Gouging’ (lines and shortages are uneconomic, discriminatory).” In the essay I emphasize the unintended bias that results when consumer demand surges and supplies are tight, as for example when winter storm forecasts lead consumers to rush to the grocery store for bread and milk. Because … More You should probably raise prices a bit during emergencies
I suspect the simplest answer to the title question is “always.” Maybe the answer depends on your definition of “distort,” but both the intended and generally expected consequences of state utility rate regulation has always been to push costs to be something other than what would naturally emerge in the absence of rate regulation. More … More When does state utility regulation distort costs?
The Wall Street Journal recently opined against President Obama’s nominee for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman, Norman Bay, and in the process took a modest swipe at subsidies for wind energy. The context here is Bay’s action while leading FERC’s enforcement division, and in particular his prosecution of electric power market participants who manage to run afoul … More The spin on wind, or, an example of bullshit in the field of energy policy
Salon has published a lot of nonsense on libertarianism (e.g., anything by Michael Lind on the topic). So it was surprising, yesterday, to find that Kim Messick’s Salon essay on libertarianism was relatively thoughtful. No perfect, by any means, just better than most progressive-liberal attempts at criticizing libertarianism. The author at least gets basic points right and would surely score higher than … More A relatively thoughful view of libertarianism from a progressive-liberal perspective