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When writing yesterday’s column about new competitiveness rankings from the IMD business school in Switzerland, I noticed that I have not yet written about this year’s edition of the Index of Economic Freedom. Time to rectify that oversight. We’ll start with a look at the nations with the most economic freedom. Interestingly, Singapore has now […]

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I explained yesterday that Denmark is not a good role model for American leftists. Simply stated, Otto Brøns-Petersen’s video shows that the admirable outcomes in that country are the result of laissez-faire markets and the bad outcomes are the result of the welfare state imposed beginning in the 1960s. In any event, Denmark is not […]

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I’ve repeatedly dealt with the argument over Denmark’s supposed socialism. My core argument is that Denmark is very bad on fiscal policy, but very laissez-faire on other issues such as regulation. The net effect is that Danes have about the same amount of economic liberty as Americans. The bottom line is that Denmark isn’t socialist. […]

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Paul Krugman has butchered numbers when writing about fiscal policy in nations such as France, Estonia, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Today, we’re going to peruse his writings on Denmark. Here’s some of what he wrote earlier this month. Denmark can teach us…about the possibilities of creating a decent society. …Denmark, where tax receipts are 46 percent of GDP compared with […]

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The United States has a bankrupt Social Security system. According to the most recent Trustees Report, the cash-flow deficit is approaching $44 trillion. And that’s after adjusting for inflation. Even by DC standards of profligacy, that’s a big number. Yet all that spending (and future red ink) doesn’t even provide a lavish retirement. Workers would […]

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I’m still in China, as part of a week-long teaching assignment about markets, entrepreneurship, economics, and fiscal policy at Northeastern University in Shenyang. One point that I’ve tried to get across to the students is that China should not copy the United States. Or France, Japan, or Sweden. To be more specific, I warn them […]

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I periodically make comparisons of the United States and Europe that are not very flattering for our cousins across the Atlantic. Though this isn’t because of any animus toward Europe. Indeed, I always enjoy my visits. And some of America’s best (albeit eroding) features, such as rule of law and dignity of the individual, are […]

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I suggested earlier this year that Denmark’s ratio of private sector workers compared with government dependents produced the world’s most depressing Powerpoint slide. It’s hard to be optimistic, after all, if a nation has an ever-growing number of people riding in the wagon (or the “party boat“) and a stagnant population of productive people. But […]

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Okay, I’ll admit right away that the title of this column is an exaggeration. But if you’re a public policy wonk and you worry about the rising level of government dependency and the erosion of self reliance, then you’ll understand why the chart below, which was presented earlier today at the Copenhagen conference of the […]

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My all-time most-viewed blog post wasn’t the parable about beer and the tax system. Nor was it the joke about California, Texas, and the Coyote. Those won the silver and bronze trophies. The gold medal belongs to the two pictures that explain how the welfare state begins and how it ends. Those images make a […]

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I’m not a big fan of government conspiracy theories, largely because the people in Washington are too bloody incompetent to do anything effectively. Heck, sometimes they can’t even waste money properly even though they have lots of practice. But it recently crossed my mind that maybe President Obama was born in Denmark. Not in a […]

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It doesn’t get as much attention as basket-case nations such as Venezuela, North Korea, Zimbabwe, or Cuba, but Argentina is one of the world’s worst-governed nations. It is ranked #155 out of 159 nations by the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World. It is next-to-last (ahead of only Venezuela) in IMD’s World Competitiveness Ranking. […]

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When looking at which nations have the best economic policy, the best options are the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World and the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. But I also look forward to other measures, including the annual competitiveness ranking from the Swiss-based IMD business school, which was just released this month. […]

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As part of my recent presentation to IES Europe, here’s what I said (and what I’ve said many times before) about the relationship between economic policy and national prosperity. My remarks focused in part on the difference between absolute economic liberty and relative economic liberty. The absolute level of economic liberty is the degree to […]

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Despite the fact that Social Security is an ever-increasing fiscal burden with a 75-year cash-flow deficit of nearly $45 trillion, many politicians in Washington have been trying to buy votes with proposals to expand the program (Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, etc). A new working paper from the European Central Bank gives […]

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I wrote earlier this month about coronavirus becoming an excuse for more bad public policy. American politicians certainly have been pushing all sorts of proposals for bigger government, showing that they have embraced the notion that you don’t want to let a “crisis go to waste.” But nothing that’s happening in the United States is […]

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Having already written several dozen columns on public policy and the coronavirus, it’s time to add my two cents to the debate over Sweden’s (comparatively) laissez-faire approach to the pandemic. If nothing else, it’s remarkable that the nation Bernie Sanders praised for socialism (albeit incorrectly) is now the poster child for (some) libertarians. What makes […]

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When I put forth the “The Case for Social Security Personal Accounts” in early 2011, I pointed out that the program’s long-run fiscal shortfall was more than $27 trillion. We should be so lucky to have that problem today. The Social Security Administration just released the annual report on the program’s finances, so I went […]

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About three weeks ago, when the coronavirus crisis was becoming a big deal, I explained the libertarian viewpoint. Governments should focus on protecting life, liberty, and property. That includes fighting pandemics. A big sprawling federal government will be less capable and competent when responding to a real crisis. International evidence suggests greater government control of the health […]

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While it’s good news for the country that Bernie Sanders has faded in the polls, there’s a dark lining to that silver cloud. For all his faults, Crazy Bernie at least was open and honest about his desire for socialism (unlike certain other candidates, who have hard-left platforms, but nonetheless are characterized as moderates). But […]

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This video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity is nearly 10 years old, so some of the numbers are outdated, but the seven reasons to reject tax increases are still very relevant. I’m recycling the video because the battle over tax increases is becoming more heated. Indeed, depending on what happens in November, we […]

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Because of his extremist views, I often refer to Senator Sanders as “Crazy Bernie.” You can argue I’m being unfair. After all, I pointed out during the last campaign that his voting record in the Senate was almost identical to the voting records of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (his vote rating also was similar […]

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Assuming he was able to impose his policy agenda, I think Bernie Sanders – at best – would turn America into Greece. In more pessimistic moments, I fear he would turn the U.S. into Venezuela. The Vermont Senator and his supporters say that’s wrong and that the real goal is to make America into a […]

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In this podcast discussion with Gene Tunny, I pontificate on several fiscal issues, including the ideal size of government, Wagner’s Law, and the importance of quality governance. The conversation is a good introduction to the debate about “state capacity” generally and “state capacity libertarianism” more specifically. Regarding the former, I explained last year why it […]

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I’ve written many columns about Sweden and Denmark over the past 10-plus years, and I’ve also written several times about Norway and Iceland. But I’ve mostly neglected Finland, other than some analysis of the country’s experiment with “basic income” in 2017 and 2018. Now, thanks to a very interesting column in the New York Times, […]

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Building on the success of state-level reforms in Kansas, Maine, Wisconsin, Alabama, and Georgia, the Trump Administration has proposed to tighten rules that impose work requirements on childless and able-bodied adults who receive food stamps. Since I want to get Washington out of the business of redistribution, this is not the ideal solution. But are work […]

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I give Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang credit for a bit of honesty. Both of them have proposals to significantly – indeed, dramatically – expand the burden of government spending, and they actually admit their plans will require big tax increases on lower-income and middle-class voters. Their numbers are still wrong, but at least they […]

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When non-libertarian audiences ask my opinion about immigration, I generally point out that it is a very good sign that so many people want to come to the United States. Almost everyone agrees with that statement, but that doesn’t put them in the pro-immigration camp. Instead, I find that many people have a “what’s in […]

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The World Bank has released its annual report on the Ease of Doing Business. Unsurprisingly, the top spots are dominated by market-oriented jurisdictions, with New Zealand, Singapore, and Hong Kong (at least for now!) winning the gold, silver, and bronze. The United States does reasonably well, finishing in sixth place. It’s also worth noting that […]

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My primary job is dealing with misguided public policy in the United States. I spend much of my time either trying to undo bad policies with good reform (flat tax, spending restraint, regulatory easing, trade liberalization) or fighting off additional bad interventions (Green New Deal, protectionism, Medicare for All, class warfare taxes). Seems like there […]

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