Prof. Harris argues that skilled traders, who consistently profit, do so by taking money from people who trade for extrinsic reasons, to hedge risks, increase their savings, or simply to gamble for entertainment. He then points out an interesting implication:
If gamblers do indeed contribute to market quality in the long run by subsidizing information acquisition, an intriguing argument can be made about public lotteries. Lotteries would appear to compete with financial markets for gamblers willing to lose money. Lottery gamblers subsidize the state through their voluntary participation in a negative-sum game. Financial market gamblers subsidize productive information acquisition. Perhaps prices, and ultimately economic production, would be more efficient if gamblers gambled exclusively in the financial markets.
So there you have it — state lotteries make us worse off by wasting gambling money that would otherwise be productively spent.
Austrians and others interested in fractional-reserve banking (FRB) will find of interest a banking reform about to be proposed in the UK. Douglas Carswell, an Austrian economsics-informed member of the UK parliament for Clacton, is planning to introduce a so-called “Ten Minute Rule Bill” after Prime Minister’s Questions tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 15) that could have significant implications for current centralized FRB practices. The Bill will be supported by Steve Baker, the Member of Parliament for Wycombe, who also serves on the Advisory Board of the Austrian/classical liberal Cobden Centre.
Apparently 13.2% of you have some of these in your wallet.
Is it possible? Has free-market anarchist and Austrian School Economist Michael Barnett finally discovered a government program which appears to be achieving its stated goals? Yes, my friends, I think I actually may have done just that. Now look, I understand that correlation does not imply causation, but I think there’s a strong case to be made here. I’m talking, of course, about the multitude of state and federaloutreachefforts over the last two years to spread awareness of and encourage participation in Food Stamps Programs. Record numbers of Americans are receiving food stamp assistance now, more than ever before. Illinois, Oregon, Florida, and Idaho are just four of many US states which have never had so many people dependent on government to feed them. I wanted to make a play on the words “superpower” and “soup lines” (souperlines? souperpower?) to describe America’s new position in the world, but my joke writers aren’t as good as Jay Leno’s.
The world's only souperpower? See, it just doesn't work.
Specifically, according to the US Department of Agriculture40.8 million Americans are recipients of “supplemental nutrition assistance.” Subsidies for food purchases jumped 19 percent from a year earlier and increased 0.9 percent from April. Participation has set records for 18 straight months. Well, there’s an economy in recovery! I think a little perspective is in order.
Suppose we created a new country out of every recipient of government food assistance programs in the US and named it The Stiglitzian Commonwealth of Krugmania. This new Commonwealth would be tied with Kenya as the 32nd most populous country. It would have more citizens than (in no order) Argentina, Sudan, Poland, Iraq, Venezuela, and Malaysia, just to name a few. It would have twice or more as many citizens as Chile, Niger, Netherlands, Cameroon, Angola, Cambodia, and Kazakhstan just to name a handful of the more than 160 countries which would fall into this category. But what about America’s Neighbor-to-the North? The United States has 6.5 million more people relying on food stamps than Canada has people period. My first instinct is to call that hilarious, but as that comparison sinks in, it’s rather revolting. This must be the economic recovery I kept hearing about.
Don’t despair, people. Let’s not forget the silver lining I launched this post with: we may just have discovered a government program which achieves its stated goals. That’s something, I guess.
Well, as predicted (by me), in pursuit of one of Connecticut’s US Senate seats, Peter Schiff wasted a lot of time and money, and was forced to refrain from making several television appearances on financial news programs (due to campaign laws). He placed an embarrassing third:
Former professional wrestling maven Linda McMahon capped an improbable entry into politics Friday night when she captured the Republican Party endorsement for the U.S. Senate during a raucous Republican convention at the Connecticut Convention Center.
McMahon edged former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons after dozens of delegates switched their votes at the conclusion of the first ballot. She received 737 votes to 632 for Simmons and 44 for economist Peter Schiff.