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Free Markets

Public Policy Responses to the Coronavirus: ‘You have to address the health side’

Economist Austan Goolsbee offers three scenes, in his words, for addressing the coronavirus pandemic. All three, in the order he presents them, are sound. Most economic schools of thought – and all sound ones across the continuum – would consider something like his suggestions in response to a pandemic. One obvious note – or at…

Local Public Policy as if Charitable Assistance

Whitewater’s policymakers, and those of other small, rural cities, should – in these times of economic stagnation, a lingering opioid crisis, failed business welfare, and an approaching recession – view their principal obligation as if it were charitable outreach. (It’s not charity, of course, but that’s how policymakers should view it: as both palliative and…

Miscellany on Development Policy in Whitewater

There’s a significant difference between local, political calls for urgency and genuine need. Recent discussions about development policy in Whitewater only bolster this view. A few remarks (as I’ve been asked more than once what I think of the last two months’ events) — Independence. The best decision one could make when writing about policy…

Pro-Market

There is an issue that – while extremely important today – receives too little attention not only in the traditional media but also in the blogosphere, and academia: the subversion of competition by special interests. Following Adam Smith, the vast majority of economists believe that competition is the essential ingredient that makes a market economy…

Does Anyone at the Janesville Gazette Have a Dictionary?

Recently,  the Janesville Gazette‘s editorialist tried to defend remarks from Trump’s secretary of agriculture, Sonny Perdue, about the demise of family farmers. See Our Views: Ag secretary’s reality check wasn’t callous. In that defense, one finds that the Gazette‘s editorialist neither understands the meaning of simple English words nor basic economics. The secretary of agriculture said…

F. James Sensenbrenner Heads for the Exit

One reads that F. James Sensenbrenner, the pro-Trump septuagenarian multimillionaire congressman from a gerrymandered district that stretches all the way down to Whitewater, is retiring when his current term ends. Consigned to the minority forever must look unappealing. How time flies! It was not long ago that then-chairman of the Whitewater Community Development Authority was scampering…

The Largest Electorate in any Community

One might not be much for standalone quotes (as they’re often taken out of context), but Anna Lappé’s observation about consumer choice is, in-and-of-itself, wholly right: Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want. Yes, indeed. No clique, no faction, no party, no political authority is an…

How Walker and Trump Destroyed Dairies in America’s Dairyland

One has heard so much these last eight years about how Wisconsin has been ‘open for business,’ and for Walker and the WEDC that has meant countless subsidies and tax breaks for conservatives’ preferred businesses. Walker was never a free-market man; his whole approach rested on state capitalism (government funding some producers) and crony capitalism…

Fruitless Embrace

Free-market economist Veronique de Rugy asks Why Are Republicans Embracing Economic State Planning?: China’s post-Mao economic boom has occurred only to the extent that the country became capitalist. With “Made in China 2025,” Beijing’s 2015 anticapitalist plan for an industrial policy under which the state would pick “winners,” China has taken a step back from capitalism. (It recently dropped the “Made…

Half-Right About the WISGOP

Thomas Edsall, writing in the New York Times, quotes Jerry Taylor and Will Wilkinson of the Niskanen Center think tank on Republicans’ political economics. Two quotes from Taylor Wilkinson stand out – one right, and one wrong (at least wrong for Wisconsin). From Will Wilkinson, a view of cultural issues’ importance: The G.O.P.’s success in…

Immigration as a Community Lifeline

Art Cullen writes Help wanted: Rural America needs immigrants: President Trump argues that keeping immigrants and refugees out of our country is a matter of vital national security. He has made it his campaign thesis and shut down the government over it. Here in Storm Lake, Iowa, where the population is about 15,000 and unemployment is under…

The Fight Against Gravity

The Trump Administration wants to bolster industries that are market failures, with coal as an example.  Catherine Rampell writes of that effort in The Trump administration learns that fighting gravity is hard: The Trump administration is learning that, as new data show that the industries it has worked hardest to prop up — through bailouts, tariffs…

The Broad Outlines of 2019

For many years, I would begin the year with predictions for the twelve months ahead.  Events since 2016 have made predictions harder,  but one can still discern some short-term developments for the city.  These prospects, of course, form an online of topics to ponder, and about which to write (often requiring that one return to the…

The Walker Cabinet Officers’ Open Letter

Four cabinet secretaries of the Walker Administration have come forward to criticize the governor, and three of them have co-written an open letter against Walker’s relentless emphasis on political gain over sound policies. One of the signatories of the letter is Paul Jadin, who was Walker’s first Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation leader. It says all…