"Costs from regulations pile up, hurt small business profits"

By an AP reporter, reprinted in the Washington Post, no less.

It’s getting more expensive to be an employer and small business owners say that’s making it harder for them to make money.

The health care law, minimum wage increases and paid sick leave laws in some states and cities are increasing costs. Small companies also face the prospect of higher overtime expenses under a proposed federal regulation.


"The Happy Meal Fallacy"

Alex Tabarrok elegantly refutes the attack on the "gig economy".

Some restaurants offer burgers without fries and a drink. These restaurants cater to low-income people who enjoy fries and drinks but can’t always afford them. To rectify this sad situation a presidential candidate proposes The Happy Meal Act. Under the Act, burgers must be sold with fries and a drink. “Burgers by themselves are not a complete, nutritious meal,” the politician argues, concluding with the uplifting campaign slogan, “Everyone deserves a Happy Meal!”

But will the Happy Meal Act make people happy?


"Bisonomics"

Brian Yablonski, adjunct fellow of PERC:

Western orthodoxy suggests the white man’s irresistible drive for wealth led to the bison genocide. Reality, however, proved more complicated. Their near extinction was due to a host of factors ranging from adverse climate issues, introduction of the transcontinental railroad, emergence of a horse culture on the plains bringing more efficient hunting, the advent of the Sharp’s rifle known for its deadly accuracy and distance, as well as government policy that promoted the end of the bison as a means of calming hostilities with the Native Americans.

One underlying factor, however, may have contributed more than any other. The tragedy of the bison was one of the starkest examples of the tragedy of the commons. No one owned the bison. Those who were not the first to capture the economic benefits of a bison lost those benefits to someone else. This created a race to the finish—a bison derby. Recreation magazine captured the essence of the situation in 1901: “A wild buffalo is looked on as a small fortune walking around without an owner.”

. . .

Just as enterprising men helped hasten this environmental calamity, so too did individual entrepreneurs, private ranchers, and charities help bring the bison back from the brink.


"What's the Matter With San Francisco?"

The article's subhead is "The city’s devastating affordability crisis has an unlikely villain—its famed progressive politics."

That needs an adaptation of an old joke: "What's unlikely, Kimo Sabe?"

Related: "How Burrowing Owls Lead To Vomiting Anarchists (Or SF’s Housing Crisis Explained)". It's long and complicated, but part of the explanation is this: ". . . parts of the progressive community do not believe in supply and demand." (Another big part, as usual in articles of this type, is allegedly Howard Jarvis.)

Even worse news for California: it is "so hard to get a great bagel" there.


"A Progress Report on Charter Schools"

Chester Finn and Bruno Manno thoughtfully and self-critically examine the state of play for one of the most important changes in public education in the last 50 years.. Bottom line:

There's reason for hope. This movement is still basically bipartisan — a rarity in today's polarized policy world. Most charters are union-free and in some cases free from state-licensure requirements for principals and teachers. There has been remarkable demand, both by kids and families wanting to choose and by people and organizations wanting to start schools. We also have some fantastic proof points about the ability of great schools to alter the life prospects of poor kids. Some "chains" of charters manage to demonstrate sustained and widespread quality while also illustrating the concept of virtual school systems.


"It takes a Marxist to know how to show one up"

Video of a debate about possible rent control in Seattle. Co-starring for the pro-control side is a holder of an economics Ph.D. from N.C. State (don't blame me, I had nothing to do with it).

After listening to her and remembering how futilely I fought against the economic dopiness of some of my students, retirement is seeming even a bit better.

Link courtesy of Pat Sullivan.


"Government brings out the worst in us"

Scott Sumner:

Here's the obvious solution. Privatize the DMV by letting competing companies provide this service, and compensate them per customer at the current spending level of the government service. Since the private sector is far more efficient than the public sector, they can do this at far lower cost, and will compete for customers with better service, by getting rid of the long lines. The same idea has been shown to work with school vouchers, where private voucher schools can consistently produce the same crappy low achievement scores as the public schools, at a far lower cost per pupil. . . .

At the University of Chicago we were taught all sorts of mathematical proofs for the efficiency of the free market equilibrium. For me, the strongest argument for markets (which of course goes back to Adam Smith, and even earlier) is simple human decency. Government brings out the worst in us, and competition brings out the best in us.


"In Honor of His 103rd Birthday, Here Are The 20 Best Quotes From The Late, Great Milton Friedman"

Magnificent beyond the telling.

The great danger to the consumer is the monopoly - whether private or governmental. His most effective protection is free competition at home and free trade throughout the world. The consumer is protected from being exploited by one seller by the existence of another seller from whom he can buy and who is eager to sell to him. Alternative sources of supply protect the consumer far more effectively than all the Ralph Naders of the world.