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Archives for Don Boudreaux (page 1 / 1)

What are 'Pro-Business' Policies?

Don Boudreaux talks about the two ways to be 'pro-business':

There are two ways for a government to be 'pro-business.' The first way is to avoid interfering in capitalist acts among consenting adults - that is, to keep taxes low, regulations few, and subsidies non-existent. This 'pro-business' stance promotes widespread prosperity because in reality it isn't so much pro-business as it is pro-consumer. When this way is pursued, businesses are rewarded for pleasing consumers, and only for pleasing consumers.

The second, and very different, way for government to be pro-business is to bestow favors and privileges on politically connected firms. These favors and privileges, such as tariffs and export subsidies, invariably oblige consumers to pay more - either directly in the form of higher prices, or indirectly in the form of higher taxes - for goods and services. This way of being pro-business reduces the nation's prosperity by relieving businesses of the need to satisfy consumers. When this second way is pursued, businesses are rewarded for pleasing politicians. Competition for consumers' dollars is replaced by competition for political favors.

Just for the record, I believe in the first kind of pro-business policies. I'm adamantly, vehemently opposed to anything that involves tariffs, subsidies, or special incentives. Businesses should rise and fall based on only two factors: how happy they make their customers and how well they do at predicting the future and planning accordingly. Businesses shouldn't be succeeding or failing on any other basis.

Obamacare delenda est

Capitalism: The Anti-Pollutant

Back on Earth Day, Don Boudreaux wrote a nice letter to USA Today.

On this Earth Day, Bjorn Lomborg scrubs with facts the noxious notions and emotions that pollute public discourse about the environment ("Earth Day: Smile, don't shudder," April 21). Especially useful is his point that the world’s number one environmental killer remains the indoor air pollution suffered by persons in poor countries who burn wood, waste, and dung to cook their meals and to heat their homes.

As the historian Thomas Babington Macaulay reminded us, it wasn't until Europeans industrialized – or, as we say today, enlarged their 'carbon footprint' – that they were saved from that same filthy fate. Here’s Macaulay's description of the dwelling of a typical 17th-century Scottish highlander:

You'll have to click through to read the full letter. But his point is sound. For the average person, capitalism has't increased pollution. It's greatly decreased it.