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Category Archive: Entrepreneurship

  1. Foreigners Are Our Friends | Econ Chronicles

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    Some people say technology is the driver of innovation, but society often takes great steps in prosperity by trading. Like technological shifts over history, trade is a powerful way of creating wealth for all parties. In one example, Professor of Economics Bryan Caplan imagines a machine that turned agricultural products directly into cars: it would disrupt the way we do business, but the US would be wealthier for it.

    If, however, that machine was nothing but a freighter that exchanges corn for cars with another nation, many people think this is unfair. Whether in dislike for foreign trade or worry about immigration, Prof. Caplan calls this “anti-foreign bias,” and points out that most economists don’t share these concerns. Professional economists think trade and immigration benefit all parties involved – just like innovative technology. As we said before: trade is made of win!

  2. Can Capitalism Save Lives? | Econ Chronicles

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    Thousands of people die in the US every year because there’s a shortage of willing kidney donors. Some people are saved by the generosity of friends and family, but many more suffer because no willing & compatible donors come forward. As in most countries, it is illegal to compensate donors in the US for donating a kidney. Prof. Caplan argues that we should allow a market: if donor could be paid to donate a kidney through a reputable hospital, they could earn money and save a life in the process. Such a system would encourage many more donors, and save many more lives. But most people are uncomfortable with the idea that individuals or companies would make money by solving that kind of problem. They equate making a profit with selfish intentions, and bad results. Economics professor Bryan Caplan calls this “anti-market bias.”  He argues that most people (and voters) are prone to this bias, leading to harmful policies. Another example Caplan gives is air pollution. While most economists think that markets could help curb pollution, most regular people reject the idea. Perhaps this is partly because for many problems we face, it is difficult to imagine how markets and profit could help us find a solution. Caplan argues that this makes allowing markets even more important: they incentivize people to find new & creative ways of solving problems, many of which we never could have predicted in advance.

  3. From Rags to Riches: The Cayman Islands Revolution

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    The rule of law, Hayek wrote, is “a rule concerning what the law ought to be”: It ought to be general and abstract; equally applied, with legal privileges for none; certain, not subject to arbitrary changes; and just. In this Learn Liberty Academy, Andrew Morriss sets sail to show how the law of the Cayman Islands conforms with Hayek’s ideals, how it got that way through astute political entrepreneurship, and how the world at large benefits from its legal wisdom. The benefits of Caymanian rule of law are so diffuse and far-reaching that we can even attribute the American poor’s high consumption of healthcare to it.  Embark on Morriss’s expedition — read, watch lectures, and discuss!

    Song credit: “Coconut Water” – Dan O’Connor

    Archival images courtesy of the Cayman Islands National Archive

  4. Recycle Smarter Than A Third Grader!

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    Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! All right? Maybe — maybe not, says scholar Daniel K. Benjamin. Making an unused tissue out of a used one wastes resources and hardly benefits the environment. Melting and casting aluminum cans, though, both saves resources and benefits the environment. But you don’t need to exhort the aluminum company to save those resources: saving scraps is in its own interest. So why does it take a lesson from your third-grade teacher to get you to recycle household waste?

     

    For more insightful work by Daniel K. Benjamin, check out his page on the Property and Environmentalism Research Center’s website

  5. How to Make a Criminal Cocktail | Off the Clock Economist Explores

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    With a social-capital-inducing King Cake in tow, Off the Clock Economist Dan D’Amico heads out to a backyard bar. Discover how to make a New Orleans Sazerac, which many say was the very first cocktail ever invented. Why? Keep watching to learn how the criminalization of alcohol in the United States forever changed the way we consume liquor. There is no tastier way to figure-out how social capital, unintended consequences, and government intervention helped the Big Easy create this famous drink – and don’t worry, the recipe is in the video too!

    Check out Rob Hahne’s shop: Homestead NOLA

  6. The Gumbo Recipe that Works for Everybody | Off the Clock Economist

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    Off the Clock Economist Dan D’Amico is still going strong in his pursuit to know all there is to know about New Orleans. Join him as he learns how to make gumbo, the signature dish of the Big Easy. This delicious food will get him thinking too, so sit tight as he delves into topics like spontaneous order, social capital, and America’s melting pot. How do all these things relate? What do they all have to do with gumbo? How does that tie into NOLA? Keep watching and find out – no matter what, you will learn how to make some fantastic food.

    Checkout Langlois Culinary Crossroads!

  7. Bars and Brass Bands in the Big Easy | Off the Clock Economist Explores

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    What if we told you that the decadent and debaucherous nature of New Orleans made it easier – not harder, for the Big Easy to come back strong after Hurricane Katrina? Follow our Off the Clock Economist, Dan D’Amico, as he explores the underlying social capital of jazz music, parades, and much more. You will also get to learn what Faubourg Marigny is, hear some history on the Rebirth Brass Band, and discover a bar that warns, “Be Nice or Go Home.” This is New Orleans like you’ve never seen it.

  8. How Eating Babies Strengthens New Orleans | Off the Clock Economist Explains

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    Off the Clock Economist Dan D’Amico is at it again exploring Louisiana and the culture of Mardi Gras. This time he will explain the social capital behind eating the babies that are placed in each “King Cake” made in New Orleans. Join him as he gets to the bottom of it at the Swiss Confectionary Bakery on St. Charles Avenue. Thought you couldn’t learn about social theory from a tattooed man wandering around the Big Easy? Think again.

  9. Can One Person Save an Endangered Species? See for Yourself.

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    Think you’re too small to save the world—even one species at a time? Sometimes big change starts with thinking big and perhaps a little outside the box. Take it from enviropreneur Hank Fischer.

    Hank Fischer was concerned about the gray wolf. It was on the endangered species list and extinct in the American West. Efforts to reintroduce it in the region had been unsuccessful, largely because the local population didn’t want hungry wolves killing their livestock. Rather than fight the ranchers in the region, Hank established a fund to compensate them for losses and give them incentives to support the growth of the wolf population. And it worked! Today, the gray wolf isn’t even considered endangered. Hank’s story is just one of many stories of enviropreneurs around the world. Laura Huggins of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) explains how thinking outside the box and innovating can work for the environment as it does for business. Enviropreneurs like Hank have been able to save species. Think about the difference you could make!

  10. This Professor Slays Zombies with Economics (and Guns)

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    Presumably you’ve already made plans for surviving a zombie apocalypse. You have detailed escape routes, stockpiled weapons made for killing zombies, stores of food . . . or at least plans for these things. But have you thought through the important economic factors that might make the difference between surviving and losing your brain to one of the walking dead? If uncertainty about how market prices and currency changes might affect your odds in a zombie-dominated society has been keeping you up at night, fear not. In this video, Prof. Antony Davies provides a crash course in how a zombie apocalypse is likely to affect the economy. Hint: sell your designer shoes now while you can. And buy bullets.

  11. Choice in Schools or Choice in Education?

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    We hear a lot about school choice. And while that would probably improve the U.S. education system, what we really need is choice in education. When most people think about education, they think of traditional schools. But Professor Stephen Davies says we are seeing a revolution in the delivery of education, both in the United States and abroad.

    Private institutions, which are prevalent in many parts of the world, have more flexibility than traditional schools and do not necessarily conform to the traditional ideas of what a school is. Similarly, the homeschooling movement in the United States has become a major social movement for which all kinds of educational forms are developing. Parents’ cooperatives, learning centers, and all kinds of learning providers are now delivering education to homeschooled students in a more flexible, home-centered but not totally home-based, way than ever before.

    What has caused these revolutionary changes in education? Professor Davies says the Internet and other technologies are one main source of the changes. The main reason, however, is social transformation. New forms of education reflect the goals and desires of parents and pupils rather than those of governments, large firms, or political movements of any kind. These changes indicate that we’re heading for a radical transformation in the way education is delivered. Professor Davies says, “This can only be an enormous change for the better.”

  12. Is Price Gouging Immoral? Should It Be Illegal?

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    Price gouging is usually defined as raising prices on certain kinds of goods to an unfair or excessively high level during an emergency. Although price gouging is illegal in 34 states, economics professor Matt Zwolinski asks whether price gouging should be illegal. He uses an example to examine the moral status of price gouging.

    The following points suggest that price gouging may not be immoral after all:

    • Consumers do not have to buy products for the higher price. If they decide to pay, it is likely because they are getting more from the product then they’re paying.
    • If the prices for important goods do not go up, it is likely that scarce resources will not be available for those who need them most.
    • For buyers, high prices reduce demand and encourage conservation. People who may need something more are likely to pay more. For sellers, being able to charge higher prices creates a profit incentive to encourage more sellers to bring products to the market.
    • The profit motive will increase competition and eventually drive down the price.

    What alternative institutions would do better? When price gouging is prohibited goods go to whoever shows up first. Even if we assume that price gouging is immoral, it almost certainly should not be illegal. The only reason price gouging occurs is because demand is high and supply is low. Professor Zwolinski argues that even if you think that price gouging is morally wrong, making it illegal doesn’t make sense. It hurts the very people who need our help most.