Apr 20, 2014

The Skyscraper Curse

Once again, EPJ has an interesting piece out about what is called the "Skyscraper Curse".  This is the weird phenomenon that whenever a record setting tall building is constructed, an economic downturn or "bust" cycle occurs.  Here is an interesting graphic to illustrate the point:

Mark Thornton of the Mises Institute has dedicated a portion of his scholarly efforts to illustrating this interesting correlation.  A sampling of his work can be found here:

Skyscraper Index--Mises Wiki

As well, one could listen to Thornton's analysis in this interview with Tom Woods:

Mark Thornton: The Skyscraper Curse

At first blush, it seems improbable that skyscrapers could be an indicator or predictor of economic downturns.  However, once it is understood how business cycles occur- namely the economic effects of Federal Reserve money printing- the phenomenon makes perfect sense.

Apr 15, 2014

Dog-Eat-Dog Statism

Bretigne Shaffer recently wrote a brilliant article regarding a conference she attended for parents of special needs children:

Dog-Eat-Dog Statism for Special-Needs Families: You’re Either at the Table or You’re on the Menu

From the article:

"My husband and I are interested in starting a special-needs school based on Montessori or DIR principles. Nothing big, just a little school where our daughter and some of her peers could have an alternative to mainstream special education. But governments put a lot of roadblocks in the way of people doing things like this. Usually you have to get permission from members of your city government, who decide whether there is a “need” for your school in your area. And it is no secret that California is one of the most onerous states for small businesses. My idea was to get the state and local governments to stop interfering with people coming up with their own solutions for special-needs families."
"I asked Dr. Vismara whether the Senator Steinberg would be interested in such a proposal, in working to get government out of the way of people creating solutions. He gave me one of those smiles reserved for people who really don’t understand how the game is played, who are neither at the table nor on the menu, but probably somewhere in the kitchen sweeping up. He said, very definitely, 'no.' When I asked him why, he said because 'it’s a non issue.'
"...In the world in which he operates, the concern about too much government interference in business and other activities is indeed a 'non-issue.' Why? Because you don’t win at the game of government by reducing the powers of government. More specifically: If you are a candidate for public office, running against other candidates, you are going to gain more votes and more campaign contributions by giving your constituents what they want. And generally, what people want from their politicians is not 'free and open markets' or 'unhampered competition.' What they want is special favors for themselves - very often in forms that restrict their competition."
Read the whole article- it's brilliant!

(Thanks to EPJ)