Comment on the Commentary of the Day by Donald J Boudreaux

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					                       Comment on the Commentary of the Day
                                 Donald J. Boudreaux
                         Chairman, Department of Economics
                              George Mason University

Disclaimer: The following “Letters to the Editor” were sent to the respective
publications on the dates indicated. Some were printed but many were not. The
original articles that are being commented on may or may not be available on the
internet and may require registration or subscription to access if they are. Some
of the original articles are syndicated and therefore may have appeared in other
publications also.

18 November 2007              That point is not so much
                              that today's western legal     To the Editor:
The Editor, New York          tradition began earlier than
Times                         the 16th century. Rather,      Although de rigueur among
229 West 43rd St.             the point is that law in the   "progressives," Jim
New York, NY 10036            west emerged from the          Salvucci is mistaken to
                              competition between popes      describe bourgeois values
To the Editor:                and princes for sovereign      as "empty" and
                              power - and from the           consumerism as
Douglas Martin's obituary     competition of both church     "mindless" (Letters,
of Harold Berman is           and state with manors,         November 17). Bourgeois
eloquent and wise ("Harold    cities, and merchants for      values encourage hard
J. Berman, 89, Who            jurisdiction over a wide       work, sobriety, thrift,
Altered Beliefs About         variety of disputes. Mr.       honesty, and self-reliance -
Origins of Western Law,       Berman's momentous             all which earn their
Dies," November 18). But      scholarship revealed that      practitioners the ability over
in describing the thrust of   our modern conception of       time to enjoy greater
Professor Berman's most       law as being exclusively       material comforts and
celebrated work - his 1983    the dictate of a sovereign     amusements. What is truly
book Law and Revolution -     power is mistaken.             empty is the value that
Mr. Martin misses that                                       counsels A to live off of the
work's central point.         17 November 2007               wealth given to him by B
                                                             and which B confiscated
                              Editor, Baltimore Sun          from C. And what is truly
mindless is the notion that     Medicare and Medicaid are        15 November 2007
society progresses as           in worse financial shape
greater numbers of us live      than is Social Security. But     Editor, The Wall Street
as A's or as B's, and all the   Mr. Saving also warned           Journal
while thinking of C's as        that Social Security's           200 Liberty Street
being nothing more than         financial condition is           New York, NY 10281
contemptible cows to be         precarious. Speaking for
milked for the "general         the Trustees, Mr. Saving         To the Editor:
good."                          said that action to fix Social
                                Security's coming                Rafael Medoff makes a
16 November 2007                insolvency "should not be        good case that Churchill's
                                deferred any longer than         politics prevented him from
The Editor, New York            necessary for due                saving as many Jewish
Times                           deliberation and decision."      lives as he would have
229 West 43rd St.               [    saved had he not refused
New York, NY 10036              main/news.php?ItemsID=1          to open British-ruled
                                15]                              Palestine to Jews seeking
To the Editor:                                                   escape from Hitler's killers
                                                                 (Letters, November 15).
Paul Krugman asserts that                                        But let's not forget F.D.R.'s
Social Security faces no                                         unforgivable refusal to
financial crisis ("Played for                                    admit into the U.S. the 937
a Sucker," November 16).                                         Jews trying to escape from
His evidence? Peter                                              Germany in 1939 aboard
Orszag's and Philip Ellis's                                      the ship St. Louis.
statement that the largest
fiscal problem confronting                                       14 November 2007
Uncle Sam is the projected
growth in health-care                                            Editor, Baltimore Sun
costs. Mr. Krugman's logic
is as compelling as would                                        To the Editor:
be that of a physician who
concludes that tuberculosis                                      "Rosemary's Baby" and
isn't a serious illness                                          "The Boys from Brazil" are
because pancreatic cancer                                        indeed the two most
is even more lethal.                                             popular novels written by
                                                                 the late Ira Levin
In 2005 testimony before                                         ("'Rosemary's Baby' Author
Congress, the eminent                                            Ira Levin Dies," November
economist Thomas Saving                                          14). But his best work, in
- appointed by President                                         my opinion, is his little-
Clinton to serve as a Public                                     known 1970 novel "This
Trustee of the Social                                            Perfect Day." In this work,
Security and Medicare                                            Mr. Levin describes the
Trust Funds -                                                    horrors unleashed by a
acknowledged that                                                collectivist mentality that
deifies the state as the         its mounting enthusiasm         off - happier, even! - if this
creator of all that is orderly   for raising taxes, and the      new generation of planners
and good in society - a          Fed's acceleration of the       are laughed out of the
mentality that, as a result,     growth of the supply of         public arena before their
empowers government to           dollars.                        power grows to be as large
crush liberty and                                                as their gargantuan
individuality. "This Perfect     12 November 2007                arrogance.
Day" should rank with other
collectivist-dystopian works     The Editor, New York            12 November 2007
such as Orwell's "1984"          Times
and with Huxley's "Brave         229 West 43rd St.               Editor, Washington Post
New World."                      New York, NY 10036              1150 15th St., NW
                                                                 Washington, DC 20071
13 November 2007                 To the Editor:
                                                                 Dear Editor:
Editor, USA Today                Here's the scariest line I've
                                 read in ages: "The era of       Sebastian Mallaby sensibly
To the Editor:                   laissez-faire happiness         finds merit in Benn Steil's
                                 might be coming to an end.      call for currency to be
DeWayne Wickham's                Some prominent                  supplied by the private
analysis of the dollar's         economists and                  sector ("The Dollar In
declining value is flawed        psychologists are looking       Danger," November 12).
("Weakening dollar reflects      into ways to measure            But Mr. Mallaby misses the
USA's fading world status,"      happiness to draw it into       mark somewhat when he
November 13). First,             the public policy realm"        writes that "The more the
prosperity isn't created by a    ("All They Are Saying Is        dollar slides, the less Steil's
nation having "economic          Give Happiness a                suggestion sounds like a
dominance" (whatever that        Chance," November 12).          fantasy from a movie
means); it is created by                                         studio." History beat
open markets unburdened          Several decades ago,            Hollywood to this story line.
by excessive regulations         some economists -
and taxes. Second, the           enamored of their               Several economies have
size of the trade deficit is     increasing ability to           successfully used private
no part of the explanation       describe statistically          currencies in the past. The
for the dollar's fall. What      existing patterns of            most famous of these was
must be explained is why         production - fancied that a     Scotland from the early
investors until recently         new age was dawning in          18th century until 1845,
were keen on the dollar          which government would          when the Scottish Banking
(and thus increasing the         improve the lot of ordinary     Act ended free entry into
trade deficit) and why they      people by substituting its      the currency-issuing
are less keen on it now. I       own production and              business. Research by
have my hunches for this         distribution "plans" for the    George Selgin, Lawrence
change in investors'             results of the market.          White, and others shows
sentiments - namely,             These fancies proved to be      not only that markets can
Congress's increasing            dangerous fantasies. We         supply money, but also that
hostility to free trade and      would all be much better        privately issued money is
quite sound. [An excellent   "How Would the Invisible   Literature, Vol. 32,
survey is George A. Selgin   Hand Handle Money?,"       December 1994.]
and Lawrence H. White,       Journal of Economic