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Think of All the Jobs Central Heating Destroyed

Central heating – along with running water, electricity-powered household appliances such vacuum cleaners, ranges, refrigerators, and freezers (with the latter later becoming self-defrosting), commercial dairies, inexpensive prepared foods, and other modern conveniences – released women from the dullness of housewifery so that they could contribute their skills to strangers in commercial markets (and, of course, earn extra monetary income from these contributions). Read the full thing

It’s Either Bullies or Balance Sheets

A wise man once told me that in this life, you can obey balance sheets or bullies. In the end, those are the only two paths. He was drawing attention to an unavoidable reality in a world of scarcity. All scarce things must be allocated among competing ends. This can be done top-down by people in control, or it can be accomplished bottom-up with the signaling system that emerges from voluntary exchange. The two approaches don’t mix well. Read the full thing

How Econ Textbooks Sanitize the Horrors of Communism

When I was first learning economics, I was surprised by how pro-communist many economics textbooks were. I don't mean, of course, that any economics textbook ever said, "Communism is good." What I mean, rather, is that textbooks were very positive relative to communism's historical record. Indeed, many seemed deeply ignorant of actual communism, basing their assessment on second-hand information about communists' stated intentions, plus a few anecdotes about inefficiencies. Many textbook authors were, in a phrase, communist dupes: Non-communists who believe and spread a radically overoptimistic image of communism. Read the full thing

The Many Benefits, for Kids, of Playing Video Games

Video games have been under attack by the fear-mongers ever since they first appeared, and the attacks have not diminished. If you Google around the Internet using harmful effects of video games as a search phrase, you will find all sorts of frightening claims. If you look into the actual research literature, you find very little if any evidence supporting the fear-mongers claims, and considerable evidence against those claims. Read the full thing