Suppose there’s a debate about the character of a public figure.  Supporters will usually marshal a long list of positives.  But detractors are more likely to present one horrifying fact.  A fact horrifying enough to get onlookers to shake their heads and say, “Unforgivable.”  If this rhetorical tactic works, the detractors instantly win the debate.  If you’ve done one unforgivable thing, you’re a villain – no matter how else you spent your life.

The Non-Shopper Problem

In a few high-profile markets, prices seem to stay far above average cost even though there are tons of competitors.  There are thousands of credit card issuers, but the average interest rate is 18.26%.  There are over 100,000 real estate brokerage firms, but the default commission remains 6%.  Sure, unsecured credit has a high default risk, but high enough to justify an 18.26% rate?  And why on Earth would it cost $60,000 to sell a million-dollar home?

Why Can’t Everything Be Free?

“Why can’t everything be free?”  I’m always delighted whenever a child asks me, because I have an intellectually solid answer even a child can understand.  Namely: If everyone had to produce for free, there would be virtually nothing to buy.  If everything had a price of zero, consumers would strive to fill their shopping carts […]

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Measuring Overreaction

In a sense, Scott Sumner is completely right.  If you measure overreaction using the ratio of the reaction to the actual harm, then the Covid response probably doesn’t even make the U.S. “top 100.”  After all, many government crusades target “problems” that cause zero harm.  Or, like immigration, negative harm. In another sense, however, Scott is completely wrong.