Category Archives: The Market Process

The Environmental Impact of iPhones

One doesn’t usually think of electronic gadgets as being environmentally friendly. But Cato’s Marian Tupy makes a good point about the iPhone. By replacing legions of bigger, clunkier items like newspapers and magazines, alarm clocks, compasses, and even white noise machines, smart phones can drastically reduce the amount of raw materials people need to maintain a first world lifestyle.

It’s an underappreciated point about capitalism and the innovation it makes possible that should be made more often. Click here to read Marian’s post, which is accompanied by a cool graphic.


Worth a Thousand Words

With a single graph, NYU’s Bill Easterly shows, not tells, why America’s current economic troubles aren’t as bad as they seem.

I won’t spoil the suspense; just click here. And keep in mind that the graph is logarithmic. Its true slope is far steeper.

Creative Destruction at Work

Gawker and 7 Other Formerly Popular Sites That Are Dead or Dying

(via Iain Murray)

Regulation of the Day 173: Yellow Pages

It’s creative destruction in action. San Francisco is phasing out the distribution of hard-copy Yellow Pages. About 1.6 million of the doorstops are delivered to San Francisco homes every year. Most people no longer use them. Between, Google, Craigslist, and other online tools, consumers now have better options for finding what they need.

Next week, San Francisco’s city council will hold a vote to ban delivery of hard copy Yellow Pages to anyone who doesn’t specifically request one.

This issue doesn’t really need a regulatory solution, though. The books depend on ad sales to be profitable. As people use them less and less, advertisers become more reluctant to pay for ads. When revenues drop enough, it will no longer be worthwhile to print hard copies. This transition will happen just fine on its own.

Congressional Economics

Some people think that the only reason poverty still exists is because Congress hasn’t passed laws guaranteeing the right to decent housing, health, and education.

Some of these people are in Congress. Over at The American Spectator, my colleague Jacqueline Otto and I explain why their hearts are in the right place, but their heads aren’t:

Suppose that poverty really can be abolished by passing a few laws. Jackson isn’t going nearly far enough, then. The Constitution should guarantee everyone not just a decent home, but a mansion filled with servants to take care of every need.

Everyone should have the right to not just a doctor’s visit every 6 months, but a cadre of specialists with access to the latest technologies and tests. This would be a boon for life expectancy.

And why only an iPod and a laptop for children? They deserve supercomputers! And the right to a Harvard Ph.D. Such a law would give America the most educated population in the world; though it would probably know the least.

Congress might as well pass a law guaranteeing an above-average lifestyle for all Americans.

From Poor and Sick to Healthy and Rich

Via Russ Roberts, this is an amazing video. I’m always impressed with creative, compelling ways to use data to tell a story. And this story is one of the most important in human history: how most of humanity went from being poor and sick to healthy and rich in just 200 years.

There is still a ways to go. But if past is prologue, I’m optimistic about the future.

Joe Biden’s Weak Case for Government Meddling

Joe Biden believes that government played a large role in the success of railroads in the 19th century. In this video, Don Boudreaux points out that that isn’t actually true. There were four transcontinental railroads. Three of them received subsidies.  The fourth was the Great Northern Railway, founded by Canadian immigrant James J. Hill. He alone rejected any special government favors.

All three subsidized railroads went into receivership. Hill’s Great Northern Railway remained solvent, and is still in business today as the BNSF Railroad.