Free market in a welfare state

In the Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders said that what he meant by Democratic Socialism is a system like Denmark’s.   I had to laugh, having just come from Denmark and learning that the system over there is more complicated than either Bernie Sanders or I had realized.

Despite the stereotype of the melancholy Dane, Denmark has been ranked as the happiest nation on earth.  Its income level, standard of living, and economic prosperity are among the best in the world.

It is true that Denmark has what could be described as a welfare state.  Medical care and university education are free, and the generous safety net takes care of just about everybody.  And yet, Denmark also ranks as one of the world’s freest market economies.  I had assumed that the welfare state and pro-business free market capitalism are irreconcilable opposites.  But the two work together in Denmark. [Read more…]

Vengeance, competition, and Christianity

Some time ago, I stumbled upon a discussion of Christian anthropologist Rene Girard and Pay Pal founder Peter Thiel.  It had to do with vengeance, competition, new technology start ups, and why both Girard and Thiel came to embrace Christianity. [Read more…]

Volkswagen’s scam

Since 2009, Volkswagen diesels have had software that detects when the car is on one of those treadmills states use for your annual emissions test.  Whereupon the software causes the car to emit very few pollutants.  But when the car goes back to normal driving, the software shuts down and the pollutants pour forth.

That acclaimed German engineering used for such a flagrant deception!  Now dealers are stuck with lotsful of inventory they aren’t allowed to sell, owners can’t pass their emissions tests, their resale value has plummeted, the head of the company has resigned, and a respected brand is utterly discredited.

Do any of you have a Volkswagen diesel affected by this scandal?  What is the company telling you?

[Read more…]

Collective bargaining with “joint employers”

The National Labor Board has ruled that companies that subcontract parts of their operation or sell franchises to private operators are to be considered “joint employers.”  That means they may have to engage in collective bargaining with the unions that represent employees of the subcontractors or franchisees.

But many subcontractors offer services to scores of companies!  Must all of them have a say in what the smaller businesses pay their employees? [Read more…]

What about wage subsidies?

Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute has offered an alternative both to the minimum wage and to the trillion dollars that we spend on anti-poverty programs:  wage subsidies.

The government would supplement the salary for low-paying jobs so that they would constitute a living wage.  But this would allow small businesses to hire more people, rather than less (as would be the case with increasing the minimum wage).  And it would make welfare recipients work for their livings, possibly starting them on a path towards upwards mobility.  And wage subsidies would cost taxpayers less money than the current ineffective system, while still providing a “safety-net.”

Read the case for wage subsidies after the jump.  What do you think of the idea?  Can you think of any other creative solutions to these kinds of problems? [Read more…]

Megabrewery–no, gigabrewery

We have microbreweries that make small-batch craft beers.  We have macrobreweries that make the mass-produced brands like Budweiser and Miller.  But now Budweiser and Miller, or rather the global corporations that now control them both, are working on a merger!  That would result in a megabrewery.  No, since this conglomerate would make a one third of the world’s beer supply, it would have to be called a gigabrewery!

If the merger could pass all of the regulatory and anti-trust hurdles, that is.  Here is a list of beers that would come under this vast corporate umbrella, including lots of foreign stalwarts and brews that purists find acceptable.  (Both corporations have been buying up smaller breweries.)  Details of the proposed deal after the jump. [Read more…]


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