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Four thoughts for July 4

1. Why you should read this blog:

If the voters or the members of a parliament are faced with the problems raised by a bill concerning the prevention of cattle diseases or the construction of an office building, they may leave the discussion of the details to the experts. Such veterinarian and engineering problems do not interfere with the fundamentals of social and political life. They are important but not primary and vital. But if not only the masses but even the greater part of their elected representatives declare: “These monetary problems can only be comprehended by specialists; we do not have the inclination to study them; in this matter we must trust the experts,” they are virtually renouncing their sovereignty to the professionals. — Ludwig von Mises, Bureaucracy, page 120

2. Much as the effectiveness of central planning was the overarching economic policy issue of the 20th century (and a focus of Ludwig von Mises's thought for most of his life), the financial sustainability of the welfare state will be the overarching economic policy issue of the 21st century, at least of its first several decades. Some weeks from now, after I have thought about the issue more, I will have something to say about where free banking fits into the picture.

3. The term "rent seeking" describes a pervasive problem that affects banking and many other economic sectors. It is such an awkward piece of jargon, though, that economists have long sought a snappy alternative. How about "the steal industry"? (Hat tip to a commentator at Coordination Problem.)

4. In the Declaration of Independence, about the only thing the Founding Fathers did not accuse George III of was debasing the currency. That was because most of the 13 colonies had already done it to themselves, over the objections of British officials.