The Myth of US Prosperity During World War II

In my previous article, I laid out why war is not good for an economy generally. Yet, while many people admit that the resources used to fight the Vietnam War or either of the U.S. wars on Iraq could have been put to better use, they still have an almost romantic view of how good … Continue reading “The Myth of US Prosperity During World War II”

War Is Good for the Economy – Isn’t It?

A common theme that has emerged in critiques of my “Wartime Economist” columns on is that war is good for an economy. One respondent wrote: “Why did [Franklin D.] Roosevelt want the war [World War II] so badly? He wanted it for the same reason every American president since that time has wanted a … Continue reading “War Is Good for the Economy – Isn’t It?”

Why Libertarians Should be Critical of War

Author’s note: The following is from a talk I gave at a Libertarian Party of California convention in Fresno on Jan. 28. Although it is 90-percent faithful to the talk, I rewrote it to reflect further thoughts I had after the speech. As well as being a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, I’m an … Continue reading “Why Libertarians Should be Critical of War”

Conversation with a US Military Officer

At the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., I teach economics to military officers. In general, I love my job and my students. With a median age of about 31, they have much more curiosity than the typical undergrad. That makes sense because, as military officers, they have traveled widely and noticed many things. So, … Continue reading “Conversation with a US Military Officer”

Milton and David Friedman on Military Intervention

Nobel laureate in economics Milton Friedman has never, to my knowledge, written on foreign policy. But the framework in one of Friedman’s best articles from the early 1950s can be applied directly to foreign policy. As far as I know, no one has done so. This is not surprising for two reasons. First, the article, … Continue reading “Milton and David Friedman on Military Intervention”

Let’s Keep Our Eyes on the Prize

Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens is right when he denounces former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Although he and I disagree strongly about the wisdom of the U.S. government’s war on Iraq – he favors it and I’ve opposed it from the get-go – Hitchens is one of the sharpest pundits in the punditry business. … Continue reading “Let’s Keep Our Eyes on the Prize”

Adam Smith’s Economic Case Against Imperialism

Sometimes, when I recommend that people read Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (the full title is An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations), I am met with a supercilious snort, as if nothing that was written in 1776 could be relevant to today. A very common attitude seems to be, … Continue reading “Adam Smith’s Economic Case Against Imperialism”

An Economist’s Case Against an Interventionist Foreign Policy

I‘ve been an economist over half my life. The more I’ve learned, the more I’ve seen what a powerful insight economist Ludwig von Mises had over 60 years ago when he pointed out that virtually every government intervention leads to unintended consequences that then lead to further interventions. So, for example, Nixon’s 1973 price controls … Continue reading “An Economist’s Case Against an Interventionist Foreign Policy”