Here’s a collection of interesting quotes on economics, policy, and society.

Interesting Quotes

It’s been easier to convince people to hand over half their income, their children to war, and their freedoms in perpetuity than to engage them in seriously considering how roads might function in the absence of taxation.

    — Stefan Molyneaux

It has been said that macroeconomics is hard because it’s like testing ADHD drugs without knowing which children have been medicated. No, macroeconomics is hard because we never actually medicate the children. Instead, we feed a mathematical representation of the drug to a mathematical representation of the child. But a child is too difficult to represent mathematically, so we replace it with a mathematical representation of a rock.

    — Antony Davies

The fact that so many successful politicians are such shameless liars is not only a reflection on them, it is also a reflection on us. When the people want the impossible, only liars can satisfy.

    — Thomas Sowell

A slave believes that the law should define the scope of liberty. A free person believes that liberty should define the scope of the law.

    — Jakub Bozydar Wisniewski

No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems — of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.

    — Thomas Sowell

When a tax is levied, two incentives are created. The first is to find loopholes to avoid payment. The next is to avoid the thing being taxed altogether. At no point does taxation inspire anyone to pay more taxes.

    — Michael Giordano

There are three kinds of liars: liars, damn liars, and people who don’t understand statistics but quote them anyway.

    — Antony Davies

Libertarianism holds exactly one political position: No one may initiate physical aggression against an innocent person. That’s it.

    — Thomas Woods

Liberals see government as a complement to community. Libertarians see government as a substitute for community. So when liberals say “government should care for the poor,” and Libertarians say, “government should not care for the poor,” they are both saying that we should care for the poor.

Antony Davies

The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.

    — Ayn Rand

When sellers seek to charge the highest price they can, they are “price gougers”; when they seek to keep prices as they are, they are “in collusion”; and when they seek to lower prices, they are engaging in “predatory pricing”. In the eyes of a statist, whatever happens in the market is wrong by definition.

    — Bardhyl Salihu

Politicians never accuse you of greed for wanting other people’s money — only for wanting to keep your own.

    — Joseph Sobran

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

    — Philip K. Dick

Keynes did not teach us how to perform the miracle of turning a stone into bread, but the not at all miraculous procedure of eating the seed corn.

    — Ludwig von Mises

All governments suffer a recurring problem: power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts, but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.

    — Frank Herbert

Since there is no such entity as “the public,” since the public is merely a number of individuals, the idea that “the public interest” supersedes private interests and rights can have but one meaning: that the interests and rights of some individuals take precedence over the interests and rights of others.

    — Ayn Rand

Economic reasoning places boundaries on our utopias. It defines the non-negotiable constraints on social reality.

    — Art Carden

Engaging in commerce doesn’t impart an understanding of economics any more than engaging in sex imparts an understanding of genetics.

    — Antony Davies

It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline…But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.

    — Murray Rothbard

What most people really object to when they object to a free market is that it is so hard for them to shape it to their own will. The market gives people what the people want instead of what other people think they ought to want. At the bottom of many criticisms of the market economy is really lack of belief in freedom itself.

    — Milton Friedman

Our money is not the government’s money. We have to stop discussing spending cuts as being unaffordable to the government and begin discussing increased spending as being unaffordable to us.

    — William Broderick

Political freedom makes economic freedom possible. Economic freedom makes political freedom meaningful.

Antony Davies

Government is a disease masquerading as its own cure.
    — Robert LeFevre

I always get a chuckle out of the presumably unintentional irony of those who reject the anti-evolution idea of intelligent design in biology but simultaneously advocate what is, in effect, intelligent design economics.
    — Steve Conover

An economic system is a tool for creating wealth. A political system is a tool for securing justice. When a society attempts to use its economic system to secure justice or its political system to create wealth, it attains neither.

    — Antony Davies

There are no causes of poverty. To ask what causes poverty is like asking what causes cold…it is the absence of energy. Similarly poverty is the absence of wealth. We should ask, “what are the causes of wealth?”

    — Madsen Pirie

Free people can treat each other justly, but they can’t make life fair. To get rid of the unfairness among individuals, you have to exercise power over them. The more fairness you want, the more power you need. Thus, all dreams of fairness become dreams of tyranny in the end.

    — Andrew Klavan

Life, Liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.
Frederic Bastiat

Imagine a subsistence farmer who can’t grow enough food to survive. Raising the minimum wage is like passing a law requiring his fields to produce more crops.

    — Antony Davies

Have you ever noticed how statists are constantly “reforming” their own handiwork? Education reform. Health-care reform. Welfare reform. Tax reform. The very fact that they’re always busy “reforming” is an implicit admission that they didn’t get it right the first 50 times.

    — Lawrence W. Reed

There is no reason to believe that bureaucrats and politicians, no matter how well meaning, are better at solving problems than the people on the spot, who have the strongest incentive to get the solution right.

    — Elinor Ostrom

It will be of little avail to the people if the laws are so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.

    — James Madison

In the whole history of capitalism, no one has been able to establish a coercive monopoly by means of competition in a free market…Every single coercive monopoly that exists or ever has existed…was created and made possible only by an act of government…which granted special privileges (not obtainable in a free market) to a man or a group of men, and forbade all others to enter that particular field.

    — Nathaniel Branden

You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

Adrian Rogers, 1931

You can ignore reality, but you can’t ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.

    — Ayn Rand

It is the duty of every patriot to protect his country from its government.

    — Thomas Paine

And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? The  tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

    — Thomas Jefferson

The degree to which we deviate from economic truth and follow the plans of men is the degree to which we become enslaved and tyrannized by craftier men.

    — Unknown

The problem with American conservatism is that it hates the left more than the state, loves the past more than liberty, feels a greater attachment to nationalism than to the ideal of self-determination, believes brute force is the answer to all social problems, and thinks that it is better to impose truth rather than to risk losing one’s soul to heresy. It has never understood the idea of freedom as a self-ordering principle of society.

    — Lew Rockwell

Markets and government are merely tools. People of goodwill will use them for good, and people of ill-will will use them for ill. The important question is which tool would people of ill-will rather use. That’s the tool to fear.

    — Antony Davies

Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

    — C.S. Lewis

Technology is advancing and people are rising out of poverty at such a pace that it is becoming apparent, even to the average voter, that politicians are dinosaurs. They struggle to remain relevant in an uber-bitcoin-smartphone world that refutes their prescriptions and predictions at every turn, that solves problems they didn’t know existed, and that reaches ever deeper toward the poor saying, “Come, join us, be free!”

    — Antony Davies

The Left has never understood why property rights are a big deal, except to fat cats who own a lot of property. Through legislation and judicial rulings, property rights have been eroded with rent control laws, expansive concepts of eminent domain, and all sorts of environmental restrictions. Some of the biggest losers have been people of very modest incomes and some of the biggest winners have been fat cats who are able to use political muscle and activist judges to violate other people’s property rights. Politicians in cities around the country violate property rights regularly by seizing homes in working-class neighborhoods and demolishing whole sectors of the city, in order to turn the land over to people who will build shopping malls, gambling casinos, and other things that will pay more taxes than the homeowners are paying. That’s why property rights were put in the Constitution in the first place, to keep politicians from doing things like that. But the adolescent intellectuals of our time have promoted the notion that property rights are just arbitrary rules to protect the rich.

    — Thomas Sowell

Ever seen two children quarreling over a toy? Such squabbles had been commonplace in Katherine Hussman Klemp’s household. But in the Sesame Street Parent’s Guide she tells how she created peace in her family of eight children by assigning property rights to toys. As a young mother, Klemp often brought home games and toys from garage sales. “I rarely matched a particular item with a particular child,” she says. “Upon reflection, I could see how the fuzziness of ownership easily led to arguments. If everything belonged to everyone, then each child felt he had a right to use anything.” To solve the problem, Klemp introduced two simple rules: First, never bring anything into the house without assigning clear ownership to one child. The owner has ultimate authority over the use of the property. Second, the owner is not required to share. Before the rules were in place, Klemp recalls, “I suspected that much of the drama often centered less on who got the item in dispute and more on whom Mom would side with.” Now, property rights, not parents, settle the arguments. Instead of teaching selfishness, the introduction of property rights actually promoted sharing. The children were secure in their ownership and knew they could always get their toys back. Adds Klemp, “‘Sharing’ raised their self-esteem to see themselves as generous persons.” Not only do her children value their own property rights, but also they extend that respect to the property of others. “Rarely do our children use each other’s things without asking first, and they respect a ‘No’ when they get one. Best of all, when someone who has every right to say ‘No’ to a request says ‘Yes,’ the borrower sees the gift for what it is and says ‘Thanks’ more often than not,” says Klemp.

    — Janet Beales Kaidantzis

Imagine someone who produces more value for society than he consumes of society’s resources. Clearly, society is better off because of this person. But when you provide value for others, you receive dollars in return. And when you consume society’s resources, you give up dollars to acquire those resources. So, in a free market, those who end up with more dollars do so precisely because they serve others more than they ask to be served in exchange.

    — Antony Davies

One of the last refuges of someone whose pet project or theory has been exposed as economic nonsense is to say: “Economics is all very well, but there are also non-economic values to consider.” Presumably, these are supposed to be higher and nobler concerns that soar above the level of crass materialism. Of course there are non-economic values. In fact, there are only non-economic values. Economics is not a value itself but merely a method of trading off one value against another…Economics does not say you should make the most money possible…. What lofty talk about “non-economic values” usually boils down to is that some people do not want their own particular values weighed against anything.

    — Thomas Sowell

 

The following are questions to which many people believe they know the answers. We call the answers “conventional wisdom” because the answers are repeated so frequently that people come to believe them to be correct despite never having seen evidence for or against. In each of the following cases, you will see evidence relevant to the questions.

Prices, Wages, and Employment

How can the unemployment rate be falling while so many people are unemployed?

Are we worse off than our parents?

Are the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer?

What do the poor in America own?

Is gas more expensive now than in the past?

Do males earn more than females and, if so, why?

 Why is a college education so expensive?

Why is a health insurance so expensive?

The link below is for a calculator that estimates the value of an MBA degree. The estimates are based on demographic, educational, and salary data from 38,000 recent MBA graduates. 

On the first sheet, enter your  information and information about your MBA program. The estimated value of your degree will be displayed at the top of the sheet. The second through fourth sheets provide graphs of the estimated net present value, internal rate of return, and breakeven based on the data you provided. 

The spreadsheet is in XLSX format, so until Microsoft updates Internet Explorer, you’ll have to right click on the link, select SAVE AS, and save the spreadsheet to your computer (the file extension will default to .zip; change it to .xlsx). You can then open the spreadsheet. Alternatively, you can use Firefox or Chrome.

Is an MBA degree valuable?