Most Important Economic Concepts

The Club for Growth points out that three economists have picked out what they view as the most important economic concepts:

Greg Mankiw:

1. Comparative advantage and the gains from trade
2. Supply, demand, and the efficiency of market equilibrium
3. Market failure, such as externalities, and the role for government

Mark Steckbeck:

1. Comparative advantage
2. The role of incentives and opportunity costs
3. How markets spontaneously coordinate individual behavior and improve the human condition.

Craig Newmark:

1. People tend to respond to incentives.
2. Scarcity, and its important corollary, opportunity cost.
3. Markets tend to be low cost allocators of goods and services

My three, FWIW:

1. Goods are scarce, and the opportunity cost that goes along with using them
2. Freely agreed upon trades are, by definition, mutually beneficial
3. Incentives matter


“The natural cure for an ill-administration, in a popular or representative constitution, is a change of men.” – Alexander Hamilton

“[Karl] Rove’s strategic vision involved securing a Republican victory at the expense of conservative principles.” – Jonah Goldberg

“One of the two major political parties of the United States has linked all its electoral hopes on domestic pathologies, economic downturns and foreign failure. It is actually difficult to name any positive development for America that would benefit the Democratic Party’s chances in a national election… The issue is that if Democrats want to win, they can do so only if bad things happen to America.” – Dennis Prager

“If dissent is so rare, why do global-warming conformists feel the strong need to argue that minority views should be dismissed as nutty or venal? Why not posit that there is such a thing as honest disagreement on the science?” – Debra Saunders

“If you think too much about being re-elected, it is very difficult to be worth re-electing.” – Woodrow Wilson

“Now I know what a statesman is; he’s a dead politician. We need more statesmen.” – Bob Edwards

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies.” – Groucho Marx

“Terrorism in general, and al-Qa’ida in particular, are like a cancer. Unchecked it will spread until the death of its target is achieved. No one is ever said to be cured of cancer. But it can be forced into remission. In the wars against cancer and terror, eternal vigilance is required. Especially at the border. The Fort Dix Six who plotted an attack on a U.S. Army base included three alien brothers- Dritan, Eljir and Shain Duka- who illegally entered into the U.S. as children near Brownsville, Texas, in 1984. Despite their receiving no less than 54 suspensions of their driver’s licenses over the years, local sanctuary laws prevented local cops from inquiring about their immigration status… Of course, sneaking across the Mexican border is not the only option. Thanks to the visa waiver program, a terrorist seeking entry to the U.S. can find it as easy as buying a plane ticket. Under the program, nationals of 27 mainly European nations can enter the U.S. without a visa or the accompanying interview by a U.S. official… We have learned a lot since Mohammed Atta waltzed through an airport in Portland, Maine, to launch the terror attacks of 9/11, but apparently not enough. Build the border fence, tighten identity requirements and close the entry loopholes. In border security as well as national security, it is important to trust, but verify.” – Investor’s Business Daily

“You’re giving away prizes all day and making everybody happy… You couldn’t do better. And it’s not even your money. You’re giving away money and getting credit for it. I feel like a congressman. I’m like the junior Ted Stevens.” – Drew Carey on taking the hosting job at “The Price is Right”

“When you talk as much as Newt Gingrich, you’ll often say something incisive, clever and even wise. Newt, who may become a candidate himself this fall, ridicules the presidential campaigns as too long, too expensive, and the debates as ‘almost unendurable’ and verging on ‘insane.’ Once he thinks about it, he’ll drop the polite qualifiers ‘almost’ and ‘verging.’ We’re already there.” – Wesley Pruden

“The results of President’s Bush’s annual physical were released [last week]. It revealed that last year President Bush got a rash from a tick bite. After hearing this, Bill Clinton said, ‘A rash from a tick bite? I’ll have to remember that one’.” – Conan O’Brien

Jay Leno: It was so hot in North Carolina even John Edwards had a bad hair day. … This week, the government announced a new operation to crack down on the hiring of illegals here in Los Angeles. It’s called Operation You’re Going To Have To Cut Your Own Lawn and Raise Your Own Kids. … Another Democratic debate last [week]. I don’t want to say it did bad in the ratings, but it had so few viewers it was declared an NBC prime-time show. … Elizabeth Edwards is speaking out again. She says the problem with her husband’s fundraising campaign is she can’t make him black, and she can’t make him a woman. That’s the same problem with Michael Jackson’s people.

Even I wouldn’t have fallen for this one

The AP accepted without question that a woman’s house was hit by US bullets. The only problem is: the bullets clearly had never been fired.

I’m by no means anywhere near a firearms expert, but I took one look at those bullets and knew they hadn’t been fired. If the media is going to cover Iraq well, they really need some reporters who are familiar with the military and related topics, or at the very least have editors who can catch glaring errors like this one.

Hat Tip: InstaPundit

A Catholic Saint Jeff the Baptist Could Love

February 27 is the Saint Day for Gabriel Possenti, one of my favorite saints. According to The One Year Book of Saints, as a young man in 19th-century Italy, Francesco Possenti was known as the best dresser in town, as a “superb horseman,” and as “an excellent marksman.” He was proficient with rifles and shotguns. The young man was also a consummate partygoer, who was once engaged to two women at the same time. Twice during school he fell desperately ill, promised to give his life to God if he recovered, and then forgot his promise. On August day at church, Possenti saw a banner of Mary. Her eyes looked directly at him, and he heard the words “Keep your promise.”

Possenti immediately joined an order of monks, taking the name Brother Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin. Then in 1860:

On a summer day…a slim figure in a black cassock [Possenti] stood facing a gang of mercenaries in a small town in Piedmont, Italy. He had just disarmed one of the soldiers who was attacking a young girl, had faced the rest of the band fearlessly, then drove them all out of the village at the point of a gun….
[W]hen Garibaldi’s mercenaries swept down through Italy ravaging villages, Brother Gabriel showed the kind of man he was by confronting them, astonishing them with his marksmanship, and saving the small village where his monastery was located.

The soldiers were from the nationalist army of Giuseppe Garibaldi, who was defeating the Papal States and bringing Italy under his unified control. As is not uncommon in warfare, some of Garibaldi’s soldiers, once the fighting was over, went off on their own, on free-lance missions to pillage and terrorize defenseless nearby communities. About twenty former soldiers and non-commissioned officers showed up in the tiny town of Isola del Gran Sasso.

Possenti was studying for the priesthood in the nearby monastery run by the Passionist Order. (The order is devoted to the “passion” or suffering of Jesus.) When Possenti heard the disturbance in town, he asked the rector for permission to go see if he could help, and permission was granted.

Possenti arrived just in time to see two sergeants on the verge of raping two young women. Possenti snatched one sergeants gun out of his holster, and then quickly grabbed the other sergeant’s handgun. Presumably, the sergeants were drunk and carousing, expecting no resistance, and not particularly focused on weapons retention. Next:

The two of them, dumbfounded, let the woman go.
When the other soldiers in the band of about 20 heard the commotion, they rushed toward Possenti, thinking they easily could make short shrift of this slightly built, cassocked theology student. One of them apparently made some sneering remark about him attired in his cassock.
At that moment, a lizard ran across the road. The marksman Possenti took aim, fired, and killed it with one shot. It was then that he turned his weapons toward the advancing gang, surprised and shocked by this amazing demonstration of handgun marksmanship.
Possenti ordered the terrorists to put down their arms, which they did. He ordered them to put out fires that they had started, which they did.
He ordered them to return the property that they had taken from the villagers, which they did.
He then ordered the whole lot of them out of town at gunpoint. They left, never to return.
The Isolans then accompanied Possenti back to his monastery in triumphant procession, naming him the Savior of Isola.”

Read the whole thing

Hat Tip: The Cafeteria is Closed

Quote of the Day

“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If `Thou shalt not covet’ and `Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.”

— John Adams (A Defense of the American Constitutions, 1787)