Anyone who is an advocate for a Universal Basic Income is familiar with the claim that our government already spends way too much on welfare. We should be looking to cut back out social protection spending, not looking for new programs, say the skeptics. But they are wrong. As the research reported here shows, the United States lags far behind its liberal democratic peers in providing support to people in need. In one form or another, a UBI could go a long way to closing the gap.

Around the world, liberal democracies take pride in the freedom and prosperity of…


Carbon pricing is firmly entrenched as the go-to climate policy for economists, yet many others, despite an enthusiasm for aggressive climate action, are skeptical. As one critic puts it, “Of the policy tools in the carbon toolbox, carbon pricing is the tiny flathead screwdriver used to fix glasses.” Instead of a screwdriver, the pricing skeptics want something big, something that moves mountains and makes lots of noise.

In my view, the skeptics have it wrong. Instead of a tiny screwdriver, I like to think of carbon pricing as the drip irrigation of climate policy. Israeli farmers have shown how drip…


A new Congress has convened. Soon the battle of the budget will begin. On one side will be the advocates of stimulus, who think the economy needs help to recover fully from the damage done by the pandemic. On the other side will be the deficit hawks, refreshed after their long slumber during the Trump administration.

The case for a sharp turn toward fiscal austerity rests in large part on the idea that we are at the edge of a precipice, poised for a plunge into insolvency, default, hyperinflation, and who knows what other disasters. A new book from the…


In a well-argued essay, Jonathan Adler argues that libertarian environmentalists ought to take property rights seriously. No writer has had a greater impact on classical liberal and libertarian thinking about property than John Locke. It follows that any would-be free-market environmentalist must take Locke seriously. And not just Locke’s theory of property. His theory of government, as laid out in his 1690 Second Treatise, is equally important. In what follows, I will argue that considering Locke’s ideas on both property and government leads to conclusions that justify even stronger policy actions that Adler advocates.

Locke on property

Locke states the…


Writing this week in the Wall Street Journal, Bobby Jindal asks what the GOP should propose on healthcare, in order not to be “caught flat-footed next time they are in charge.” And by the way, why wait until the GOP is in charge again? Going by what Jindal says, there are ample grounds for at least incremental bipartisan reforms beginning as soon as the Biden team takes over the White House.

Jindal asks good questions and suggests some promising answers. Here is what I think he gets right.

Do conservatives continue fighting for a full repeal of Obamacare spending and…


In an essay in Critical Review a few years back, Jeffrey Friedman had a go at explaining what’s wrong with libertarianism. His sixty-page argument can be summed up in a single sentence: “Philosophical libertarianism,” he wrote, “founders on internal contradictions that render it unfit to make libertarians out of anyone who does not have strong consequentialist reasons for libertarian belief.”

The conflict between the philosophical and consequentialist sides of libertarianism is nowhere more sharply on display than when applied to environmental issues. …


As President-elect Joe Biden begins the transition process, he faces serious fiscal policy challenges. A hoped-for V-shaped recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic has turned into a something that looks more like a long-tailed Nike swoosh. Business closings, mostly classed as temporary back in March and April, are, increasingly, proving to be permanent. Short-term unemployment is falling, but long-term unemployment and involuntary part-time work are increasing. Evictions and foreclosures loom over cash-poor working-class families, who are estimated to have accumulated as much as $70 billion in back rent owed. Meanwhile, state and local governments, whose spending is constrained by balanced-budget rules…


On October 1, the Congressional Budget Office released a detailed report, Policies to Achieve Near-Universal Health Insurance Coverage. The report outlines four broad approaches to the long-sought goal of universal, affordable access to healthcare for all Americans. The CBO cautiously aims only for near-universal coverage, which it defines as coverage for at least 99 percent of the population. …


To put it mildly, federal regulatory agencies have not, during this administration, been in the forefront of those calling for bold action on climate change. That makes last week’s report on Managing Climate Risk in the U.S. Financial System especially welcome. The report comes from a subcommittee of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) an independent U.S. regulatory agency responsible for regulating commodity futures, options, and swaps.

The report is not an official policy statement from the executive branch, but the five CFTC commissioners, three Republicans and two Democrats, all appointed by President Trump, voted unanimously to create the subcommittee…

Ed Dolan

Economist, Senior Fellow at Niskanen Center, Yale Ph.D. Interests include environment, health care policy, social safety net, economic freedom.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store