Category Archives: Rent Seeking

One Lesson NOT to Take from France’s “Yellow Vest” Protests

One narrative about the Yellow Vest protests in France is that politicians should not adopt energy taxes to change behaviors that lead to climate change.  In this telling, the political costs of wise energy policy are too high.  This is an overly simple reading of the French experience and is a convenient excuse for those […]

Time for the State of Maine to Get Out of the Alcohol Business

Not that long ago the purchase of many types of alcoholic beverages in Maine required a visit to a State-run liquor store.  This was rooted in the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which ended the Prohibition era in 1933 and allowed states to regulate importation of liquor.  But no longer, Maine got out of […]

Question 1: Rent Seeking Run Amok

Mailboxes are flooded with direct mail fliers.  The roadsides are littered with plastic signs.  We are admonished to Vote Yes On Question 1 on November 7.  This is one of the clearest examples of rent seeking behavior I have ever seen.  It is text book quality. Rent seeking occurs when an economic actor, in this […]

Was the Internet a Good Idea?

I remember clearly my first inkling of something new called the world wide web.  I had recently started using email and two colleagues brought me a U.S. Department of Agriculture publication describing a new information system.   One would be able to use a computer and software that would “crawl” about looking for information stored on […]

Economic Concepts You Should Know: Rent Seeking Behavior

It is common for politicians and media writers to speak of a dichotomy between free markets and government regulation.  Proponents of free markets argue that they create economic opportunities and generate efficiency in the overall economy.  Those favoring government regulation believe it creates economic fairness, worker rights, or environmental protection.  The reality is that the […]

“Renewable” Energy – Powerful Words Make Us Do Stupid Things

The term “renewable” is now magical when applied to energy policy.  We understand intuitively that fossil fuels are fixed, not renewable.  Even if they are abundant now, every bit of coal, oil, or natural gas we use means there is less available, and their use causes a host of environmental and national security problems.  If […]