Wednesday, January 28, 2015


David Widmar of Purdue University suggests a rising dollar could hurt ag exports in the near future.

Bryan Caplan (George Mason U) has a post about Bob Lawson's (Southern Methodist U) offer of a wager on the relationship between economic freedom and GDP growth over the next 20 years.

Michael Giberson of Texas Tech U defends the practices of "price gouging" during a disaster.

Don Boudreaux says income inequality is just not a big deal.


  1. Great blog. I got here via Jayson Lusk's blog. I'm an admin on Libertarians for GMOs as -JP if you are on Facebook.

    I have a question. Have you written or know of anything written on the notion that GMO companies, namely Monsanto (even though they aren't the only company doing Plant Biotech) could not be in business if it weren't for "evil" Ag subsidies?

    It's a common criticism I hear a lot from anti-biotech libertarians. I've written a little bit in response but I wasn't sure if you knew of anyone else who might have written on it.

    1. Zombie Hero,

      Thanks! We're glad you're here!

      I have heard that same criticism leveled at Monsanto and other seed companies. I've never seen someone defend those claims with any detailed analysis. That doesn't mean it's not out there, I suppose. For me to buy the idea that the federal gov't is transferring a lot of income to Monsanto et al directly, they'd have to show me where it says that in the farm bill. Of course, we do know that a lot of program payments just end up bidding up land prices, so I suppose the argument could be made that program payments to farmers increase input prices in general relative to what they would be otherwise. If this is the case (and I haven't personally seen any research to suggest it is), then I suppose one could argue that program payments *indirectly* drive up big-ag's profits.

      One of the criticisms leveled at biotech seed companies is that they have patent protection that artificially boosts their profits. That certainly could be the case. I'm not personally a fan of patents or copyrights in general, so I wouldn't defend those businesses on those grounds.

      Another point to make is that people complain about some biotech seeds being unable to reproduce, thus making it impossible to save seed to plant the next year. While that isn't true (see here:, one issue is that producers typically don't like "volunteer" crops, so the so-called "terminator" gene would actually be helpful in that sense. Especially in areas where it is hot (and thus the volunteer plants don't die in the winter) and dry, volunteer crops can reduce soil moisture. Here in southern Texas, farmers spend money killing the volunteer plants that come up for this very reason. As the article I linked notes, farmers have been buying seed annually for much longer than GMOs even existed. Replanting hybrids gets you inferior traits. That's a fact of nature, not the fault of the "evil" agribusinesses. Of course, the farmer (and the rest of us) is likely better off planting the hybrid and purchasing new seed each year.

      Anyway, I'm sorry I don't have a better answer or any research to offer.