Assorted Links (12/20/2011)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading lately:

How Economics Saved Christmas

“This take on a Christmas classic was inspired in part by a sermon…and Murray Rothbard’s essay ‘Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution.’”

Ruining Christmas: An Economist’s Guide

I think the primary takeaway of this article is that it’s important to think carefully about the relationship between good intentions and unintended consequences.  Indeed, as the author notes (see point #5), “Intending to help people isn’t the same as actually helping people… It’s a lifestyle decision that requires getting meaningfully involved in the lives of others.”

The World’s Most Repressive State

Under the so-called “Dear Leader”, crimes against the state included things like listening to a foreign radio broadcast, reading a Bible, or disrespecting a portrait of Kim Jong Il…

The Great Successor

“In The Wall Street Journal, John Bolton writes that in the wake of Kim Jong Il’s death and attempted anointment of his son Kim Jong Eun as his successor, there’s no guarantee that the North Korean military will accept another hereditary ruler.”

Tyranny and Indifference

“In The Wall Street Journal, Global View columnist Bret Stephens writes that the West should heed Václav Havel’s prescription to ‘live in truth.’”

This Is Your Brain On Crony-Capitalism

“And despite the similar name, it’s nothing like actual capitalism.”

Zenith Men’s Defy Xtreme Tourbillon Titanium Chronograph Watch

I think this may very well be the most expensive item offered on Amazon – it’s list price is $145,000, and it is being offered on Amazon for “only” $86,999.99… 

The wages of appeasement

“Obama’s policies toward Russia and Iran failed.”

Photos of the Year 2011

“WSJ editors pick the best photos of the year organized by category, date and location. These photos represent the key moments and defining images of the news in 2011.”

Why Mandated Health Insurance Is Unfair

“In The Wall Street Journal, John C. Goodman writes that there’s an easier way to solve the ‘free-rider’ problem.” This article explains why “There is nothing that can be achieved with a mandate that can’t be better achieved by a carefully designed system of tax subsidies.”

MIT Will Offer Certificates to Outside Students Who Take Its Online Courses

“Millions of learners have enjoyed the free lecture videos and other course materials published online through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s OpenCourseWare project. Now MIT plans to release a fresh batch of open online courses—and, for the first time, to offer certificates to outside students…”

Capitalism and the Right to Rise

“In The Wall Street Journal, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush writes that in freedom lies the risk of failure—but in statism lies the certainty of stagnation.”