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American Compass Releases Conservative Economic Agenda for 118th Congress
Hayek’s Broken Promise
Comparative Disadvantage

Laissez-faire has become a dirty word. Today it serves as shorthand for a soulless, anything-goes approach to life in which government makes no contribution to a thriving economy and the market is the solution to every problem. …

Now this movement has its own think tank, American Compass. It is run by Oren Cass, a bright young thinker formerly of the Manhattan Institute who in 2012 served as domestic policy director for Mitt Romney during his run for president. Most recently, Mr. Cass unveiled what he calls a Cost-of-Thriving Index. It purports to show that it now takes a typical male breadwinner 53 weeks of work to cover a year’s worth of the top expenses for a family of four—health care, transportation, education and housing. In 1985 it took only 30 weeks.

Since the chart’s release, various economists have picked apart its assumptions. Some question its inflation metrics. Others say it overestimates a typical family’s out-of-pocket health-care costs because it doesn’t account for employer contributions.

Yours truly has broader objections.

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American Compass Releases Conservative Economic Agenda for 118th Congress

Today, American Compass is releasing New Direction: Conservative Principles & Policies for the 118th Congress, an agenda for economic renewal, focused on the interests of worker, their families and communities, and the nation.

Hayek’s Broken Promise

It is a tragedy that Friedrich Hayek’s excesses, invested with the authority of his (deserved) reputation, became the unexamined default for right-of-center economic thinking in America.

The resulting orthodoxy too often combines a Panglossian insistence on defending market outcomes regardless of their quality with a reflexive belief that policy intervention can only be distortive for the worse.

But when it comes to international trade’s effect on the American economy, a knowing assertion that nothing should be done, followed by yet another “analysis” working backward to an argument that nothing needs doing, will no longer do.

Comparative Disadvantage

If comparative advantage is created rather than discovered, refusing to play the game has consequences.