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Specialization and Wealth

In this podcast, Dwight Lee explains how specializatoin, voluntary exchange, and cooperation lead to an increase in productivity and wealth accumulation. (9:15 minutes)

Social Cooperation and the Marketplace

The social cooperation that results from the information and incentives communicated through the market is not perfect. But no other economic system comes remotely close to the market in allowing people to achieve their objectives in productive cooperation with each other. (8:44 minutes)

Sacrificing Lives for Profits

When people willingly accept risks to acquire things they value, they are putting a price on their lives--telling us with their actions that the marginal value of their lives is less than the often quite low value they realize from overeating, not exercising, driving too fast, and so on. (8:40 minutes)

Running Out of Agricultural Land

Fear that we are running out of important resources like agricultural land is perpetual, but in most cases, this fear is baseless. In this podcast, Dwight Lee explains the role of property rights in preventing the depletion of resources. (8:48 minutes)

Private Property and Oppurtunity Costs

Markets promote the general interest by revealing costs while governments commonly favor special interest by concealing those costs. In this podcast, Dwight Lee discusses opportunity costs by introducing the critical role of private property. Private property lies at the foundation of market economies because without private property, and the exchange it fosters, people would be unable to consider the full costs of their decisions. (8:22 minutes)

The Power of Incentives

The surest way to get people to behave in desirable ways is to reward them for doing so--in other words provide them with incentives. Even when you acknowledge that incentives are necessary, it is not obvious how to establish the ones that motivate desirable action. (8:19 minutes)

Politics and Foreign Trade

With rare, and typically short-lived exceptions, governments reduce economic productivity and their citizens' prosperity by either taxing or imposing quotas on imports. This is because when a trade restriction is being considered, politicians will hear plenty from those favoring the restriction and little from those harmed by it. The result is a bias toward providing concentrated benefits and ignoring much larger but dispersed costs. (7.51 minutes)

Opportunity Costs and Hidden Inventions

By suppressing profits, socialism reduces the opportunity cost of keeping new products out of the hands of the public, whether by design or by default. As long as we allow the pursuit of profits in the marketplace, the cost of hiding new socially valuable inventions will be so high that we don't have to worry that they will be hidden. (9:10 minutes)

Opportunities and Costs

In this podcast, Dwight Lee explains that, because of scarcity, every time we do one thing we necessarily have to forgo doing something else desirable. So there is an opportunity cost to everything we do, and that cost is expressed in terms of the most valuable alternative that is sacrificed. (8:45 minutes)

More on Marginalism

We have all heard the advice, "If a job is worth doing, it's worth doing right." There is wisdom in this advice if we are careful about what is meant by "doing a job right." People sometimes suggest that if a job is worth doing, it's worth doing perfectly. But this advice, by ignoring the importance of marginal considerations, is a prescription for waste and inefficiency, as anyone who attempted to put it into practice would soon discover. (8:40 minutes)

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