csebookIf you’ve always wanted to learn more about economics, but didn’t know where to start, this is a learning experience you don’t want to miss. Based on Certell’s Common Sense Economics course, the series is broken up into four parts. The first three constitute the basic course, focusing on foundational economic ideas, the sources of economic prosperity, and the intersection of economics and politics. The fourth part incorporates the lessons of the first three into four additional modules on practical personal finance.

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This article was written by Ludwig Laborda and translated by Jesús Renzullo, Local Coordinators of Estudiantes por la Libertad in Venezuela.

June 2nd, 2016 became quite a tense day in Caracas, Venezuela. Many people were waiting for their turn to buy food, but they were not served. This provoked much tension that ended up in a protest. They tried to march to the Miraflores Presidential Palace near the Fuerzas Armadas Avenue, to demand a solution for the food supply shortage, but the only answer they received was plain repression from the National Guard. Venezuela Blog

Events like this could —and will— happen again in the country. On the one hand, price controls drown any entrepreneurial activity, since they prevent entrepreneurs from even recovering the resources invested in the manufacturing of price-regulated goods. On the other hand, foreign exchange controls make it much more difficult to obtain the raw materials needed for production. Also, in general, there are few guarantees for private property rights, which transform Venezuela into an inhospitable environment for investment.


The following was written by Justin Bennett, a student at Southern New Hampshire University. 

With California and New York raising the minimum wage (over the next few years) to $15 per hour, many are redoubling calls for the federal government to follow suit. And why not? Don’t we all deserve a “living wage”?

SNAP logoCertainly this is a nice thing to hope for. But, whether or not such a thing can be achieved through legislation is a reasonable question to ask. The back and forth on the economics at play here is extensive. But in reality, supply and demand do matter. Arbitrarily increasing wages for the least skilled, least educated workers can only be made possible by increasing their employer’s costs. These costs are usually not absorbed by the business, but rather passed down to the consumer and the employee. The likely result is higher prices and reduced staff levels over time.

Expecting a positive outcome by making employees more expensive for businesses already struggling to make a profit certainly is a strange argument. But the most curious argument I’ve heard for the minimum wage is that we can expect a reduction in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation, otherwise known as food stamps, as a result of higher wage floors. Sadly, the facts say otherwise. (more…)

The following was written by Justin Bennett, a student at Southern New Hampshire University. 

maxresdefault (2)A common misconception in economics is the idea that we should fear new technology. Because new technologies can disrupt existing industries, the story goes, such technology harms the economy as a whole by contributing to unemployment.

To combat this supposed destruction, those who stand opposed to new technologies argue for worker protections in order to prevent wage reductions and layoffs. Such protections can take the form of labor laws, trade restrictions, or employee unions. Regardless, the “cure” here is worse than the stated disease because, in this case, no disease actually exists.

The fundamental purpose of any innovation is to make things easier, more efficient, and less costly. This leads to higher production levels, which create more revenue for firms and more value for everyone in the economy – even those workers who are displaced. While these labor-saving capital improvements do make some kinds of work obsolete, they also make the work that’s left to do more productive and therefore valuable. This is good for everyone, but sometimes it’s hard to see why. (more…)

SFL’s #ShareHumanity campaign provided grants for activism events like the following throughout the month of March. Here’s Bryan Poellot on how Harvard University got involved. 

Open Borders Day is an event dedicated to conversations about what a world without borders might look like. It spans many views, but these events open up much needed discussions that flip the script on what normal discussions around the issue of borders look like.

Open Borders Day at Harvard University was dedicated to a broad range of views on how to liberalize borders to one extent or another. Speaking at our event were Valerie Vande Panne, the Director of Communications at the Massachusetts Immigrant Refugee Association (MIRA) Coalition, noted Harvard economists Jeffrey Miron and Lant Pritchett, and George Mason University’s Bryan Caplan.image02