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Economist Jeffrey A. Miron is one of the nation’s most prominent authorities on the economics of libertarianism. A popular Harvard University professor, he breaks down policy into easily digestible bits, whether analyzing the latest proposals in Capitol Hill or the legalization of drugs, an area that he has researched for 20 years.
Miron is the director of economic studies at the Cato Institute, a leading public policy research organization that focuses on limited government and libertarianism stances. He is also the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Economics at Harvard University. Publicly, Miron has been a vocal critic of the 2008 bailout bills as well as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Miron is the author of hundreds of scientific articles and four books, the most recent of which is Libertarianism From A to Z. His 12-part YouTube lecture on libertarian public policy adapts many ideas from his book to a friendly conversational format.
Jeffrey A. Miron is Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Economics at Harvard University and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. Miron has previously served on the faculties of the University of Michigan and Boston University; at the latter, he was Department chairman for six years. He has been the recipient of an Olin Fellowship from the National Bureau of Economic Research, an Earhart Foundation Fellowship, and a Sloan Foundation Faculty Research Fellowship. Miron holds a B.A. in economics, magna cum laude, from Swarthmore College and a Ph.D. in economics from M.I.T.
Miron has published more than 25 articles in refereed journals and 50 op-eds in the Boston Herald, Boston Business Journal, Boston Globe, CNN.com, nytimes.com, forbes.com, and other outlets. Miron’s commentary on economic policy has appeared on CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, and Fox television, BBC radio, and in dozens of other television, radio, and print media around the world.
Miron’s area of expertise is the economics of libertarianism. He has written extensively on the economic case against drug prohibition, and he has been a vocal critic of the Treasury bailout and the Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus.
Miron is also a star teacher. In four of the past five years, the Senior Class at Harvard has chosen him as one of their favorite teachers. His most popular offering is a course titled “A Libertarian Perspective on Economic and Social Policy,” which has attracted more than eight hundred students in just four years.
Harvard professor, Jeffrey Miron makes the case that legalizing drugs would be far more beneficial to our economy and society than the status quo. Between officers, judges, and jail, he estimates the U.S. has spent $50 billion on the war on drugs, and lost out on another $50 billion that federal and state governments could be collecting in taxes on drug revenue if various substances were legalized and regulated. “So legalizing drugs wouldn’t solve America’s fiscal problems, but it would put a non-trivial dent in our fiscal books,” he points out.
Despite government regulations and potential consequences, many people still go to great lengths to use drugs rendering efforts to discourage use ineffective. True, drug users do incur harm, but Miron challenges the audience to distinguish this harm from injuries caused by legal alcohol consumption, skiing, driving, overeating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, or any other number of activities. In fact, he argues that prohibition actually creates more harm, because disputes within illegal markets cannot be resolved by lawyers or courts; rather, they typically end in gun violence and death or injury from contaminated products.
Jeffrey Miron imparts clear, thoughtful, and credible analysis on vital public policy issues and the potential effects of putting different plans and policies into action. Overall his programs focus on the high costs and low returns of restricting liberties, an argument he backs with hard economic data and a keen understanding of human behavior. Miron, whose 2005 study The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition made waves nationwide, is especially known for his expert perspective on the war on drugs and the economic and societal benefits of legalization.
Modern political debate is dominated by the liberal and conservative erspectives. Many people, however, find both views to be awkward and inconsistent. Consequential libertarianism argues that most policies favored by the left and the right are counterproductive, so government should scale back or eliminate its interventions regarding vice, poverty, regulation, education,
foreign affairs, discrimination, guns, abortion, gay marriage, and more. This means the consequential perspective is socially liberal and fiscally conservative; it wants government out of people’s bedrooms, and out of their wallets.
Obamanomics: Growing the Pie or Dividing the Pie?
Since President Obama took office in January, 2009, his administration has pursued a broad range of economic policies. The purported goal has been to make the economy work better, such as by ending the recession, stabilizing the housing market, or reforming health care. Thus, the policies claim to expand the economic pie, not just redistribute ownership.
The reality is different. The fiscal stimulus aimed to grow the pie, but its design emphasized redistribution rather than efficiency. Other new policies were almost entirely about redistribution, rather than about making the economy more productive. It is no surprise, therefore, that the economy is recovering slowly; the economic policies pursued over the past ten months have been inimical to productivity and growth.
The Economic Case for Legalizing Drugs
Most societies outlaw drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Mainstream political discussion rarely challenges this policy, but theory and evidence both indicate that drug prohibition causes far more harm than drug use itself. A better approach is therefore the one currently employed for alcohol and tobacco: legalize but use sin taxation, age restrictions, and related policies to moderate the unwanted consequences of drugs.
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Libertarianism, from A to Z
Libertarian principles seem basic enough—keep government out of boardrooms, bedrooms, and wallets, and let markets work the way they should. But what reasoning justifies those stances, and how can they be elucidated clearly and applied consistently? In Libertarianism, from A to Z, acclaimed Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron sets the record straight with a dictionary that takes the reader beyond the mere surface of libertarian thought to reveal the philosophy’s underlying and compelling logic.
Tackling subjects as diverse as prostitution and drugs, the financial crises and the government bailouts, the legality of abortion, and the War on Terror, Miron takes the reader on a tour of libertarian thought. He draws on consequentialist principles that balance the costs and benefits of any given government intervention, emphasizing personal liberty and free markets. Miron never flinches from following those principles to their logical and sometimes controversial ends. Along the way, readers get a charming and engaging lesson in how to think like a libertarian.
Principled, surprising, and thought provoking, Libertarianism, from A to Z, has everything a bourgeoning libertarian—or any responsible citizen—needs to know.
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