Gary Galles

Gary Galles

Gary M. Galles is a professor of economics at Pepperdine University. He is the author of The Apostle of Peace: The Radical Mind of Leonard Read.

Articles by Gary Galles

Why Congressional “Oversight” of the Bureaucracy Is No Such Thing

I have long been fascinated by both public policy and the interesting crooks, crannies, and oddities found in the English language. Recently, I came across one such tidbit which connected both of those interests. Hugh Rawson, in “Janus Words—Two-faced English” on the Cambridge Dictionary blog, was discussing a number of English words that are sometimes called Janus words, after the Roman god depicted with two faces pointing in opposite directions, because they have opposite meanings within themselves (e.g., cleave, hew, sanction, scan, peruse).

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The Folly of “Ask What You Can Do for Your Country”

Recently, I was reminded of John F. Kennedy’s most famous line, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” when I heard it among several famous sound bites leading into a radio show segment. It also reminded me that we will hear it more soon, as we are approaching JFK’s May 29 birthday. However, it is worth reconsidering what it means.

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How Words Like “Essential” and “Need” Are Abused by Politicians

Over the years, one of the most common trump cards used to justify government treating people differently, rather than equally, has been the word need. And when used to override individuals’ ownership of themselves and what they produce, its usage has created confusion rather than clarity. In public discussion, “need” has increasingly morphed into one of its synonyms—essential, as in “essential jobs.” But it still suffers from many of the same analytical problems.

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Be Thankful for Those Who “Only Do It for the Money”

At least since I first read George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language, I have been a student of the use of weasel words. I have joined what he called the “struggle against the abuse of language,” because “Political language…is designed to make lies sound truthful…and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

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The Real Cost of Anti-Price-Gouging Laws

Supply and demand diagram

As has happened before with many natural disasters, the COVID-19 panic is leading to complaints of shortages and “gouging,” which about two-thirds of US states have passed laws against (often in terms so vague that it makes any enforcement discretionary, and thus discriminatory). But rather than complaining of shortages and gouging, critics should realize that “gouging” is the solution to shortages, not a cost in addition to them.

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Why Democracy Doesn’t Give Us What We Want

That Americans are in the throes of a crisis in democracy has become a commonplace refrain of late. I have noticed that almost all such commentary treats political democracy, implicitly or explicitly, as the ideal. Yet in truth it is a seriously flawed ideal. In fact, as F. A. Hayek noted years ago.

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Peaceful Market Exchange—Not Politics—Harnesses the Value of Diversity

That there are inherent benefits in diversity is a common article of faith in our democratic/populist times. We hear it in and about universities, businesses, politics, entertainment, etc. Typically, though, we hear about it in terms of forcing more diversity on those whose diversity in a particular dimension doesn’t measure up to someone else’s arbitrary standard.

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“Low” Tax Rates Often Mask Much Larger Tax Burdens

Discussions about the incentive effects of taxes can be misleading. The focus is usually on the tax rates imposed. But one’s incentives are not best measured by tax rates, but by how much value created for others (reflected in consumers’ willingness to pay) is retained by the creator, which I refer to as take-home income.

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