June 8, 2017

How Political Competition Made Europe Rich

In the quest to explain economic development, institutional competition has been almost systematically ignored by many economists and historians alike who have fallen under the spell of the interpretation of nineteenth-century German historicists. The members of the German historical school, and especially Schmoller and Bücher, saw the state as the institution that was responsible for the creation of both the market and modern capitalism. Modern institutionalists, although they differ from historicists in many ways, have accepted this narrative, arguing that political centralization is a prerequisite to economic development. One book showing this tendency to accept the historicist narrative can be found, for instance, in Acemoglu and Robinson’s Why Nations Fail (2012). Distinguishing between extractive and inclusive institutions, Acemoglu argues that centralization is a necessary step […]
June 6, 2017

France is Literally Burning 100 Million Euros

Since January 2017, France requires all cigarette packs to be sold in plain packaging — they all come in the same green-ish colour, only a neutral font lets the consumer identify the different brands. The government’s anti-tobacco fanaticism costs the taxpayer a fortune. It sounded a bit like Paris had Stockholm Syndrome when the papers announced “the government is buying 100 million euros worth of cigarettes off of French tobacconists”. These coloured packs which were delivered to the tobacconists before the law and make a up a total amount of 15 million packs of cigarettes, or a 36-hour tobacco consumption of the entire country. With a total weight of 250 tons, an astounding number of old, coloured packs, complete with brand name, will be prohibited soon. The […]
June 3, 2017

Capitalism Is About Working Less to Earn More

In 1800, you had to work, on average, one hour to obtain ten minutes of artificial light. Today, this same hour allows you to buy 300 days of light. In 1900, one kilowatt-hour of electricity cost one hour of work. This costs five minutes of our time now. Buying one cheeseburger in McDonald’s required 30 minutes of hard labor in 1950. This same sandwich now costs about three minutes of your life. According to British intellectual Matt Ridley, this evolution is the ultimate illustration of wealth in modern societies. In his book The Rational Optimist published in 2010, he evaluates our prosperity by outlining the goods and services we can purchase for the same amount of work. Thus, the main objective of economic development is to […]
May 30, 2017

James Bond vs. Marvel&DC: Possible significations of pop-culture

Pop culture is commonly represented as devoid of genuine philosophical or political commitment. Its commercial aspect is often emphasized: material which is accessible to a large audience and which does not require deep reflection. On the contrary, I think that by stereotyping its characters, it often reflects political representations or thoughts. What amazes me is the great variety of messages which are conveyed. I want to highlight in this short article two different political school which presently exist in the pop culture, through two genres: that of the novels of Ian Fleming (the famous James Bond) and the comics of Marvel and DC. In Fleming’s novels, justice is safeguarded by the main hero, who is a faithful servant of the state and the queen. He […]
May 30, 2017

When Expatriation Is the Only Option

Usually, individuals look for ways to be freer. Among individuals already aware of the mounting problems of ever-repressive tax, police, and social policies of Western governments, the focus is on practical fixes more than philosophical questions. Though many may turn to political campaigns and actively seeking to change the system, an increasing number are choosing to put their money where their mouth is and just exit. Leave. Expatriate. Some may choose expatriation because of temporary work, retirement, or better tax regimes, but it offers specific refuge for those who can no longer take the status quo of their native lands. As the cost of travel plummets and technology offers countless new ways to connect and work on-the-go, fleeing one’s native country once it has become […]