Minnesota Free Market Institute Weekly Update
Friday, April 3, 2009

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1. The New Minnesota Free Market Institute Website has been Launched!
2. Craig Westover on the Bob Davis Show on April 15
3. Self-Sufficiency, Poverty; Markets, Prosperity
4. Must Reads
5. Tea Party and Tax Rally
6. Lawrence McQuillan Luncheon on April 14

1.   The New Minnesota Free Market Institute Website has been Launched!
As you may have noticed, the Minnesota Free Market Institute has just completed a major website overhaul. A month in the making, the website has many features that will be familiar to you, and many that are completely new. I will go through a handful of these new features:
  • In the left side column, there is a link to “Be It Resolved…” This section will contain month-long debates on policy issues. The discussion will be well moderated and more respectful than your average blog-comment battles. We are hoping to get a wide variety of individuals and viewpoints involved.
  • We have a front-page “recommended reading” column with a mixture of publications and books relevant to the Institute’s mission. The column will represent news and commentaries.
  • We also have dedicated another column for videos and events specific to the Minnesota Free Market Institute. Check back often to stay current on the latest MNFMI events and videos.
  • On the topic of videos, the Minnesota Free Market Institute was just approved for non-profit status on you tube. This allows for greater channel customization and more importantly, longer videos. Visit and take a look around. Video recommendations are always welcome
More to come, but the new website is definitely worth a look. Spend a couple minutes exploring and check back often, we will be continually adding new content and features.
Adam Axvig is the new Web Master of the Minnesota Free Market Institute
2. Craig Westover on the Bob Davis Show on April 15
Minnesota Free Market Institute Senior Policy Fellow Craig Westover will be on the Bob Davis Show on AM 1500 on Wednesday, April 15, in the 10 o’clock hour to talk about his Pioneer Press column, Jobs for Jobs sake? That’s Fuzzy Math.
3.  Self-Sufficiency, Poverty; Markets, Prosperity

During my recent trip to the North Shore, I talked with some people who had spent a few days making skis at the North House Folk School. You might call the school, which is based in the artists colony of Grand Marais, a pre-market institution.

I heard the teacher give a talk to a small group of journalists. While he told some amusing stories, he also struck me as anti-business, anti-profit, and anti-market. He believes in both personal and micro-community self-sufficiency. I think he said that he lives in a hut that he constructed by hand. Good for him, I guess.

Most people, however, don’t want to live like that. I certainly don’t. If my housing were limited to my own skills in building design and construction, you’d find my frozen body inside a ramshackle collection of two-by-four lumbers that was covered in a layer of indoor-outdoor carpeting. I’m quite happy to not be self-sufficient in building, heating, and powering my housing.

Self-sufficiency is a big deal in some economic development circles. But it’s simply another name for shunning the economic principles of “division of labor” and “comparative advantage,” which have led mankind out of poverty.

When you’re in a rural, remote area such as the North Shore, it’s easy to take for granted the market-driven changes that improve our lives—even as we enjoy them. My friends can take great pride in the fact that they turned wood into skis with nothing but hand tools. Not everyone can do that.

But yesterday’s wooden skis are inferior to the high-tech, engineered products we can buy today from mega-corporations. They’re more likely to handle hard-packed snow and icy conditions, for example.

So if pursuing individual or community self-sufficiency doesn’t always lead to poverty, it can bring us a limited variety of goods and stagnation of product design.

What we today call capitalism, with its use of comparative advantage, specialization, profit-seeking corporations, overseas manufacturing, business plans and dull corporate meetings, focus groups, accountants and revenue projections, provides us what we expect today: A variety of goods; an evolution of product design; improvements in product quality over time; and reasonable costs.

So this snowboarder says … Down with self-sufficiency. Long live capitalism and free markets.

John LaPlante is a Policy Fellow at the Minnesota Free Market Institute

4. Must Reads
John H. Cochrane. Health Status Insurance’ Provides Real Alternative To Universal Care. Cato. This proposal answers the question about what to do with the sickest patients, people who are currently badly served by the current employer based health insurance system.  Cochrane argues that we don’t have to have universal, government provided healthcare in order to get them the care they need.
Arthur Laffer.  Spend It in Vegas or Die Paying Taxes Wall Street Journal.  Laffer points out how the death tax doesn’t “spread wealth around,” to benefit the poor. It just creates perverse incentives to blow all your cash before you die or pay big fees to accountants and lawyers to create tax shelters for your wealth.
The Rich Under Attack The Economist. This week’s leader in the Economist is unsparing in criticism for the financial sector but also warns of the dangers of economic populism: “The rich are an easy target. But when you try to bash them, you usually end up punching yourself in the nose.”

In Case you missed it from the Minnesota Free Market Institute

Craig Westover
King Banaian (SCSU Scholars)
John LaPlante
Margaret Martin
5. Tea Party and Tax Rally
The Tax Day Tea Party rally will be held April 15th between 5 pm and 8 pm at the Minnesota State Capitol as part of the Nationwide Tea Party movement.  A large number of events all around the country are planned to coincide with tax day, April 15.  The Minnesota plans are being posted on the website The Minnesota Free Market Institute is participating in this event and is helping to coordinate it. You can download a flyer here.

May 2, is the annual “2009 Tax Cut Rally and Conservative Issues Fair.” This year the Rally is being held on the first Saturday in May, also at the Capitol, and the event now has an associated “Issues Fair” to enable Conservatives around the state to learn about legislation and public policy debates and to get together with other conservatives and groups to learn about their efforts.  The web site for the Tax Cut rally is

6. 2009 Spring Policy Luncheon with Lawrence McQuillan Luncheon on April 14
Join us on April 14 at the Minneapolis Hilton for “The Sizzle of Economic Freedom” with Lawrence J. McQuillan Ph.D., of the Pacific Research Institute. Tuesday, April 14, 12:00 PM at the Hilton Minneapolis. (See the top item for a discussion of his ebook). Cost is $35. Please send checks to the Minnesota Free Market Institute, P.O. Box 120449, St. Paul, MN 55112.  RSVP by April 10. You may RSVP by calling Sara Linert at 651-294-3593 x207; email at or on facebook.

An economics professor at Texas Tech said he had never failed a single student before but had, once, failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. The professor then said ok, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism.

All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A. After the first test the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.
But, as the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too; so they studied little.. The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around the average was an F. 

The scores never increased as bickering, blame, name calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.  All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great; but when government takes all the reward away; no one will try or want to succeed.

Could not be any simpler than that… 

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The Minnesota Free Market Institute conducts research and advocates for policy that limits government involvement in individual affairs and promotes competition and consumer choice. By analyzing the actions of the past and applying the enduring lessons of the free market, the Minnesota Free Market Institute creates policy options for the future. To donate click here.