This week marked the start of the event season in DC. On Tuesday I attended a book panel at the Cato Institute featuring Nicholas Eberstadt, a political economist at the American Enterprise Institute. He has just released a new book titled Men Without Work, which chronicles the the Great Depression-eque status of long-term unemployment among American men, most of whom are in prime working age. Eberstadt underscored the fatal flaw of using the unemployment rate, rather than the labour participation rate, when studying the state of affairs. He showed that the situation is comparatively worse in the US than in other Western nations, despite the US not having the most generous welfare system nor the slowest growing economy.
It was alarming to hear just how many unemployed men there are here – nearly one in six prime working age men has no paid work at all. As a libertarian, I was pleased that Eberstadt did not venture very far in prescribing government ‘cures’ to this problem. Instead he focused on highlighting just how severe the situation has become and how much of an impact it will continue to have on the fabric of American society.
On Thursday I was lucky enough to sit in on a round table lunch hosted by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. It was for the publication of a new series of essays by founder Fred L. Smith on the morality of capitalism. Moderated by Cato’s David Boaz, attendees included prominent people from the US Chamber of Commerce, the Mercatus Center, Facebook, American University and many more. Smith is asking business leaders to stand up for the virtue of the capitalist system on which they rely on, instead of merely being somewhat apologetic. I agreed, and said during the Q&A session, that I believe that this new “sharing economy” actually provides free-market defenders a wonderful opportunity to prove to the everyday person just how glorious voluntary exchange is.
On a more leisurely note, I was able to visit New York on the weekend. What an incredible place. I managed to see quite a few of the main sights in the short time I had available, but I will definitely make it a priority to visit again should the opportunity arise… I <3 NY!