The Importance of the “Full Picture” for Public Policy

In his latest column for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, George Mason University professor Don Boudreaux brings up a very basic economic point: “The first act is not the full story.”

“Experts” routinely ignore this point when proposing corporate welfare schemes. To illustrate this fact, Boudreaux examines the impact of trade on the domestic steel industry.

“It’s true that more imports of steel destroy some jobs in the domestic steel industry,” he writes, “But keep watching to see what happens next. The lower-priced steel enables domestic manufacturers of automobiles, farm equipment and machine tools to produce at lower costs.”

Thus, lower input prices for those industries enable greater output and, likely, greater employment.

Looking at the whole picture is vital to sound public policy. Doing so includes considering what 19th century economist Frédéric Bastiat calls “the seen and the unseen.”

More Blog Posts

04-05-2018 08:04pm

Second Chances for Prisoners Help All of Us

Read more

03-20-2018 09:03am

Iraq at 15

According to a new poll conducted by the Charles Koch Institute and Real Clear, Americans do not think that the Iraq War has made the United States safer, nor do they think the Middle East is more stable.

Read more

02-13-2018 09:02am

Julie Warren Profile

After working at the U.S. Department of Justice, and as a criminal appellate lawyer for the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office, Julie Warren is devoted to improving the system for everyone—from parolees to police.

Read more

Sign up for updates

Sign up to receive weekly updates in news and events.