A Thank You and Requests to Readers of Our Dinner Table

Tyler Cowen’s and Alex Tabarrok’s blog, Marginal Revolution just clocked 50 million visitors to a picture of fireworks.

While Our Dinner Table has nowhere near that kind of traffic, I did want to take the opportunity to thank the readers and commenters to this blog.

I enjoy writing it and I get many benefits from it. It gives me writing practice. It allows me to iron out my thoughts on topics I find interesting. It gives me a place to vent. Some people collect cars or Coca-Cola memorabilia, I like to “collect” ideas that I find compelling and persuasive that either convinced me to change my mind or think a little differently on a subject, or at least, better articulate why I believe what I do.

I find this blog to be an excellent way to collect those ideas, because I can access it anywhere that has an internet connection and search on it (using the little search box in the right margin). And, I do. Frequently.

I also find it very motivating knowing a few people take time out of their busy lives to read this. Whether you do it because you love it, like it or hate it, it’s an honor and I appreciate it.

I would like to make a few requests.

First, I love to hear from you. I greatly appreciate comments. I think those add a great deal of value and perspective. I especially like disagreement. I find that challenging and it helps me identify and address holes in my thinking.

Each post has a Leave a Comment link at the bottom of it. Feel free to click and comment. This blog does not require you use your real name or provide your email when commenting.

If you enjoy Our Dinner Table, please share it with others who you might think will love it, like it or hate it too.

If you have feedback for me, let me know. I like feedback.

Finally, if you have any topics that you wonder what or why I believe what I do, just ask. I would love to do more reader-inspired blog posts.

Thank You!

The forgotten viewpoint

Mark Perry, at Carpe Diem, reminds us of some good advice from French economist, Frederic Bastiat:

Treat all economic questions from the viewpoint of the consumer, for the interests of the consumer are the interests of the human race.

Let’s apply this advice to some common situations.

Minimum wage.  Here’s a good story about how consumers pay for higher minimum wages (HT: Don Boudreaux, Cafe Hayek). The costs to the consumer includes higher prices and fewer options. Some of the cost is also born by low-skilled workers who will have fewer employment opportunities.

Credit card regulations: Don Boudreaux does a nice job in his Pittsburgh Tribune column, Help That Hurts, of looking at the credit card regulations from the viewpoint of consumers.  Here’s an excerpt:

Congress, the White House and most of the news media describe CARD [Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009] as “pro-consumer.” At first glance this description seems accurate. After all, don’t consumers benefit when the fees and interest rates they must pay are reduced?

Although the answer to this question is “yes,” this isn’t the correct question.

The correct question is, “Don’t consumers prefer to have the option of paying higher fees and interest rates if the alternative is having no access to credit at all?”

Not everyone is financially careful or responsible. Traditionally, credit-card issuers dealt with this fact not by refusing to lend to consumers with poor credit scores but, instead, by using an ingenious approach that helps both those consumers with poor credit scores as well as the banks that lend to them. That approach is to charge delinquent customers significant fees for late payments and to raise interest rates on delinquent balances.

Here are a couple more things where the consumer viewpoint is usually ignored:

  • Foreign trade – Who would be hurt by restricting access to foreign goods? Consumers.
  • Labor unions – Who funds the generous wages and benefit packages of unions? Consumers.

I’ve added a new category to my blog, Consumer Viewpoint, to remind me to continue to apply Bastiat’s advice as I encounter various situations.