Thursday, February 2, 2012


by James Craig Green

I recently discovered a great source of mostly short, educational videos that cover many aspects of market economics. I hope you enjoy the following videos I linked from the Learn Liberty Project at which is produced by the Institute for Humane Studies. After a brief introductory video, I have arranged a dozen episodes into three groups - Economics and Social Organization, Principles of Markets and Freedom and the Tradeoffs and Balances that must be made to efficiently allocate scarce resources. If some or all of these strike a chord with you, please visit the website at the link above, which contains 145 videos on a variety of subjects.

Click on each video title below to watch each topic for the time listed, typically 2-4 minutes. After the video plays, click the "back" button at the upper left of the screen to return to this page for the next video. If another video has already started, you may have to click "back" more than once to return here.


Democracy, Tyranny and Liberty (2:36 min)

Aeon Scoble presents the case that democracy can be extremely dangerous, due to the "tyranny of the majority" and should therefore be limited by law. It is competitive market production that creates wealth; not democracy.


1 - Broken Window Fallacy (3:05 min)

Art Carden explains Frederic Bastiat's elegant broken window example to illustrate the fallacy of ignoring what is not seen (because it was prevented) to correct the false idea that property destruction can boost an economy. (Remember the Cash for Clunkers program in which the government destroyed perfectly good cars in exchange for printing money for new loans, producing a NET LOSS to the economy; not a gain?)

2 - Economics on One Foot (2:14 min)

In a takeoff on Henry Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson," Art Carden explains market incentives, efficient allocation of resources and achieving balances between supply and demand through price adjustments. Government regulation inhibits this process by destroying the communication between supply and demand.

3 - Social Cooperation: Why Thieves Hate Free Markets (3:03 min)

Aeon Skoble explains the efficient but uncommanded market processes that coordinate supply, demand and production when markets are free to adjust to multiple changes. One important aspect of this is that merchants rely on, and receive, cooperation from their competitors when it comes to mutually beneficial policies such as trading information on "customers" who steal.

4 - Tragedy of the Commons (3:20 min)

Sean Mulholland explains Garrett Hardin's 1968 Classic that shows how lack of property rights leads to overuse of resources. For example, grazing cattle on public property involves perverse incentives not commonly understood. None of the parties using the property have incentives to conserve pasture, since no one can prevent others from using it. Private property in pasture land allows owners to exclude others from the property so it can be managed for long term benefits, including the prevention of overgrazing.


5 - Adam Smith: The Invisible Hand (2:33 min)

James Otteson explains Adam Smith's "invisible hand" in which networks of producers cooperate through the magic of market prices, which allow flexible, productive communication between vast networks of people in a spontaneous ballet of creativity and coordination. This results from private property, which unintentionally maximizes social benefits.

6 - Subjective Value (3:51 min)

Don Boudreaux explains the role of individual differences in the maximization of value. Following the Austrian School of Economics, Professor Boudreaux demonstrates the advantages that markets have over planned economies such as those found in the former Soviet Union, Cuba and North Korea. He compares two T-shirts, each with an image of a famous historical character. Although the two products cost the same to produce, the one the sells best is the one whose image is admired by the most people.

7 - Unintended Consequences (4:33 min)

Don Boudreax discusses various unintended consequences that arise during any productive process, and explains how markets adjust prices to bring supply and demand back into balance after inevitable, unexpected, distortions. Unlike government agencies, individual players in a network of related processes act to resolve distortions, motivated by the self-directed creativity that incentives and freedom encourage.

8 - Free Trade vs. Protectionism (3:12 min)

Don Boudreaux compares the results of command economies, in which price communication between supply and demand are manipulated and controlled, with markets that allow for more efficient adjustments.


9 - Economic vs. Civil Liberties (2:40 min)

Aeon Skoble explains how both economic and civil liberties complement each other to maximize freedom and productive effort.

10 - The Story of Broke Response (3:46 min)

Art Carden criticizes contradictory views resulting from political bias in the area of government subsidies. Each subsidy benefits some special interest at the expense of others, always resulting in making the economy worse; not better. Both liberals and conservatives favor subsidies for their constitutents but oppose those to their political rivals without seeing the contradiction in their positions.

11 - What Motivated Adam Smith? (1:31 min)

James Otteson explains Adam Smith's concern for the poor as his motivation for writing The Wealth Of Nations.

12 - Are Entrepreneurs Modern Day Heroes? (2:07 min)

Law Professor Donna Matias explains how entrepreneurs are heroes, because they identify and fill unmet needs.

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