What harm does running a European-style high-spending welfare state do to a country’s GDP? The answer, surprisingly, turns out to be “none at all”. Peter Lindert’s paper, “Why the Welfare State Looks Like A Free Lunch”, shows that a welfare state doesn’t depress GDP in the way that conventional economic analyses predict. Why not? Over to Lindert… Continue reading →
In the comments to one of the posts below, I raised the point that America’s prosperity owes a great deal more to its economic integration rather than to any particular shared value system, and that this was part of logic behind the founding of the EU. I want to demonstrate exactly how important a point that can be by using my own line of work as an example.
I work for a medium-sized Belgian translation firm. We have a handful of full-time staff and some 200 freelance translators who take work from us. Our freelancers can and do take work from other sources, what we do is mostly dealing with clients. Like all good middlemen, we make it possible for businesses to negotiate a single price for their translation work and we act as an insurance policy. Avoiding the middleman may sometimes cost less, but if your freelance translator is sick or busy and you have a deadline to deal with, you have to scramble to find a substitute. If you deal with us, we have many translators on tap and someone will always take your work. Few firms – only a few very large ones – still keep in-house translators. Translators generally agree to charge us less than they would charge clients directly because we can bring them a great deal of work, and we take away the cost of billing and accounting. We charge customers a bit more because we simplify billing and guarantee schedules. This is pretty much how modern translation firms operate. Continue reading →