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Friday Five: Defending the Free Market, the Mundane Morality of Les Misérables, and More

On Fridays, we bring you the best of our blog and the best of the web. This week’s roundup includes New Year’s resolutions, potato chips, moral lessons from Les Misérables and more. 1. Three Ways to Defend the Free Market: Nicholas Freiling encourages us to include defending the free market among our New Year’s resolutions.
Each year, almost 50 percent of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions. Most often, these include things like losing weight, working harder or spending less. Whatever they may be, the common thread among them is that they involve things we deeply care about—things we think deserve more of our time and effort. In that light, it only makes sense that the free market should, in some form, be among our New Year’s Resolutions. As critics of the free market grow stronger, it is up to liberty’s advocates to counter those attacks. So this year, make defending the free market one of your resolutions. Commit yourself to discuss the ideas of liberty with friends and neighbors.
2. Externalities: When Is a Potato Chip Not Just a Potato Chip?: In this Learn Liberty video, Professor Michael Munger discusses how to deal with economic externalities; taxes may not be the best answer. 3. The Mundane Morality of Les Misérables: Jordan Ballor of the Acton Institute sheds light on a simple, but timeless moral lesson from the classic story of “Les Misérables.”
It is tempting to think sometimes that the basic rules of morality do not apply to us, that we are somehow above or beyond the law. But the reality is that there is no special morality for those who exercise greater responsibilities, whether in familial, economic, ecclesiastical, or political contexts. Valjean’s recognition of this fact represents one of the powerful insights of Les Misérables, and it is a lesson that ought to be recalled ever anew, especially by those tempted by the exercise of great power and authority to excuse themselves from the mundane obligations of the moral order.”
4. Three Books, One Island: Aeon Skoble of the Foundation for Economic Education chooses three books to take to a desert island.
The Freeman asked me to name three books to bring to the proverbial island—one new book, one timeless book, and one book that challenges my worldview. Obviously these are not mutually exclusive categories, but the following are my selections.
5. The case for corporate tax reform in 1 chart: AEI’s Jim Pethokoukis explains the U.S. corporate tax rates, and makes the case for a “competitive, pro-market, pro-growth corporate tax code.”
Through 2011, the United States had the second-highest combined corporate tax rate among advanced economies, according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office. Actually, it’s worse than what the CBO says. Japan lowered its rate last year, and the US is now on top with an average combined rate — one including national and regional taxes — of 39.2% vs. 38% for Japan. The OECD average in 2012 was 25%.
Case for corporate tax reform