Krugman’s Hackery on Deficit Hawkery

Just about everything Paul Krugman writes nowadays is in some way related to rationalizing the Obama deficits. Now, Krugman's a smarter man than I, but I think it's pretty clear that his partisanship drives his economic analysis these days, rather than the other way around. Yesterday Krugman turned a case against the euro into a … Continue reading Krugman’s Hackery on Deficit Hawkery

Auto Bailouts, and…Is Megan McArdle trying to immanentize the eschaton?

Megan McArdle has a new post on the auto bailout that is 95% dead-on.  In short, she is less than impressed with its impact and notes that "We could have given each of the autoworkers $100,000 to go start over somewhere else, and still saved money on the deal."  Of course, this is besides the point for … Continue reading Auto Bailouts, and…Is Megan McArdle trying to immanentize the eschaton?

Arizona Update

Kudos to the NY Times for publishing an op-ed defending the Arizona immigration law.  I say this not because I agree with the law or the piece, but I like it when the Times publishes pieces it clearly disagrees with (see their own editorial opposing the law). The main point raised by Kris Kobach is … Continue reading Arizona Update

Thanks for the 22nd Amendment and other Constitutional limitations

Back when I was a callow youth (and Reagan supporter), I wrote a high school English paper arguing for the repeal of the 22nd Amendment.  Fortunately, I've grown up and now see the 22nd Amendment as a potentially helpful constraint on the accumulation and maintenance of power.  But it was this piece of news that led me to thank our Founders for restricting … Continue reading Thanks for the 22nd Amendment and other Constitutional limitations

Life to Change on Submarines

One of the last all-male enclaves in the military will now be letting in women, according to an announcement by the Navy on Thursday.  I have mixed initial reactions to this. Certainly, women make valuable contributions to the military, and I'd like women to have the same opportunities in the work force as men do … Continue reading Life to Change on Submarines

Around the “internets”

1.  Jonathan Adler on the new Arizona immigration law (and one of its authors) 2.  Satellite imagery of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill (and by the way, this accident could not have come at a worse time for those of us who favor expanded drilling) 3.  On Slippery Slopes and the New Paternalism 4.  Another … Continue reading Around the “internets”

National ID Card

A national ID card should be resisted by the states and by us as individuals.  Democratic leaders have proposed requiring every worker in the nation to carry a national identification card with biometric information, such as a fingerprint, within the next six years, according to a draft of the measure. Fortunately, groups like the ACLU … Continue reading National ID Card

Bail Out or Bail? The Eurozone and Greece

The transatlantic political class has taken up the cudgels on behalf of a Greek bailout. Even the Economist has joined the parade, warning of "contagion" to other European economies if a rescue package is not approved. Megan McArdle, while skeptical of a bailout, also resorts to the contagion meme and compares Greece's current difficulties to … Continue reading Bail Out or Bail? The Eurozone and Greece

Pro-Business Vs. Pro-Markets

I've frequently corrected my progressive/liberal friends who claim that folks like me are pro-business with all of the negative things that might imply.  I'm not.  I'm pro-markets.  And those are two very different things.  Although I really appreciate much of what businesses and entrepreneurs provide for me and the rest of society at some risk, when they engage … Continue reading Pro-Business Vs. Pro-Markets

Welcome to America

My New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez is angry that "legal citizens and permanent residents of the U.S." will be detained and asked for their "papers" in Arizona. In a CNN interview yesterday, the Senator says that "Arizona has become a 'show me your papers' state," and he declares that, if asked, "the only papers [he] … Continue reading Welcome to America

Yglesias forgets that there is no such thing as a free lunch

Matt Yglesias, the very partisan but frequently interesting blogger at the socialist progressive Think Progress, argues that welfare state capitalism is the alternative to regular old capitalism.  His bottom line is that this alternative allows people to be liberated from wage slavery and to focus on non-commercial labors that can have a "meaningful impact on the world."    According to Matt, … Continue reading Yglesias forgets that there is no such thing as a free lunch

Obama as Cleveland?

It is quite clear by now that President Obama has a very, very expansive view of what the U.S. government can and should do.  Indeed, he thinks that the Constitution authorizes the government to force people to engage in economic activity (see law professor Randy Barnett on why the president is wrong).  But according to NBC, the administration has denied … Continue reading Obama as Cleveland?

Rights, Utility, and Today’s Most Surprising Sentence

For my sins I was recently re-reading Ronald Dworkin's Taking Rights Seriously (1978), in particular its chapter 9,  "Reverse Discrimination." The book has not aged well, and this chapter in particular today sounds even more like a dated period piece than the construction of a philosophical argument than it did when I first read it … Continue reading Rights, Utility, and Today’s Most Surprising Sentence

Industrial Firms Lobbying Against Financial Reform

The NYT has this story on how manufacturers, auto dealers, and the Chamber of Commerce are lobbying against the proposed derivatives exchanges and new consumer financial protection agency in the financial reform bill. It seems to me that they're right to be concerned. Industrial firms, apart - apparently - from U.S.-owned automakers, are not treated … Continue reading Industrial Firms Lobbying Against Financial Reform

The Arizona Conundrum

I’m interested in people’s opinions on the new Arizona anti-immigration law.  I have a hard time coming to a consensus in my own mind about the immigration issue and laws like the one Arizona passed. My civil libertarian mind hates the police state and harassment of anyone—citizen or otherwise. My rule-of-law mind hates that we … Continue reading The Arizona Conundrum

The Ethics of the Prisoner’s Dilemma

So let's take some examples of things one could do for the benefit of the environment: eating less meat; polluting less by, e.g., driving less; propagating native species and destroying invasive species; reducing, reusing, and recycling; not littering; not spraying pesticides. Assume for the sake of argument that we will all benefit if everyone did these things. Do we then have a duty to do them? Would it be wrong not to do them?

More Cheonan Stories

Update: This (see below left) is something the South Korean government does not want to disrupt with a war: The LA Times has an article in yesterday's paper discussing the possibility North Korea used a submersible suicide bomber.  Five day mourning period begins for South Korean sailors. China says it was an "unfortunate incident."  But … Continue reading More Cheonan Stories

Occasionally he is right about something

I'm referring here to Paul Krugman's column today.  The ratings system in the financial sector has been a complete pile of crock.  As Krugman noted, 93% of AAA-rated subprime-rated mortgage securities are now junk. How often should a AAA-security end up as junk?  Clearly there has been huge systemic failure in this area. I'm a … Continue reading Occasionally he is right about something

Pinewood Derby and the Future of Capitalism

We have been working on Pinewood Derby cars for Cub Scouts.  My own Cub Scout has been bugging me about every 5 minutes for the past month to work on his car.  It is, fortunately, mostly done now.  My son can be very intense. Tears are a possibility. A few years ago another son was … Continue reading Pinewood Derby and the Future of Capitalism

Douthat on our pusillanimousness

Ross Douthat doesn't usually do much for me, but this is worth reading.  The last sentence is a bit too alarmist, though.  Here is the key portion: Our culture has few taboos that can’t be violated, and our establishment has largely given up on setting standards in the first place. Except where Islam is concerned. There, … Continue reading Douthat on our pusillanimousness

What happens to a ship when it is hit by a torpedo? The Cheonan.

Interesting post on this - plus pictures of the raised Cheonan.  HT: Information Dissemination. What is interesting is that the ship was split in half!  South Korea has now publicly announced that the Cheonan was likely hit by a torpedo: see this NY Times article. As Rob has noted, "War is simply not in South Korea’s interests."  … Continue reading What happens to a ship when it is hit by a torpedo? The Cheonan.

That Crazy British Election

So the United Kingdom is having an election on May 6 and recently held its first two "party leader debates" in history. British voters, not having been exposed to this kind of political set-piece before, apparently don't know that the polling effects of these things are supposed to fade rapidly in the days afterward. Liberal … Continue reading That Crazy British Election

Is Obesity Immoral?

In his recent column, Michael Medved raises the interesting question of whether America's increasing rotundity implies, given the ethic that our political leaders should "look like us," that more of them should be obese. Indeed, Medved suggests the amusing implication that in that case some 30 senators would have to be obese, and most of … Continue reading Is Obesity Immoral?

Experiments, Health Care, and Federalism

As the New York Times reported: Esther Duflo, a development economist at M.I.T., has been awarded the John Bates Clark Medal. The award is given to “that American economist under the age of 40 who is judged to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge.”  Professor Duflo, 37, helped found the … Continue reading Experiments, Health Care, and Federalism

The Futility of the Left-Right Spectrum

Update: I'm not responding per se to what Sven wrote - but to so much talk in our society about left, right, and center that does not make sense to me.  And Sven gave me a chance to rant since people may have that spectrum in their head when thinking about Brooks' alleged centrism. I'll … Continue reading The Futility of the Left-Right Spectrum

See, he is a Centrist

Most conservatives/libertarians I know are not fans of David Brooks.  I must admit that I am a big fan, though I disagree often.  In a recent post I classified him as a centrist.  In his column today, he says he is a centrist. My question is this:  Are  he and I are right?  Is it … Continue reading See, he is a Centrist

Fun Friday Policy Revelations

A shocking revelation: healthcare reform will cost more than originally anticipated.  HHS also questions whether the Medicare cuts are realistic. It also questions some of the underlying behavioral assumptions. Report here at Politico. The revolution will be televised (Friday addition): The Treasury has released a new $100 bill designed to thwart counterfeiters and anyone who … Continue reading Fun Friday Policy Revelations

Three Up, One Down

I have three improbable book recommendations for weekend reading, and one book I recommend passing on. The three "ups" I received as gifts, and I must admit I was not hopeful given their rather unpromising titles. I am happy to report I was pleasantly surprised. (A disclaimer: as with every book recommendation I make, I … Continue reading Three Up, One Down

“In Search” of Good Government

For those who are searching for the roots of regulatory failure, the recent revelations of heavy porn surfing at SEC during the greatest financial collapse since the Great Depression might prove entertaining and pathetic. Ah, the hedonic calculus at work. One wonders whether there is some connection between this regulatory quest for full disclosure and … Continue reading “In Search” of Good Government

Beards and Lost Political Opportunities?

Rob Farley at LGM cites research finding that "men with beards were deemed more credible than those who were clean-shaven."  Tongue in cheek, he then confirms the research by pointing to Paul Krugman (bearded and trustworthy) and Bill Kristol (clean shaven and untrustworthy).  If this is true, contemporary politicians are really losing an opportunity to fool … Continue reading Beards and Lost Political Opportunities?

Kling on Predatory Lending

Arnold Kling at EconLog echoes my skepticism a few days ago about predatory lending.  This is from his post on the proposed financial reform legislation: Finally--and this will get me in big trouble--I have to rant about the notion of a consumer financial protection agency. I know that it's axiomatic that poor people are helpless … Continue reading Kling on Predatory Lending

An Earth Day Wish

The environmental movement has brought some good things.  In particular, policymakers are much more prone (in some cases forced to) think about environmental costs.  Market failures with respect to pollution have been profound in the past and continue to be so.  There is a clear role for government to play in protecting the environment. My … Continue reading An Earth Day Wish

What if Regulation Isn’t Enough?

President Obama gave a rousing speech today on the proposed financial reforms. We know that financial regulations can bring far greater stability to the economy. Even Milton Friedman and Anna Jacobson were forced to acknowledge that the FDIC “succeeded in achieving what had been a major objective of banking reform for at least a century, namely, … Continue reading What if Regulation Isn’t Enough?

Is North Korea angling for a diversionary war?

The UK Times suggests that the apparent North Korean attack on the South Korean naval ship on March 26 may have been an attempt to provoke war with South Korea.  Specifically: In some ways, a limited war might be exactly what the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, is hoping for. After decades of economic decline … Continue reading Is North Korea angling for a diversionary war?