Am I a nutjob?

Consider the following thought experiment:  Everyone in the world is given a detailed ideological survey covering multiple dimensions with multiple measures.  Now assume a really good metric for calculating “ideological nearness.”  This metric is used to put people into groups of 100 who have very similar ideological views—political soul mates, if you will. Would you … Continue reading Am I a nutjob?

Memorial Day Salute

On this Memorial Day, a salute to all those Americans who have lost their lives in foreign wars.   A special salute to Major Brian Mescall, a graduate of the Citadel, who was killed in action in Afghanistan.  And this is very, very sad to see.  Young man, your dad was a real American hero.    And here is a graphic … Continue reading Memorial Day Salute

The Best Party Wins Reykjavik Municipal Elections

While perhaps not quite as silly as the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, Iceland's Best Party has scored perhaps the best electoral performance of a joke party at any election at any level in history, winning 6 of 15 seats and a plurality of votes in the Reykjavik municipal elections. What does the Best Party … Continue reading The Best Party Wins Reykjavik Municipal Elections

Sunday Morning Quotation(s)

George Kennan (the father of containment) from American Diplomacy: There seems to be a curious American tendency to search, at all times, for a single external center of evil, to which all our troubles can be attributed, rather than to recognize that there might be multiple sources of resistance to our purposes and undertakings, and … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation(s)

Obama and the Gulf Oil Leak

Given the libgressive model of what government is responsible for and how the Bush adminstration was hammered over its response to Katrina, why isn't Obama getting roughed up by the media, not to mention the liberal/progressive chatterazzi, for its ineptitude in "solving" the Gulf oil leak crisis?  Indeed, since this industry is so thoroughly regulated, shouldn't government failure … Continue reading Obama and the Gulf Oil Leak

Morality and the Market

Like a lot of some Americans, I am thinking about purchasing a car/truck during this Memorial Day weekend.  The question I'm confronted with is whether I should consider purchasing a vehicle built by one of the automakers who sought and ultimately took government money as part of the recent auto bailout.  In other words, should I buy a GM … Continue reading Morality and the Market

The invention of lying

When do people get to lie in public life without consequence?  I don't think public officials lie about facts that often (and when they do, they usually get smacked), but they lie about motives all the time. A classic example comes about in re-districting time, which most states will go through in 2011 after the … Continue reading The invention of lying

Good ole Bubba

The Clinton presidency actually coincided with a decent era in American history, especially compared to the last 10 years of reckless governance.  The post-1994 Clinton period was particularly good - because Clinton was chastened by the 1994 election, had to deal with a Republican Congress, or both.  Indeed, one might argue that once HillaryCare went down to defeat, Clinton got … Continue reading Good ole Bubba

White House Admits Offering Sestak Job Options

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel enlisted Bill Clinton to approach Joe Sestak with employment"prominent advisory role" options in the administration while he considered his primary bid, according to this CNN report based on a statement released by the White House counsel's office. You have to give the administration a little credit for coming … Continue reading White House Admits Offering Sestak Job Options

Does Ideological Radicalism Hurt Republican Incumbents More than Democrats?

Emory political scientist Alan Abramowitz has done two studies of how voting ideology affected the electoral fortunes of Republican and Democratic senatorial incumbents over the 2000-2008 period. The study on Republicans is here, and the study on Democrats is here. Over this time period, 57 of 61 Democratic incumbents won their re-election campaigns, while just … Continue reading Does Ideological Radicalism Hurt Republican Incumbents More than Democrats?

Still Lost

I'm sure that most followers of Pileus are too sophisticated and intelligent to have wasted any time watching ABC's Lost over the last six years.  But I'm one of the unfortunate ones who got sucked into this hugely successful drama.  I started to dislike the show not long after I started watching it.  But lots … Continue reading Still Lost

America’s 30-year experiment with radical economic deregulation

In a 2008 piece in the Financial Times, Congressman Barney Frank, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, opined that the financial collapse was clearly an indictment of “America’s 30-year experiment with radical economic deregulation.” Leaving aside Congressman Frank’s diagnosis, it is worth considering briefly the question of deregulation. There is no better guide than … Continue reading America’s 30-year experiment with radical economic deregulation

Whither (wither) the Atlantic?

Dan McCarthy of The American Conservative (and perhaps the best young journalist on the so-called "Right") replied to my recent post on the New Yorker cover and the Atlantic's slide by noting: It’s sad how far The Atlantic has fallen in recent years, especially since last summer’s redesign. Indeed.  And while it is good to see that I'm … Continue reading Whither (wither) the Atlantic?

The Sestak Job Scandal

Does this thing have legs? The story's been at a low boil for a few days. Today congressional Democrats are pressing Joe Sestak to explain his claim that the Obama Administration offered him a job (rumored to be Secretary of the Navy) in exchange for dropping his ultimately successful primary challenge to Arlen Specter. Apparently … Continue reading The Sestak Job Scandal

Is there a danger of deflation?

A lot of historical analogies are being made these days to make sense of the current economic scene.  Our own Marc Eisner has recently discussed the possibility of a second dip similar to the 1937/1938 depression within a depression.  Eisner, in particular, worries that all of the frenetic political activity pushed by the Obama adminstration is creating instability and keeping … Continue reading Is there a danger of deflation?

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

Pileus, like most classical liberal outlets, is not exactly bubbling over with optimism during these troubling times.  But not all classical liberals think the future is bleak.  Matt Ridley, author of the wonderful books The Red Queen and The Origins of Virtue, has a new book out that makes the optimistic case that the future … Continue reading The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

U.S. > Sweden. Hah!

In any academic discussion of social welfare policy, the debate usually ends up addressing the (tiresome) question of "Why can't the US be more like Sweden?"  Sweden is widely seen as a prosperous and egalitarian, whereas the United States is seen as prosperous and individualistic. A fascinating new NBER paper by Price Fishback turns the … Continue reading U.S. > Sweden. Hah!

The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Libertarian and the “Consistency Syndrome”

There have been some remarkably interesting posts and comments as of late regarding libertarianism. Some of them emerged in various postings on Rand Paul. Damon Linker, for example, congratulated Jason on diverging from “absolute libertarian principles” and approvingly posted Bruce Barlett’s take on Rand Paul: “I don’t believe Rand is a racist; I think he … Continue reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Libertarian and the “Consistency Syndrome”

Distinctions with a Difference

In a recent discussion about the Hurricane Katrina disaster, I described a libertarian position that would reject public assistance and instead recommend private charity. My interlocutor suggested that only a person of questionable moral character could claim that the victims of Katrina deserved no help. I clarified that this position did not entail that they … Continue reading Distinctions with a Difference

Of Oil, Arrogance, and Enlightened Self-Interest

The current catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is looking like a classic tragedy. It appears that BP and those who constructed the off-shore rig failed to meet acceptable standards in construction, warning and safety systems. In part this may have been a product of BP’s weighing of the costs and benefits, as suggested by an … Continue reading Of Oil, Arrogance, and Enlightened Self-Interest

Wanted: An economics of fear

During and after the financial panic of 2008, we were exposed to a host of economists trying to explain the market meltdown, what should be done about it, and how we might avoid repeating it. Some of the leading lights in the discipline weighed in on the market problems. Now we have a reform proposal … Continue reading Wanted: An economics of fear

The University and Speech

Judge Alex Kozinski issued an interesting opinion this week in Rodriguez v. Maricopa County Community College.  In it, he argues that: Free speech has been a powerful force for the spread of equality under the law; we must not squelch that freedom because it may also be harnessed by those who promote retrograde or unattractive … Continue reading The University and Speech

Books Matter

A recent article in Research in Social Stratification and Mobility finds that having a lot of books in your house increases the amount of education your children will attain. The cross-national research was conducted by M.D.R. Evans, Jonathan Kelley, Joanna Sikora, and Donald J. Treiman.  Here is a Chronicle of Higher Education post on this piece and the abstract is as … Continue reading Books Matter

Resource Curse: Fact or Myth?

The "resource curse" refers to a set of cross-national relationships between resource dependence on the one hand and economic growth and civil conflict on the other. Sachs and Warner were the first to document the negative relationship between resources and growth. The notion that countries blessed with abundant mineral resources tend to suffer slow economic … Continue reading Resource Curse: Fact or Myth?

Military Leaders – Overexposed?

Military leaders are frequently in the public eye.  They appear as guests on news shows and comment on political issues (a recent example here), they give speeches at universities (a recent example at Sven's university here), and they meet with elites across the country.  Indeed, this list of speeches and remarks by General John Shalikashvili while Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shows … Continue reading Military Leaders – Overexposed?

End the Military Academies?

The University of Chicago was a founding member of the Big Ten Conference, and was a football powerhouse from 1895 until 1946. They were, indeed, the original "Monsters of the Midway," having won two national championships and seven Big Ten championships. Jay Berwanger, a halfback at the U of C, was the first winner of … Continue reading End the Military Academies?

Monday Morning with Marx

For those who followed the neo-Marxist debates on state theory in the 1970s (or were forced to learn about them by one’s professors), one of the more interesting contributions came from James O’Connor's book, The Fiscal Crisis of the State. In essence, O’Connor argued that the state must simultaneously execute two conflicting functions: an accumulation … Continue reading Monday Morning with Marx

Those looming deficits. Yawn.

Before I get voted off the island, let me say that I’m in favor of much smaller government, lower spending and lower taxes.  I’m also a supporter of reducing budget deficits. That said, however, I cannot find a reason to get that worked up by the budget future of the U.S. or most developed countries.  … Continue reading Those looming deficits. Yawn.

The Beginning of the End?

I think the Rand Paul/Civil Rights Act episode might be the real beginning of the end. Here is why. The only real opposition to the growth of the federal government in the last quarter-century has been the recent Tea Party movement. It may be too late to make any real difference, but it was a … Continue reading The Beginning of the End?

Apartheid’s Electoral System

Fivethirtyeight has a fascinating account of how South Africa's electoral system led to unchallenged National Party dominance and the imposition of apartheid. It's just a little more evidence that the worst electoral system ever devised is single-member-district plurality rule. The discussion of emigration at the end is also interesting for providing another case in which … Continue reading Apartheid’s Electoral System

A (certain kind of ) libertarian critique of Rand Paul

This makes sense to me: One of the fundamental problems with simplistic libertarian thinking of the type Paul is engaging here, is that it pretends like any given moment in time exists in a manner that is disconnected from a broader history.  One cannot simply say that private property rights are so sacrosanct that we … Continue reading A (certain kind of ) libertarian critique of Rand Paul

U.S.S. Liberty

With many international observers focused on the Cheonan incident in Korea which killed 46 South Korean sailors, it is a good time to remember another tragedy at sea - and one that has become a pretty much forgotten episode in American history.  On June 8, 1967, the U.S.S. Liberty - a Navy electronic  intelligence ship sailing in international waters off … Continue reading U.S.S. Liberty

Financial Regulation: Another Take

I have a somewhat different take on the financial legislation passed by the Senate than that presented by Jim Otteson, although I agree with his argument. Here is my take: The New Deal era financial regulations created several separate financial industries, each governed by its own set of regulators and insulated by regulatory barriers to … Continue reading Financial Regulation: Another Take

Regulation and Knavery

The finance regulatory reform bill that the senate passed yesterday provides, among other things, for an array of new regulatory instruments and powers. According to the Wall Street Journal, they include: 1. Creating a "new council of 'systemic risk' regulators to monitor growing risks in the financial system, with the goal of preventing companies from … Continue reading Regulation and Knavery

Taranto on Paul on Civil Rights

I like James Taranto's take on Rand Paul's view of the 1964 Civil Rights Act: Far from being evasive, Paul has shown himself to be both candid and principled to a fault. We do mean to a fault. In this matter, Paul seems to us to be overly ideological and insufficiently mindful of the contingencies … Continue reading Taranto on Paul on Civil Rights