Why I can’t wait until November

All indications are that the Democrats are going to take a beating in November.   So, in a few short months, we should make a return to one of my favorite policy-making environments: Gridlock!  This will frustrate many, but it will make me so happy. What economic decision makers (I'm talking about people who make things … Continue reading Why I can’t wait until November

Regulation Redux

Financial reform continues to make its way through the legislative sausage maker as conferees desperately seek to meet the administration's July 4th deadline. As noted in earlier postings, the body created by Congress to investigate the causes of the crisis as a means of informing the legislative process continues to hold hearings in hopes of … Continue reading Regulation Redux

A brief history of recessions

Good monetary policy.  Bad monetary policy.  Good presidents.  Bad presidents.  Good regulations.  Bad regulations.  Special interests.  Corruption. Malfeasance.  Ineptitude.  War. The graph shows a history of US business cylces since 1929 (but missing the slight uptick that will occur for 2010).  Really.  They are there.  Look real hard.  You can see 'em.

Tensions within Libertarianism (Part I): Libertarians and Abortion

This is the first installment in a series on the tensions within both libertarian thought and the libertarian movement.  Today I will focus on abortion - though, as I will explain below, this might seem an odd choice of topics for this series if you spend a lot of time around many movement libertarians. * Listening to or reading … Continue reading Tensions within Libertarianism (Part I): Libertarians and Abortion

It’s “Secession Week” at Athousandnations.com

"Let A Thousand Nations Bloom" is a blog loosely associated with the Seasteading Institute (well, at least, Patri Friedman is a contributor). This week, in the runup to Independence Day (which we all know is a superior term to "Fourth of July," right?), they are blogging about secession. Each day has a different theme, and … Continue reading It’s “Secession Week” at Athousandnations.com

Recovery Summer

The Recovery Summer is well underway. Vice President Biden sought to rally the troops in the Milwaukee stop of his Recovery Summer tour by noting: "there's no possibility to restore 8 million jobs lost in the Great Recession." Today, a  sharp drop in the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index have sent markets into a triple-digit … Continue reading Recovery Summer

NYT: “Guns Are Bad, Because… We Say So”

I probably shouldn't be surprised, but I still am. The New York Times unsigned editorial opposing the Supreme Court decision overturning the Chicago gun ban is one of the most poorly reasoned editorials I've ever read. Two excerpts: Once again, the court’s conservative majority imposed its selective reading of American history, citing the country’s violent … Continue reading NYT: “Guns Are Bad, Because… We Say So”

Cultural Confusion

One hears periodically that our culture, the Western or American culture, is "exhausted." This is alleged to be an indicator that it is on its way out. Symptoms of cultural exhaustion disease include the inability or unwillingness (or both) of the culture's members to defend it, to take pride in it, or even bother to … Continue reading Cultural Confusion

Stephen Walt, Realism, and Perceptions of the United States

For a Realist in international relations (folks who stress structural variables like relative power as the most important causes of outcomes in the international system), Stephen Walt spends a lot of time worrying about how the rest of the world views the United States.  Here is his most recent example:  I was disappointed when the United States got eliminated in … Continue reading Stephen Walt, Realism, and Perceptions of the United States

The Soul of the Senate, Continued.

The memorials for Byrd are proliferating. My favorite—and in my estimate—the only one worth reading, comes from  Andrew Sullivan, who simply notes: Speak no ill of the dead? Well, let me simply say that the racist, populist, larcenous bigot of a Senator - a man who robbed the American tax-payer to pave his state with … Continue reading The Soul of the Senate, Continued.

McDonald v. Chicago

  I'm not a constitutional lawyer, but today's Supreme Court decision in McDonald v. Chicago sounds like a big deal in the history of jurisprudence.  In short, it incorporates the 2nd Amendment via the 14th Amendment so that it applies to the states.  Without having had a chance to read all the way through the case, this should be a big victory for gun-rights … Continue reading McDonald v. Chicago

The Soul of the Senate

The nation has lost a great statesman and parliamentarian. Senator Byrd was the  longest-serving Senator in US history.   No one knows where Robert Byrd first discovered his leadership skills (likely it was during the halcyon days of old when he rose in the ranks to serve as Exalted Cyclops in the Ku Klux Klan). Of … Continue reading The Soul of the Senate

Sunday Morning Quotation

Garet Garrett in The People's Pottage (1953): In a revolutionary situation mistakes and failures are not what they seem. They are scaffolding. Error is not repealed. It is compounded by a longer law, by more decrees and regulations, by further extensions of the administrative hand. As deLawd said in The Green Pastures, that when you have … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation

Happiness Isn’t Everything

It was nice to see Tony Woodlief (over at McArdle's blog) take on the cult of happiness.  Happiness is surely a good, but it makes me unhappy to see people seemingly exalt it above all else - and this appears to be an especially strong current in a certain type of libertarian. This gives me a chance to advertise my coming Pileus series on tensions … Continue reading Happiness Isn’t Everything

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming …

... because the U.S. soccer team lost to Ghana 2-1 in extra time.   I spent the day thinking about monetary policy, so I missed what was surely a splendid match.    Given it would have been fun to see the U.S. win the World Cup and have the Europeans collectively check into a mental ward in response, I'm … Continue reading We now return to our regularly scheduled programming …

Imagine You Were the Marginal Voter in 2008

Many libertarians voted for Obama - or had a pair-wise preference for him - in order to prevent (or express disdain for) a McCain presidency and all that might mean (for example, the neoconservative agenda - especially in foreign policy).  They also hoped that some time in the wilderness would be good for the Republican party and serve as … Continue reading Imagine You Were the Marginal Voter in 2008

Scary metaphor of the day

This today from the WSJ: Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair said bank regulators would have the tools they need to banish "too big to fail" institutions from the financial landscape once a Wall Street overhaul bill becomes law. ...Ms. Bair said that new powers allowing regulators to seize and liquidate failing institutions would … Continue reading Scary metaphor of the day

Financial Reform: “You can’t fix what you can’t explain” continued

Damian Paletta (WSJ) has a summary of the conference committee’s final agreement on the new financial regulations. There is nothing all that surprising here: expansion of regulation (with a few politically expedient exemptions and some revenue sweeteners). Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas) is quoted in the above story as saying: "My guess is there are … Continue reading Financial Reform: “You can’t fix what you can’t explain” continued

General McChrystal

My quick reactions (written yesterday but held for various reasons) to the news that COMISAF has been relieved: 1.  Although it is sad to see a warrior like General McChrystal end his career this way, the silver lining is that President Obama's move strongly buttresses civilian dominance in civil-military relations.  This is appropriate for a liberal republic in … Continue reading General McChrystal

Give hope a chance

I was struck yesterday by a reader's comment on David Brooks' recent column.  Self-identified "liberal" Elizabeth Fuller of Peterborough, NH gave a defense of leftist politics that was articulate, if not persuasive.   Among other things, she said: We love government not because it is always good, but because it is our only hope. Really?  Government … Continue reading Give hope a chance

Picture of the day: the thickening campus

In 1995 Paul Light published an interesting book entitled Thickening Government, which highlighted the explosion of management/professional positions in government--both vertically (the number of levels of management) and horizontally (the number of positions at each level). In the academy we have seen the same kind of thickening, which I suspect is a primary culprit behind … Continue reading Picture of the day: the thickening campus

Financial Reform: “You can’t fix what you can’t explain.”

This week, House and Senate conferees are working out the details in what will likely be the most significant financial regulatory reform in some time. Should the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau be housed in the Fed? Should the Volcker rule be universally applied? Should banks really be required to spin off their derivative activities? … Continue reading Financial Reform: “You can’t fix what you can’t explain.”

Abuse of power? No problem.

Although I don't remember their arguments well, leftists used to throw around charges quite frequently that Bush/Cheney abused the power of the Presidency to further their agenda.   I think most concerns were in the area of law enforcement and civil liberties.  I would probably agree with some of those arguments (if I remembered them better). … Continue reading Abuse of power? No problem.

Estimating the “Liberty Bloc” in Each State, Part 3

To test the political influence of libertarians, I model state respect for individual freedom as a function of libertarian constituency, liberal constituency, political institutions, and some demographic controls. All my hypotheses are confirmed, and most interestingly, we see that states with more libertarians are freer.

Hope and [Name] Change

The first step toward real reform at MMA has been taken: the Minerals Management Service has been renamed Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. As a piece in Marine Log notes: “Perhaps realizing that BOEMRE is not only an unwieldy acronym, but one that would likely be pronounced by most of us as "bummer," … Continue reading Hope and [Name] Change

Does the Federal Government Have Grounds to Sue Arizona?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in Ecuador last week that the Obama Administration plans to commence legal proceedings against the State of Arizona to invalidate its recently enacted SB 1070. The new law directs state and local law enforcement officers and agencies to enforce federal immigration law by detaining or reporting persons giving rise … Continue reading Does the Federal Government Have Grounds to Sue Arizona?

Human history in one picture (the NIB ideology, part 4)

Note:  This is the fourth in an ongoing series of posts on NIB (Natural is Better) ideology.  See here for the previous posts in this series: 1,  2,  3. More to come. For years, economic historian Robert Fogel has been using a version of this picture in class and in various research articles.  Though one … Continue reading Human history in one picture (the NIB ideology, part 4)

In Case You Missed These

With summer upon us and all that implies...vacations, yard work, etc...I wanted to call your attention to several recent posts here at Pileus that you may have missed: Sven Wilson's interesting series on "Natural is Better" here, here, and here.  Jason Sorens' erudite two-part discussion of the size of the Liberty Bloc here and here. Jim … Continue reading In Case You Missed These

Making Sausage

This week should be remarkably interesting for those following the financial reform legislation.  Among the big issues on the table include the so-called derivatives “push out” (forcing banks to spin off their derivative trading activities) and the “Volcker rule” that would prohibit proprietary trading at banks. Silla Brush (the Hill) has a quick summary of … Continue reading Making Sausage

Happy Father’s Day II

I really like Marc's post celebrating his dad on Father's Day.  He's a good son and an even better dad!  But I'm not a big fan of Father's Day or Mother's Day for two main reasons:  First, I really dislike the commercialization of these holidays.  And don't even get me started on Christmas.*  Second, we should … Continue reading Happy Father’s Day II

Sunday Morning Quotation

A bit late, but trying to keep this feature alive. Adam Smith.  The Wealth of Nations.  Vol II, Book 5, Chapter 1: "The abuses which sometimes creep into the local and provincial adminstration of a local and provincial revenue, how enormous soever they may appear, are in reality, however, almost always very trifling, in comparison of those … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation

John Taylor on the current crisis

Stanford University professor John Taylor, of "Taylor Rule" fame, gave a thought-provoking speech at the NBER Macro Annual Meeting in May that is well worth your attention.  Taylor is certainly no hack, so his views must be confronted as we assess the causes of the current financial crisis and the government's responses to it. This speech will be particularly instructive for … Continue reading John Taylor on the current crisis

State of Liberty in Australia and New Zealand

Since we have a number of Pileus readers in Australasia, I'd like to invite them to give us their thoughts on the state of liberty in Australia and New Zealand.  I look forward to reading their comments and discussing the future of liberty in those places as well.  Who knows, another decade or two like the last one … Continue reading State of Liberty in Australia and New Zealand

Best Sentences of the Day?

From Matt Welch: The thing eight consecutive presidents have failed to adequately communicate is that ENERGY IS HARD. Yucky oil and Dickensian coal are just stubbornly cheap compared to everything else (particularly, though not only, because the liability for extraction accidents and other environmental damages are not properly priced).

“Vladimir Obama”

The Economist, which supported Barack Obama enthusiastically in his election campaign, has issued a shot across his bow. Frankly, I think the whole politics of the BP fiasco reflects the tendency of humans to think that everything that goes wrong requires someone to blame. Is BP really worse than all the other oil companies? And … Continue reading “Vladimir Obama”