Nationalizing Precious Assets

My students and I have lately been reading Rawls, and we have been considering, among other things, the implications of his claim that we do not deserve our "natural assets"  and thus can claim no exclusive title to them on that basis. "The existing distribution of income and wealth," Rawls writes, "is the cumulative effect … Continue reading Nationalizing Precious Assets

Dodd-Frank

Former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan in today’s Financial Times: The financial system on which Dodd-Frank is being imposed is far more complex than the lawmakers, and even most regulators, apparently contemplate. We will almost certainly end up with a number of regulatory inconsistencies whose consequences cannot be readily anticipated. Early returns on the restructuring do … Continue reading Dodd-Frank

Housing Price Controls in China

According to Bloomberg: Premier Wen Jiabao said on March 5 that China will “resolutely” press ahead with controls on the property market to curb speculation, reiterating a promise to keep housing affordable. The government will “severely punish” irregularities in the real-estate market, implement differentiated credit and tax policies, and hold local officials accountable for maintaining … Continue reading Housing Price Controls in China

The Real Churchill

I just finished reading Ralph Raico's total evisceration of Winston Churchill. According to Raico, Churchill was throughout his life dedicated to two ends: his own power and the making of war. Every other principle he "ultimately betrayed." Among Churchill's sins are accounted the following: violating the international laws of war in blockading food and medicine … Continue reading The Real Churchill

The King’s Speech

The president’s speech last night was interesting. I remain a little uncertain as to what the criteria will be for future interventions. According to the president: For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and as an advocate for human freedom. Mindful of the risks … Continue reading The King’s Speech

Is Atlas Shrugged Coming to a Theatre Near You?

If the answer is no, here's a link where you can help create an incentive for a local cinema to show the film.  In true Randian (and Smithian) fashion, it is not out of altruism that the typical theatre is going to show Atlas Shrugged but out of the self-interested desire to earn a profit (of course, in doing … Continue reading Is Atlas Shrugged Coming to a Theatre Near You?

Interposition:Part Two: Publius and the Federal Check to National Power

Among the defenders of the Constitution, a great deal was said about the states as a check to the power of the national government that informed the first ideas about interposition.  Madison’s contention in Federalist 39 is well-known. Our union was to be “partly federal and partly national.” Among the premier federal attributes were such provisions as the equal … Continue reading Interposition:Part Two: Publius and the Federal Check to National Power

It hasn’t been this bad since 2005!

A Matt Ridley moment for the evening. The Great Recession really sucks and everything, but a long term perspective is helpful occasionally.  Real GDP per capita in the U.S. in 2010 (according to the IMF) was 7.1% higher in 2010 that it was in 2000 and almost the same as it was in 2005. Now … Continue reading It hasn’t been this bad since 2005!

David Cameron, Libya and the Twitterati

Prior to, and immediately after his election as British Prime minister, David Cameron articulated what he saw as a distinctively Conservative foreign policy. A key aspect of this approach was Burkean scepticism about intervening to ‘bring democracy’ to places which have little or no cultural experience of democratic institutions. Recent opinion polls on the Libyan … Continue reading David Cameron, Libya and the Twitterati

Bruce Ackerman on Obama and the Imperial Presidency

Nice short piece by Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman on why Obama's war in Libya has moved beyond even Bush II in terms of the imperial presidency.  A couple of passages: In taking the country into a war with Libya, Barack Obama's administration is breaking new ground in its construction of an imperial presidency -- … Continue reading Bruce Ackerman on Obama and the Imperial Presidency

Sunday Morning Quotation – Joe Biden on Executive-Legislative Relations and War

Current Vice President Joe Biden back in 2007:  "I am not one, who if you've observed me for some time, I am not one who's engaged in excessive populist rhetoric. I'm not one that pits the rich against the poor. I'm not one who's gone out there and made false threats against presidents about, and … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Joe Biden on Executive-Legislative Relations and War

Geraldine Ferraro – Not the First Female VP Candidate

Seems like many of the headlines about Geraldine Ferraro's death have noted that she was the first female Vice-Presidential candidate.  See here, and here for examples.  Fortunately, major papers of record like the New York Times and LA Times do not make this claim....since it isn't true!  Ferraro was the first female Vice-Presidential candidate for a major party.  Indeed, Ferraro … Continue reading Geraldine Ferraro – Not the First Female VP Candidate

Good riddance, Bob Herbert.

The Times Bob Herbert is finally calling it quits.  Is there any  reasonable person of any political persuasion who is not hugely relieved? His last column starts "So here we are pouring shiploads of cash into yet another war, this time in Libya, while simultaneously demolishing school budgets....blah, blah,...unrestrained corporate power, blah, blah,...inequality,...blah, blah, blah, … Continue reading Good riddance, Bob Herbert.

Canada’s Seven-Year Political Crisis Set to Continue

Today a no-confidence motion toppled Stephen Harper's Conservative minority government in Canada. Canada has not had a majority government since 2004, when the so-called "sponsorship scandal" rocked the incumbent Liberal government and wrecked their majority in that year's election. Since 2006 Stephen Harper has been Prime Minister atop Conservative minority governments. Today's vote means that … Continue reading Canada’s Seven-Year Political Crisis Set to Continue

I Resemble that Remark: Academics as Leaders

Keith Koffler has written a piece attributing the problematic war kinetic military action time-limited, scope-limited military action intervention to the President’s academic background. A few key lines capture the core of the critique: President Barack Obama, the former Chicago Law School professor who now commands the U.S. armed forces, has slapped together an operation so … Continue reading I Resemble that Remark: Academics as Leaders

The Libertarian Case for Prescription Laws

In general, libertarians oppose laws requiring a physician's prescription for purchase or dispensing of controlled drugs, on the grounds that these restrictions are paternalistic infringements on an individual's right to choose for himself or herself. But under what conditions might libertarians support prescription laws? Libertarian activist Rachel Mills recently asked on Facebook whether baby formula … Continue reading The Libertarian Case for Prescription Laws

Our Ground Allies in the Anti-Qaddafi Coalition at Work in Libya

From the LA Times: The rebels of eastern Libya have found much to condemn about the police state tactics of Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi: deep paranoia, mass detentions, secret prisons and tightly scripted media tours. But some of those same tactics appear to be creeping into the efforts of the opposition here as it seeks … Continue reading Our Ground Allies in the Anti-Qaddafi Coalition at Work in Libya

The CEA and the Long-term Fiscal Crisis

Harry Truman (if I recall correctly), frustrated with the economic advice he was receiving from the Council of Economic Advisors, asked for a one-armed economist who could not say “one the one hand…on the other.” Ten former CEA heads have issued a joint letter on the long-term budget crisis: Martin N. Baily (Clinton), Martin S. … Continue reading The CEA and the Long-term Fiscal Crisis

Silver on Model Overfitting

Over at 538, Nate Silver has an excellent discussion of the perils of "overfitting" statistical forecasting models. It's good enough that I could see assigning it to my students in methods courses. Incidentally, I would argue that the opposite peril ("underfitting" if you will) is more common in standard, hypothesis-testing political science research. Because the … Continue reading Silver on Model Overfitting

President Obama Again Rules Out Ground Forces – Should We Believe It?

According to an AP story, President Obama has again stated that the US mission in Libya is limited and that he has ruled out the use of ground forces: Obama was asked in an interview with the Spanish-language network Univision if a land invasion would be out of the question in the event air strikes fail … Continue reading President Obama Again Rules Out Ground Forces – Should We Believe It?

Housing Problems Continue

So Marc, are we going to need Recovery Summer II, the sequel?  Or should we call it, "I Still Know What You Didn't Do Last Summer"?  Housing data looks ugly : New home sales fell 16.9% in February, to the lowest level since the government began keeping records in 1963, as the reeling housing market failed to generate any … Continue reading Housing Problems Continue

Feminism and International Relations Theory, continued

In an ongoing attempt to improve the quality of Grover’s lectures, I offer him the following quotes from today’s Maureen Dowd piece in the NY Times: There is something positively mythological about a group of strong women swooping down to shake the president out of his delicate sensibilities and show him the way to war. … Continue reading Feminism and International Relations Theory, continued

Costs of War II – Libya Edition – Hell no, our dollars shouldn’t go

An update on the price of the Libyan conflict.  From CNN Money: With the tab already running into the hundreds of millions of dollars, the U.S. military intervention in Libya has sparked a debate over funding. To date, the United States has spent some $225 million firing Tomahawk missiles, according to CNN estimates based on … Continue reading Costs of War II – Libya Edition – Hell no, our dollars shouldn’t go

Yuval Levin on Nicholas Phillipson’s New Book on Adam Smith

There is an interesting review in the New Republic of one of the new Adam Smith biographies (no, not Jim Otteson's new one, which I'm looking forward to reading).  I quite appreciated this part of the review: By turning the logic of mercantilist economics on its head and establishing a market designed for the good of the common citizen, … Continue reading Yuval Levin on Nicholas Phillipson’s New Book on Adam Smith

President Grover Cleveland on Executive-Legislative Relations and War

I was figuratively sick about USFP over the weekend but now I'm literally sick with a cold, so light blogging despite all of the interesting things to discuss.  Indeed, I hope to respond to Scott Lemieux's sensible commentary on Executive-Legistative Relations and War a.s.a.p., but for now will describe a strange twist on the issue brought about … Continue reading President Grover Cleveland on Executive-Legislative Relations and War

Car Insurance and the Arbitrary Quality of Egalitarian Justice

Classical liberals claim that theories of justice must be judged by their practical capacity to facilitate positive sum games in society and to eliminate scope for the exercise of inconsistent and arbitrary political power. Unfortunately, as one of the recent rulings by the European Court of Justice reveals few people in today’s legal and political … Continue reading Car Insurance and the Arbitrary Quality of Egalitarian Justice

Feminist International Relations Theory and Libya

For those of you that lived through the feminist challenge to traditional IR theory in the 1990's, David Gergen reports on a relevant observation in his CNN piece today: One irony, as a female friend put it, is that for years many of us believed that if only more women could gain power, the world … Continue reading Feminist International Relations Theory and Libya

Ivory Coast and Libya

Given the precedents set by Bosnia, Kosovo, and Libya, where is the international community on other places racked by violence perpetrated by bad men like in Ivory Coast?  Here is news out of west Africa: At least 25 people were killed in what the United Nations called Friday a shocking escalation of violence in Ivory … Continue reading Ivory Coast and Libya

Current Thoughts On Libya

1.  The Value of Sovereignty?  Given that the norm of sovereignty has value in constraining (even if ever so slightly) the possibility of interstate aggression (especially that waged ostensibly under the banner of “doing good”) and the potentially devastating consequences that flow from it (see the 30 Years War), I am concerned about its erosion.  … Continue reading Current Thoughts On Libya

George Will on Libya

George Will on This Week as transcribed by Robert Costa: “It is not worth war,” Will said, arguing that the U.S. should not become entangled in “tribal” conflicts. “We have taken sides in that civil war on behalf of a people we do not know or understand, for the purpose — not a vow, but … Continue reading George Will on Libya

Senator Obama on the President’s Power to Use Force

Marginal Revolution posted a brief piece of this interview with Senator (and Presidential candidate) Obama but his entire response to one of the questions is well worth reading:  [Interviewer] In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic … Continue reading Senator Obama on the President’s Power to Use Force

Sunday Morning Quotation – John Quincy Adams

An excerpt from John Quincy Adam's July 4th 1821 speech in Washington - perhaps the finest statement on U.S. foreign policy ever written (and see here where Sven and I fight about it): Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – John Quincy Adams

Responsibility to Protect (R2P)

Can a state R2P be squared with a libertarian political theory that takes seriously the notion that states have - at the least - a higher duty to their citizens than to others?  The libertarians that most frequently rush to defend humanitarian intervention are utilitarians and thus they assume away a lot of the hard things about living … Continue reading Responsibility to Protect (R2P)

Costs of War – Libya Edition

CNN is reporting that U.S. Vice Admiral William Gortney told the press at the Pentagon that the U.S. and British have fired "more than 110 Tomahawk missiles" at "20 Libyan air and missile defense targets in western portions of the country."  So, let's just assume conservatively that 2/3 of those came from US sources - so 73.  Then let's multiply … Continue reading Costs of War – Libya Edition

Pick a variable, any variable

Is the economy in a liquidity trap?  Day after day after day Paul Krugman says, “of course we are.”  A liquidity trap occurs when the demand for money becomes perfectly flat, meaning that increasing the money supply has no effect on interest rates and, therefore, no effect on investment or consumption—the drivers of GDP. To … Continue reading Pick a variable, any variable

Moral Hazard – Libyan Edition

Does the latest UN move and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) standard it applied embolden other revolutionaries to rise up with the expectation (even if false) that the international community will come to their aid?  And what then?  Might the UN and the US be faced with trying to protect rebels in Libya while standing by and watching … Continue reading Moral Hazard – Libyan Edition

The Fight over Libya inside the Obama Administration

Josh Rogin, on Foreign Policy, has an interesting account of how Obama administration officials lined up on the question of whether to support military intervention in Libya.  A possible rift between Clinton and Gates is certainly something to watch: Obama's Tuesday night decision to push for armed intervention was not only a defining moment in his ever-evolving … Continue reading The Fight over Libya inside the Obama Administration