Wal-Mart on the brain

I keep bringing up Wal-Mart in posts and comments, which is strange since Wal-Mart isn't something pleasant to think about.   But I wish there was more discussion about the recent SCOTUS ruling in favor of Wal-Mart because that case brings up some critically important issues for the future of the American economy.  Though Wal-Mart … Continue reading Wal-Mart on the brain

Worth Reading (and Not)

A few pieces around the internets that are worth reading: 1.  At the Chronicle of Higher Education, Mark Bauerlein discusses research suggesting that the lecture format is beneficial for students compared to progressive teaching methods.  As one paper notes, "Contrary to contemporary pedagogical thinking, we find that students score higher on standardized tests in the subject … Continue reading Worth Reading (and Not)

“Here Come Old Hayek, He Come Groovin’ Up Slowly…”

“Imagine There’s No Taxes, It’s Easy if You Try…” There are so many sour notes that must be passing through the minds of Beatles fans as they hear allegations that John Lennon may have become a conservative in the final years of his life.  As his former assistant recalls: "John, basically, made it very clear … Continue reading “Here Come Old Hayek, He Come Groovin’ Up Slowly…”

Romney-Bachmann, 2012

There are at least a half dozen credible candidates to win the GOP nomination for President.  In fact there are so many that they are all unlikely to win.  But the most likely of the "unlikelies" is Mitt Romney---though I wouldn't put any money on that prediction.  Perry is a threat and Christie is a … Continue reading Romney-Bachmann, 2012

Multiple Voting in Elections, Part 2

I recently ran a poll here to gauge support for the idea of giving voters with bachelor's and/or doctoral degrees extra votes in elections. I ran the same poll on a non-political site to get an idea of support from the general public. Surprisingly, Pileus readers opposed the reform overwhelmingly, 82-18%, while respondents on the … Continue reading Multiple Voting in Elections, Part 2

The Return of Rosy Scenario

Those of you who read David Stockman's memoir The Triumph of Politics will recall his discussion of "Rosy Scenario" and the impact it has in the economic debates internal to the first Reagan term. It appears that Rosy Scenario has returned to town.  As Lawrence Lindsey notes in today’s WSJ (“The Deficit is Worse Than … Continue reading The Return of Rosy Scenario

Interposition: Part Eight: Federalism, Finance and The War of 1812

When tensions with England finally began to degenerate into violent altercations, first on the western frontier in such places as Tippecanoe and later along the Great Lakes, the Madison administration decided the time had come to vindicate America’s claims of offended sovereignty. Unsurprisingly, these claims also happened to coincide with popular desires to expand into … Continue reading Interposition: Part Eight: Federalism, Finance and The War of 1812

Libertarian opposition to gay marriage

George Weigel argues on National Review Online that the passage of gay marriage in New York "is an exercise of power that libertarians ought, in theory, to resist, not support."  Here is more: Marriage, as both religious and secular thinkers have acknowledged for millennia, is a social institution that is older than the state and … Continue reading Libertarian opposition to gay marriage

Governor Ruger for President?

I stumbled upon this anecdote about Governor Rick Perry of Texas: Recently Governor Perry allowed his Labrador Retriever to accompany him on his daily six mile jog. While on his run, he and his pet were accosted by a menacing coyote. After remaining still and waiting to see what the wild coyote would do, the … Continue reading Governor Ruger for President?

Sunday Morning Quotation – Gary Johnson on the War in Libya

Presidential candidate Gary Johnson on the War in Libya: "I think that military intervention in Libya is unwarranted. Where was the military threat from Libya? Where was the congressional authorization to go into Libya? Where in the Constitution does this say that because we don't like a foreign leader we should go in and topple … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Gary Johnson on the War in Libya

Right to Work – NH (and Bad News) Edition

The Wall Street Journal reports bad news out of the Granite State.  According to a piece in today's paper, the Republican leadership in the New Hampshire House of Representatives doesn't have the votes lined up to override the governor's veto of a right to work bill that would have seen NH join 22 other states that "allow … Continue reading Right to Work – NH (and Bad News) Edition

Thank God It’s Friday!

For anyone concerned with the welfare of the republic, this week was not one of the best in recent memory. Consider the events of Wednesday and Thursday: Wednesday: In the long-run, we are all dead: The CBO released its annual Long-Term Budget Outlook. Under its most realistic scenario, “debt held by the public would exceed … Continue reading Thank God It’s Friday!

The Long-Term Budget Outlook: Fiscal Crisis and Political Crisis

Early summer each year, the Congressional Budget Office releases its Long-Term Budget Outlook.  This year’s installment (found here), unsurprisingly, is particularly bleak. As you may recall, the CBO projects the numbers under two scenarios. The “extended baseline scenario” basically assumes that existing laws will remain in place and all core assumptions hold. The “alternative fiscal … Continue reading The Long-Term Budget Outlook: Fiscal Crisis and Political Crisis

Can Liberals Count When It Comes to War?

In the last 24 hours alone I've seen two liberal sources - Bill Maher and the New York Times - note that we are paying for two expensive wars right now in the midst of our domestic economic woes.  At least in Maher's case, the upshot is that this is bad for the United States and … Continue reading Can Liberals Count When It Comes to War?

Please shop at Wal-Mart

I don't like shopping anywhere, but particularly at Wal-Mart.  It's overcrowded with both crap and people. Yuck! But I love the Wal-Mart corporation because it has all the right enemies: people who think that aggressive price competition and efficiency are bad things for the economy and that poor urban communities are made better off by … Continue reading Please shop at Wal-Mart

Sheilagh Ogilvie: Classical Liberal Heroine

The economic historian Professor Sheilagh Ogilvie is an intellectual heroine of modern classical liberalism. Her work on the operation of proto-industries such as woollens manufacture in sixteenth century Baden Wurttenburg may seem esoteric but its study has a remarkable amount to offer our understanding of modern political economy. Ogilvie’s latest book Institutions and European Trade, … Continue reading Sheilagh Ogilvie: Classical Liberal Heroine

Invasive but consistent?

Which is better, an invasive government that restricts people's freedoms haphazardly or one that restricts them consistently? Libertarians don't like the question, especially those who are hostile to utilitarian calculations in defense of policy actions.  But it seems to me that even if we like very limited government, we want to tweak the edges of … Continue reading Invasive but consistent?

Declare Victory and Come Home

Wednesday night, President Obama is scheduled to announce his plans for reducing the number of troops in Afghanistan. According to the LA Times: Pentagon and White House officials say about 10,000 troops will probably come home this year, a bigger number than Gen. David Petraeus wanted. …In 2009 the president coupled his decision to send … Continue reading Declare Victory and Come Home

Multiple Voting in Elections

At a recent Institute for Humane Studies conference, I had a bit of a debate with Bryan Caplan about the potential popularity of this proposal. In conjunction with this poll, which admittedly suffers from serious self-selection bias, I have another poll running on a non-political site. We'll check back in a few days and see … Continue reading Multiple Voting in Elections

State Policy Ideology in 2 Dimensions

As many readers already know, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University just released a new study I've coauthored with Texas State political scientist William Ruger, Freedom in the 50 States 2011: An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom. It's the second edition of a study first published in 2009. The new edition updates and … Continue reading State Policy Ideology in 2 Dimensions

More Evidence for Greek Default

The Economist has a chart up today comparing growth rates pre- and post-default in recent years. Interestingly, countries have typically grown faster after default than before. There are reasons to be skeptical of a causal relationship, but it still shows that default is no disaster. Scholarly work by John Ahlquist also has shown that default … Continue reading More Evidence for Greek Default

Today’s Must Read from the MSM – Ross Douthat on the Republican Foreign Policy Debate

Ross Douthat has an interesting piece in the New York Times juxtaposing two very different foreign policy visions currently being expressed (one might say, at war) within the Republican Party: the assertive, muscular, idealistic neoconservative vision of Marco Rubio and the restrained, prudential, conservative realist outlook of Rand Paul. I was an opponent of neoconservatism and foreign policy idealism before it was … Continue reading Today’s Must Read from the MSM – Ross Douthat on the Republican Foreign Policy Debate

The Pharaoh’s Freedom

Pileus blogger Jason Sorens recently released his co-authored study "Freedom in the 50 States." This is now the second edition of the report, and it has deservedly generated a lot of attention. Even Paul Krugman has added his two cents. At Salon.com, Andrew Leonard criticizes the report under the sarcastic headline, "Why do liberals hate freedom so … Continue reading The Pharaoh’s Freedom

Streams of Light Into the Darkness

Although I am usually quite pessimistic about the ability of policymakers and transfer-seekers to rise above well established pathologies, there were a few notable events at the end of the week that deserve notice. Ethanol: Despite the odds, the Senate voted (73-27) Thursday to end ethanol subsidies (both the 45 cents a gallon tax credit … Continue reading Streams of Light Into the Darkness

America vs. France

Academics, especially those on the left, are prone to think Europe is wonderful and most of America hardly worth flying over.  Frequently, this prejudice is aimed at American attitudes.  But I think the American way of thinking is often underrated, especially the "can do" spirit that is still alive and well here in the USA.  Thus, despite my wariness of cultural … Continue reading America vs. France

Free State Project

As many of our readers may know, fellow Pilei Jason Sorens was the founder of the Free State Project (if you don't know much about it, here is the project's website).  Thus it was with some interest that I opened David Weigel's piece at Slate on the movement that Jason founded. Unfortunately, all I got was a rather … Continue reading Free State Project

Down with Karl Polanyi

When advancing the case for ‘free markets ‘ classical liberals are often chided for failing to recognise the wisdom of Karl Polanyi. In The Great Transformation Polanyi claimed that the pursuit of a ‘free market’ system is chimerical. Historically such an economy did not emerge spontaneously but was the result of social engineering by a … Continue reading Down with Karl Polanyi

The Taxpayer Protection Pledge and Ethanol

An interesting dispute helped derail the efforts to eliminate government subsidies for ethanol.  Oddly enough, it appears that some of the credit can be awarded to Americans for Tax Reform. Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, has been a powerful voice for tax reductions over the years, convincing Republican legislators to sign the Taxpayer … Continue reading The Taxpayer Protection Pledge and Ethanol

A Rarity in Pro Sports – An Owner With Some Respect for the Taxpayer (Mark Cuban Edition)

An owner who isn't trying to rob the public treasury blind is a rarity in this day of pro sports.  Thus it was really nice to see Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban say this about a parade celebrating the Mavs' win over the (hated, thanks to LBJ) Heat: "We'll do it," Cuban said early Monday morning. "All … Continue reading A Rarity in Pro Sports – An Owner With Some Respect for the Taxpayer (Mark Cuban Edition)

Playing the Devil’s Advocate

The GOP presidential candidates will go live in a debate tonight at St. Anselm College. I do not really find much value in these debates. Questions are presented and usually ignored, as candidates attempt to fit their Hallmark-tailored talking points into whatever space they are given.  The time allotted is so short that it is … Continue reading Playing the Devil’s Advocate

How Do Conservative Paternalists Define Freedom?

Having taken on left-liberals in my last post, it's only fair to take a shot at the right too. Here's the Deseret News editorializing on why our recommendations for Utah are wrong: The report's authors are clear about their definition of freedom. "In our view, individuals should be allowed to dispose of their lives, liberties, … Continue reading How Do Conservative Paternalists Define Freedom?

How Do Libgressives Define Freedom?

Matt Yglesias throws some scorn the way of Freedom in the 50 States 2011: Reasonable people can disagree as to whether there’s more freedom in Los Angeles or Brooklyn, and there may be good reasons to move from either place to Sioux Falls, but obviously “for the freedom” is not one of those reasons. For … Continue reading How Do Libgressives Define Freedom?

Freedom in the 50 States

I've just gotten back from a Cato Institute event discussing the new study, Freedom in the 50 States, with my coauthor William Ruger, John Samples, and Michael Barone. I'll post the video when it's available. The Mercatus site for the study allows you to download the study and to use a calculator to see how … Continue reading Freedom in the 50 States

Reforming Trade Adjustment and Unemployment Assistance

Matthew Slaughter and Robert Lawrence have an interesting little proposal in the NY Times: abolishing Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), rolling it into unemployment insurance, and reforming the program so as to reduce its work disincentives. They also advocate special tax treatment for unemployed workers' expenditures on job retraining. They sell the plan, which they say … Continue reading Reforming Trade Adjustment and Unemployment Assistance