Perry has received a lot of negative press lately. Yesterday, a piece in Politico asked a simple question: Is Rick Perry Dumb? There was no definitive answer in the article, although there was a Perry quote that I found a bit endearing: “My brain is like a chicken pot pie.” Today the Washington Post has … Continue reading Rick Perry: Libertarian AND/OR Theocrat?
I want to piggy-back here on Mark's great post on urban planning and the poor. I've been playing around with some state-level data on local land-use regulations and cost of living. The last decade in the U.S. has been one of very slow productivity growth. As a result, fast-growing states tend to be those with … Continue reading Land-Use Regulation and Growth
English poet John Milton (1608-1674) with some thoughts on the English Revolution that might be helpful for those contemplating or participating in the Arab Spring? That a nation should be so valorous and courageous to win their liberty in the field, and when they have won it, should be so heartless and unwise in their … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Milton on Losing Liberty (Arab Spring Edition?)
This proposal in the UK to tax "fatties" highlights once again how once government gets deeply involved in funding health care, the pressures to control people's lifestyles become significant. This is the same argument we hear from supporters of sky-high cigarette taxes, smoking bans, seat-belt and helmet laws, ad nauseam. "We all pay for it." … Continue reading Less Economic Freedom, Less Personal Freedom
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is threatening to refocus union funds to promote unionization rather than the election of Democrats. Having been disappointed on card check and dismayed by the administration’s post-2010 shift to deficits over job creation, Trumka is questioning whether the AFL-CIO will participate in the Democratic National Convention (to be held in North … Continue reading Will Organized Labor Defect? Will Anyone Notice?
Many government interventions in markets though they are often justified in terms of the ‘public interest’ work to the disproportionate benefit of organised interests – often the rich or relatively rich – and at the expense of the unorganised and often relatively poor. One area of public policy where this pattern is particularly evident is … Continue reading Urban Planning and the Poor
At least, that's what Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic claims. He reviews criticisms of Paul from Matt Yglesias and Adam Serwer, which basically boil down to: he's pro-life; he favors enforcing immigration laws; he's a bit kooky about the importance of the Fed. Friedersdorf then puts the boot in: Wow. They make Ron Paul sound … Continue reading Progressives: Ron Paul Better than Obama, But We Still Wouldn’t Vote for Him
That's from the lede of a new story in Mother Jones about the Free State Project, entitled "City on a Quill." Mother Jones is definitely coming from the left, but the story is meritoriously free of those lazy, paranoid arguments ad Kochum that we've seen about Free Staters from The Nation (no, I'm not going … Continue reading “A decade ago, libertarian activists… hatched a crazy plan to take over New Hampshire… It’s kind of working.”
Florida recently passed a law requiring welfare recipients to be tested for drugs and throwing them off welfare if they test positive. Governor Rick Scott justified it as saving taxpayers' money and discouraging drug use. It turns out to be costing taxpayers more money than it saves them, because hardly anyone tests positive. This isn't … Continue reading Florida’s Drug Testing Law Not Working Out So Well
The web is a buzz with Paul Krugman’s supposed comments regarding yesterday’s earthquake: "People on twitter might be joking, but in all seriousness, we would see a bigger boost in spending and hence economic growth if the earthquake had done more damage." Given the comment a just over a week ago regarding the economic benefits … Continue reading In Praise of Earthquakes
Last Friday, I had a post on the “Cost of Government Day.” According to a piece by Grover Norquist and Patrick Gleason, “the Cost of Government Day arrived Aug. 12 — meaning that the average American toiled 224 days to foot the bill for this year’s total cost of government.” One reader (Greg) questioned the … Continue reading Jobs and the Cost of Regulation
I've discussed Michelle Obama's lavish lifestyle as first lady before. Meanwhile, the President hasn't exactly endeared himself to a nation struggling economically by recently bolting Washington for yet another vacation - this time in upscale Nantucket Martha's Vineyard. But it appears that Michelle and Barry aren't the only ones who are politically tone deaf right now. The Washington Post reports that presidential candidate … Continue reading Politically Tone-Deaf?
Philosopher Joel Marks has a fascinating personal narrative in the New York Times today called "Confessions of an Ex-Moralist." In this account he describes his recent and rapid transformation from a secular ethicist (one who believes "religion is not needed for morality") to an amoralist and atheist. He begins his account with the provocative claim … Continue reading Confessions of an ex-moralist
In this post, I continue my series on left-libertarian economics by examining Kevin Carson's arguments for the labor theory of value (LTV) in Studies in Mutualist Political Economy. I argue that this is one area in which left-libertarian economics does represent a degenerative research program, that is, a body of scientific theories that protects itself … Continue reading Left-Libertarian Economics as a Degenerative Paradigm: Part Two
Robert Kaplan in Foreign Policy: "It is realism in the service of the national interest -- whose goal is the avoidance of war -- that has saved lives over the span of history far more than humanitarian interventionism." I'm not exactly sure his comment about the goal of the national interest (or the goal of … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Realism over Idealism
Yes, I know, the market remains in the tank, jobless numbers are up, and the world economy looks like it is on the brink of recession 2.0. But a week ago, we could begin smelling freedom in the air. As Grover Norquist and Patrick Gleason explain: This year Cost of Government Day arrived Aug. 12 … Continue reading Free at Last
As efforts continue to frame the debates over recovery, Paul Krugman discussed the merits of World War II and the potential benefits of an alien invasion on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS this past Sunday (video clip here). Michael Pento (HuffPo) provides a useful critique. Money quote: "the Keynesian economist's favorite pastime is seeing people waste their lives … Continue reading Keynes and the Twilight Zone
Few in power find it convenient to notice inconsistencies in their own conduct. Alas, but President Madison was no exception. Federalism and decentralization exist precisely because free constitutions should not depend on the good graces of those in office, but on the checks necessary to harry them back under the law. Seeking the financial means … Continue reading Interposition: Part Nine: The Hartford Convention
Political Math's piece on Texas' amazing job growth has been getting a lot of attention around the 'Net. As regular Pileus readers know and as Political Math's piece confirms, job growth is largely a consequence of population growth, and population growth is largely a consequence of warm climate, low cost of living, low taxes, and … Continue reading Texas Job Numbers and Inter-State Migration
The President is on the tail end of his Midwestern bus tour, which was designed to focus on the issue of jobs. While there is no shortage of presidential remarks (punctuated by the obligatory hand shakes, autographs, and baby kissing), the lack of substance exhibited by the President is frustrating the NYT (see today’s lead editorial): … Continue reading A Jobs Plan (details to be announced)
Like many libertarians and conservatives, I am quite eager to see President Obama in the rearview mirror of American politics. He has been far worse than I expected. Although I expected trouble on the domestic front, I figured he'd operate with a lot more restraint in the realm of foreign policy. Instead, we've been given both a fairly … Continue reading My Chief Worry about Perry
"Left-libertarianism" can be defined in one of at least three ways. It can refer to "liberaltarianism," a tactical stance and set of policy positions combining a substantially libertarian thrust with a preference for making alliances with the modern center-left. It can refer to a revisionist philosophical movement that differs from Robert Nozick's entitlement theory of … Continue reading Is Left-Libertarian Economics a Degenerative Paradigm? Part One
From Ross Douthat writing in the Times: Imagine if the Democratic Party nominated a combination of Al Franken and Nancy Pelosi for the presidency, and you have a sense of the kind of gamble Republicans would be taking with Perry. Douthat is trying to flatter Christie into running. Now that would make for an interesting … Continue reading Quote of the day
One of the books I read this summer was Bryan Caplan's Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think. Having already read works like Judith Rich Harris's excellent books The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do and No Two Alike: Human … Continue reading Caplan on Parenting and Having Children
There is an interesting (and frustrating) piece by Glenn Thrush (Politico) entitled “President Obama’s Vision Problem.” The core thrust: Obama is having a difficult time articulating and communicating a vision to the nation. The question is why? A few possible hypotheses emerge: “Obama’s supporters say that the problem is almost entirely due to the economic … Continue reading Without a Vision the People Perish?
It goes way beyond Merck.
Today, Aug. 13, 2011. Rick Perry enters the race, having artfully played the waiting game to swell expectations while avoiding scrutiny and debates. He will be the darling of the Tea Party and the evangelical right (the real start to his campaign was his recent prayer meeting in Houston), and he will be palatable to … Continue reading The day the GOP lost the election
I was reading a little this week about the arguments that John Calhoun and others made in defense of slavery in the antebellum South. What makes these arguments so repulsive is how the Southerners justified the abhorrent practice of slavery using the language of Lockean liberalism. They talk of Northerners trying to deny them their … Continue reading The perversions of liberalism
Because of this and this: Pressed about the constitutional basis for the individual mandate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney got snippy, and argued that it wasn't the U.S. Constitution that mattered. “Are you familiar with the Massachusetts constitution? I am,” he all but sneered before proceeding to note that states force people to do all … Continue reading Is It Bad That I Like Mitt Romney a Little More Now?
There is an all too predicable Op-Ed in today’s NYT (“Cameron’s Broken Windows”) by Richard Sennett and Saskia Sassen. The core argument: the riots in London are a product of austerity and if the Tea Party has its way, the same riots may be heading our way. According to the authors, “Mr. Cameron’s austerity program … Continue reading Does London Hold Lessons for the United States?
Our fellow blogger Elizabeth Price Foley's contribution to a symposium on ObamaCare: here. The opening certainly suggests it is worth a complete read: Health reform supporters have labeled lawsuits challenging its constitutionality as silly, frivolous, and purely political. To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Hamlet, methinks they doth protest too much. Two lower federal courts – in Virginia and Florida … Continue reading Elizabeth Price Foley on ObamaCare
And kind of mob behavior is always a tricky thing to explain and often frightening. We are heartened by images of mass protest against tyranny, and we are shocked by images of teenage thugs causing havoc. Given that teenagers, on the best of days, are so heavily influenced by peers, their behavior is even more … Continue reading Responsible autonomy comes from authority
In this third and final of the series on Ha Joon Chang’s critique of ‘free market economics’ I examine his account of ‘bounded rationality’ and the case for greater economic regulation. As in much of his work the policy conclusions which Chang draws simply do not follow from his premises. In chapters 16 and 19 … Continue reading Ha Joon Chang: Confused on Bounded Rationality and Economic Regulation
There's been a great deal of debate about the "root causes" of the recent violence in England. Unfortunately, some British and American commentators have tried to score partisan political points by arguing that government cuts to things like "youth programs" are ultimately responsible for the violence. Never mind that the thugs doing the looting and … Continue reading Even Labour Voters Recognize Riots Caused by Criminals, Not Cuts
I recall a wonderful moment following the 2008 elections when a student left my seminar in tears: “Finally, things are going to be different!” With tears streaming down his face, he elaborated: “No more wars, no more GITMO, no more politics of division.” He was so cute I almost wanted to give him a hug. I … Continue reading The More Things (Hope and) Change, the More They Stay the Same
So, apparently the downgrade of US debt by the S&P has led to the market tanking. Two problems with this story: 1. It was tanking before the downgrade. 2. Apparently people are now so scared of US government bonds that they are pouring money into...you guessed it...US government bonds. My usual advice applies here. When … Continue reading Tall tales in the market
I like Michael Barone’s column today on “earned success” (an Arthur Brooks term). This is the idea that Americans don’t want to be given money as much as they want the opportunity to earn success. This is why Wall Street bailouts to people who fleeced investors while bearing no risk themselves or programs to support … Continue reading Responsibility and charity
The response to the S&P downgrade of the US credit rating has been quite interesting thus far. Those who for several weeks spoke in apocalyptic terms about what would happen if the US defaulted on its debt are now filled with shock: “A credit rating should reflect the probability of default, and the probability of … Continue reading Shoot the Messenger…He Didn’t Check His Homework
It's the economy, stupid! That is the political slogan made famous during Clinton's successful attempt to convince enough voters that the economy in 1992 was really bad when it really wasn't. But what is the economy anyway? What does it mean that the economy is weak? Many are pointing to the persistently high unemployment numbers. … Continue reading Should we care about unemployment?
Warning: today is self-promotion day. For a few years I have been part of a team of researchers studying foreign aid. Part of this project has been the development of the world's most comprehensive database on development assistance, AidData. In a forthcoming paper in World Development I take a look at the question of whether … Continue reading Chasing Success