Starving the Courts

In the latest issue, The Economist gives a startling look on the dire situation of courts in America. Budget cuts and, at the federal level, political obstruction have fostered delays and case backlogs. Some of the dire consequences: In California, uncontested divorces now take a year to obtain. One circuit court in Georgia has stopped … Continue reading Starving the Courts

The Economy: No Surprise and…a Surprise

The new CNN/USA Today poll on the economy offers few surprises. 90 percent of those polled characterize the economy as poor (40 percent somewhat poor + 50 percent very poor). This is the worst outcome since December of 2008 when 93 percent characterized the economy as poor. The majority (52 percent) blame Bush and the … Continue reading The Economy: No Surprise and…a Surprise

A (Temporary?) Victory for Individual Rights in Oregon

In particular, a victory today for the right to bear arms on college campuses in Oregon.  A three judge panel of the Oregon state Court of Appeals ruled that the Higher Education Board cannot ban students from concealed carry on campus.  Bill Graves of the Oregonian writes: The court ruled that while the State Board of Higher … Continue reading A (Temporary?) Victory for Individual Rights in Oregon

Voter Support for Limiting Voting’s Reach

John Sides has a short but interesting post on 538 today looking at surprisingly strong public support for technocratic limitations on pure democracy. A few months ago I floated the idea of multiple voting as a way of overcoming, partially, the baleful effects of voter irrationality. Technocratic management would be another way to do it. … Continue reading Voter Support for Limiting Voting’s Reach

Jobs for Colombia!

The Hill is reporting that Reid and Pelosi are at odds with the White House over free trade bills that Obama wants Congress to pass. Now, assume for the moment that Democrats really are the party of the poor and downtrodden.  How, then, does this this statement make sense?: He even chastised Republicans for being … Continue reading Jobs for Colombia!

Another Reason to Root Against the Nets

The Atlantic Yards controversy isn't new, but this recent Grantland article by Malcolm Gladwell on how rich men were able to use eminent domain in this case to get richer is still noteworthy.   It loses a little steam at the end when he starts to rant a bit.  But Gladwell nicely lays out what went on while highlighting the ugliness of eminent domain … Continue reading Another Reason to Root Against the Nets

In Search of the 19 Percent

A new Gallup Poll reveals: "A record-high 81% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the country is being governed, adding to negativity that has been building over the past 10 years." One has to wonder about the sanity of the 19 percent that is satisfied. Other findings: 82% of Americans disapprove of the way … Continue reading In Search of the 19 Percent

This Should Have Been the Sunday Morning Quotation – Obama the Economist

This is darn scary and something that has to freak out even those friendly to Obama (especially if you agree with mainstream Democrat economic advisors on the role of AD).  And it isn't a single data point as Brad Smith at the Division of Labor blog points out.  From Ron Suskind's book Confidence Men (via Division of Labor): "Both [Chair … Continue reading This Should Have Been the Sunday Morning Quotation – Obama the Economist

Sunday Morning Quotation – Ronald Coase on Laissez-Faire vs. the Ideal

Nobel laureate in economics Ronald Coase in "The Problem of Social Cost": Actually very little analysis is required to show that an ideal world is better than a state of laissez faire, unless the definitions of a state of laissez faire and an ideal world happen to be the same. But the whole discussion is … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Ronald Coase on Laissez-Faire vs. the Ideal

We Do Sports, Too – Take II

We rarely stray into sports here at Pileus unless there is a political or economic issue at stake.  However, Sven did so once here.  So why not.  Here's some weekend sports fodder as baseball (the greatest sport ever conceived) winds down its regular season: Jason Stark at has a post up at his blog imploring us to … Continue reading We Do Sports, Too – Take II

How A Case Gets to the Supremes

A mildly humorous but certainly informative video on the process by which a legal case gets to the Supreme Court (from the indispensable Institute for Justice).  This might be particularly useful as a starter for homeschoolers looking to talk about the U.S. legal system. HT: Cato@liberty. In other IJ news, Lifetime Television is making a movie about the infamous Kelo case which the … Continue reading How A Case Gets to the Supremes

When Tradition and Prudence Clash

In two separate incidents, attackers allegedly using "turban bombs" recently assassinated two prominent Afghan politicians.  I wonder if this admittedly low number of events will nonetheless (due to the potentially high individual and social cost) cause a shift in cultural practice such that Afghan men will be asked to take off their headgear prior to meetings with powerful men.  Or will tradition/culture outweigh prudence?  And will … Continue reading When Tradition and Prudence Clash

What should I read about rights?

Friends: I need a little quick help.  I'm teaching a graduate policy analysis class this semester.  It is mostly applied welfare economics, public goods, social welfare functionals, discount rates, risk, etc., etc.    In other words, standard utilitarian fare.  However, I would like to spend one hour on rights. So, your first response is "1 … Continue reading What should I read about rights?

Palestinian Statehood: Dispensing with Bad Arguments

The debate over the Palestinian Liberation Organization's imminent application for full recognition at the United Nations continues to rage domestically and internationally. The dominant perspective here in the U.S., at least among Republicans, is that Palestinian statehood should be denied except on Israel's terms. The most common reason given seems to be that the Israelis … Continue reading Palestinian Statehood: Dispensing with Bad Arguments

David Brooks Gets It Right

Yup, you heard me say it.  David Brooks accurately describes his view of Obama and helps us understand his last few years of columns on the President.  And here is his flawless insight: "I’m a sap, a specific kind of sap. I’m an Obama Sap." Perhaps I should rethink my take that Obama is likely to win … Continue reading David Brooks Gets It Right

The “Submerged” State

There is an interesting piece in today’s NYT by political scientist Suzanne Mettler. The basic argument is relatively straightforward. Americans dislike government because they fail to understand how greatly it benefits them. This is partially a story of ideology, partly a story of policy design. The first point is relatively simple. On the last point, … Continue reading The “Submerged” State

Why do journalists moderate debates?

Most mainstream TV journalists are nice to look at and can speak without stumbling over their words, but why are these sufficient qualifications?  Consider these problems: Journalists, as many studies show, are vastly to the political left of the distribution of US voters (probably even to the left of Democrats) Journalists, as a group, have … Continue reading Why do journalists moderate debates?

The Can Has Been Kicked…

Today the President announces his $3 trillion deficit plan. First reaction: meh. We get to count (once again) a trillion from the drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan. That will be combined with $1.5 trillion in revenue and another $500 billion in cuts. Let’s start with revenue. We are going to hear—endlessly—about the Buffet rule. The … Continue reading The Can Has Been Kicked…

Constitution Day – Thank the Anti-Federalists

Although the original Constitution is a remarkable achievement, it is the Bill of Rights added to the Constitution that so many cherish most about the document.  And for that they have the Anti-Federalists - especially George Mason - to thank given that these men pushed hard for specific enumeration of protected rights despite opposition by Federalists such as Alexander … Continue reading Constitution Day – Thank the Anti-Federalists

Trade Politics in Middle-Earth (Answers & Winner) -updated

Seth Cohn wins Commenter of the Day for getting all three answers to my Middle-Earth quiz right. Here are the answers with brief logic: 1. The Shire will export Longbottom leaf and import mithril armor and iron ore. (Logic: Being abundant in land and scarce in labor and capital, The Shire can make leaf more … Continue reading Trade Politics in Middle-Earth (Answers & Winner) -updated

Trade Politics in Middle-Earth

Seen on an International Political Economy quiz: The world of Middle-Earth has become largely peaceful, and international trade is growing. The Shire, Gondor, and Mordor are three countries in Middle-Earth. The Shire is abundant in land and scarce in labor and capital; Gondor is abundant in labor and capital and scarce in land; Mordor is … Continue reading Trade Politics in Middle-Earth

Happy Birthday LCL

The Loeb Classical Library published by Harvard University Press is 100 years old this year.  I can't speak too highly of this "library."  The Loeb series has some of the best works ever produced and each is bilingual (with English and Latin or Greek on facing pages).  But the experience of owning and reading these books goes well … Continue reading Happy Birthday LCL

Green Industrial Policy Fiasco

There have been quite a few interesting pieces on Solyndra in the past few days (see here, here, here, here and here for some good examples of recent coverage).  As most of you know, Solyndra was one of the beneficiaries of the administration’s efforts to engage in a green industrial policy, receiving a loan guarantee of … Continue reading Green Industrial Policy Fiasco

American Exceptionalism – Bumper Sticker Edition

I'm guessing that one would be hard-pressed to see in very many other places around the globe the following bumper sticker I saw last night: "I'll serve and protect myself, thank you very much." I'm not a big fan of bumper sticker philosophy and should probably shrug this one off without commentary.  But what the heck, it inspired … Continue reading American Exceptionalism – Bumper Sticker Edition

At Least One Sheriff’s Office Gets It

Radley Balko at Reason has written a lot of great pieces (here and here and many other times) on the issue of legally videotaping police officers at they discharge their official duties.  Unfortunately, as Balko has chronicled, the police aren't always so keen about citizens recording them and have on many occasions arrested people for doing so.  I'm with civil libertarians on this one - the right … Continue reading At Least One Sheriff’s Office Gets It

Urban Sprawl as Government Failure

Segments of the conservative press in the UK are currently running a concerted campaign against very minor proposals by the coalition government to relax land use regulation, arguing that this will encourage the further development of ‘urban sprawl’. Similar attitudes are prevalent in America – the supposed exemplar of a ‘sprawling’ society– where prior to … Continue reading Urban Sprawl as Government Failure

Homeschooling Versus the Market?

Might there be a tension in the thought of conservatives and libertarians who laud the market while advocating not merely the right to home school but the superiority of homeschooling itself? One of the virtues of the extended free market is that it allows for (and rewards) the division of labor and the benefits that … Continue reading Homeschooling Versus the Market?

Do We Want Everyone Represented Equally?

Political scientist John Sides has contributed an interesting guest post to FiveThirtyEight, in which he reviews the evidence that social class influences the way Congresspeople vote. In particular, Congresspeople are unlikely to come from working-class backgrounds, and class seems to affect voting at the individual level. If Congress had the same mix of class backgrounds … Continue reading Do We Want Everyone Represented Equally?

Barro on the Economy

This weekend, economist Robert Barro had an interesting piece in the NYT entitled “How to Really Save the Economy.”  Although there is nothing particularly new for those who have followed Barro over the years, it is worth a quick read. Drawing on Keynes, Barro calls for a mix of policies that would create the conditions … Continue reading Barro on the Economy

Thoughts for a Sunday evening

I heard this scripture at an interfaith 9-11 memorial my wife and I attended this evening: For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.  (Galations 5:13) This wouldn't make a bad motto for Pileus, actually.  We like to stress … Continue reading Thoughts for a Sunday evening

Somalia Blunder II

The Nation has an excellent article on "Blowback in Somalia," about the United States' disastrous decision in 2006 to back an Ethiopian invasion and overthrow of the Islamic Courts Union in Mogadishu. The Union was a largely moderate confederation of allied civilian groups that had finally kicked the warlords out of the Somali capital. However, … Continue reading Somalia Blunder II

Dan McCarthy and the American Conservative

I've embedded below a nice short interview Reason TV recently conducted with Dan McCarthy, editor-in-chief of the American Conservative.  Dan is the perfect person to lead an explicit attempt to bring together conservatives and libertarians, traditionalists and individualists.  When I first met him, I was quite impressed with his knowledge of the history of conservatism and familiarity with the … Continue reading Dan McCarthy and the American Conservative

The Great Debate

Last night’s presidential “debate” was relatively underwhelming (transcript here).  But Ron Paul proved, once again, that he is a gift that keeps on giving. On the issue of border controls, Paul made a few good points: 1. The provision of welfare state benefits (e.g., free education and health care] creates incentives for illegal immigration 2. People … Continue reading The Great Debate

Is There Still A Case for the Postal Service?

This morning's email brought a frantic request from a department chair in Boston anxiously awaiting a promotion review that was sent USPS from Connecticut a mere 9 days ago. I responded by sending the materials as pdfs via email (I am assuming the total transmission time could be measured in seconds). I am sure many … Continue reading Is There Still A Case for the Postal Service?