Boo, humbug!

Many Christian have traditionally celebrated Nov. 1 as All Saints Day, and the preceding evening is sometimes referred to on the Christian calendar, therefore, as "All Hallows Eve."  All Hallows Eve morphed over time (I don't know the history) into Hall-o-ween, which in the United States is a much bigger deal than All Saints Day … Continue reading Boo, humbug!

Sunday Morning Quotation – Bill Niskanen on Protectionism and Rent Seeking

“A common commitment to refrain from special favors serves the same economic function as a common commitment to refrain from stealing.” Sounds like a fellow Pilei to me! This provocative quotation from his piece on Reaganomics came in a close second: "The Reagan economic program led to a substantial improvement in economic conditions, but there … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Bill Niskanen on Protectionism and Rent Seeking

The Myth of the War of the Worlds Panic

BBC News Magazine: Mass panic and hysteria swept the United States on the eve of Halloween in 1938, when an all-too-realistic radio dramatisation of The War of the Worlds sent untold thousands of people into the streets or heading for the hills. The radio show was so terrifying in its accounts of invading Martians wielding … Continue reading The Myth of the War of the Worlds Panic

George Will Declares War On Romney

George Will opens up on Romney.  Will conservatives go for a choice or an echo?  A small part of his WaPost article worth reading in full: Romney, supposedly the Republican most electable next November, is a recidivist reviser of his principles who is not only becoming less electable; he might damage GOP chances of capturing the Senate. Republican successes down the … Continue reading George Will Declares War On Romney

The $10,000 degree and other ways to make college cheaper

You can't work in higher education without seeing all manner of craziness and inefficiency.  Thus it isn't hard to be at least somewhat sympathetic to education reformers, incremental and radical.  That being said, I was waiting for a gag line at the bottom of this piece from the Pope Center about how to save money on education. Now to … Continue reading The $10,000 degree and other ways to make college cheaper

Note to Rangers Fans

What you are feeling now is kind of how it felt to be a Red Sox fan in 1986 after Game 7.  Of course, you'd have an even better sense if you had to previously endure selling Babe Ruth and watching the Yankees win about a hundred World Series*, 1946, 1967, 1975 (catcher interference!), 1978 (Bucky **** Dent), and … Continue reading Note to Rangers Fans

Sticks and stones

Here is one difference between out-of-control Tea Partiers and out-of-control Occupiers.   The Tea Partiers throw (according to reports lacking some credibility)  racial epithets at politicans.  The Occupiers throw rocks and bottles at police (seen on film). There is a certain irony inherent in protests from a group who, when it comes right down to it, … Continue reading Sticks and stones

The Divider vs. the Thinker

Peggy Noonan is always a pleasure to read. She has a provocative essay (“The Divider vs. the Thinker”) in today’s WSJ (ungated). Ms. Noonan presents a compelling account of the current state of affairs, concerned with the “sense now that the glue that held us together for more than two centuries has thinned and cracked … Continue reading The Divider vs. the Thinker

Backwards through Time

For some reason, I typically read news magazines backwards.  I'm not one, usually, to defend mainstream rags, but there is still something nice about sitting down with a magazine and perusing it from begging to end---or in my case from end to beginning (while on the exercise bike).  Here is a recent passage through Time. … Continue reading Backwards through Time

Libya and Air Power Enthusiasm

University of Kentucky professor Rob Farley has a fine piece over at WPR on what Libya tells us about the ongoing air power debate.  For the uninitiated, the argument centers on the issue of whether air power can achieve decisive coercive effects largely on its own.  I've been teaching this debate recently so Rob's piece comes at a great time for me.  Rob's … Continue reading Libya and Air Power Enthusiasm

William Niskanen, RIP

William A. Niskanen, economist, public intellectual, and chairman emeritus of the Cato Institute, passed on yesterday after a remarkably successful career. As a member of Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers (1981-85, acting chair, 1985), he is often cited as one of the central forces behind Reaganomics. Despite his close association with Reaganomics, Niskanen was nonetheless … Continue reading William Niskanen, RIP

Cowboy foreign policy

Last week in NRO, Jonah Goldberg nicely encapsulated the Obama Administration's recent decision to help root out and destroy the LRA in central Africa. President Obama notified Congress that he’s sending about 100 combat-equipped troops to advise African forces on how best to kill or capture (but hopefully kill) one of the truly hideous villains … Continue reading Cowboy foreign policy

Setting Records

The new CBS/New York Time polls should come as no surprise, even if they are setting new records (additional discussion here): In a poll released Tuesday, just nine percent of Americans said they approve of the job lawmakers on Capitol Hill are doing. The all-time low is down 2 points from an 11 percent approval … Continue reading Setting Records

Cain’s Internet Ads

Regardless of what one thinks of presidential candidate Herman Cain, his team certainly knows how to get buzz out of internet ads.  The smoking ad is a bit odd - but gets people talking.  Here is his newest, He Carried Yellow Flowers: Curious what our readers think of Mr. Cain.  Will he manage to stay … Continue reading Cain’s Internet Ads

The Impacts of Sarah Palin and Foreign Intervention

Political Research Quaterly - a quantitative political science journal - has two new articles out that readers of Pileus might find noteworthy.  One involves the impact of Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin on the 2008 election.  Specifically, it looks at "how feeling toward Palin exerted an independent effect on vote choice."  The second examines the impact of foreign military … Continue reading The Impacts of Sarah Palin and Foreign Intervention

“Alabama’s immigration law is economically absurd”

So says my friend Scott Beaulier, an economist at Troy University: Immigrants -- both legal and illegal -- are a force for good. They create jobs, they enrich culture and they make our state a more interesting and dynamic one in which to live. Alabama's immigration law is a pathetic, backward attempt to play politics … Continue reading “Alabama’s immigration law is economically absurd”

With Friends Like This…

Now that the US is going to exit Iraq—finally—perhaps we can take the time to reconsider the war in Afghanistan. With rockets being fired at US troops from Pakistan, I am sure that this weekend’s moment of clarity from President Karzai has raised a few concerns: “God forbid, if any war took place between Pakistan … Continue reading With Friends Like This…

Sunday Morning Quotation – Ralf Bader on a Rights-Based Approach to Libertarianism

Ralf Bader is one of the brightest young lights in the classical liberal world and the discipline of philosophy.  For a relatively new assistant professor at NYU, Bader has already written a lot.  See the research tab here for some of his recent works.  Bader has also penned a concise and readable introduction to Robert Nozick's thought that also manages to have substantive depth.  I … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Ralf Bader on a Rights-Based Approach to Libertarianism

Ed Thompson, RIP

Ed Thompson, younger, Libertarian brother of police-state Republican Tommy Thompson and all-around good guy from all reports, has died of cancer. From the article: Ed Thompson had no interest in politics until police raided the club, Mr. Ed's Tee Pee, in 1997 for allegedly operating illegal video machines. He took hits during his gubernatorial bid … Continue reading Ed Thompson, RIP

Green Auto Corporate Welfare: The Next Solyndras?

ABC News has done a carefully researched investigative report on the Department of Energy's billions of dollars in awards to electric car programs that remain years away from profitability. They lead with a headline intended to appeal to the economic nationalism of the mass public -- "Car Company Gets Loan, Builds Cars in Finland" -- … Continue reading Green Auto Corporate Welfare: The Next Solyndras?

Gypsies, Land Use Planning and the Tyranny of Social Democracy

This week saw a violent confrontation between Gypsies/travellers and the police as the former were evicted from an illegal camp site at Dale Farm, Essex, UK. There is no doubt in my mind that the decision to evict the Gypsies from the site was the correct one under the terms of British law and land … Continue reading Gypsies, Land Use Planning and the Tyranny of Social Democracy

Another tyrant falls

Many libertarians opposed US involvement in the international effort to oust Gaddafi from power in Libya.  I was not one of that group, though I can see reasons for and against such interventions. But in any case, we at Pileus ought to at least celebrate the downfall of brutal tyrants, wherever they may be. So, … Continue reading Another tyrant falls

A Couple More Reasons to Like Huntsman

He wants to tax too-big-to-fail banks. My preferred policy would be to enact a credible ban on congressional or Federal Reserve concessionary loans or grants to financial institutions, repeal deposit insurance, repeal most financial regulations, permit solvent banks to suspend payments to depositors, and let a new, free-wheeling marketplace sort things out. But since that's … Continue reading A Couple More Reasons to Like Huntsman

A Message to OWS: Follow the Money

The President has been providing moral support for the OWS protesters during his recent appearances.  How genuine is this support? One might take a clue from the Watergate era’s deep throat and “follow the money.” Thanks to a piece in today’s WaPo, this is not a difficult task. As Dan Eggen and T.W. Farnam report: … Continue reading A Message to OWS: Follow the Money

Name the Newest Republican Interventionist – LRA Edition

Can anyone name this unlikely supporter of Obama's newest military adventure (against the LRA in central Africa)?  He's a fairly prominent Republican politician, but not one you'd probably think would support such a move.  Here is what he said: About a year ago Congress authorized action against the Lord’s Resistance Army. President Obama signed that legislation. To my … Continue reading Name the Newest Republican Interventionist – LRA Edition

Mandates, mandates everywhere

...and not a drop to drink.  Of common sense, that is. Last night in the GOP debate, Romney and Gingrich argued about who was supported the insurance mandate first.  From the transcript, it sounds like Mitt beat Newt (two rather unusual names, incidentally). I have to confess, though I'm sure to get lots of hate … Continue reading Mandates, mandates everywhere

Library of Liberty – Roger Ream Edition

I'm frequently asked by people interested in classical liberalism to recommend books within or on that tradition.  I often suggest they start with basic introductions like David Boaz's Libertarianism: A Reader and Libertarianism: A Primer.  If they seem ready for something more meaty, I might suggest Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom, Frank Meyer's In Defense of Freedom, or even Albert … Continue reading Library of Liberty – Roger Ream Edition

Occupy Wall Street, Pennsylvania Avenue…or Both?

There are some fascinating poll results today from  USA Today/Gallup. When asked whom they blame more for the poor economy, 64% of Americans name the federal government and 30% say big financial institutions. One should not be surprised that the anointed disagree with the great unwashed: On whom to blame for the economy, only one educational … Continue reading Occupy Wall Street, Pennsylvania Avenue…or Both?

Do We Need Publishers?

There is a fascinating piece in today’s NYT on Amazon’s movement into publishing. Money quote: Amazon will publish 122 books this fall in an array of genres, in both physical and e-book form. It is a striking acceleration of the retailer’s fledging publishing program that will place Amazon squarely in competition with the New York … Continue reading Do We Need Publishers?

Sunday Morning Quotation – Daniels on ObamaCare

Sorry to be late with this week's quotation... Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has a new book out titled Keeping the Republic: Saving America by Trusting Americans.  Books by sitting politicians are almost always terrible and not worth the pulping cost.  However, I'm eager to read this one since it isn't about Daniels and doesn't try … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Daniels on ObamaCare

2000-2021: A Lost Generation?

Phil Izzo had a rather dispiriting piece in yesterday’s WSJ.  It reports the results of the WSJ survey of 50 economists. The key passage: Americans' incomes have dropped since 2000 and they aren't expected to make up the lost ground before 2021, according to economists in the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey. From 2000 … Continue reading 2000-2021: A Lost Generation?

Gambling on the Supercommittee? Time to place your bets…

As the 12-member, bipartisan, deficit-cutting super committee spins its wheels in search of $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions, there is a growing sense of skepticism over whether it will reach its goal. The stakes are high. As the Washington Post notes: failure to produce a measure would trigger painful across-the-board cuts to the Pentagon budget … Continue reading Gambling on the Supercommittee? Time to place your bets…

Popping the Education Bubble?

It is easy, all too easy, to make sport at the expense of the Wall Street "occupiers." They are overeducated, whiney, and spoiled, they have no coherent plans, objections, or complaints, and on top of everything they are coarse, ill-mannered, and uncouth. Welcome to many college campuses across the country. But two recent articles make me … Continue reading Popping the Education Bubble?

Boettke, Munger, Leeson, Horwitz, Coyne, Sen, Ostrom, & others on James Buchanan

The latest issue of Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization is dedicated to James Buchanan's work. Some of the most provocative pieces here include Kliemt on Buchanan as Kantian, Leeson on why clubs have self-enforcing constitutions and governments do not, and Voigt on how to test hypotheses drawn from constitutional economics. Especially recommended for those … Continue reading Boettke, Munger, Leeson, Horwitz, Coyne, Sen, Ostrom, & others on James Buchanan

On Education

Bryan Caplan continues his argument against, well ..., education (at least as we traditionally think if it): Unless I misunderstand her, Ravitch draws a radically different conclusion.  To her, a dynamic economy somehow argues for a traditional academic education focused on literature, history, science, and foreign languages.  What a non sequitur.  Yes, it's hard to figure … Continue reading On Education

Today in Neat-o Research

Jordan Rappaport, "Moving to Nice Weather," Regional Science and Urban Economics. U.S. residents have been moving en masse to places with nice weather. Well known is the migration towards places with warm winters, which is often attributed to the introduction of air conditioning. But people have also been moving to places with cooler, less-humid summers, … Continue reading Today in Neat-o Research

One Upper, One Downer

1.  Good for you Slovakia.  Just say no to sovereign welfare! 2.  Depressing to think that the President for the next four years is probably going to be the current occupant or Mitt Romney.  If the latter, let's just hope the political wind blows in the right direction.  Yes, he'll be an upgrade on Obama … Continue reading One Upper, One Downer

Iranian Plot

Breaking news on an Iranian plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. in Washington and to attack foreign embassies on American soil and elsewhere.  Here are some key readings: 1.  The Wall Street Journal on the alleged plot - Informative but a little strong for a first cut and with a gratuitous shot at Republican realists (whom … Continue reading Iranian Plot

Left-Right Alliance?

A not insubstantial amount of money, time, and intellectual effort was spent in the 70's by libertarians hoping to achieve a meaningful libertarian-liberal alliance.  It wasn't exactly what Frank Meyer meant when he talked about fusionism.   And it wasn't as successful either.  The most recent wave of this hope - liberaltarianism - has foundered as well.  These dashed hopes aren't all that … Continue reading Left-Right Alliance?

Occupy and the American Dream Continued

Given all of the hubbub about Occupy Wall Street and our reaction here to it, I thought it worth posting a few points from our Comments section: Sven Wilson: So, the point of my post was that the American Dream has shifted, in many respects, from one of “I can accomplish my goals if I work … Continue reading Occupy and the American Dream Continued