NH Liberty Forum Report

I've recently returned from the New Hampshire Liberty Forum, held February 23-26 in Nashua, NH and sponsored by the Free State Project. The two evening keynote speakers were libertarian free-range farmer Joel Salatin and investor and recent U.S. Senate candidate Peter Schiff. In addition, session speakers included school-choice economist Angela Dills, former Libertarian Pennsylvania gubernatorial … Continue reading NH Liberty Forum Report

Sad State of Republican Party

Isn't it a sad reflection on the state of the Republican Party when one is relieved that Romney wasn't mortally wounded in yesterday's Michigan primary?  Unless a convention fight is in the cards, isn't Romney the least bad real choice still available (especially since he and Ron Paul keep playing footsie)?  Good thing there is … Continue reading Sad State of Republican Party

Who’s on first? What’s on second?

David Brooks is very grumpy today, blasting the leaders of the GOP for hiding from their responsibilities and letting "wingers" and "protestors" take over the party: In the 1960s and ’70s, the fight was between conservatives and moderates. Conservatives trounced the moderates and have driven them from the party. These days the fight is between … Continue reading Who’s on first? What’s on second?

Romney, Santorum and the Future of the GOP

John Heilemann has an interesting essay on the 2012 GOP primaries (“The Lost Party,” in New York Magazine) Core argument: Regardless of who the GOP nominee is (and here the choice is Romney and Santorum), a loss to Obama will and important implications for the future of the GOP.  If Romney wins—and then loses—the lesson … Continue reading Romney, Santorum and the Future of the GOP

Sunday Morning Quotation – Sheep

I commented earlier on the noble stand and relatively sophisticated views (for an athlete) of Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas.  But generally athletes and celebrities have little to add to public debate.  Here (in response to a question about the recent contraception rule controversy) is Danica Patrick espousing a view of government that belies reality and is fit … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Sheep

More on the Kochs – A Response to the Obama Campaign

The following letter from Koch Industries, Inc. was sent out yesterday in response to the Obama campaign's recent fundraising smear.  It deserves to be posted in full (and I would have done so yesterday except I didn't want to bump Sven's excellent post on education).  I'm sure Bill Maher, George Soros, and other liberals are outraged by … Continue reading More on the Kochs – A Response to the Obama Campaign

Bribery or justice?

Yasuni National Park — a 10,000-sq-km reserve on the western fringes of the Amazon basin — is indeed a paradise, considered by many scientists to be the single most biodiverse spot on the planet. But it's a paradise in danger of being lost. Oil companies have found rich deposits beneath the park's trees and rivers, … Continue reading Bribery or justice?

New Hampshire House of Representatives v. ObamaCare

The NH House passed a resolution today condemning the White House for its infamous contraception rule.  The NH Journal notes that this was a national first:  "The New Hampshire House of Representatives has thus become the first elected body in America to officially vote to condemn the ruling."  Although without teeth, this move is still nice to see.  Here is the story: The … Continue reading New Hampshire House of Representatives v. ObamaCare

Tax Simplification

The Obama administration is now proposing to simply the corporate tax code. As the NYT notes: President Obama will ask Congress to scrub the corporate tax code of dozens of loopholes and subsidies to reduce the top rate to 28 percent, down from 35 percent, while giving preferences to manufacturers that would set their maximum … Continue reading Tax Simplification

Regulatory Sprawl

The new edition of the Economist  has some rather entertaining articles on regulation in the US (the cover story: “Over-regulated America”). Little in the articles will come as a surprise to scholars of regulation. But there are many entertaining examples of regulatory sprawl and complexity. Some examples: “The Federal Railroad Administration insists that all trains must … Continue reading Regulatory Sprawl

Could a Scottish Secession Referendum Bring About Salutary Decentralization?

For all the usual association of independence movements with violence and "separatism," the fact is that secessionist movements in liberal democracies usually pursue their aims peacefully, through the democratic process, and central governments resolve not to use military force to prevent secession authorized by a democratic vote (imagine that!). Such is the case in Scotland, … Continue reading Could a Scottish Secession Referendum Bring About Salutary Decentralization?

An Economist on Foreign Policy – Syria Edition

Here is a recent tweet from economist "Angus" of KPC fame: "Dear "civilized" world: How long are we going to let this puto Assad murder and oppress the people of Syria?" I doubt he is being sarcastic so as a political scientist I have the same reaction to this as an economist would probably have to something said … Continue reading An Economist on Foreign Policy – Syria Edition

The new macro (part 2)

A new strain of macroeconomics going by the name of “Market Monetarism” is blooming in the blogosphere.  In an earlier post, I sketched out what I saw as the fundamental economic arguments for market monetarism.  The central idea is policy-focused: central banks should target the level of nominal GDP (NGDP), rather than other aggregates such … Continue reading The new macro (part 2)


My first book, Secessionism: Identity, Interest, and Strategy, has been released by McGill-Queen's University Press. Secessionism is the first comprehensive, empirical study of the causes and consequences of contemporary secessionist movements worldwide. It also has a normative component, as I interpret from the empirical results a case for "legalizing secession" in order to reduce the … Continue reading Secessionism

Sunday Morning Quotation – Political Scientists Bueno de Mesquita and Smith on Greece et al?

Not literally, but one wonders if this (from their book The Dictator's Handbook) is the best explanation for the problem and thus relevant to what justice demands in terms of a solution: While most of us think of a state's bankruptcy as a financial crisis, looking through the prism of political survival makes evident that it … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Political Scientists Bueno de Mesquita and Smith on Greece et al?

We Do Sports Too – Jeremy Lin Edition

New York Knick basketball player Jeremy Lin's story is so good and so much like a Hollywood script it is hard to believe it is true.  Indeed, it shows yet again that lucky coaches entrepreneurs can exploit market inefficiencies caused by imperfect/unclear information or discrimination (anti-Harvard, anti-Asian, etc).  And I'm as excited about the new breakout … Continue reading We Do Sports Too – Jeremy Lin Edition

Hot Links Served With a Side of Commentary – Santorum, NATO, Kochs

1.  Don't believe the hype department.  According to libgressive commentator E.J. Dionne, Santorum can argue that "he is more or less equally strong against the president" as Romney is.  Really?  Based on a couple of snapshot in time polls?  Does anyone really think a SoCon in today's America has a serious shot at the Presidency (absent another issue dominating such that … Continue reading Hot Links Served With a Side of Commentary – Santorum, NATO, Kochs

Krugman and “Imagine There’s No Welfare…”

Paul Krugman (NYT) turns to the article that we have been discussing on Pileus (here and here) and Monty addressed in an insightful post on Ace of Spades.  Krugman has never really acknowledged the reality of a looming entitlement crisis (indeed, it often appears that there can be no program large enough, no deficit large … Continue reading Krugman and “Imagine There’s No Welfare…”

The $4 trillion fraud

Stephen Moore, writing for Political Diary, has this illuminating summary of Obama's new budget proposal: President Obama and his budget chief Jack Lew are telling anyone who will listen that the president's budget released on Monday has $4 trillion in deficit reduction. They even argue this is one of the thriftiest budgets in recent history. … Continue reading The $4 trillion fraud

Non-Coercive Social Change – Adler Edition

Jonathan Adler at the Volokh Conspiracy blog has a great example of the potential power of non-coercive mechanisms for social change.  In this case, pediatricians are firing patients who won't vaccinate their children.  There is no coercion involved.  Patients are free to comply with what the doctors want or take their business elsewhere.  Doctors are free … Continue reading Non-Coercive Social Change – Adler Edition

Imagine There’s No Welfare, Its Easy if You Try…

A few days back I posted (here) on an article in the NYT that focused on recipients of welfare (usually Social Security, Medicaid, disability) who are dependent on the state but also seem without options. My post ended on a somber note: “the expansion of the safety net has been accompanied by changes in social norms … Continue reading Imagine There’s No Welfare, Its Easy if You Try…

The Future of Higher Education

As a (relatively) young professor, I hope to have another +/- 30 years in the ivory tower ahead of me.  In order to make that happen, I don't look much like the caricature of the lazy academic; I'm constantly working on research, teaching, and service.  And I don't see that letting up much even after I get … Continue reading The Future of Higher Education

Business Associations: Whom Do They Really Represent?

Two stories in the news, one local and one national, help us answer that question. First, a pair of stories from the New Hampshire Union-Leader: Representatives of the state's major hospitals fought a proposal that could pave the way for a for-profit cancer facility to come to the state at a hearing Tuesday that was … Continue reading Business Associations: Whom Do They Really Represent?

The Social Safety Net. What are the Alternatives?

Binyamin Appelbaum and Robert Gebeloff had an interesting piece in the NYT this weekend entitled “Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It.”  An early quote provides the context:  The government safety net was created to keep Americans from abject poverty, but the poorest households no longer receive a majority of government benefits. A secondary … Continue reading The Social Safety Net. What are the Alternatives?

NH House on HHS Contraception Rule

Gotta love the opening of this New Hampshire House attempt to condemn the HHS on the grounds that its action violates our natural rights: HOUSE RESOLUTION 29 WHEREAS, the right to the free exercise of religion is a natural right and is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Part 1, … Continue reading NH House on HHS Contraception Rule

Sunday Morning Quotation – Prelude to 2016?

Governor Scott Walker at CPAC: Wisconsin, like most states, had a budget deficit last year. But we avoided the major mistakes made by other states. Some states chose to balance their budgets with higher taxes. We did not because we knew it would be devastating to our economy and a further burden to our citizens. … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Prelude to 2016?

Afghanistan Buzz

This piece in Armed Forces Journal by Lt Col. Daniel L. Davis is getting a fair amount of buzz.  Titled "Truth, lies and Afghanistan: How military leaders have let us down," the short article paints a very dark picture of the situation in Afghanistan while accusing military leaders of failing to tell Congress and the American … Continue reading Afghanistan Buzz

Shorter Obama on Contraception Rule

Shorter Obama to Catholics:   You must have your insurance providers advise your employees where to go to do what you consider immoral acts.  Please provide their contact info.  Don't worry, God didn't go through law school or study with the sophists so he won't see through the plan.  Nice to see the Catholic Bishops standing up against the state.  If … Continue reading Shorter Obama on Contraception Rule

JPR Special Issue on Climate Change and Conflict

Will global climate change increase resource-based conflicts around the world? Journal of Peace Research has a special issue on the topic, looking at how weather variability has already influenced the rate of conflict. The issue is free to the public until the end of February. Most of the studies find that weather variability does not … Continue reading JPR Special Issue on Climate Change and Conflict

The Use of Drones, Past and Future

A new Washington Post-ABC New Poll asks an important question regarding the use of drones by the Obama administration. The question: do you approve of “the use of unmanned ‘drone’ aircraft against terrorist suspects overseas?”  83 percent approve, 11 percent disapprove, 6 percent have no opinion. The truly depressing part comes in the follow-up question: … Continue reading The Use of Drones, Past and Future

Global Regulation Epidemic, on Freedom Watch

Here is a clip from Tuesday night's "Freedom Watch" with Judge Andrew Napolitano. (Freedom Watch airs nightly on the Fox Business Network. If you don't get FBN, contact your television provider!) The topic was a Reuters paper claiming that 14,215 new regulatory rules were put in place on businesses worldwide in 2012. I was one of … Continue reading Global Regulation Epidemic, on Freedom Watch

Revisiting My Primary Forecasts

My original forecasts for Ron Paul's primary performances are here. Those forecasts were based simply on the Iowa result, so it was quite possible that there would substantial error, and indeed there has been. Paul significantly overperformed his forecast in New Hampshire and South Carolina, the forecast was dead on in Florida, and then Paul … Continue reading Revisiting My Primary Forecasts

Dog Bites Man – Is Anyone Surprised at Mimi Alford’s Revelations about JFK?

Another brick falls out of the official Camelot tower, yes.  But really surprising, no - although the depth of his apparent depravity is a bit eyebrow raising.  Furthermore, the allegations about drug use aren't all that noteworthy either, especially after Robert Dallek discussed Kennedy's issues with drugs back in 2002. I'm more interested in seeing how left feminists react.  Will … Continue reading Dog Bites Man – Is Anyone Surprised at Mimi Alford’s Revelations about JFK?

ROE’s vs Insurgents

Interesting story on the fight in Helmand, Afghanistan in the most recent New York Times Magazine.  There is lot that one could comment upon in the piece but I'll just focus on one thing - the Rules of Engagement (ROE's) for engaging suspected IED emplacers.  Here is the section of the piece describing one encounter with IED placement: A marine noticed two men digging … Continue reading ROE’s vs Insurgents

Sunday Quotation – Could Hobbes Have Said It Better?

Israel's Minister of Defense Ehud Barak:  “It’s good to have diversity in thinking and for people to voice their opinions. But at the end of the day, when the military command looks up, it sees us — the minister of defense and the prime minister. When we look up, we see nothing but the sky above us.” … Continue reading Sunday Quotation – Could Hobbes Have Said It Better?

Obama “Devastating” for Civil Liberties

It's not just Glenn Greenwald any more; other civil libertarians from the left are beginning to speak out. Jonathan Turley on NPR about his September 2011 LA Times op-ed: They just have a very difficult time opposing a man who's an icon and has made history - the first black president, but also the guy … Continue reading Obama “Devastating” for Civil Liberties