Federalism & Inequality, Part One

Constitutional debates swirling around the PPACA's individual mandate have much to do with federalism. The core issue the Supreme Court is addressing is whether the federal government has essentially unlimited authority in economic policy, or whether they are yet some areas of economic policy-making (such as whether to compel commerce) exclusive to the states. As … Continue reading Federalism & Inequality, Part One

Uncompensated Care in Emergency Rooms

How should we deal with the "uncompensated care" issue discussed in Tuesday's Supreme Court oral argument on the Affordable Care Act?  One potential answer is a 2,700 page health care bill that imposes an individual mandate to buy health insurance or face stiff penalties.   An alternative answer would be that these costs should be paid … Continue reading Uncompensated Care in Emergency Rooms

In the Land of the Blind, the One Eyed Man is King

Those of you who followed Grover’s link and read the transcript (or even better, heard the audio) of yesterday’s Supreme Court hearing may find the following quote entertaining (h/t Politico). The Source: White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler. “Mr. Verrilli is an extraordinarily talented advocate who possesses a sharp mind, keen judgment, and unquestionable integrity. He … Continue reading In the Land of the Blind, the One Eyed Man is King

A Sea Change on Afghanistan?

The long war is hemorrhaging support among the public. As the NYT reports, a new NYT/CBS poll provides some rather striking evidence: The survey found that more than two-thirds of those polled — 69 percent — thought that the United States should not be at war in Afghanistan. Just four months ago, 53 percent said … Continue reading A Sea Change on Afghanistan?

Today’s Affordable Care Act Reading

1.  We can now call it ObamaCare without sounding partisan or oppositional. 2.  A New York Times profile of "The Most Interesting Legal Scholar in the World." 3.  Along the theme of liberal preparation of the information battlespace should ObamaCare lose in the courts. 4.  Public opinion shouldn't matter a bit when it comes to … Continue reading Today’s Affordable Care Act Reading

Mill (via Capaldi) on Political Reform

According to Nicholas Capaldi's expansive biography of John Stuart Mill, the great British philosopher argued that "All lasting political reform is not accomplished directly, through partisan activity, but indirectly, through the reform of culture."  As someone who thinks political culture is an underrated variable (the possible result of Weber's problematic "Protestant Ethic" argument), I find Mill's … Continue reading Mill (via Capaldi) on Political Reform

And so it begins

What to read today as the Supreme Court begins to hear the ObamaCare challenge: 1.   It is a tax except when it isn't?  2.  Robert Samuelson on the impact of ObamaCare on health outcomes:  "The ACA's fate will dramatically affect government and the health care system; the impact on Americans' health will be far more modest." 3.  … Continue reading And so it begins

The Ryan Budget – Aim Small, Miss Big

My take is that the Ryan House budget simply allows business as usual in Washington to continue and does not go far enough to deal with our debt and deficit problems.  Under this plan, the government will still run a very substantial deficit that is only marginally smaller than Obama's preferred budget.  Moreover, even if one assumes it … Continue reading The Ryan Budget – Aim Small, Miss Big

Total Information Awareness 2.0, the Hope and Change Edition

As we know, crisis is the mother of state expansion.  Once the authority of the state is expanded under the cover of crisis, it never returns to the previous levels post crisis.  A few weeks ago, I posted on Attorney General Holder’s defense of targeted killings of US citizens abroad. Today’s installment: the administration is … Continue reading Total Information Awareness 2.0, the Hope and Change Edition

“Conventional Wisdom” on the ObamaCare Court Decision

Should we take anything serious that the author of this piece on the ObamaCare court decision writes after its opening two lines?  Here they are: Conventional political wisdom holds that the U.S. Supreme Court, scheduled to hear a challenge to President Barack Obama's healthcare law beginning on Monday, is likely to strike it down on partisan … Continue reading “Conventional Wisdom” on the ObamaCare Court Decision

The Ryan Budget

There has been much coverage of the Ryan budget plan (details here), most of it is quite predictable. Robert Reich (Christian Science Monitor) tells us that it is an expression of  “pure social Darwinism. Reward the rich and cut off the help to anyone who needs it.” Paul Krugman (New York Times), always cautious about … Continue reading The Ryan Budget

NH GOP Kills Gay Marriage Repeal

The New Hampshire House, dominated 3-to-1 by Republicans, has just voted by an approximately 2-to-1 majority to kill a bill that would have repealed same-sex marriage and reinstate civil unions. Along with passage of marijuana decriminalization (by a single vote), this vote helps to demonstrate the increasingly libertarian, live-and-let-live character of the New Hampshire GOP.(*) … Continue reading NH GOP Kills Gay Marriage Repeal

Security and the Lessons of World War II

When George Bush presided over the passage of the Patriot Act, Americans were treated to a number of assertions about the necessity of preparedness. Such an act, in time of emergency we were told, was essential to protect against hostiles ever vigilant in the prosecution of mayhem, and history was to be our guide.Conservative pundits … Continue reading Security and the Lessons of World War II

New Hampshire Liberty-Related Bills

Here is a convenient, occasionally updated source on liberty-related legislation that has been enacted into law in New Hampshire this session. There have been a number of changes since the Republican sweep in 2010, some of them despite vetoes from the populist Democratic governor. Most of these changes are minor, but the cumulative effect of … Continue reading New Hampshire Liberty-Related Bills

Deficits and Delegates

David Corn’s soon-to-be released new book Showdown examines the pivot to address deficits in the summer of 2010-11. Many Democrats were bewildered that the administration would move on to the GOP’s turf and begin addressing the problem of deficits and debt (one might pause for a moment and ask whether there is any empirical evidence … Continue reading Deficits and Delegates

Moral Philosophy & Dogmatism

Political libertarians are a motley lot in terms of their moral philosophies. There are three dominant strands - utilitarians like Milton Friedman, deontologists like Robert Nozick, and teleologists like Ayn Rand - but I've also met egoists, postmodernists, and Rawls-style egalitarian consequentialists. In debates over moral foundations, Randians often ally themselves with the deontologists in … Continue reading Moral Philosophy & Dogmatism

Pileus Readers in the Philippines

WordPress has a neat new feature that reports aggregate views by country (no big brother here as it doesn't report any more detailed information as far as I know).  Not surprising that most of our readers are in the US (or at least have US IP addresses).  However, I was a bit surprised to see that the Philippines ranked 4th (well-behind the US, Britain, and Canada) … Continue reading Pileus Readers in the Philippines

Sunday Morning Quotation – Singapore vs. Britain

From James Bartholomew comparing Singapore to Britain: Its GDP per capita has overtaken that of Britain according to the World Bank, the IMF and the CIA World Factbook, each of which has a different way of measuring. Yet still it grows. Last year it was up another 5 per cent. Meanwhile Britain desperately tries to avoid a … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Singapore vs. Britain

How Republicans came to hate women

Consider the following argument: Jill: You have to watch the NCAA tournament with me. Jack: Not interested. Go watch it yourself. Jill: Why is it that you you think you can deny me the right to watch the tournament? You must hate me! Obviously, this is silly.  But when we make the argument real and … Continue reading How Republicans came to hate women

ADA and Swimming Pools

As many of you may know - especially those travelling for spring break this week - the Federal government's new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rule mandating lifts for existing hotel swimming pools was supposed to go into effect today.  Fortunately, the compliance deadline has been extended.  The bad news is that the rule exists at all.  Indeed, it may already be impacting Americans … Continue reading ADA and Swimming Pools

Gnawing at the Conscience of the Right: Ron Paul and the Military-Industrial Complex

As Ron Paul’s campaign quietly recedes into oblivion, I am astounded by how little direct engagement has been made with his ideas by the leading voices on the Right. The vast majority of conservative commentators have chosen the short-term strategy of derision and ad hominem. He has been scorned as a conspiracy nut, a “truther,” … Continue reading Gnawing at the Conscience of the Right: Ron Paul and the Military-Industrial Complex

A Political Scientist’s Wish List

Political scientists are an odd bunch. They get excited by the establishment of political authority and by its dissolution, by good governance and bad. Every political scientist undoubtedly has a list of things that he or she would find fascinating.  It looks like this year I may be able to check off another item. Collapse … Continue reading A Political Scientist’s Wish List

Obama: Chess Master or Pawn?

James Fallows has an interesting piece entitled “Obama, Explained” in the new Atlantic. I strongly recommend the article. It is insightful, relatively evenhanded, and illustrated with some excerpts from interviews with a broad array of sources. An important question frames his analysis: This is the central mystery of his performance as a candidate and a … Continue reading Obama: Chess Master or Pawn?

The State and Corporate Power II

Here is an example of a libgressive policy recommendation that aims at securing heaven on earth with no regard for the constraints of the market,  the rational behavior of sub-state actors, and individual freedom: We need a food equity law in this country, forcing large grocery chains to open stores in low-income areas. As part of this law, we … Continue reading The State and Corporate Power II

The State and Corporate Power – Sorry, Not the Same Threat to Liberty

Duke University political scientist Mike Munger recently made the following claim over at his fun blog KPC: 1. The left needs to admit that the state=coercion, which can metastasize into violence, and does so metastasize. 2. Libertarians need to admit that Karl Marx was right about concentrated corporate power. It's every bit as dangerous, and … Continue reading The State and Corporate Power – Sorry, Not the Same Threat to Liberty

Sense and sensibility (pathetic academic version)

An interesting and irksome article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (sorry, the original is gated) caught my eye this week.  Phillip Sullivan (a pseudonym) writes about the ethical conflict he faced when, after formally accepting a tenure-track job offer from what he thought was his dream school, he got an even dreamier offer from … Continue reading Sense and sensibility (pathetic academic version)

Brief Book Reviews

This post is about three books I've polished off recently, all quite different from one another: Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson, Pillars of Prosperity: The Political Economy of Development Clusters - nothing to do with industrial districts or network externalities; this is a (mostly) theoretical exploration of the reasons why rulers might choose to invest … Continue reading Brief Book Reviews

Holder on the Use of Lethal Force against US Citizens Abroad

Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech yesterday at Northwestern Law School on the administration’s policy regarding the targeted killing (not assassination) of US citizens abroad.  Full remarks can be found here. Here are a few interesting excerpts. The difference between targeted killings and assassination:  Some have called such operations “assassinations.” They are not, and the … Continue reading Holder on the Use of Lethal Force against US Citizens Abroad

Libertarian Welfare Statism

I agreed with the first half of Jessica Flanigan's essay on "A Feminist Libertarian Dilemma," but then nearly choked on my invisible coffee when I read this: Bleeding heart libertarianism doesn’t rule out public policies that help women with families succeed in the workforce, like affordable public childcare, subsidized family leave, elder care, or a … Continue reading Libertarian Welfare Statism

Koch and Cato – Best Analogy?

I'm trying to find the right analogy to describe how I feel about the Koch/Cato kerfuffle.  Is it like how you feel when your mother and your wife are fighting?  Or your wife and your kids?  Or your two kids or best friends?  Your parents divorcing (my parents have been married for 100 years or … Continue reading Koch and Cato – Best Analogy?

A Touch of Pragmatism?

George Will (today’s Washington Post) has apparently concluded that a Romney or Santorum presidency is unlikely. Fear not: the field of candidates for 2016 is deep and impressive. In the interim, he makes an argument for pragmatism: conservatives this year should have as their primary goal making sure Republicans wield all the gavels in Congress … Continue reading A Touch of Pragmatism?

After-birth abortion

Consider the following claim: …‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled. One might guess that such a claim would be made by pro-life activists trying to ridicule or parody the philosophical logic of abortionists.  But this claim is made … Continue reading After-birth abortion

The Politics and Gas Prices

Those of us who were old enough to drive in the 1970s recall the rising gas prices and the seemingly endless lines at the gas stations (a result of various rationing schemes, including limits on purchases and/or the days one could purchase gas). There is little question that the gas prices had important implications for … Continue reading The Politics and Gas Prices