The Limits of Congressional Gridlock…and Reform?

It seems that all we have heard of late is about the sharp partisan battles in Congress that have placed it in a gridlock and prevented it from working in a bipartisan fashion to “do the nation’s business.” Yes, the “do nothing Congress.” But there are exceptions to this description.  Given the depth and severity … Continue reading The Limits of Congressional Gridlock…and Reform?

National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

The Cato Institute has a new project and accompanying website devoted to tracking police misconduct.  Isn't it sad that the society that produced this has need for such a thing?  It is probably more accurate (even aside from the obvious sense) to say that we are a different people now.  Unfortunately, I think police misconduct is only going … Continue reading National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Why Classicists – Or Just Victor Davis Hanson – Shouldn’t Try to Do Social Science

Victor Davis Hanson has one of the most awful columns I've ever seen out on the wire today. The argument is that Greece is in trouble because of its bad culture, while places like Germany and Switzerland have good culture and therefore sound economic policies. Leaving aside the laziness of this kind of culture argument … Continue reading Why Classicists – Or Just Victor Davis Hanson – Shouldn’t Try to Do Social Science

Don’t Drone Me, Bro!

This is awesome. As we all know, the Obama Administration claims that it has the right to kill anyone it considers a terrorist, so long as it has some internal process for deciding whom to kill. Now someone has set up a petition on whitehouse.gov: Considering that the government already has a “Do Not Call” … Continue reading Don’t Drone Me, Bro!

Sustainable misery

Here are some of the latest economic ideas coming out of Europe: Take longer coffee breaks. Don't upgrade your software or buy a new computer. Forget about that graduate degree. Bring your child to work.  All day.  Every day. Spend a lot of time on the internet.  With a dial-up modem, of course. Don't maintain … Continue reading Sustainable misery

Memorial Day Salute

On this Memorial Day, a salute to all those Americans who have lost their lives fighting in foreign wars. A special salute to Major Brian Mescall, a graduate of the Citadel, who was killed in action in Afghanistan.  And one to Captain Ray Conard, killed in his B-24 during WWII (he was a member of the 734th … Continue reading Memorial Day Salute

Sunday Morning Quotation – Senator Coburn on US Debt

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) on CBS News: S&P's downgrade on us was right. Matter of fact, we're going to get another downgrade. I can tell you right now… If you look what's getting ready to happen to us, in another five years, we're going to have $22 trillion worth of debt. We're going to have 120% of … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Senator Coburn on US Debt

What Would You Do…

In response to a reader question, Angus at Kids Prefer Cheese lists the five things he would do if he were the supreme ruler of the USA.  Here they are: 1. Increase the inflow of skilled immigrants. 2. Increase school choice, especially for lower income families. 3. Big tax reform with a broad base, low … Continue reading What Would You Do…

Public Opinion and the Economy: What are the Lessons?

A new Washington Post-ABC poll focuses on voter perceptions of whether Obama or Romney would do more to improve the economy (poll results here, discussion here). When asked “Who would do more to advance the economic interests of middle-class Americans,” Obama wins over Romney, 50% to 44%.  When asked who would do more to advance … Continue reading Public Opinion and the Economy: What are the Lessons?

Private Equity, the Government, and Jobs

The last week has brought a fair amount of attention to the Obama campaign attacks on Romney and Bain Capital, most of which might have been lifted straight out of the “vulture capital” meme started by the Rick Perry campaign. It all started with Corey Booker’s rejection of the Obama strategy on Meet the Press … Continue reading Private Equity, the Government, and Jobs

Grey matter in public libraries

The Gray Lady is running an article on-line today about public libraries that are choosing not to stock copies of Fifty Shades of Grey, the steamy new bestseller.  Apparently, a more appropriate title for the trilogy might be Filthy Shades of Grey, and some libraries are choosing not to stock it because they deem it … Continue reading Grey matter in public libraries

Was Friedman a market monetarist?

Recently I came across an interesting question posed (in a 2010 article) by David Beckworth and William Ruger of Texas State University: What would Milton Friedman say about Fed policy under Bernanke? Their answer, I think, would surprise many fans of Friedman, for the heart of their argument is that the Fed has not been … Continue reading Was Friedman a market monetarist?

The Social Insurance State is the Administrative State

At Bleeding Heart Libertarians, Jason Brennan takes up the question of which country is most libertarian and lodges a complaint against global "economic freedom" indices: This index may understate how anti-libertarian the United States is. After all, the index penalizes countries if their governments spend large amounts on social insurance. Yet classical liberals and neoclassical … Continue reading The Social Insurance State is the Administrative State

Kudos to Newsweek – An Intelligent Issue Worthy of Your Time

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has been chagrined by some of the things we've seen in the past several years from newsweeklies like Time and Newsweek.  Last week's Obama cover story in Newsweek was only the most recent case in point for the broad decline in standards (and if Andrew Sullivan didn't jump the shark with his Iraq War coverage - on … Continue reading Kudos to Newsweek – An Intelligent Issue Worthy of Your Time

Sunday Morning Quotation – Nisbet on Libertarians and “Coercions” of Non-State Actors

Robert Nisbet in an essay titled "Uneasy Cousins" in the underappreciated ISI book, Freedom and Virtue: The Conservative/Libertarian Debate (ed. George W. Carey): I believe a state of mind is developing among libertarians in which the coercions of family, church, local community, and school will seem almost as inimical to freedom as those of the … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Nisbet on Libertarians and “Coercions” of Non-State Actors

Will on Forfeiture Abuse

George Will has a good column today on civil asset forfeiture abuse. He highlights an ongoing case in Tewksbury, Mass., where the DOJ and local police department are colluding to seize a motel from the owners because some drug dealers have stayed there in the past. The government is not claiming that the owners knew … Continue reading Will on Forfeiture Abuse

NH Bridge to Nowhere – Thanks Federal Government

I have a hard time taking Republicans too seriously when it comes to their commitment to fiscal sanity, but it is nice to see Romney highlight this stimulus wonder in New Hampshire (note that one cannot exactly use the bridge for transportation!): here. Even if public parks should exist, isn't this the kind of project that … Continue reading NH Bridge to Nowhere – Thanks Federal Government

NH Legislature Passes School Choice by Veto-Proof Majority

The New Hampshire House and Senate have overwhelmingly approved a bill that would give businesses tax credits for contributing to scholarship funds, which could make payments on behalf of students attending private schools. Even if the governor vetoes, the bill should pass into law. According to the Ruger-Sorens database of state policies, New Hampshire will … Continue reading NH Legislature Passes School Choice by Veto-Proof Majority

In Search of Fiscal Responsibility

As we approach another round of debt-ceiling debates--conveniently timed to land after November--Speaker John Boehner made his position crystal clear at Peter G. Peterson's Fiscal Summit.  As the Speaker proclaimed: Yes, allowing America to default would be irresponsible. But it would be more irresponsible to raise the debt ceiling without taking dramatic steps to reduce … Continue reading In Search of Fiscal Responsibility

Another Take On Risk and Regulation

Sven certainly is entitled to make his case below for regulation (and it is clear from the comments that he is talking about more than the recent JPM loss).  But this article by Jonathan Macey in the WSJ is closer to my own view (as you'll also see in the comments to Sven's post). The … Continue reading Another Take On Risk and Regulation

Risk and regulation

A minor miracle happened today.  I made it to the end of a Paul Krugman column without disagreeing with anything. In fact, I found that his assessment of the need for risk regulation of the banking sector was a tad too moderate.  Even if deposits were not federally insured, the external costs of insufficient regulation … Continue reading Risk and regulation

Republican Party VP Selection – Late Night Musings

Eyeballing the electoral map on Real Clear Politics, it looks like Romney is going to have a tough time getting to 270 without taking nearly all of the current toss-up states.  Of those toss-ups, I'm assuming Team Republican can take Arizona (11), Colorado (9), and North Carolina (15) - even though limited polls in CO suggest it … Continue reading Republican Party VP Selection – Late Night Musings

Sunday Morning Quotation – The Republican Raft vs. Despotism’s Full-Rigged Sailing Ship

Samuel Huntington on Fisher Ames 1795 speech to Congress: A monarchy or despotism, Ames suggested, is like a full-rigged sailing ship.  It moves swiftly and efficiently.  It is beautiful to behold.  It responds sharply to the helm.  But in troubled waters, when it strikes a rock, its shell is pierced, and it quickly sinks to the bottom.  … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – The Republican Raft vs. Despotism’s Full-Rigged Sailing Ship

Howard Buffett Rule

Unlike his son Warren, Old Right Congressman Howard Buffett was a committed defender of liberty.  According to this article by Philip Klein, Howard's wife noted that Buffett "considered only one issue when deciding whether or not to vote for a bill  'Will this add to, or subtract from, human liberty?'"  This sounds like a much better "Buffett Rule" than the one … Continue reading Howard Buffett Rule

Identify the Speaker

The press is quite pleased with President Obama’s proclamations on gay marriage. The evolutionary process appears to have finally come to a conclusion. Yet, it might be useful to place the President’s epiphany in historical context. To assist in the process, I have placed several quotes from past and present elected officials on the issue … Continue reading Identify the Speaker

Greece Update

My go-to guy on Greece these days is Harris Mylonas, a fellow Yalie from a few years back, now teaching at GW. Here's his latest take on coalition negotiations in Greece. Bottom line: new elections in a few weeks are looking increasingly likely, and the result might yield something more stable. Also check out his … Continue reading Greece Update

You Say You Want Some Evolution…

Now that the press has ratcheted up the pressure on the President to clarify his ever evolving position on gay marriage, President Obama has agreed to “a hastily scheduled interview just a day after voters in North Carolina approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.” See … Continue reading You Say You Want Some Evolution…

All politics are local, Utah edition

In the 2010 election, the conventional wisdom was that Senator Bob Bennett of Utah lost his seat because of the rise of the Tea Party and their ideological extremism.  Most media accounts went something like this: “The Tea Party is so extreme that even a conservative stalwart and influential senator such as Bennett isn’t safe.” … Continue reading All politics are local, Utah edition

IJ Releases Occupational Licensing Study

The Institute for Justice has just released a new study of occupational licensing requirements in the 50 states and D.C. These requirements disproportionately harm low- and moderate-income people who are seeking to ply a trade. License to Work finds that Louisiana licenses 71 of the 102 occupations, more than any other state, followed by Arizona … Continue reading IJ Releases Occupational Licensing Study

Federalism & Inequality, Part Two

In my last post on this topic, I described an ideal system of federalism and its advantages and disadvantages. One of the concerns that progressives often have about this kind of federalism, which I wish to take seriously, is that it will lead to a growing gap between the incomes of rich and poor regions … Continue reading Federalism & Inequality, Part Two

Indian Superbugs

As a followup on my libertarian case for prescription laws, I note this recent story on Indian superbugs that are totally antibiotic-resistant: India’s $12.4 billion pharmaceutical industry manufactures almost a third of the world’s antibiotics, and people use them so liberally that relatively benign and beneficial bacteria are becoming drug immune in a pool of … Continue reading Indian Superbugs

Sunday Morning Quotation – Wendell Berry Strikes Again

My dear wife is on a Wendell Berry poetry kick.  Of course, that means I get roped in and read to despite the fact that I'm not so keen about everything Berry writes.  Nonetheless, this one below appealed to us both and we thought it would make for an inspiring and thought-provoking Sunday Morning Quotation.  From poem VIII … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Wendell Berry Strikes Again

The Long Hard Slog to Full Employment

The unemployment rate fell again, hitting a three-year low of 8.1 percent. But, as the New York Times explains: The unemployment rate ticked down to 8.1 percent in April, from 8.2 percent, but that was not because more unemployed workers found jobs; it was because workers dropped out of the labor force. The share of … Continue reading The Long Hard Slog to Full Employment

In Support of the One Percent

There is an interesting NYT piece by Adam Davidson on Edward Conard, former Bain partner and author of a forthcoming book entitled Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong. Here is one excerpt from a fascinating article: A central problem with the U.S. economy, he [Conard] told me, is finding … Continue reading In Support of the One Percent

Otteson on the Morality of Capitalism

Fellow Pilei James Otteson makes the case for the morality of capitalism here in a new report put out by the Manhattan Institute. Otteson's finale (though I recommend reading the entire piece): Capitalism is not perfect. But no system created by human beings is, or ever will be, perfect. The most we can hope for is … Continue reading Otteson on the Morality of Capitalism