2012 and 2013: A Look Back and a Look Forward

Last year, the Pileus bloggers made some forecasts about 2012. How did we do? Here are my predictions: 1. "Sudan and South Sudan will go to war. Both countries will also experience internal armed conflicts with at least 25 battle deaths." Sudan and South Sudan fought a brief war in March and April of 2012. … Continue reading 2012 and 2013: A Look Back and a Look Forward

The Prologue

The protracted negotiations over the fiscal cliff suggest how difficult things will actually become once we begin to address the simple fact that existing entitlements cannot continue to exist in their current form. The one significant reform that was proposed earlier by President Obama during his discussions with the Speaker involved using the chained CPI … Continue reading The Prologue

A miserable misreading of Les Miz

Quite often feminist critiques of popular culture are insightful, but sometimes they are simply insufferable. The latter description is apt when describing the comments of Princeton theater professor Stacy Wolf regarding the musical Les Miserables.  I happened to see the new cinematic depiction of the popular musical this past week and was moved, as I … Continue reading A miserable misreading of Les Miz

Sorry, Dude, You Aren’t in the Middle Class

From a recent Wall Street Journal article: Bruce H. Lee, president of a real-estate company, and his wife, a schoolteacher, together earn more than $250,000 a year. Their accountant told them to prepare for higher taxes on their capital gains and dividends as well as a possible rate increase. Mr. Lee lives in Kensington, Md., … Continue reading Sorry, Dude, You Aren’t in the Middle Class

Advice to the GOP: In the Spirit of the Holidays, Accept the Gift

The fiscal cliff debates seem to be at a standstill as we approach the end of the year.  On the spending side, the proposal to change the indexing for Social Security seems to be quite positive. The use of the CPI-W has fueled growth in the real value of benefits and the substitution of a … Continue reading Advice to the GOP: In the Spirit of the Holidays, Accept the Gift

For God so loved the world

I enjoy learning about different moral philosophies.  Few questions are more important, it seems, than this basic one: what ought we to do? Every philosophical theory has to start with some conception of what is it about human beings that really matters.  Given philosophers’ penchant for reason, it is no surprise that so many through … Continue reading For God so loved the world

Be Responsible with Your Travel Freedom

I hope all of our readers had a merry Christmas today and are enjoying the holiday season.  I spent the day with a foggy head and sore body thanks to someone running a red light and causing a pretty serious accident involving me and my treasured old car on Christmas Eve.  I think I'll survive but the car almost … Continue reading Be Responsible with Your Travel Freedom

The week in racial identity politics

Imagine a sports news jockey who accused a white athlete of trying to act black or being a traitor to his race by dating a black woman.  Simple: End of career. End of story. Rob Parker at ESPN learned that as long you are a black person criticizing someone for not being black enough, you … Continue reading The week in racial identity politics

The Lesson of Newtown

As a resident of Connecticut, I have followed the events surrounding the Newtown shooting with great interest and sadness. By way of full disclosure, I am a hunter. When I was a child in Wisconsin, my father took his sons to gun safety classes taught in the basement of the local police department. Both of … Continue reading The Lesson of Newtown

Right-to-Work: An Inflammatory Analogy

Left-libertarians are dismayed at the support most libertarians and classical liberals have been giving to right-to-work laws, which withdraw recognition from clauses in collective bargaining contracts that require all employees in a workplace to pay agency fees to the union that represents that workplace. Many libertarians have supported right-to-work laws on the grounds that they … Continue reading Right-to-Work: An Inflammatory Analogy

Sunday Morning Quotation – The Importance of Openness to Talent

Just when I thought I'd let my subscription to the Atlantic run out, along comes an issue (December) with some actual meat in it.  Jeffrey Goldberg's timely "The Case for More Guns (and More Gun Control)" is a valuable contribution to the debate and well-worth your time.  It was a bit unexpected given the source, … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – The Importance of Openness to Talent

Can New Hampshire Be the Hong Kong of America?

Pileus's own Jason Sorens is, among many other things, the founder of the Free State Project. The FSP is an initiative that aims to put the convictions of people who talk about individual liberty to the test. Its proposal is based on the straightforward premise that a relatively small number of committed and organized activists can … Continue reading Can New Hampshire Be the Hong Kong of America?

*Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics*

Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics: War and World Order in the Age of the Crusades by Andrew A. Latham (Routledge, 2012) offers a constructivist interpretation of late-medieval European states and warfare. Latham describes his approach as offering an "explanation-what" or "property" theory rather than an "explanation-why" or causal theory. He is interested in clarifying the nature of … Continue reading *Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics*

Chavismo and the Economy

Back before the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were plenty of examples of what happens once the price mechanism is suspended and decisions regarding resource allocations are assigned to the state. Fortunately, Venezuela provides us with some modern day examples. Here are a few quotes from an interesting piece by William Neuman in the … Continue reading Chavismo and the Economy

Peaking Over the Fiscal Cliff: Afghanistan

As policymakers look over the fiscal cliff, one can hope that their eyes fix on Afghanistan, the seemingly endless experiment in nation building. I understand that no president wants to seem the inevitable occur on his shift (consider the "optics"), but I sometimes wonder how many people would notice.  I gave a lecture on the … Continue reading Peaking Over the Fiscal Cliff: Afghanistan

Right-to-Work Laws and Unemployment

The debate over right-to-work/forced unionism rages in Michigan where the Republican-led legislature is set to pass a right-to-work law (or what President Obama called a "so-called right to work law").  All indications suggest that Governor Rick Snyder will sign the bill.  Unions there clearly "overreached" this past fall with their move to write collective bargaining protection into the Michigan constitution by a referendum.  … Continue reading Right-to-Work Laws and Unemployment

Ruger on Zingales on Crony Capitalism

My sometime coauthor William Ruger has a piece in The American Conservative on Luigi Zingales' A Capitalism for the People. He compares Zingales to early Chicago School economist Henry Simons in his willingness to consider unconventional remedies to crony capitalism, lack of competition, and "bigness" more generally: Fast forward to today, and we see another … Continue reading Ruger on Zingales on Crony Capitalism

Rand agrees with Sven

Senator Rand Paul said on CNBC essentially what I've been arguing: I have yet another thought on how we can fix this. Why don't we let the Democrats pass whatever they want? If they are the party of higher taxes, all the Republicans vote present and let the Democrats raise taxes as high as they … Continue reading Rand agrees with Sven

An Underrated Scholar (despite being profiled recently by the New York Times)

Yale political scientist James C. Scott is one of the more interesting scholars in America today (despite being an admitted "crude Marxist").  And I don't say that just because his book Seeing Like a State appeals to my own philosophical views.  His work is rich with insight and evinces a curious mind at work.  One cannot fail to learn from Scott's work, even … Continue reading An Underrated Scholar (despite being profiled recently by the New York Times)

Fiscal Cliff Follies (Note to GOP: Every Spending Cut is a Tax Cut)

This is not helpful. Erick Erickson, a man of excessive influence among conservative Republicans, is pressing Republican Speaker John Boehner to take any increase in tax rates off the table in the fiscal cliff negotiations with Democratic President Barack Obama. This is unhelpful for two reasons. First, rates will go up anyway if a deal … Continue reading Fiscal Cliff Follies (Note to GOP: Every Spending Cut is a Tax Cut)

*Free Market Fairness*

In Free Market Fairness, political philosopher John Tomasi sets forth a new research program in normative political theory that he calls "market democracy." Market democracy triangulates orthodox libertarianism and social-democratic, egalitarian liberalism and, Tomasi hopes, provides a principled moral grounding for a moderate classical liberalism that has room for both a modest welfare state and … Continue reading *Free Market Fairness*

Update on the China Highway House

I recently discussed the case of a Chinese family holed up in their house in the middle of a new highway.   They were protesting what they perceived as an unjust takings due to an excessively low compensation offer from the government.  The family has now accepted a compensation deal.  Apparently, they will get $41,000 - not a penny more than … Continue reading Update on the China Highway House