Guest Blogger Announcement – Eric Crampton Take II

It is a pleasure to introduce Eric Crampton as our guest blogger this week at Pileus.  Eric is an economist at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. He is currently working on projects relating to voter knowledge, electoral stock markets, alcohol regulatory policy and paternalism. He hails originally from Canada but earned his … Continue reading Guest Blogger Announcement – Eric Crampton Take II

Stockman isn’t Optimistic

David Stockman has an interesting piece in today’s New York Times (“State-Wrecked: The Corruption of Capitalism in America”). If the title doesn’t grab you, here is a paragraph from the last page of the article: These policies have brought America to an end-stage metastasis. The way out would be so radical it can’t happen. It … Continue reading Stockman isn’t Optimistic

Wise words on equality

From a recent short posting by Steve Smith of the USD Law School: Everyone favors equality: Everyone thinks that like cases should be treated alike. Nobody argues, “These groups are alike in all relevant respects, but they should be treated differently.” So when people disagree about legal or political issues, they aren’t arguing for and … Continue reading Wise words on equality

Income Inequality Doesn’t Matter

Roger Koppl argues this week at ThinkMarkets that “Income inequality matters.” He thinks it matters so much that he says it twice. He believes “Austrian,” pro-market, economic liberals should be speaking up more on this “central issue.” I think Koppl could not be more wrong. The issue deserves all the inattention we can muster for … Continue reading Income Inequality Doesn’t Matter

The “Lesser” Depression or a Return to Growth?

For some time, J. Bradford DeLong has been referring to the current economic episode as the “Lesser Depression.” He has now dropped the “Lesser.” His evidence from the bond market is worth reviewing (in particular, the yield on 30-year Treasuries). His conclusion: we may be looking at “a slack and depressed economy, if not for … Continue reading The “Lesser” Depression or a Return to Growth?

Violent Buddhist Monks Lead Attacks on Muslims

In Sri Lanka and Burma. As a friend of mine says, "These are not your Richard Gere Buddhists." More seriously, these disturbing cases illustrate how the irrational paranoia of an ethnic majority drives discrimination and repression toward minorities in several places around the world. In the case of Sri Lanka, the mostly-Buddhist Sinhalese feel themselves … Continue reading Violent Buddhist Monks Lead Attacks on Muslims

Paul Krugman, Older and New

We here at Pileus obviously have our differences with Paul Krugman (mainly when he is Paul Krugman the political columnist not Paul Krugman the economist).  But he is obviously a very intelligent person who has produced a lot of sound scholarship and even some good political commentary (especially when he drops the annoying condescending tone).   Here he … Continue reading Paul Krugman, Older and New

The Libertarian Case for Affirmative Action

The Supreme Court yesterday decided to take up a new affirmative action case from the University of Michigan, along with the case from the University of Texas they are already considering. I don't know what the Supreme Court will decide, or what it ought to decide on the basis of constitutional text and judicial precedent … Continue reading The Libertarian Case for Affirmative Action

Best Amazon Review Ever?

On Sarah Conly's book, Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism (must quote the whole thing): Human beings are irrational. As Sarah Conly writes, "The truth is that we don't reason very well, and in many cases there is no justification for leaving us to struggle with our own inabilities and to suffer the consequences" (pg. 1). … Continue reading Best Amazon Review Ever?

Marriage Equality. What is the Second Best Solution?

The Supremes are to hear two cases this week (California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act) that will speak directly to the issue of marriage equality. The issue is an interesting one for conservatives and libertarians. Traditionally, social conservatives have embraced states’ rights and heterosexual marriage. The problem, of course, is that states' … Continue reading Marriage Equality. What is the Second Best Solution?

Rand Paul Changes Americans’ Minds

As I argued, this is what he set out to do with his filibuster: A year ago, as the presidential race was taking shape, The Washington Post's pollster asked voters whether they favored the use of drones to kill terrorists or terror suspects if they were "American citizens living in other countries." The net rating … Continue reading Rand Paul Changes Americans’ Minds

First they came for the political scientists…

Yesterday the Senate approved a continuing resolution. One of the casualties was NSF funding for political science, at least political science that cannot be certified "as promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States." The amendment was proposed by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) who questioned whether public financing of political science research … Continue reading First they came for the political scientists…

Conrad Black

So, how much does National Review owe him or what does he have on Rich Lowry?  Of course, I'm joking - but one does wonder what is going on when a flagship conservative magazine/blog allows a rich man with some conservative ideas and quite a few ideas antithetical to that worldview into/onto their pages.  I'm not … Continue reading Conrad Black

Moral Arguments for the Existence of God

I was originally going to post this as a comment on Sven's interesting and provocative post, "Just chemistry," but it ended up being long enough to make a short post out of it instead. As I read it, Sven's argument that atheists cannot give a rational foundation for morality could also be interpreted as a … Continue reading Moral Arguments for the Existence of God

Just chemistry

In a recent review (“Where are the honest atheists?"), my always-interesting friend Damon Linker pans a forthcoming book by A.C. Grayling, one of the “new atheists,” for accomplishing little that hasn’t been said before (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchins, etc.,) and for exhibiting the same shortcomings.  He wants them to confront the “terrible” consequences of what they … Continue reading Just chemistry

*Reason* on the Higher Ed Bubble

Reason has a symposium on the future of higher education in its latest issue. For my money, the best contribution comes from editor Nick Gillespie, who sounds remarkably Oakeshottian in this passage: The real existential threat to higher ed comes from folks who conceive of college as a sort of high-end vocational-tech program. Right-leaning … Continue reading *Reason* on the Higher Ed Bubble

*The War of the End of the World* by Mario Vargas Llosa

The War of the End of the World is the latest entry on my desert-island list of books. It's the second book by Peruvian novelist, Nobelist, and classical liberal Mario Vargas Llosa that I've read (the other is The Feast of the Goat), and easily the better of the two. It is a fictionalized account … Continue reading *The War of the End of the World* by Mario Vargas Llosa

The Lessons of Iraq

On the tenth anniversary of the war in Iraq, what are the lessons?  The Economist  (“Anniversary of a Mass Delusion”) provides a lesson that is broadly applicable to politics in general: What I took away from it all was the depressing conviction that all of us, including those of us considered the most responsible, well-trained … Continue reading The Lessons of Iraq

Prewar Intelligence on Saddam’s Lack of WMD’s Ignored

From a BBC Panorama story: But not all the intelligence was wrong. Information from two highly-placed sources close to Saddam Hussein was correct. Both said Iraq did not have any active WMD. [...] Ex-CIA man Bill Murray was not happy with the way the intelligence from these two highly-placed sources had been used. "I thought … Continue reading Prewar Intelligence on Saddam’s Lack of WMD’s Ignored

Steven Pearlstein Fails the Ideological Turing Test

From his WaPo column: I asked [John] Allison recently about mortgage bankers who made lousy loans that they knew would go bad, and investment bankers who knowingly packaged them into securities, and ratings agencies that gave them their seal of approval. His explanation was that once a misguided government provided the wrong incentives and opportunities, … Continue reading Steven Pearlstein Fails the Ideological Turing Test

Sunday Morning Quotation – Bjorn Lomborg on Earth Hour; Night Sky Proposal

Cheap (and feel good) activism = intentions and consciousness raising > consequences.  Case # googolplex: Earth Hour.  Here is what Lomborg has to say about this "green" event: Hypothetically, switching off the lights for an hour would cut CO2 emissions from power plants around the world. But, even if everyone in the entire world cut all residential … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Bjorn Lomborg on Earth Hour; Night Sky Proposal

Very Sad Stats on Abortion in China

According to Slate: Official data from China’s health ministry has revealed just how pervasive abortions have been in China since it instituted its one-child policy. Since 1971, Chinese doctors have performed 336 million abortions in a country with a population of 1.35 billion. They have also performed 196 million sterilizations and inserted 403 million intrauterine … Continue reading Very Sad Stats on Abortion in China

Best Short Piece on Libertarianism Written Recently…

Perhaps it is this one by Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic.  The piece is technically about how the MSM blew it in their coverage of Rand Paul, but Friedersdorf captures something important about libertarians and those that cover/discuss us that non-libertarians largely miss. Here is just one interesting little section of the piece, but I give it … Continue reading Best Short Piece on Libertarianism Written Recently…

The University RIP? Continued

There have been a few posting of late on the future of higher education. Jason has provided a series of interesting posts on whether it still makes sense to get a PhD (see here and here).  I provided a few posts on the challenges posed by online courses, particularly MOOCs (massive open online courses) that … Continue reading The University RIP? Continued

Pope Francis I

Is the name an ominous choice for those of us who would like to see the Catholic Church more fully embrace markets?  St. Francis was known for his adoption of a life of poverty and commitment to animals.  This Francis - from the little I know - is said to be committed to "social justice."  So "social justice" … Continue reading Pope Francis I

Freedom in the 50 States Teaser #3: Weighting the Variables

The new, book-length edition of Freedom in the 50 States: Index of Personal and Economic Freedom will be released on March 28 by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. In the days leading up to release, I will be "teasing" a few of the novel findings and methods from the study. Here at Pileus, … Continue reading Freedom in the 50 States Teaser #3: Weighting the Variables

What is Old is New Again: The New Old Politics of Budgeting

Congressman Paul Ryan has completed his work on the new budget proposal, one that he claims will leave the nation with a budget surplus by 2023. Lori Montgomery (Washington Post) has a decent piece reviewing some of the details. The budget looks like very much like the last one (e.g., reductions in future spending on … Continue reading What is Old is New Again: The New Old Politics of Budgeting

Greg Mankiw’s Three Economic Reforms

From Monetary Affairs: I asked Professor Mankiw, "If you had carte blanche today, what three economic reforms would you put in place?" His answers: (1) raise the retirement age of Social Security and Medicare by 10 years gradually over a period of time; (2) raise the gas tax by $2 and rebate it to have neutral … Continue reading Greg Mankiw’s Three Economic Reforms

Paul vs. Kristol

In case you missed it yesterday, Ross Douthat at the New York Times had a fairly positive piece on Rand Paul that stressed the connection between the filibuster and the intra-Republican foreign policy debate.  Here is a nice section but the whole thing is worth a read: Officially, Paul’s filibuster was devoted to a specific … Continue reading Paul vs. Kristol

Self-Imposed Stupidity on Rand Paul’s Filibuster

Establishment hacks are lining up to sneer at Rand Paul's filibuster as accomplishing nothing (see for instance, here and here in The Economist). "The U.S. government is not going to use drone strikes against American citizens on American soil," so the line goes. "So what's the point?" It's hard to know what to make of … Continue reading Self-Imposed Stupidity on Rand Paul’s Filibuster

More on the Future of the Repubican Party

Apparently the Republican future theme I wrote on quickly this morning was also on the mind of a lot of others today.  Drudge helpfully put up a bunch of links from a variety of sources on Lindsey Graham and John McCain going after Paul.  Reason had the quote of the day on this theme: "The Republican Party … Continue reading More on the Future of the Repubican Party

Where is Mr. Smith?

I had to sort of hunt this morning to find any coverage of Rand Paul's historic filibuster in the NY Times.  I can just imagine that if it were Chuck Schumer talking about abuses of power by the Bush administration, it would be front and center. I'm sure their strategy is not to do anything … Continue reading Where is Mr. Smith?

Three Futures of the Republican Party in the Senate?

One that is defined by these members and Obama dinner companions: John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte,  Bob Corker, Ron Johnson, Tom Coburn, John Hoeven, Dan Coats, Richard Burr, and Mike Johanns. Or one defined by these Paul filibuster supporters: Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Jerry Moran, Marco Rubio, John Cornyn, John Barrasso, John Thune, and Mitch … Continue reading Three Futures of the Republican Party in the Senate?

Stand With Rand

If you haven't seen any of Rand Paul's filibuster of the President's CIA Director nominee, you have been missing a civics lesson.  Watch here on C-SPAN.  Ted Cruz is currently talking about the danger of concentrating power in the executive as we speak. UPDATE: Here is a compilation of some of the best Paul quotations … Continue reading Stand With Rand