Good to see the IHS offer "equal time" on the question. My only quibble with Aeon's take relates to theory vs. practice. In theory, he is correct, and I applaud him for standing up against the mass of "STEMsters" and calmly asking (as a philosopher would) the world to think about the new conventional wisdom a bit more before fulling embracing it. Thus, I agree … Continue reading The Humanities Strikes Back – or rather Recent Pileus Guest Blogger Aeon Skoble Does for the Humanities
If you see corruption in the upper tiers of government as a major problem for an economy's health in the long run (and the balance of evidence suggests that it is, at least at high levels in capitalist countries), then externally imposed austerity might be the only way to root it out. Syracuse prof Glyn … Continue reading Austerity, Corruption, and the Long Run
As I do every Memorial Day, a salute to all those Americans who have lost their lives fighting in foreign wars. I would add that while it is always nice to celebrate a living veteran, our thoughts today should be turned to those who died in service rather than those fortunate enough to return home alive. … Continue reading Memorial Day Salute
A simple but important statement about market failure from Art Carden: "market failure" is where the conversation begins, not where it ends.
Over at BHL, my friend Andrew Cohen has responded to my post earlier this week making a skeptical case against the normative credentials of the idea of “social justice.” Andrew thinks that part anyway of the problem with my skeptical argument is that is framed in terms of rights. He believes that “harms” are “more … Continue reading Social injustice and harms
A very cool story here about an unheralded lecturer in math who in isolation from the big names in his field (and who even had to work at a Subway at one point) comes up with a huge advance in solving a famous and very vexing problem in numbers theory. How did he come up with the solution to the challenge that had really worn on … Continue reading How To Develop Theory? Hang Out in the Backyard??
Drudge is linking to a Weekly Standard post whose purpose can only be to take the President to task for alleged disrespect of the military. According to the WS, Obama boarded Marine One today without returning a military salute rendered by the Marine on duty outside the rotary wing aircraft. But what is the real problem here? … Continue reading Obama and the President Not Returning a Military Salute
Last night the U.S. Senate played host to naked special-interest politics, as agricultural subsidy interests won vote after vote on the floor. As this story from Politico notes, the sugar program stands out as one of the most intrusive of the commodity programs still on the books: a mix of price supports, import quotas, and … Continue reading Rent-Seeking and Vote-Trading in the U.S. Senate
I have great respect and (in many cases) affection for my friends at Bleeding Hearts Libertarians. But I am not a bleeding heart libertarian, and from the outset I have resisted its siren song, mostly over its endorsement of “social justice” as a moral and/or political ideal. Unlike Hayek, I do not think the concept … Continue reading Social justice as an emergent property
Videos and papers from the "Secession Redux: Lessons for the EU" conference, sponsored by the LBJ School at the University of Texas, are now online. My presentation was part of the "Current EU Challenges" panel.
The new edition of Econ Journal Watch has a wonderful symposium on Milton Friedman entitled “Why No Milton Friedman Today?” (h/t Marginal Revolution). Some of the essays argue that Friedman’s influence was possible, in part, because the profession itself was less specialized and less technical. As Richard A. Epstein notes: Once the level of sophistication … Continue reading In Search of Milton Friedman
This post will illustrate how users can customize the freedom index according to their own judgments about how various policies affect freedom. In particular, it will show how the weighting for tax burden can be significantly reduced and explores the consequences of this choice. It will also discuss briefly how abortion policies might be included … Continue reading “Suits and Sandals”: Different Freedom Indices for Different Folks
This from NBC's Lisa Meyers (via RealClearPolitics video): [The IRS commissioner] has known for at least a year that this was going on and that this had happened. And did he share any of that information with the White House? But even more importantly, Congress is going to ask him, why did you mislead us … Continue reading How is this not huge?
The NY Times main home page, of all places, has a video about the IRS story with Richard Nixon on the cover. Not a good week for our President.
Bryan Caplan proclaims himself disappointed with his students' answers to this exam question: In the modern U.S., what is the most efficient way for the federal government to spend an extra billion dollars? What is the maximally utilitarian way for the federal government to spend this sum? (In both cases, assume that tax cuts are … Continue reading Efficiency, Utilitarianism, and Budget Priorities: A Response to Caplan’s Query
Pileus blogger Jason Sorens is the founder of the Free State Project. Thus our regular readers may be interested in hearing about the progress of his baby in this article in the June edition of Reason magazine. Like libertarian academics before him such as Milton Friedman, Sorens is both an idealist and a realist - which is part of the reason … Continue reading Reason on the Free State Project – Achieving Liberty in Our Lifetime, One Step at a Time
So, the recent numbers suggest the short-term (next few years) outlook don't suck as bad as it used to: deficits significantly lower than previously projected and debt as a percentage of GDP holding steady. Ross Douthat has an interesting summary of why everyone hates these numbers (except the Obama administration). Nothing to get giddy about, … Continue reading Good news no one wants
Increased sodium consumption raises blood pressure, and high blood pressure is strongly correlated with (and perhaps causes) heart disease. Thus, a low salt diet reduces the risk of heart disease. Sounds reasonable. But apparently wrong. A committee set up by the National Institute of Medicine (part of the CDC) just released their review of the … Continue reading The salt of the earth
The IRS has been taking flak for its treatment of right-leaning groups seeking recognition as tax-exempt "social welfare" organizations under clause 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. As it happens, I have some personal experience with IRS scrutiny of 501(c)(4) applications. I was on the Board of the Free State Project (FSP) when the FSP … Continue reading Political Bias at the IRS Likely Deep-Seated
Ezra Klein altered my thinking a tad on campaign finance with his recent discussion of the effects of "big money" and "small money." On a gut level, I vastly prefer the passionate party activist who sends $200 to her favorite fire-breather to the lobbyist who coolly covers his bets by supplying $2,000 to both candidates … Continue reading Hail, small money
The news has been ripe with administration scandals as of late and will likely be for some time (Memo to BHO: There may be no better way to keep scandals in the news than to use the Justice Department to go after the Associated Press). But soon attention will turn to the issue of fiscal … Continue reading The Growth of Government, Updated
Sad to just learn that Kenneth Waltz, one of the most influential international relations scholars of the last 50 years (perhaps only rivaled by Sam Huntington), passed away today. More later once I finish my grading. But love or hate his work, it is impossible not to agree that he was a giant in the field who … Continue reading Kenneth Waltz, RIP
It is not surprising that Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman is in the Rutgers University Hall of Distinguished Alumni. Indeed, he must be one of the most successful graduates of that New Jersey state school. However, it is a bit surprising that another member of the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni never graduated from Rutgers according to the Rutgers Registrar (as … Continue reading Rutgers University Hall of Distinguished Alumni
I like a great deal of Bryan Caplan's work, and what I like I like a great deal, but it seems to me he makes a significant inferential error in this recent EconLog post. Caplan notes that "71% of poor families with children are headed by single parents. About 80% of all long-term poverty occurs … Continue reading Deserving Poor
All 50 states ban the direct sales of motor vehicles from manufacturers to consumers. The politics of this regrettable policy are clear: auto dealers are powerful political players in every state, while only a few states actually have manufacturing facilities. Banning direct manufacturer sales benefits dealers while hurting manufacturers and consumers. State governments continue to … Continue reading Interstate Protectionism and the Dormant Commerce Clause
The Miami Dolphins (and several other professional sports teams in Florida) deserve our severe disapprobation and should be ashamed of themselves for attempting to steal money from Florida taxpayers. According to ESPN, "The Dolphins wanted both state and local help to pay for $400 million worth of renovations to 26-year-old Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins wanted … Continue reading Shame on You, Miami Dolphins (and One Cheer for Speaker Will Weatherford)
Recently Jason Collins became the first current athlete in major professional sports in the US to come out as gay. This earned him the cover of Sports Illustrated and more attention than he ever received for actually playing basketball. Reaction of other athletes and the general public to the announcement seems to be extremely supportive. … Continue reading The Collinses and the future of epigenetics
Two great pieces arguing against intervention in Syria but with slightly different takes on how President Obama has performed in the midst of it all: George Will thinks Obama is right on Syria - but right in the sense of not ultimately being willing to back up the red line talk. Damon Linker argues that Syria may be … Continue reading Syrian Intervention
The new TFAS video starring economist Michael Cox of SMU:
I've been on the road a lot this spring and have saved up a number of notes from the road to pass along. James Otteson, the TSA's #1 fan, will need to put down any sharp objects before reading. 1. During my most recent trip, my crotch was frisked so intensely by a TSA agent that I thought he … Continue reading Travel Notes and Commentary