Rhetoric and Public Opinion on the Economy

I always find polls to be interesting. In my mind, one of the more fascinating things is when there is a large disjunction between individuals’ assessment of X (e.g., the environment, crime, education, the economy) as they experience it and their assessment of X as the nation experiences it. I often attribute the differences to … Continue reading Rhetoric and Public Opinion on the Economy

More on OECD Welfare States

In my last post, I said "total net social spending" included net public spending and mandatory private social spending. In fact, it includes voluntary private social expenditures as well. The U.S. has by far the highest voluntary social expenditures in the OECD, so if you subtract those out, the U.S. net public and mandatory private … Continue reading More on OECD Welfare States

The United States’ Big Welfare State

The United States has long had a larger welfare state than most other Western democracies. Surprised? You may not be aware of the new research on "net social spending." Net social spending includes not just government expenditures on social programs, but also tax credits for social purposes and, as a debit, government taxation of social … Continue reading The United States’ Big Welfare State

Partisan Rationalization in Action

Thomas Carsey and Geoffrey Layman in The Monkey Cage: The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported on June 10, 2013 that the percentage of Democratic identifiers who found NSA surveillance programs acceptable increased from 37 percent in January 2006 to 64 percent in June 2013. In contrast, the percentage of Republican … Continue reading Partisan Rationalization in Action

Making Sense of the Numbers

The early figures on the Affordable Care Act are raising some concerns for those who believed that it would address the problem of the uninsured. Christopher Weaver and Anna Wilde Matthews (Wall Street Journal) report: Early signals suggest the majority of the 2.2 million people who sought to enroll in private insurance through new marketplaces … Continue reading Making Sense of the Numbers

Libertarians and Abortion

Today is the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade. Reason held an interesting panel in 2013 (participants: Katherine Mangu-Ward, Ronald Bailey and Mollie Hemingway, with Nick Gillespie moderating) highlighting some of the core areas of debate among libertarians. The question of abortion has continued to spark disagreements  involving core questions of when personhood (and thus … Continue reading Libertarians and Abortion

The Omnivore’s Duties

We all agree that it's wrong to put cats in microwaves. Animals' welfare matters to us. (I don't think Damon Linker has it right when he says our moral concern for animals is simply a natural "expansion of the sphere of human concern and empathy." My concern for my fellow human beings dictates precisely nothing … Continue reading The Omnivore’s Duties

King’s Birmingham Letter

Martin Luther King, Jr's "Letter from Birmingham City Jail" remains one of my all-time favorite works of 20th century political philosophy. The moral foundation of the letter is essentially Lockean and Kantian. Those of you who have not yet read it are doing yourselves a disservice by not doing so now. Favorite passage: We know … Continue reading King’s Birmingham Letter

Another Horror Story from Britain’s NHS

My wife works in cancer support, and she told me this evening about a case of a British woman who wrote into one of the online groups with which she works. She had had limb salvage surgery for bone cancer, replacing her humerus with a titanium prosthetic bone (my wife had the same type of … Continue reading Another Horror Story from Britain’s NHS

Charts, Charts, and More Glorious Charts

Dylan Matthews (Wonkblog) has a wonderful collection of 40 charts that convey a lot of information.  One of my friends refers to me as a “glass one-quarter full” guy. I must admit, these charts make me feel like the glass may be more than half full. An example: The news is not all good (see … Continue reading Charts, Charts, and More Glorious Charts

News from New Hampshire (update) (update)

Here's the latest from the new legislative session, via friends in the legislature... The New Hampshire House just authoritatively slapped down a bill that would authorize automated license plate readers for police, 250-97. The bill had been reported out of the fairly reliably police-statist Criminal Justice committee with an "ought to pass" recommendation. Just nine … Continue reading News from New Hampshire (update) (update)

Budgetary Realities

As you likely know, the Congress seems poised to pass a $1.012 trillion omnibus spending bill to avoid another shutdown (see coverage from the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Hill).  It appears that both the Democrats and Republicans will get things they hold dear in the spending provisions and the riders (Ed O’Keefe … Continue reading Budgetary Realities

The War on Poverty, Continued

In the 1986 State of the Union address, Ronald Reagan proclaimed: "My friends, some years ago, the Federal Government declared war on poverty, and poverty won. …Federal welfare programs have created a massive social problem. With the best of intentions, government created a poverty trap that wreaks havoc on the very support system the poor … Continue reading The War on Poverty, Continued

“Catalonia’s March Toward Self-Determination”

That's the title of a very good article by Princeton political scientist Carles Boix and J.C. Major. The article provides background to the Catalan self-determination movement but also discusses recent developments and the reasons for them. One takeaway is the enormous role that the Spanish government's response to the last Catalan autonomy statute, essentially gutting … Continue reading “Catalonia’s March Toward Self-Determination”

What I’ve Been Reading

Against Fairness by Stephen T. Asma - Frankly, this book has made me more partial to fairness as a moral good. He defends partiality, even "nepotism," on the grounds that it is essential to human nature, and that excessively "rationalist" approaches to morality like utilitarianism, deontology, and justice-as-fairness set inhuman standards that are impossible to … Continue reading What I’ve Been Reading

Can Globalization Go Too Far?

Dani Rodrik, the political scientist's favorite economist, argues for a limit to globalization in his recent book Globalization's Paradox. The LSE EUROPP blog has a nice little summary of the book's argument: Markets require a wide range of non-market institutions (of regulation, stabilisation, and legitimation) in order to work well and remain socially sustainable. These … Continue reading Can Globalization Go Too Far?

Programs for the Poor are Poor Programs

Ezra Klein (Wonkblog) has a brief interview with Georgetown’s David Super on how poorly programs for the poor have functioned (and how good HealthCare.gov appears by comparison).  The alternatives discussed include outsourcing to private contractors (bad) and implicitly providing more resources (good).One alternative that is not discussed:  providing benefits through a fractional negative income tax … Continue reading Programs for the Poor are Poor Programs

Afternoon Links

Would South Sudan have been better off with international trusteeship than independence? My reaction: 1) the South Sudan civil war is likely to kill far fewer than the original civil war by which they gained independence (2 million), so independence may be better than that alternative; 2) autonomy without independence would have been a nonstarter … Continue reading Afternoon Links

Legalization and the Issue of Substitution

As we all know, Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana went into effect the other day, and Washington will soon follow. I would spend some time discussing the merits of legalization, but I largely agree with Grover’s post on Green Wednesday.  As one might expect, it didn’t take long for the op-eds to offer their opposition … Continue reading Legalization and the Issue of Substitution

The Libertarian Challenge Within the GOP

Ross Tilchin writes up the results of a Brookings study on libertarians in the Republican Party, citing some of the research I have done here on Pileus. The main point Tilchin argues is that libertarians are at a severe disadvantage nationally within the Republican Party, relative to competing constituencies like moderates and the religious right. … Continue reading The Libertarian Challenge Within the GOP

Two Cheers for Green Wednesday

Two cheers for today's Green Wednesday in Colorado - not an environmental holiday but the day that a free highly-regulated market for marijuana comes into being.  Here is the New York Times on the historic day: While smoking pot has been legal in Colorado for the past year, so-called Green Wednesday represents another historic milestone for the decades-old legalization … Continue reading Two Cheers for Green Wednesday