Interest in childhood vaccinations has risen in the past few weeks, with the growing number of cases of measles. As Christopher Ingraham (Washington Post) notes: “Public opinion polling shows that vaccination attitudes don't differ much by party affiliation. Or by income, or even education. But there is one important demographic factor: age.” Rand Paul has run … Continue reading Vaccinate This
In the State of the Union, President Obama proclaimed the good economic news. He declared 2014 a “breakthrough year for America,” noting “our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999.” He also made the case for “middle-class economics,” promising a budget that would focus on “lowering the taxes of working families … Continue reading The Breakthrough Year?
Critics of the President’s State of the Union address noted it did little to promote bipartisanship. Yet, it has already stimulated bipartisan agreement on one of the President’s education proposals. In the State of the Union, President Obama proposed free community college: “I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost … Continue reading The SOTU and Bipartisanship
The Hagedorn, Manovskii, and Mitman working paper on the effect of unemployment insurance (UI) on employment has been getting a lot of press lately. In brief, they find that the end of the federal unemployment insurance extension accounts for about 1.8 million new jobs in 2014. Mike Konczal does a useful deep dive on the … Continue reading If Revisionist UI Models Are Wrong, So Are Revisionist Minimum Wage Models
Even a small win for rolling back the state is so seldom observed that it's worth mentioning when one happens: the medium-sized town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire (one of the most "progressive" municipalities in the state) has abolished all taxi regulations and shut down its Taxicab Commission. Correction: the regulators voted to abolish themselves, but … Continue reading A Clean Win for Freedom (updated)
Yes, it is tonight. Those of us who actually follow these things can predict that many of the initiatives that will be announced by President Obama will have little significance with respect to policy because they will never make it through Congress. Priscilla Alvarez (National Journal) has an annotated version of the 2014 SOTU address, … Continue reading SOTU
Last week Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice would be suspending its adoption of state civil forfeiture cases through its "Equitable Sharing" program. To review, civil asset forfeiture is the procedure by which law enforcement seizes property suspected of having been associated with a crime, and then auctions it off and … Continue reading Understanding the Impact of Holder’s Asset Forfeiture Announcement
Catalonia will hold a de facto independence referendum through regional elections on September 27, 2015. This one will have "real" effect, unlike the 9N, because the Catalan independence parties would form a unity government and set up the institutions of an independent state, ultimately declaring independence at a date yet to be announced. https://twitter.com/lizcastro/status/555449038221639681 https://twitter.com/MartiEstruch/status/555450187918098432 … Continue reading Breaking: Catalan “Plebiscitary Elections” Set for September 27, 2015
Dragnet's Joe Friday may have never uttered those words, but he would be impressed nonetheless by the facts on crime. There was a fascinating piece by Erik Eckholm in yesterday’s New York Times on the dramatic reductions in crime over the past several decades. Overall, crime peaked in 1991 and has fallen steadily since then. … Continue reading Just the Facts Ma’am
The number of people ages 18-64 receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) under the Old-Age, Survivors and Disability (OASDI) program has increased dramatically in the recent past. Ana Swanson (Washington Post, Wonk Blog) has brief piece that focuses on SSDI. It includes a map (by Seth Kadish, Vizual Statistix) graphically representing the percentage of beneficiaries … Continue reading Reforming the Disability Welfare State?
Over at Reason, Stephanie Slade has a nice, thoughtful piece on whether watching football - providing the NFL and college football programs with revenue - is unethical, given the immense harms to players through traumatic brain injuries and the diseases they cause. A selection: A person can believe an action is wrong even if she … Continue reading Is Watching Football Unethical?
At the meeting of the American Economic Association in Boston last weekend, there were protests organized by a group calling itself "Kick It Over," who, as the Washington Post styled it, were "battling for the soul of economics." Their protest included heckling and disruptions of the talks given by Gregory Mankiw, Larry Summers, and Carmen Reinhart. … Continue reading Of Plutocrats and Arguments
There is a delightful piece in the New York Times on the reaction of the Harvard faculty to the reality of health care reform: For years, Harvard’s experts on health economics and policy have advised presidents and Congress on how to provide health benefits to the nation at a reasonable cost. But those remedies will … Continue reading Ideas have Consequences
My paper on the political philosophy of secession is now out in Public Affairs Quarterly, an open-access journal. Read it here. Teaser: The United Kingdom currently sets the gold standard for management of secessionist politics. The British and Scottish governments negotiated in good faith over the terms of the independence referendum that Scotland held on … Continue reading Legal Regimes for Secession: Applying Moral Theory and Empirical Findings
I'd like to wish all Pileus readers a very happy 2015. The last three years, we have had a tradition of making predictions for the upcoming year and reviewing those of the past year. This year, I haven't had time to come up with predictions for 2015, but here's a look back at those for … Continue reading Happy New Year!
And it is Thomas Piketty: "I do not think it is the government's role to decide who is honorable." On his refusal to accept the Legion d'honneur (h/t Marginal Revolution).
With this post, I'm reporting updated results on the ideological ideal points of New Hampshire legislators, introduced previously here. In that analysis, I found that libertarians in the New Hampshire House in 2014 tended to vote with the right (and vice versa) on most roll-call votes scored by the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance. That included … Continue reading Update and Further Analysis of the New Hampshire Legislature
Peggy Noonan has a wonderful piece in today's Wall Street Journal. It concludes with a dream: A closing note: I always thought, life often being unfair, that Fidel Castro would die the death of a happy monster, old, in bed, a cigar jutting out from the pillows, a brandy on the bedside table. My dream … Continue reading Dreaming Castro
The Obama administration’s decision to begin normalizing relations with Cuba has generated much praise and criticism. You can read the lead editorials in the New York Times and the Washington Post to get a flavor for the arguments, pro and con. On the right, the divisions between conservatives and libertarians have found a predictable expression. … Continue reading Thoughts on Cuba
Constitute.org is a useful website designed by political scientists to let researchers search for and compare constitutional texts on particular topics. Here for instance is a search on secession clauses. Although one of the site's creators, Zachary Elkins, says that 22 states contemplate some process for state divorce, only three constitutions expressly authorize some part … Continue reading Constitutions and Secession
Last week we received the “good news” about the economy. Unsurprisingly, I was a bit skeptical (here). While jobs are being created—321,000 in November alone—long-term unemployment and workplace participation rates remain abysmal. For those who would like to celebrate the recovery, I recommend Binyamin Appelbaum piece on “The Vanishing Male Worker” (NYT). As Appelbaum notes: … Continue reading The New Normal Can’t Last
“The US government’s failure to ensure basic transparency and accountability in its torture policies, to provide necessary details about its enhanced interrogation program, or adequately to set out the legal factors involved in decisions to torture hinders necessary democratic debate about a key aspect of US foreign and national security policy. US practices may also facilitate … Continue reading A Failed Policy
So the U.S. Senate report on CIA interrogation methods is out, and now we know that the CIA tortured detainees, including the use of violent rectal assault: Some of the detainees were terrorists; some were probably innocent. We'll never know because they were never tried in a court of law: Some neoconservative torture apologists oppose … Continue reading CIA Torture and Politician Grandstanding
There is great buzz over today’s jobs report. The economy added 321,000 jobs in November. The New York Times: “After more than five years of elusive gains, ordinary Americans may finally be about to see the benefits of the recovery where it really counts: in their pocketbooks and wallets. … For the year as a … Continue reading Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
The New Hampshire Liberty Alliance does a Liberty Rating each year in which they analyze liberty-related roll-call votes of state representatives and senators and grade them. (The NHLA is a great government accountability organization, by the way, and well worth supporting; a lifetime membership is only $100.) I used their roll-call votes for the 2014 … Continue reading This Is What a Legislature with a Bunch of Libertarians Looks Like
Here are a few interesting links to help get you over hump day. Thomas Edsall (NY Times) on the impact of Obamacare on the Democratic Party. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) attributed the difficulties faced by Democrats to the strategic error of passing the Affordable Care Act immediately rather that addressing the economic struggles of the … Continue reading Midweek Links
Frank Buckley was kind enough to send me a copy of his new book, The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America, and now seems like an appropriate time to post my review. Buckley argues persuasively -- and surprisingly -- that the Founders intended to establish a semi-parliamentary form of government … Continue reading *The Once and Future King* by F.H. Buckley
“Democrats must embrace government. It’s what we believe in; it’s what unites our party; and, most importantly, it’s the only thing that’s going to get the middle class going again.” “Even this past election — a debacle for Democrats — was not a repudiation of government,” according to Senator Schumer (D-NY) in a speech to … Continue reading And the Lesson of 2014 is…
Catalan President Artur Mas gave a major speech tonight, which fortunately Liz Castro live-translated on Twitter. To review, here's where we are now: Catalonia held an informal plebiscite on independence on November 9, which the Constitutional Court had suspended, and 81% of voters supported independence. The Spanish state has refused to negotiate any constitutional revision … Continue reading Catalan President Lays Out Road Map to Independence
I am pleased to be a part of a new initiative to teach moral philosophy, economics, and public policy to high schoolers and policymakers, Ethics and Economics Education of New England (E3NE). High schoolers get too little instruction in economics and usually none at all in moral philosophy, at the moment when they are first … Continue reading Announcing Ethics & Economics Education of New England
President Obama is preparing to issue an executive order on immigration—the executive action that has been promised for some time. As one might guess, the NYT editorial board is pleased. Some supporters of liberalized immigration (including a path to citizenship) are concerned over the damage that Obama’s actions will do to the rule of law. As … Continue reading Executive Action, Congressional Inaction
The press has been a buzz about the climate agreement between Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping. The agreement commits the US to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025 (2005 baseline), well ahead of current projections. China has committed to stop growth in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 at the latest, … Continue reading Historic Milestone?
We've been having a lively debate in the comments to these two posts about the true level of support for independence in the Catalan population. I say a plebiscite on the question would yield a clear majority in favor; others disagree. So it seems like a good opportunity for a friendly bet! I propose the … Continue reading Catalan Elections Bet
A week has passed since the election, and I think Ron Fournier (National Journal) has provided a decent interpretation of the results: The winners were disgust, apathy, and a gnawing desire for a better choice – an alternative to what the two major parties currently are offering. Rather than a mandate for anything, the results … Continue reading A Mandate for Meh
Participation in the November 9 "participatory process" in Catalonia exceeded my expectations. According to reports, 2.3 million people participated in a nonbinding vote organized by volunteers, a figure that would amount to over 40% of the electorate. (No electoral roll was used for this election because of Spanish Constitutional Court rulings prohibiting the support of … Continue reading What Next for Catalonia?
While Republicans nationally enjoyed a wave election, Republican federal candidates in New Hampshire underperformed relative to other states. Scott Brown lost very narrowly to incumbent Jeanne Shaheen, dogged throughout the campaign with the "carpetbagger" label. The highly conservative, hawkish Marilinda Garcia also lost in the second congressional district, my district and the more left-leaning one … Continue reading New Hampshire Election Report
Gordon Tullock, one of the leading figures in Public Choice, died yesterday at the age of 92. As James Bovard notes: "Since he had perennially scoffed at the notion that voting is worthwhile, it is ironic that he cashed in his chips on Election Day. But since he was living in Illinois at the time … Continue reading Gordon Tullock, RIP
Democrats are increasingly pessimistic about holding the Senate. As Greg Sargent notes in the Washington Post: with Democrats narrowly favored in New Hampshire and North Carolina, the route to 50 seats will probably also require Democratic wins in Colorado and Iowa at the outset, followed by a surprise pickup elsewhere. This is not impossible. But … Continue reading The Next Congress
Registration for the next New Hampshire Liberty Forum is now open. It will take place March 5-8, 2015 in Manchester, N.H. Sponsored by the Free State Project, the Forum is an excellent opportunity to find out what is going on in the burgeoning liberty movement in New Hampshire. At this year's forum, in addition to … Continue reading New Hampshire Liberty Forum
The New York Times had piece this weekend on the IRS and asset forfeiture: Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can … Continue reading The IRS and Asset Forfeiture