Saturday, February 28, 2009

 

Liberals at a Conservative College

The Baylyblog found out that even a very conservative Presbyterian denomination's college has many liberal faculty. (For those of you who say, "So what?", keep in mind that there are far more Democrats at this college, which explicitly has a religion requirement for faculty, than there are Republicans at any Big Ten university.)

... thirty-five percent of Covenant's faculty members say they're likely to vote for Senator Obama. That's one third of the faculty supporting the presidential candidacy of the most radically pro-baby slaughter politician in Washington D.C.

... Covenant's faculty was asked to rate "issues for their importance in selecting a (presidential) candidate," and among those listed were "campaign finance reform," "education," "global warming," "health care," and "social justice." And yes, "abortion" was there, but no mention of sodomy or sodomite marriage.

Interestingly, only half the faculty members considered "abortion" to be "Very important" in their selection in their anticipated vote for a presidential candidate. This means half of the faculty members made a conscious decision to respond that abortion was not "Very important." What got a higher rating than abortion?

"Social justice." Abortion had a rating average of 3.23 whereas "Social justice" won with 3.40. (Ten faculty members responded that abortion was either "Not important" (2) or only "Somewhat important" (8), but only one faculty member responded that social justice was "Not important" and just two that it was only "Somewhat important."

For the top rating, "Very important," three issues tied in the faculty's vote: "Abortion," "Health care," and "Social justice," with "Social justice" taking the honors.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

 

Nonbinding Ballot Propositions

It would be useful to allow politicians to put nonbinding referenda on election ballots. Something like this: The majority and minority party leader may each put 3 questions of 10 words or less on the ballot for YES/NO vote.

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OLC's Dawn Johnsen

National Review has an article on IU Prof. Dawn Johnsen's confirmation hearings (OLC)with links to a Slate article on her.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

 

Reagan: A Major Supporter of Both Abortion and Homosexuality

It's well known that Ronald Reagan as governor of California signed a bill legalizing abortion that was the biggest action increasing abortion before Roe v. Wade. It turns out he was also pro-homomsexual, going out of his way to help defeat a ballot proposition that would have explicitly made it legal to fire schoolteachers for being homosexual. See this pro=Reagan American Spectator article.

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Obama's Favorite Rhetorical Fallacy?

Karl Rove notes Obama's love for straw men:

On Tuesday night, Mr. Obama told Congress and the nation, "I reject the view that . . . says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity." Who exactly has that view? ...

Mr. Obama also said that America's economic difficulties resulted when "regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market." Who gutted which regulations?

Even in an ostensibly nonpartisan speech marking Lincoln's 200th birthday, Mr. Obama used a straw-man argument, decrying "a philosophy that says every problem can be solved if only government would step out of the way; that if government were just dismantled, divvied up into tax breaks, and handed out to the wealthiest among us, it would somehow benefit us all. Such knee-jerk disdain for government -- this constant rejection of any common endeavor -- cannot rebuild our levees or our roads or our bridges."

Whose philosophy is this? ...

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

 

My Co-Authors

After going to Ian Ayres's excellent 50th Birthday Co-Authors Conference I decided to count up my own co-authors. Stars indicate that what we've written is not yet published (and maybe never will be). I don't include co-editors.

  1. Michael Alexeev
  2. *Maria Arbatskaya
  3. Ian Ayres
  4. F. H. Buckley
  5. *Luis Fernandez
  6. *Barick Chung
  7. *Christopher Connell
  8. Kenneth Dau-Schmidt
  9. *Richmond Harbaugh
  10. David Hirshleifer
  11. Jack Hirshleifer
  12. Maarten Janssen
  13. Thomas P. Lyon
  14. Richard McAdams
  15. * Kaushik Mukhopadhaya
  16. Robert Heidt
  17. Emmanuel Petrakis
  18. Ivan Png
  19. Richard Posner
  20. Manu Raghav
  21. J. Mark Ramseyer
  22. Timothy Perri
  23. Minoru Nakazato
  24. Santanu Roy
  25. Jeffrey Stake
  26. John Wiley
  27. *David Myatt
  28. *Young-Ro Yoon
  29. Todd Zenger
  30. Mark Zupan

Ian is up to 51, I think, with about 30 at the conference and 15 presenting papers there.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

 

Murder and Medicine

Comparing murder rates across 50-year times periods is misleading, this blog post tells us:

As Lt. Col. Dave Grossman pointed out in his book On Killing, the aggravated assault rate serves as a close proxy statistic for attempted murders. And the aggravated assault rate has increased dramatically since the 1950s even if the murder rate has not. Criminologist Anthony Harris estimates today's homicide rate would triple if medical and rescue technologies had not improved since the 50s. Grossman was kind enough to email me an excerpt from his new book On Combat when I asked him for more detailed source citations for his writing on this topic. He argues that in comparing today's homicide rate with the 1930s and before we ought to multiple today's rate by ten for a true comparison:

Since 1957, the U.S. per capita aggravated assault rate (which is, essentially, the rate of attempted murder) has gone up nearly five- fold, while the per capita murder rate has less than doubled. The reason for this disparity is the vast progress in medical technology since 1957, to include everything from mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, to the national 911 emergency telephone system, to medical technology advances. Otherwise, murder would be going up at the same rate as attempted murder.

In 2002, Anthony Harris and a team of scholars from the University of Massachusetts and Harvard, published a landmark study in the journal, Homicide Studies, which concluded that medical technology advances since 1970 have prevented approximately three out of four murders. That is, if we had 1970s level medical technology, the murder rate would be three or four times higher than it is today.

Furthermore, it has been noted that a hypothetical wound that nine out of ten times would have killed a soldier in World War II, would have been survived nine out of ten times by U.S. soldiers in Vietnam. This is due to the great leaps in battlefield evacuation and medical care technology between 1940 and 1970--and we have made even greater progress in the years since. Thus, it is probably a conservative statement to say that if today we had 1930s level evacuation notification and medical technology (no automobiles and telephones for most people, and no antibiotics), then we would have ten times the murder rate we currently do. That is, attempts to inflict bodily harm upon one another would result in death ten times more often.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

 

Churches

I put together a list of churches useful for scholars travelling around to conferences or on sabbatical. Those with stars (*) I've been to and liked. I've heard good things about the others. Those with pound signs (#) are the kind of churches that have special appeal to people with PhDs-- that is, they are "head oriented" with high-IQ staff who are used to dealing with educated urbanite unbelievers. All these churches have traditional Christian beliefs. They differ in worship style (drums or not, praise songs or old hymns, etc.) except for all being sermon-and-song centered.

#*CAMBRIDGE, MASS: Christ the King Presbyterian Church, Half Portugese.

*CHICAGO: The Moody Church near Lincoln Park,

#*NEW HAVEN: Trinity Baptist, Pastored till 2008 or so by Josh Moody, expert on Jonathan Edwards, now at Wheaton.

#*NEW YORK: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Manhattan. Pastored by Timothy Keller.

#*OXFORD: St. Ebbe's Church of England

#*WASHINGTON: Grace Presbyterian (Glenn Hoburg) D.C.

##LONDON: Holy Trinity Brompton, (South Kensington). Origin of the "Alpha Course". All Souls, Oxford Circus/Regents Park. John Stott used to be its pastor.

#CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND: St. Andrew the Great,

PHILADELPHIA: Tenth Presbyterian, James Boice used to be its pastor. Might be in decline.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

 

Whigs and Tories, Tradition and Progress

Reading Prof. Henry Smith's "Community and Custom in Property" working paper I thought of some different ways of thinking about tradition and progress. This was shortly after I was grousing yet again about how badly designed car radios are nowadays compared to the past. With digital tuning, we don't have the quick and easy controls of analog tuning, where the dial was round and quick and the pretuned buttons stuck out so you could punch them without taking your eyes off the wheel. I consoled myself with the idea that after 20 years or so the engineers would figure this out. That made me realize that progress is just the establishment of tradition-- which takes time. Starting from zero-- as one does after an innovation--- it takes time to build up a tradition. Till you have the tradition built up, change is desirable. Once you have the tradition, it's time to stop making changes unless some radically new and good innovation is found. But a fondness for tradition and a belief in progress are not incompatible.

The four parties of Victorian Britain illustrate different combinations of liking for tradition and for progress.

The Tories--- the mainstream Conservatives--- favored no change. They admired the old and disliked the new.

The Whigs--- the mainstream Liberals--- favored gradual change. They were neutral on the old and the new. They liked both tradition and progress.

The Radicals--- the left Liberals--- favored big changes. They hated the old and loved the new.

The Tory Democracy--- the "Fourth Party" of Randolph Churchill--- favored big changes. They admired the old, but rather liked the new too, as supportive of the old. Bismarck would perhaps be in this category. (They were actually not called the 4th party because of my categories here, but because the Conservatives, Liberals, and Irish Nationalists were three parties and Churchill and friends were rather like Newt Gingrich and the young House Republicans, wanting to be much more barbed and inconvenient with the ruling Liberals than their senior party members thought proper.)

I'm a Whig myself. In England, they went over to the Tory PM Salisbury, if I remember correctly, after Gladstone allied the Liberals with the Irish Nationalists, and the Whigs were absorbed into the Conservative Party. Hayek liked to call himself a Whig too.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

 

Divorce Here and There

JOnah Goldberg on a MEMRI report:

I’ll relate something interesting from the Middle East Media Research Institute (and for the report I’m talking about, go here). An Egyptian cleric is on television. And he is pronouncing on divorce. I cherish the last line in particular. But you’ll want to read the entire chunk:

What’s the point of having an animal you can ride, if it drives you nuts? The distance it takes you you could cover in a bus for a quarter of an Egyptian pound, but you have to spend 100 pounds on this animal. Sell it, and get rid of it. Would anyone blame you for selling it? Would anyone say: “Shame on him for selling it”? It’s only an animal.

If a man is completely fed up with his apartment, because he has bad neighbors, and the apartment is falling apart, would anyone blame him for selling it and say: “Shame on you, how can you sell it? This is where you were born and raised.” This apartment does not suit him anymore. I have bad neighbors, and I don’t feel good in it.

The same goes for the woman. If a woman has such bad character that her husband does not feel comfortable with her, there is nothing to prevent him from divorcing her. What are we, Christians?!

What are we, Christians?! There are about a hundred things to say about this. I will confine myself to: I don’t think the good imam has checked in on Christianity—by which I mean, Christian-dominated societies—lately.

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Obama Competence Failures

Karl Rove has an excellent WSJ op-ed summarizing the competence failures of the Obama Administration so far.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

 

Brad DeLong Calls for Colleague To Be Fired

Brad DeLong has posted a shocking letter calling for Professor Yoo of Berkeley Law to be fired for his work in the White House-- the "torture memo". I'd thought reputable economists wouldn't write that kind of letter. It should be a warning to us all--- the Left *does* want to criminalize conservatism. Liberals, you watch out--- the Mensheviks come next.

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High Pay for Administrators in Undemanding Jobs

It looks as if it would be worth looking for corruption in the adminstration of the UC system. This reminds me of Michelle Obama's high-paid job for the University of Chicago, a different UC.

UC Berkeley officials have acknowledged misleading the public in the controversial case of a high-paid executive aide who left her job at the university's headquarters and the next day began a new job on the Cal campus - qualifying for a $100,202 severance check along the way.

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Pace Resolution Wrap-Up

I should have been prepared to blog on the Pace Resolution, but I wasn't, and I have to prepare for a presentation practice with my grad students in two hours. So I'll revise this post later. For now:

The Bloomington Faculty Council passed the Pace resolution criticizing the business school for inviting a general who (a) said homosexuality was immoral, and (b) enforced the military's don't ask/don't tell policy. The vote was 19 to 15, with many present not voting. I heard on the radio that a motion to table was rejected 14 to 21. The minutes of the February 17 meeting, which transcribe all the speeches of that day, are here. I see that 41 members were present, 3 were absent but had alternates present, and 20 were absent. Thus, of 64 members, 19 voted for the resolution, 15 were against, 10 voters present did not vote, and 20 members were absent.

I see this as a good outcome, if not the best. People are on record as being for or against university departments being able to invite speakers with conservative opinions. I was afraid that someone would make a motion to table the resolution, or just ask to withdraw it, and that professors torn between principle, politics, and timidity would welcome the chance to get out of the situation.

The February 4 meeting tentative BFC minutes have some of the arguments made. My November weblog post has lots more, from the first reading in that month. My Feb. 4 post has the first and second drafts of the resolution.

I should add my own letter to the BFC and the Kelley's school's letter later today. They talk about the substance of the resolution.

UPDATE My own opinions on the substance of the Pace resolution are in a letter I sent to the BFC on February 4. The Kelley School Academic Council sent a strong letter to the BFC on December 1, 2008

UPDATE: My own opinions on the substance of the Pace resolution are in a letter I sent to the BFC on February 4. The Kelley School Academic Council sent a strong letter to the BFC on December 1, 2008

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

 

"Who I conclude"

I have a post on the stimulus bill where I write something like:

(1) "I have listed economists who I conclude would prefer no stimulus bill at all to the stimulus bill that Congress has passed."
That sentence bothers me. Compare it with:
(2) "I have listed economists whom I conclude would prefer no stimulus bill at all to the stimulus bill that Congress has passed."

Which is better? We say "who would prefer", not "whom would prefer". In ordinary language, uneducated people, and perhaps the educated, would say "who I conclude".

On the other hand, I think educated people would say "whom" if they were thinking hard. If "who" is to be in the accusative case, it should be "whom". But "conclude" is not a transitive verb.

Perhaps this is how it should be:

(3) "I have listed economists who, I conclude, would prefer no stimulus bill at all to the stimulus bill that Congress has passed."

But that doesn't sound right to me either. Any ideas?

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Monday, February 16, 2009

 

French Preface

I finally got round to scanning in the 688K Francis Bismans preface to the French edition of Games and Information. It's actually a 14 page essay.

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Pace Resolution

Here is an excerpt from the tentative draft of the BFC minutes from February 4 on the Pace Resolution.

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The Budget Deficit

The budget deficit:

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Sticking in New Laws in Conference Committee

A great example from the Weekly standard:,good for G406:

One of many highlights of the stimulus bill the Democrats just rammed through Congress is $8 billion for high-speed rail. What makes this appropriation special is that there was no money for high-speed rail in the original House legislation. The Senate bill had $2 billion. The legislation coming out of conference "compromised" on $8 billion.

How did this happen? Well, some of that $8 billion, as the Washington Post reported Friday, seems intended for "a controversial proposal for a magnetic-levitation rail line between Disneyland, in California, and Las Vegas, a project favored by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). The 311-mph train could make the trip from Sin City to Tomorrowland in less than two hours, according to backers." Reid of course played a major role in putting together the final bill.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

 

Economists on the Stimulus Bill: A Few Pro, a Lot Con

I've updated my stimulus aggregator. I've now found a few pro-stimulus economists. They're outnumbered by those against. If anybody has evidence that any more economists support the stimulus, please let me know. By "economist" I mean somebody with a PhD who's published something academic.

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Me on the Stimulus

It might be convenient to collect things I've said about the stimulus bill that aren't on this blog. For Newmajority.com:

What the American economy urgently needs is not Keynesian stimulus, but reform of the capital and housing markets, particularly in the rating agencies, bank portfolios, and government encouragement of reckless lending. That is where the problem started, and where it might have remained-- with the mild recession of the first half of 2008-- if Presidents Bush and Obama had reassured the American public rather than predicting doom. Whether Keynesian stimulus works is an open question in economics, but it is fairly well settled that what governments implement is not the nonpolitical stimulus that professors recommend. The various Congressional proposals so far are not stimulus bills at all. They are a mix of special- interest tax cuts and pork barrel spending with a general-interest layer of tax cutting on top. It would be better not to try to use fiscal stimulus at all.

From Politico.com after a phone interview:

Eric Rasmussen, a free market economist at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business warns that the money could fund economically inefficient projects.

“They tend to be projects which wouldn’t get through in normal times because they wouldn’t pass the cost benefit analysis,” he said. “It’s much more prey to special interests then something like a tax cut.”

I should remember to spell out my name for people. And to ask how they heard of me. Since she calls me "a free market economists", it's probably from the Cato ad.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

 

The Secret Stimulus Bill

Update, 2:45p.m. I finally did successfully download a searchable pdf file of Part A of the bill. It's from the Appropriations Committee website-- the Speaker's website still doesn't work. I've posted part A on my website, at http://Rasmusen.org/t/2009/Recovery_Bill_Div_A.pdf. It's surprising how sloppy the Congressional staff is. The file has lots of text inserts and pencilled in corrections, and no overall page numbers. And they had all night to pretty it up. Pelosi's office staff is not competent, if they're the ones who handled the drafting.

From Human Events:

“The American people have a right to know what’s in this bill,” Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind) told HUMAN EVENTS after the press conference. “Every member of Congress -- Republicans and Democrats -- voted to post this bill on the internet for 48 hours, 48 hours ago. We’ll see if the Democrats keep their word.”

Actually -- as of 5:15 pm, the Democrats had broken their word. The stimulus bill -- which we still haven’t seen -- will be released late tonight and will be brought up on the House floor at 9 am tomorrow.

and
The following statement was released by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer at 4:57 p.m.:

"The House is scheduled to meet at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow and is expected to proceed directly to consideration of the American Recovery and Reinvestment conference report. The conference report text will be filed this evening, giving members enough time to review the conference report before voting on it tomorrow afternoon."

The Democrats finally made the bill's language available around 11 p.m. Thursday, approximately 10 hours before members meet Friday to consider the bill ...
and in another article later,
Democratic staffers released the final version of the stimulus bill at about 11 pm last night after delaying the release for hours to put it into a format which people cannot “search” on their home computers.

Instead of publishing the bill as a regular internet document -- which people can search by “key words” and otherwise, the Dems took hours to convert the final bill from the regular searchable format into “pdf” files, which can be read but not searched.

Three of the four .pdf files had no text embedded, just images of the text, which did not permit text searches of the bill. That move to conceal the bill’s provisions had not been remedied this morning at the time of publication of this article. (You can find the entire bill on the House Appropriations [http://appropriations.house.gov] website.)

From readthestimulus.org at 1:10 pm on Friday, the Human Events allegation seems to be true. I can't even download the files myself, either from the Speaker's office or the Appropriations Committee site.

The final language has been posted; you can find links to the various docs at the Speaker's website. Update: The speaker's website is apparently down. Imagine that. Docs are also available here.

The total size of the four major files is over 100MB, and consists of 1419 pages. Three of the four files are huge "scanned" PDFs, meaning they were created by printing the original document and then scanning it in again --- and therefore contain no real "text" that can be easily searched. This will make our parsing process difficult and more time consuming, so we most likely won't have our versions ready until midday tomorrow. But we'll see...

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

 

Posner and Judicial Writing

It seems that Judge Posner is having a good influence on judicial writing. The 7th Circuit Lott v. Levitt opinion (via Volokh Con.) written by Evans with Ripple and Sykes signing on, is clear, pleasant, and uses contractions, even in an opinion whose subject is the fine detail of choice of law and writing pleadings:

The principle of waiver is designed to prohibit this very type of gamesmanship—Lott is not entitled to get a free peek at how his dispute will shake out under Illinois law and, when things don’t go his way, ask for a mulligan under the laws of a different jurisdiction. In law (actually in love and most everything else in life), timing is often everything. The time for Lott to ask for the application of Virginia law had passed—the train had left the station.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

 

Krugman, Barro, and Crook

Clive Crook wrote an FT column about economists blogging, citing Barro and Krugman as examples of economists who went to extremes. Part was this:

I had thought they would at least agree that raising trade barriers at a time like this must be a bad idea. Then I read Paul Krugman, Nobel laureate, Princeton professor, and New York Times columnist, explain that raising tariffs – though perhaps unwise for other reasons – “can make the world better off”. “There is a short-run case for protectionism,” he went on, “and that case will increase in force if we don’t have an effective economic recovery programme.” What are his readers to make of this? Are all the economists who say otherwise just wrong?

This impression of disarray – that economics has nothing clear to say on these questions – is not the fault of economics as such. It is a mostly false impression created by some of its leading public intellectuals, Mr Krugman among them.

Economics outside the academy has become the continuation of politics by other means. If you wish to know what Mr Krugman thinks on any policy question, do not read his scholarly writings; see which policies are advocated by the progressive wing of the Democratic party. Mr Krugman agrees with liberal Democrats about most things, and for the rest gives as much cover as the discipline of economics can provide – which, given its scientific limitations, is plenty. He does this even on matters where, if his scholarly work is any guide, the economics is firmly against his allies. Liberal Democrats are protectionists. Mr Krugman is not, but politics comes first.

The syndrome affects economists on the right as much as on the left. Just as there is a consensus among economists that protectionism should be opposed, most economists believe that a powerful fiscal stimulus is both possible and desirable in present circumstances, and that the best stimulus would include big increases in public spending. Yet recently, Robert Barro, a scholar with conservative sympathies, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that this view was an appeal to “magic”.

The problem is not that Mr Krugman questions the consensus on trade (if indeed he does), or that Mr Barro questions the consensus on fiscal policy (as he certainly does). It is that both set the consensus aside so carelessly. In doing so, these stars of the profession destroy the credibility of their own discipline. Mr Krugman gives liberals the economics they want. Mr Barro gives conservatives the same service. They narrow or deny the common ground. Why does this matter? Because the views of readers inclined to one side or the other are further polarised; and in the middle, those of no decided allegiance conclude that economics is bunk.

What is interesting is not that article (which is wrong on Barro, I think), but the responses of Professors Krugman and Barro. Mr. Crook displays the correspondence in The Atlantic. Barro and Crook had a polite exchange of emails discussing their disagreements. Krugman said,

Clive used to be a reasonable guy; in his mind he probably still is a reasonable guy. But he has misunderstood what it means to be reasonable. He now apparently believes that it means declaring, in all circumstances, that Democrats and Republicans are equally in the wrong, even if the Democrats are talking Econ 101 and the Republicans are being led by the crazy 36.

And it means hysterical attacks on yours truly for actually taking sides in this debate, with the ostensible basis for the denunciation being a wonkish blog post -- it says so in the title -- in which I acknowledge that there is a potential short-run argument for protectionism, while making it clear that I'm not in favor of acting on that argument. He doesn't actually take on my argument; he just insists that the only reason I might possibly have said anything like this is partisan bias, as opposed to an attempt to be intellectually honest.

That's interesting in itself. But now let us proceed to Paul Krugman's argument for protectionism.

Should we be upset about the buy-American provisions in the stimulus bill? Is there an economic case for such provisions? The answer is yes and yes. And I do think it’s important to be honest about the second yes.

So Krugman not only thinks that there is an economic case for buy-American, but that it's important to stress it. And while we should "be upset" about the buy-American policy, that's just an emotional response-- the "economic case" is in favor of it.

The economic case against protectionism is that it distorts incentives: each country produces goods in which it has a comparative disadvantage, and consumes too little of imported goods. And under normal conditions that’s the end of the story.

But these are not normal conditions. We’re in the midst of a global slump, with governments everywhere having trouble coming up with an effective response.

Okay-- so the economic case against protectionism is not determinative here-- we are in a special situation.
And one part of the problem facing the world is that there are major policy externalities. My fiscal stimulus helps your economy, by increasing your exports — but you don’t share in my addition to government debt. As I explained a while back, this means that the bang per buck on stimulus for any one country is less than it is for the world as a whole. And this in turn means that if macro policy isn’t coordinated internationally — and it isn’t — we’ll tend to end up with too little fiscal stimulus, everywhere. Now ask, how would this change if each country adopted protectionist measures that “contained” the effects of fiscal expansion within its domestic economy? Then everyone would adopt a more expansionary policy — and the world would get closer to full employment than it would have otherwise. Yes, trade would be more distorted, which is a cost; but the distortion caused by a severely underemployed world economy would be reduced. And as the late James Tobin liked to say, it takes a lot of Harberger triangles to fill an Okun gap. Let’s be clear: this isn’t an argument for beggaring thy neighbor, it’s an argument that protectionism can make the world as a whole better off. It’s a second-best argument — coordinated policy is the first-best answer. But it needs to be taken seriously.
Let me restate his argument. Every country needs fiscal stimulus because of the recession, and that's the most important thing. But countries won't enact fiscal stimulus unless they can be protectionist too, because they're selfish. So, since protectionism isn't as bad as lack of government spending, it's worth having trade barriers so as to get the government spending.

This is, actually, saying that beggar-thy-neighbor policies are a good thing. He is saying that if every country tries to beggar every other by buy-domestic policies, they'll all be better off in the end than if they didn't. He'd prefer having the same amount of government spending without the buy-domestic policies, but he doesn't think that's possible politically.

After a couple more paragraphs saying that we have to consider the political economy, we come to his bottom line:

But there is a short-run case for protectionism — and that case will increase in force if we don’t have an effective economic recovery program.

His argument has three problems (aside from its premise that the stimulus package is a good thing and should pass). First, it's not plausible that the stimulus package will shrink much if it is less protectionist, and his argument depends on there being enough shrinkage to counteract the bad allocative effect of protectionism. Second, if we're talking political economy, we should bring in the fact that allowing protectionism into a stimulus bill will result in it being more distorted to serve special interests rather than having the single objective of serving the public interest of Keynesian stimulus. Third, an economist should start by making the economic arguments clear, rather than mingling them with the politicking, compromise, and buying-off-of-interests arguments. Politics requires compromise, but an op-ed piece does not. In fact, even in politics, you start off the bargaining by taking your preferred position-- you don't start by offering your opponent something halfway towards his position. In fact, you might want to start with something more extreme than your preferred position.

In this particular case, of course, the buy-American provisions weren't in there to garner moderate and conservative support for a bill that wouldn't pass otherwise-- they were an actual hindrance towards compromise. Krugman's got it exactly backwards-- the buy-American was bad economics *and* bad politics.

Note what Greg Mankiw says,

Matthew Yglesias says that my stimulus proposal is "a pretty good idea" but also says "it’s wildly impractical" because it is "so outside the ballpark of what congress is prepared to consider." Let me reply by quoting Milton Friedman:
The role of the economist in discussions of public policy seems to me to be to prescribe what should be done in light of what can be done, politics aside, and not to predict what is "politically feasible" and then to recommend it.

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Robert Taft: A Yale Man, Not a Common Man

NewMajority has a great story about Robert Taft:

Bill Buckley liked to tell a story about one of Taft’s reelection campaigns, when the Senator’s wife was asked at a rally whether her husband was a common man. “Oh no,” she retorted, “he is not that at all. He was first in his class at Yale and first in his class at Harvard Law School. I think it would be wrong to present a common man as a representative of the people of Ohio.” The political professionals blanched, but the crowd gave the Tafts a standing ovation.

It's interesting that Taft *was* a man of his times-- or a politician-- supporting things such as the minimum wage:

Taft was not the uncompromising scourge of liberalism that many of his followers imagined.... He supported government-funded old age pensions, medical care for the indigent, an income floor for the deserving poor, unemployment insurance, and an increased minimum wage. Because he believed that a home was necessary for a decent family life, and because the free market was not supplying low-cost housing, he advocated urban slum clearance and public housing. Because he believed that all children deserved an equal start in life, he reversed his earlier position and called for federal aid to education.... As his brother Charles recalled in 1966, Taft was “an innovator of the first class in a number of welfare fields, going beyond what the Democrats had the courage to talk about in those days.”

Don't take that last paragraph as complimentary.

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"Moderates" in the Senate

From Jonah Goldberg at NR:

Led by Republican Arlen Specter, the centrists have boldly cut (perhaps temporarily) $100 billion or so from the stimulus package, in the name of fiscal discipline. But, as liberal critics such as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman rightly point out, they’re cutting it to prove their “centrist mojo,” not because they have real concern for public policy. If the bill had started out at $1 trillion, then $900 billion in porcine outlays would be deemed the “responsible” amount to spend.

For certain Beltway centrists, the highest principle is to prove that you are attached to no principle. Rather, your duty is to split the difference between the “ideologues.” If one side says we need a 1,000-foot bridge to span a canyon, and the other side says we don’t need a bridge at all, the centrists will fight for a bridge that goes 500 feet and no farther, then pat themselves on the back.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

 

Neuhaus on Problems of the Roman Church

Neuhaus in First Things:

Beginning in the 1780s and up through the nineteenth century, some Catholic laity were attracted to the voluntaristic idea of church membership and church government that they saw in the Protestant denominations around them. Parishes elected lay “trustees” who took charge of the temporal affairs of the churches, including the salaries and, in some cases, the appointment of clergy. This American model, as it was called, was encouraged by a few bishops such as John England of Charleston, South Carolina, but Rome and the great majority of bishops viewed it, correctly, as a form of “congregationalism” incompatible with the Catholic understanding of the divine constitution of the Church. Trusteeism was effectively suppressed by the end of the nineteenth century, being replaced by patterns of what the NRB rightly calls the “clericalism” that has much to do with the “Crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States.” Still today, priests, and priests who become bishops, are trained to take alarm at the slightest hint of “trusteeism.” That is why, among other things, parish pastors expend inordinate time and energy on the minutiae of administration that could be better handled by laypeople. That is why bishops engaged in the practices of autocracy, secrecy, and cover-up that contributed so powerfully to the current crisis.

and

The incidence of reported abuse increased significantly in the 1960s, peaked in the ’70s, and then decreased in the ’80s and ’90s even more dramatically than it had increased during the prior two decades. During the entire period studied, 4.3 percent of diocesan priests were accused but only 2.7 percent of priests in religious orders.

and

Of the more than four thousand priests accused of abusing minors, more than half (56 percent) had only one allegation against them. Three percent had ten or more allegations. These 149 priests accounted for almost three thousand (27 percent) of the allegations. Of the 109,694 priests in active ministry during these 52 years,...

Neuhaus in a different article says

It would appear that there are many more incidents of priests having a sexual relationship with an adult woman or man than with minors. Such relationships are, in many cases, not viewed as a major problem because they usually do not have legal, financial, or public relations consequences for the Church, and are therefore deemed to be “nobody’s business.”

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Monday, February 9, 2009

 

Plantinga on the 1994 State of Christian Philosophy

Alvin Plantinga's 1994 essay, "Christian Philosophy At The End Of The 20th Century," is very good, despite the gender neutering within it. Some excerpts:

Classical foundationalism has enjoyed a hegemony, a near consensus in the West from the Enlightenment to the very recent past. And according to the classical foundationalist, our beliefs, at least when properly founded, are objective in a double sense. The first sense is a Kantian sense: what is objective in this sense is what is not merely subjective, and what is subjective is what is private or peculiar to just some persons. According to classical foundationalism, well-founded belief is obje ctive in this sense; at least in principle, any properly functioning human beings who think together about a disputed question with care and good will, can be expected to come to agreement....
and
Classical foundationalism, so the argument runs, has failed: we now see that there is no rational procedure guaranteed to settle all disputes among people of good will; we do not necessarily share starting points for thought, together with forms of argument that are sufficient to settle all differences of opinion. That's the premise. The conclusion is that therefore we can't really think about objects independent of us, but only about something else, perhaps constructs we ourselves have brought into being. Put thus baldly, the argument does not inspire confidence
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Richard Rorty... is said to think of truth as what our peers will let us get away with saying. I say this thought is associated with Richard Rorty: people say he says this, but I haven't read precisely this in his work. Never mind; even if he doesn't say precisely this, some of his followers do. And of course it exemplifies the sort of relativism I'm speaking of. My peers might not let me get away with saying what your peers let you get away with.
and
I should like now to turn more directly to my assignment, which was to say something about how I see the accomplishments and tasks of Christian philosophy at this point in our history; this will be connected with the above exhortation. The first thing to note, of course, is that there are several different parts, several different divisions to Christian philosophy. As I see it, there are essentially 4 different divisions: apologetics, both negative and positive, philosophical theology, Christian philosophical criticism, and constructive Christian philosophy.
and
It is the part of Calvinism to hold that Christians are not complete; they are in process. John Calvin, himself no mean Calvinist, points out that believers are constantly beset by doubts, disquietude, spiritual difficulty and turmoil; "it never goes so well with us," he says, "that we are wholly cured of the disease of unbelief and entirely filled and possessed by faith" (Institutes III, ii, 18, p.564 ) . It never goes that well with us, and it often goes a good deal worse. There is an unbeliever within the breast of every Christian; in the believing mind, says Calvin, "certainty is mixed with doubt".
and
What sorts of considerations and objections really do trouble thoughtful Christians, students and others? ... (1) the positivistic claim that Christianity really makes no sense, (2) the argument from evil, which is a sort of perennial concern of Christian apologetes, (3) the heady brew served up by F reud, Marx, Nietzsche and other masters of suspicion, and (4) pluralistic considerations: given that there are all these different religions in the world, isn't there something at least naive and probably worse, in doggedly sticking with Christianity?
and
Positivism, the first of these four, has by now crawled back into the woodwork; but I am sorry to say Christian apologetes cannot claim much of the credit. Far too many Christian philosophers were thoroughly intimidated by the positivistic onslaught, suspecting that there must be much truth to it, and suggesting various unlikely courses of action. Some thought we should just give up; others said, for example, that we should concede that Christianity is in fact nonsense, but insist that it is important no sense; still others proposed that we continue to make characteristically Christian utterances, but mean something wholly different by them, something that would not attract the wrath of the positivists. This was not a proud chapter in our history, but since positivism is no longer with us, we shall avert our eyes from the unhappy spectacle and move on.
and
...Freud, with his claim that religious belief stems from a cognitive process aimed at psychological comfort rather than the tru th, Marx and his claim that religious belief really results from cognitive malfunction consequent upon social malfunction, and Nietzsche with his shrilly strident claims to the effect that Christianity arises from and results in a sort of weak, sniveling, envious and thoroughly disgusting sort of character. There are many who do not accept the details of what any of these three say, but nonetheless entertain the sneaking suspicion that there is something to these charges and something like them might be true. Christian apologists must forthrightly and honestly address these doubts and these arguments, although in fact argument is hard to find in these thinkers.
and
One may offer theistic arguments because you think that without them belief in God would be unjustified or unwarranted; this is what Reformed thought has always adamantly opposed.
and
Only God bestows saving faith, of course, but his way of doing so can certainly involve cooperation with his children, as in preaching and even argumentation. But second, theisti c arguments can also be useful for believers. Calvin notes that believers struggle constantly with doubts; in this life, he says (as we saw above), "faith is always mixed with unbelief" and ". . . in the believing mind certainty is mixed with doubt. . . " (Institutes III, ii, 18, p. 564). At times the truth of the main lines of the Gospel seems as certain and sure as that there is such a country as the Netherlands; at other times you wake up in the middle of the night and find yourself wondering whether this whole wonderful Christian story is really anything more than just that: a wonderful story. Theistic arguments can be helpful here. Perhaps you accept (as I do) an argument to the effect that there could be no such thing as genuine moral obligation if naturalism were true and there were no such person as God; but perhaps it is also obvious to you that moral obligation is real and important; these thoughts can help dispel the doubt. Perhaps you think, as I do, that there could be no such thing as genuinely horrifying evil if there were no God; but you are also convinced that the world is full of horrifying evil; again, these thoughts can dispel the doubt.
and
There are really a whole host of good theistic arguments, all patiently waiting to be developed in penetrating and profound detail. This is one area where contemporary Christian philosophers have a great deal of work to do. There are arguments from the existence of good and evil, right and wrong, moral obligation; there is an argument from the existence of horrifying evil, from intentionality and the nature of propositions and properties, from the nature of sets, properties and numbers, from counterfactuals, and from the apparent fine tuning of the universe. There is the ontological argument, but also the more convincing teleological argument, which can be developed in many ways. There is an argument from the existence of contingent beings, and even an argument from colors and flavors. There are arguments from simplicity, from induction, and from the falsehood of general skepticism. There is a general argument from the reliability of intuition, and also one from Kripke's Wittgenstein. There is an argument from the existence of a priori knowledge, and one from the causal requirement in knowledge. There are arguments from love, beauty, and play and enjoyment, and from the perceived meaning of life. There are arguments from the confluence of justification and warrant, from the confluence of proper function and reliability, and from the existence, in nature, of organs and systems that function properly. (So far as I can see, there is no naturalistic account or analysis of proper function). These arguments are not apodictic or certain; nevertheless they all deserve to be developed in loving detail...
and
A second element of Christian philosophy: philosophical theology. This is a matter of thinking about the central doctrines of the Christian faith from a philosophical perspective; it is a matter of employing the resources of philosophy to deepen our grasp and understanding of them.
and
As Calvin says, there is unbelief within the breast of every Christian; but isn't there also belief within the breast of every non-Christian? ... those in the City of the World are subject to the promptings and blandishments of our God-given natures, of the Sensus Divinitatis, and of the Holy Spirit.
and
... current forms of anti-theism have no place for the notion of truth. Naturalism does not, because naturalism has no room for the sorts of things that fundamentally are true: propositions and thoughts. And creative anti-realism doesn't either, since it has no room for the notion of a way things are independent of our cognitive and linguistic activities. Still, there is such a thing as truth, and it is intimately connected with God. There is such a thing as the way the world is; there are such things as thoughts and propositions, and these things are true or false. Furthermore, we are all, believer and unbeliever alike, created by the Lord. Despite the ravages of sin, we are all still in epistemic touch with the world for which he created us, still oriented towards the reality he has designed us for. It is therefore extremely difficult for any human being to give up such notions as truth and knowledge; it takes great energy and determination. Consequently there is a constant internal tension in unbelieving thought. It is at this very point that our contributions to the philosophical conversation can be attractive and useful to those who don't share our commitments: attractive, because of these fundamental human inclinations towards the notions of truth (and knowledge, and a host of other notions), and useful, because such an account, insofar as it really does depend upon notions not available to the naturalist, can serve as a sort of implicit theistic argument, perhaps creating the very sort of confusion and turmoil in which the Holy Spirit works.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

 

Steyn on Obama At Sea

I'm glad Obama won. He has inspired Mark Steyn to reach new heights in his writing, and if Art trumps Wealth, that is all to the good. From "Obama, All at Sea":

So how’s that going? Jesus took a handful of loaves and two fish and fed 5,000 people. Barack wants to take a trillion pieces of pork and feed it to a handful of Democratic-party interest groups.
and
Jesus picked twelve disciples. Barack seems to have gone more for one of those Dirty Dozen, caper-movie line-ups, where the mission is so perilous and so audacious that only the scuzziest lowlifes recruited from every waterfront dive have any chance of pulling it off. The ends justify the mean SOBs: “Indispensable” Tim Geithner, wanted in twelve jurisdictions for claiming his kid’s summer camp as a business expense, is the only guy with the savvy to crack the code of the U.S. economy. Tom “Home, James!” Daschle is the ruthless backseat driver who can figure out how to steer the rusting gurney of U.S. health care through the corridors of power. Charles Bronson is the hardbitten psycho ex-con who can’t go straight but knows how to turn around the Department of the Interior.

And, of course, there’s the lovable dough-faced shnook in the front office, Robert “Fall Guy” Gibbs. He didn’t do nuthin’ wrong, but, when seven nominees die in a grisly shootout with a Taxable Benefit Swat Team in the alley behind the Senate, he makes the mistake of looking sweaty and shifty while answering routine questions.

and
A president doesn’t have to be able to walk on water. But he does have to choose the right crew for the ship, especially if he’s planning on spending most of his time at the captain’s table schmoozing the celebrity guests with a lot of deep thoughts about “hope” and “change.”
and
Far worse than his cabinet picks was President Obama’s decision to make the “stimulus” racket the all-but-sole priority of his first month, and then outsource the project to Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, and Harry Reid.
and
Appearing on The Rush Limbaugh Show last week, I got a little muddled over two adjoining newspaper clippings—one on the stimulus, the other on those octuplets in California—and for a brief moment the two stories converged. Everyone’s hammering that mom—she’s divorced, unemployed, living in a small house with parents who have a million bucks’ worth of debt, and she’s already got six kids. So she has in vitro fertilization to have eight more. But isn’t that exactly what the Feds have done? Last fall, they gave birth to an $850 billion bailout they couldn’t afford and didn’t have enough time to keep an eye on, and now four months later they’re going to do it all over again, but this time they want trillionuplets. Barney and Nancy represent the in vitro fertilization of the federal budget. And it’s the taxpayers who’ll get stuck with the diapers.
and
As President Obama warned on Tuesday, “A failure to act, and act now, will turn crisis into a catastrophe.” If you’re of those moonstruck Obammysoxers still driving around with the “HOPE, NOT FEAR” bumper stickers, please note that, due to an unfortunate proofreading error at the printing plant, certain nouns in that phrase may have been accidentally transposed.
and
But, alas, the foreigners made the mistake of actually reading the “stimulus” bill, and the protectionist measures buried on page 739 sub-section XII(d) ended, instantly, the Obama honeymoon overseas. The European Union has threatened a trade war. Up in Canada, provincial premiers called it “a march to insanity.” Wait a minute: I thought the Obama era was meant to be the retreat from insanity, a blessed return to multilateral transnational harmony?

As longtime readers will know, I’m all in favor of flipping the bird to the global community. But at least, when Rummy was doing his shtick about “Old Europe,” he did it intentionally. To cheese off the foreigners entirely by accident before you’ve even had your first black-tie banquet is quite an accomplishment. Protectionism is serious business to the Continentals. Oh, to be sure, if the swaggering unilateralist Yank cowboy invades some Third World basket-case they’ll seize on it as an opportunity for some cheap moral posturing. But in the end they don’t much care one way or the other. Plunging the planet into global depression, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter.

and
The bloated non-stimulus and the under-taxed nominees are part of the same story. I’m with Tom Daschle: I understand why he had no desire to toss another six-figure sum into the great sucking maw of the federal treasury.
and
Tom and Tim Geithner and Charlie Rangel and all the rest are right: They can do more good with the money than the United States government can. I only wish they followed the logic of their behavior and recognized that what works for them would also work for every other citizen.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

 

Kennedy Family Scandals

The Weekly Standard has an article listing many of the Kennedy family crimes and scandals. It's weak on Teddy, Joe, and John Sr. scandals, though. What a family!

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Semicentenarians

"Semi-centenarian, a person of 50 years of age; semi-centenary, the fiftieth anniversary; so semi-centennial a."

As the language evolves, perhaps we'll settle down to semicentarian. We do need to get rid of hyphens when we can.

Update, Feb. 17. How about Demicentarian? Semidemicentarian (for 25 year olds)? Presemicentarian (for 49 year olds)?

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The Encouragement of Sodomy at Bloomington High School North

From WFHB:

bloomingOUT 01/15/09

Bloomington High School North Counselor Greg Chaffin explains how to create support networks for LGBTQI students within the school environment as well as in the larger community and stresses the importance of such social and familial networks for personal success, health and well-being

From the HT:
Every year, Bloomington High School North counselor Greg Chaffin receives calls, e-mails and letters from parents who are angry about United Students,a group he sponsors for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students and their friends.
and

Bloomington High School South, which has had a GLBT student group called PROUD for about 10 years, hasn’t experienced the same level of violence, said South counselor Janet Stake. But as at North, name-calling of GLBT students and misuse of the word “gay” is prevalent.

When PROUD was started — and counselors say it was the first high school group of its kind in the state — its conception was controversial. Today, the climate is accepting, and there’s a trend toward more tolerance, Stake said. Same-sex couples even dance together at school dances.

“That they feel comfortable enough to do that, I think that’s a pretty good sign,” Stake said.

Home schooling for high school is looking better all the time.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

 

Maciel's Sins

This article talks about how the founder of an important conservative Roman Catholic order, the Legionaries of Christ, turns out to have had a mistress and bastard child. He had earlier been accused of multiple homosexual advances and been retired involuntarily by the Pope, though with out any formal trial because he was so old. This increases my admiration for Pope Benedict, who retired Maciel despite their being fellow conservatives, and my belief that Pope John Paul II, Maciel's staunch defender, is overrated.

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Ron Sims, Another "Obama Nominee"

Via Instapundit, we have a new tainted Obama appointee: Ron Sims, for no. 2 at HUD. Sims is King County Executive, which is the county Seattle is in in Washington State. That means he has involvement in the 2004 theft of the gubernatorial election. Apparently he also stonewalled freedom-of-info requests for studies of a certain county project and got the county fined over $100,000 because the denial of the documents was so blatantly illegal.

Seattle seems to be quite a corrupt place. It is also where Bush fired a US attorney, John McKay, for refusing to investigate the 2004 election. I looked into that a bit, and it seems that McKay is a liberal Republican who headed the Clinton Legal Services Corporation and whose brother is active in state politics. It also seems that his refusal to look at the 2004 election was political, despite his posture of high-mindedness. For info on McKay and the 2004 election coverup, see here. His Seattle U. School of Law bio (rather a come-down in status, isn't it?) is here. I also found a lengthy blog entry on John McKay and his brother Michael McKay, who was Bush Senior's US Attorney in Seattle.

For info on the $124,000 fine, see the Seattle Times. The article doesn't mention King, even though he apparently was the politician in charge of the decision, but it does say that the trial judge was going to impose a trivial fine, but the State Supreme Court, in an unusual move, overruled him. The Seattle Times doesn't mention that record-setting fine in its adulatory article on the HUD nomination.

I bet a look at Mr. Sims's tax returns would be enlightening.

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The Daschles as An Example of Legal Corruption

Even tho its subject is not so topical now, The Daschles: feeding at the Beltway trough by Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com is a good article.

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University Policies (The Pace Resolution)

A great quote from our b-school dean, Daniel Smith:

Some faculty members voiced concern with the precedent the resolution would set and the scrutiny future chairs or guests would face.

“This isn’t a policy,” Tanford said. “It says nothing about future cases. We’re saying this one, we thought, was not handled well.”

Smith said he would abide by such a policy if one existed.

“If the university is going to adopt a formal policy that requires administrators to, number one, screen all candidates for endowed chairs on their personal beliefs and, number two, submit that data to groups on campus for approval, then we would certainly abide by that.”

Some info:

  • BFC Membership, 2009.
  • The Pace resolution: Drafts of November 18, 2008 and January 29 2009.
  • Some past Poling Chairs: Dollens, Evan Bayh, Skinner,

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    Tuesday, February 3, 2009

     

    Brandeis University is selling its $350 million art collection. One interesting thing about this is that there exists a bad law saying that universities can't spend the principal of their endowments. Cushioning bad times should be a major (maybe the only) reason for endowments. Precautionary saving is an excellent idea; merely piling up golden ducats is not.
    Brandeis's endowment had plunged to $540 million at the end of 2008 from $712 million as of June 30 of that year, and it was earning significantly less than the 8%-plus annual return on investment it had posted on June 30. Some of Brandeis's trustees are believed to have lost money from Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, limiting their ability to make up the difference. The school, which by law spends only its gains and not the principal of the endowment, reduced expenditures by $10 million and instituted various budget-freezing measures, but "we couldn't do any more belt-tightening without fundamentally changing the character of the university," said Peter French, Brandeis's chief operating officer and executive vice president. He noted that, as the trustees looked ahead at the next four or five years, they could see operating deficits of $10 million to $20 million a year and little likelihood of Brandeis regaining its $700 million endowment and 8% interest income until 2015.

    What they could do instead is to pawn the art collection and redeem it when the endowment income is flowing again. Or, someone ought to come up with a self-liquidating security which pays out dividends until none of it is left. There's some kind of Treasury security like that-- is that what a Strip is?

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    Monday, February 2, 2009

     

    Chicago Restaurants

    From Randy Barnett at VC:

    Every year I like to celebrate my birthday in my home town of Chicago where I can eat my favorite comfort food: Teibels Family Restaurant for lake perch (boned and buttered), Carson's, The Place for Ribs for baby back ribs, and Walker Brothers, The Original Pancake House for apple pancakes.

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    The Bush and Obama Cabinets Compared

    My wife was just warning me that I am biased and my dismay at all the crooks in Obama's cabinet might just reflect that I didn't remember previous administrations. So here is some info for comparison from Wikipedia and the White House:
    The Bush Cabinet
    Office Name Term
    Secretary of State HILLARY CLINTON*Colin Powell 2001–2005
    Condoleezza Rice 2005–2009
    Secretary of Treasury TIMOTHY GEITHNER*Paul O'Neill 2001–2002
    John Snow 2003–2006
    Henry Paulson 2006–2009
    Secretary of Defense ROBERT GATES (Republican) Donald Rumsfeld 2001–2006
    Robert Gates 2006–2009
    Attorney General ERIC HOLDER* John Ashcroft 2001–2005
    Alberto Gonzales 2005–2007
    Michael Mukasey 2007–2009
    Secretary of the Interior KENNETH SALAZAR Gale Norton 2001–2006
    Dirk Kempthorne 2006–2009
    Secretary of Agriculture THOMAS VILSACK Ann Veneman 2001–2005
    Mike Johanns 2005–2007
    Ed Schafer 2008–2009
    Secretary of Commerce NONE YET Donald Evans 2001–2005
    Carlos Gutierrez 2005–2009
    Secretary of Labor HILDA SOLIS Linda Chavez* (withdrawn nominee) Elaine Chao 2001–2009
    Secretary of Health and Human Services THOMAS DASCHLE*Tommy Thompson 2001–2005
    Michael Leavitt 2005–2009
    Secretary of Education ARNE DUNCANRod Paige 2001–2005
    Margaret Spellings 2005–2009
    Secretary of Housing and Urban Development SHAUN DONOVAN Mel Martinez 2001–2003
    Alphonso Jackson 2003–2008
    Steve Preston 2008–2009
    Secretary of Transportation RAYMOND LAHOOD (Republican)Norman Mineta (Democrat) 2001–2006
    Mary Peters 2006–2009
    Secretary of Energy STEVEN CHUSpencer Abraham 2001–2005
    Samuel Bodman 2005–2009
    Secretary of Veterans Affairs ERIC SHINSEKI Anthony Principi 2001–2005
    Jim Nicholson 2005–2007
    James Peake 2007–2009
    Secretary of Homeland Security JANET NAPOLITANO Tom Ridge (Democrat) 2003–2005
    Bernard Kertik* (nomination withdrawn) Michael Chertoff 2005–2009

    OBAMA (Over 4 months):
  • Hillary Clinton: Cattle futures profits apparent gift. What other Clinton scandals were hers?
  • Timothy Geithner: tax evasion (about $30,000)
  • Eric Holder: Clinton pardons of 10-most-wanted fugitive Marc Rich and of the unrepentant Puerto Rican terrorists.
  • Thomas Daschle: tax evasion (about $100,000)
  • Bill Richardson: grand jury investigation of bribery Thus, the nominees for State, Treasury, Attorney-General, Health and Human Services, and Commerce are shady people.

    But there is no scandal associated with the names of the new Secretaries of Defense and Transportation (the two Republicans), or of the Interior, Agriculture, Labor, HUD, Energy, Education, Veterans Affairs, or Homeland Security.

    Is dishonesty a requirement for all the important jobs except Defense?

    BUSH (Over 8 years):

  • Bernard Kertik hired an illegal alien as a housekeeper.
  • Linda Chavez: gave money to an illegal immigrant from Guatemala who lived in her home. She claimed that the alien was not an employee and she had merely provided her with emergency help after domestic abuse.
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