Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What I'm reading.


And if I find the time I'll write a review. But I can tell you thus far this is an excellent book, a biography of an idea and how it changed modern economics. In a way it leaves a lot of questions surrounding the controversies of what causes economic growth or why some nations are rich and others are poor.

Meanwhile, you can read reviews by Arnold Kling here and a review from the Economist here.

No student should be granted a post-graduate degree without reading this book. In fact Warsh's expository skills are so deft that no journalism student should leave campus without a copy.

Where's the carping U.N. now?

Remember when a lowly U.N. aid official criticized the U.S. for being cheap during the 2004 Christmas tsumani in East Asia? With Indonesia rocked by a killer earthquate, the ineffectual U.N. is nowhere to be found. But guess who's hit the ground first? The U.S.A. (and it won't buy us any brownie points.)

BANTUL, Indonesia - Two U.S. military cargo planes landed Tuesday at the site of an earthquake in Indonesia that killed more than 5,400, bringing some of the first significant aid to reach the tens of thousands of survivors who were left homeless.

About 20 U.S. Marines arrived on the cargo planes in the historic city of Yogyakarta and unloaded heavy lifting machinery and a portable field hospital, as Malaysian, Chinese and Japanese rescue workers joined Indonesian teams providing medical care and emergency supplies to victims.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The French turn up their noses and lose again!

From, the San Francisco Chronicle

Who says California wines don't age?

The French do. Repeatedly.

Yet Gaul is biting its tongue today after California smoked France Wednesday in a
cross-continental tasting of wines that have matured in cellars for three decades.

The California Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines placed first through fifth, followed by four wines from France's hallowed Bordeaux region and then another California Cab.

Sacre bleu!

Make that red, white and blue.



The French must be besides themselves. One thing about globalization, knowledge travels instantenously. There are vitners all over the world. Americans are comfortable with this (see major league baseball); The French are not (see infantile anti-reform demonstrations in Paris).

Saturday, May 27, 2006

I would never send my kid to the New School Part II

McCain is a lot of things to a lot of people: a maverick conservative, a southwestern conservative, a social conservative and a foreign policy hawk. That he can outrage the right and the left in American politics is a testament to his integrity. Christine Flowers also has integrity. You should write he a note of commendation after reading this piece. Her email is cflowers1961@yahoo.com.

Meanwhile one wonders whether the precocious Jean Sara Rohe will ever evolve to recognize wisdom now or in her later years. But this barb is one for the ages.

What most upsets me is that hardly anyone in the liberal community has
criticized the attack on McCain. Remember the outrage at "swift-boating" and the
indignant defense of Jack Murtha?

Those who were rightly upset at the mud thrown in John Kerry's direction are conveniently silent when it comes from their own side. Those who said we should listen to Murtha's call for an immediate withdrawal of troops because of his war record turn their backs on McCain and stigmatize Kerrey. Their hypocrisy is limitless.

My wish for Ms. Rohe is that, away from the admiring cameras and accompanied only by her conscience, she make as great a mark on society as John McCain and his
brothers-in-arms. But I doubt it. The only Hilton she'll ever occupy belongs to
Paris' daddy.

McCain didn't deserve this kind of treatment. But what do you expect from the Left?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Judge Richard Posner makes sense

Judge Posner poses an overlooked solution to the immigration problem. Will Mexico take the bait? Or will it act "rationally" by pushing its social problems northward?

Once something is identified as a problem, Americans, not being fatalists, insist that there be a solution. But there is only one worthwhile solution to this particular problem, and it is one over which Americans have little control. The solution is for Mexico and the other poor countries from which illegal immigrants come to become rich. As soon as per capita income in a country reaches about a third of the American level, immigration from that country dries up. Emigration is very costly emotionally as well as financially, given language and other barriers to a smooth transition to a new country, and so is frequent only when there are enormous wealth disparities between one's homeland and a rich country like the United States. The more one worries about illegal immigrants, the more one should favor policies designed to bring about greater global income equality.


It's time for the corrupt government to get out of the way in Mexico.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Bravo for the majority at B.C.

There are sensible graduates at B.C. after all.

Condi Rice receive more applause than brickbat at the university's commencement today where she received an honorary decree. Let's see how the liberal media play it up in the morning papers since it elevated student protest to a level unworthy of any importance.

Of course, the liberal media bought the academic party line that claimed Rice as a representative of American foriegn policy didn't reflect the Catholic teaching. This is from a liberal consensus on the B.C. faculty that actively chooses to ignore church teaching on abortion and same sex marriage. How convenient and how hypocritical! Surprise, surprise.

Meanwhile, Condi stole the show from the leftists on campus. She did it with an appeal to reason and a defense of the defensible: the invasion of Iraq. We know that Steve Almonds of the world could care less about free speech in Baghdad or anywhere else for that matter. B.C. academic standing has improved with his self-exile.

A few students turned their backs but more stood to applaud as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice received an honorary degree and addressed graduates at Boston College on Monday.

After weeks of turmoil and anti-war protests over Rice's invitation to address the Catholic school, Rice told graduates that their education comes with responsibilities.

She drew scattered applause when she discussed what she called a "commitment to reason," or an obligation to test and challenge their own views. "There is nothing wrong with holding an opinion and holding it passionately," Rice said, "but at those times when you are absolutely sure you're right, go find someone who disagrees."

About 50 students stood with their backs toward the stage as Rice was introduced to give her commencement speech, but they were quickly drowned out by a standing
ovation.


Bravo for the majority at B.C. who lent a hand of applause.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

I would never send my kid to the New School to sit near the likes of Jean Sara Roche

Narrow-minded liberals show McCain disrespect. You get a better a shake at Falwell's house at Liberty Baptist College. At least the fundamentalists appear to have an open mind by listening to an opposing point of view.

Some 1,200 students and faculty signed petitions asking the university president, former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, to rescind the invitation. Petitioners said McCain's support for the Iraq war and opposition to gay rights and legal abortion do not keep with the prevailing views on campus.

Kerrey, a Democrat who served in the Senate with McCain and, like McCain, is a decorated Vietnam War veteran, addressed the controversy almost immediately after the 2,700 graduates and thousands of other parents and friends filed into Madison Square Garden for the ceremony.

"Sen. McCain, you have much to teach us," Kerrey said to a smattering of boos and hisses. He urged students to exercise the open-mindedness he said was at the heart of the university's progressive history.

But Kerrey's remarks were immediately overshadowed by those of Jean Sara Rohe, one of two distinguished seniors invited by the university's deans to address the graduates.

Beginning by singing a wistful folk tune calling for world peace, Rohe announced she had thrown out her prepared remarks to address the McCain controversy directly.

"The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded," Rohe proclaimed to loud cheers, with McCain sitting just a few feet away.

She added that she knew what McCain would be saying to the graduates since he had promised to deliver the same speech he gave at Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University last weekend and Columbia University on Tuesday.

"He will tell us we are young and too naive to have valid opinions," Rohe said. "I am young and though I don't possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that pre-emptive war is dangerous. And I know that despite all the havoc that my country has wrought overseas in my name, Osama bin Laden still has not been found, nor have those weapons of mass destruction."


Yes know-it-all Rohe makes her debut on the world stage. Singing folks tunes will certinaly get us Osama's head. What do they teach at this famed school that was a refuge for exiles fleeing totalitarianism? Not much in terms of intellectual heft.

Yes but...

Property rights prevail over some sensibility. Yep the property owner was right in removing the cross memorializing the victim of a drunk driver. And yes these roadside memorials ought not to be permanent. But what kind of neighbor is he?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

He may not have been the greatest economist but he could write

John Kenneth Galbraith was often wrong on matters of political economy. Dead wrong about goverment power. But unlike most economists, Galbraith, shunning the high mathemathical techiques of academia, could write with both style and conviction. He cultivated his audience and was recognized as a worthy opponent. How else could he write and successfully sell over 30 books? That style wasn't enough for the Kennedy Administration which kept Galbraith so far away from economic policy he was sent to India as ambassador. Would JFK's fabled tax cuts every materialized with JKG at the helm of the council of economic advisors? I'm not sure. But Galbraith left his mark.

JKG passed away on April 29. His long time friend and intellectuall sparring partner, William F. Buckley offering his obituary weeps that his elegant friend is gone. But what of the man's economic ideas?

Clive Crook takes apart liberalism most acclaimed economic popularizer.


Galbraith, despite the Harvard professorship, was never really an economist in the ordinary sense in the first place. In one of countless well-turned pronouncements, he said, "Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists." He disdained the scientific pretensions and formal apparatus of modern economics -- all that math and numbers-crunching -- believing that it missed the point. This view did not spring from mastery of the techniques: Galbraith disdained them from the utset, which saved time.
Friedman, in contrast, devoted his career to grinding out top-quality scholarly work, while publishing the occasional best-seller as a sideline. He too was no math whiz, but he was painstakingly scientific in his methods (when engaged in scholarly research) and devoted to data. All that was rather beneath Galbraith. Brilliant, yes; productive, certainly. But he was a bureaucrat, a diplomat, a political pundit, and a popular economics writer of commanding presence more than a serious economic thinker, let alone a great one.

Good piece.

Meanwhile, William Anderson of the Von Mises Institute is far less charitable. Here Camelot's Arthur Schlesinger Jr. sticks up for his friend. Who says we aren't fair and balanced?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

If we didn't spend so much money on the Big Dig

Yes the infrastructure. Thousands of dams going to pot. Maybe if we didn't spend so much money on the Big Dig they'd be some left over for fixing dams. And why do we only think of such things under flood conditions? This is Massachusetts where government knows best.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Globe tries to figure out the exodus

In its lead editorial today, the Boston Globe, asks "Which state will we be?"

Obviously, we will never become Mississippi nor California. We are too rich to be the former and lack the sunshine of the latter. Clearly the high cost of housing is among the major reasons why people are leaving the Bay State and apparently in droves. Better jobs in more congenial, business friendly states are another. And then there's "certain taxes" which oddly doesn't figure in the Globe's survey of Massachusetts exiles. That's because of the way the survey is presented. Tax concerns are are marbled in with the high cost variable, a neat analytical treat that obscures the centrality of taxes.

The high cost of living in Massachusetts, especially housing, fuel, insurance, and certain taxes, is a familiar culprit.

"Certain taxes?" It must of killed the editorial writer to include taxes in the Globe's litany. Which taxes might those be? The personal income tax? The sales tax? High property taxes despite Proposition 2 1/ 2? The reason the Globe doesn't specify the taxes is that it believes that state taxes do not matter in any signifcant way. They also belive raising them incessently actually increases economic growth. But what do you expect from a cabal of editorial writers that actually believes the Romney universal health care law will lower health care costs.

There's more to the Globe's wrong-headed take.

The Globe acknowledges that there's a certain smugness about the Commonwealth. No kidding.

Beyond pocketbook issues, a set of intangibles helps create an unflattering overall impression of Massachusetts: a culture many see as smug and unfriendly to newcomers; a reserved, change-averse business community; an opaque and at
times corrupt political bureaucracy. Or, in the words of a recent Boston Foundation analysis: ''Old, cold, expensive, unwelcoming, and a difficult place to get things done."

Let's go back to tax policy. Like most liberals, the Globe editorial writers maintain that our bloated government can't afford a personal income tax rollback to 5 percent, a mandate from the voters in 2000. But better to divine the intentions of the voters (they really didn't mean to vote that way) and cater to to the tax and spend lobby which makes up a large part of the Globe's vanishing readership.

Trying to divine what the voters really meant, the Globe condescendingly believes the voters didn't really want a tax cut because it would mean fewer services. You read this all time in New England's largest paper. But along the way that meme proved harder to sustain. In 2002, voters almost voted to abolish the state personal income taxes sponsored by activist libertarians. Since then Globe ignores the temptation to weigh in with any inspid interpretations of what the voters really meant. It doesn't serve their liberal agenda.

Yes, there's a certain distrust of state and local government "to get things done." That's a healthy attitude. Massachusetts has many competitive advantages that can be solidfied if the rent-seekers -- unions, zoning zealots and Big Dig construction cabals and human services complex -- could be held at bay. Most businesses that could create jobs think twice about coming here instead of New Hampshire or down south or overseas.

The Globe is part of that smugness. It's wise to run away from such posturing.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Whaf if Howie Carr is right?

Howie Carr, the very glib Herald columnist and WRKO 680 AM talk show host often says with no shortage of juandice that "illegal aliens commit the crimes that Americans are unwilling to commit." A play on the open borders mantra "Illegal aliens only perform the jobs Americans are unwilling to do," a patronizing attitude. (Americans refuse to do those jobs at those wages, a rational response.)

Howie tends to generalize and so does the far left (witness the failure on that side of the aisle to acknowledge the failure of the Simpson-Mazzoli reform in 1986.

The GAO sheds some light on the problem. Illegal immigrants pose problems for corrections and human services. If you want to extend beyond the shrillness of the anti-immigration cabal, immigration reform will have to deal with this criminal problem honestly and without fear or favor.



In our population study of 55,322 illegal aliens, we found that they were arrested at least a total of 459,614 times, averaging about 8 arrests per illegal alien. Nearly all had more than 1 arrest. Thirty-eight percent (about 21,000) had between 2 and 5 arrests, 32 percent (about 18,000) had between 6 and 10 arrests, and 26 percent (about 15,000) had 11 or more arrests. Most of the arrests occurred after 1990. They were arrested for a total of about 700,000 criminal offenses, averaging about 13 offenses per illegal alien. One arrest incident may include multiple offenses, a fact that explains why there are nearly one and half times more offenses than arrests. Almost all of these illegal aliens were arrested for more than 1 offense. Slightly more than half of the 55,322 illegal aliens had between 2 and 10 offenses. About 45 percent of all offenses were drug or immigration offenses. About 15 percent were property-related offenses such as burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and property damage. About 12 percent were for violent offenses such as murder, robbery, assault, and sex-related crimes. The balance was for such other offenses as traffic violations, including driving under the influence; fraud--including forgery and counterfeiting; weapons violations; and obstruction of justice. Eighty percent of all arrests occurred in three states--California, Texas, and Arizona. Specifically, about 58 percent of all arrests occurred in California, 14 percent in Texas, and 8 percent in Arizona.

Somehow I don't think Congress will deal with this issue in any rational way. We can't send 11 million workers back to Mexico and elsewhere. But we can certainly do something about the small number of criminals among them.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The tax man takes flight

No matter how creative e-business becomes, it appears the grabbing hand of government is there for its piece of the pie.

This is more than a story about tax discrimination. It's about government laying a larger claim to the new innovative economy. If there's money on the table, set a place for government. In Dallas, the city's going after web travel services such as Expedia. Why? One thing is certain: local government will never cut its bloated bureaucracy if it can raise or expand taxes.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Required reading

Whatever your position on the Catholic Charities decision earlier this year to leave the adoption business rather than particpate in placing children with gay families, you must read Maggie Gallagher's new article on "the coming conflict between religious liberty and same-sex marriage." It will be a legal quagmire.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The hypocrites at BC who talk about values and shun Secretary Rice. What losers!

If you haven't heard there's a protest underway at that nominally Jesuit institution on Commonwealth Avenue known as Boston College.

It's that time of the year again when politics enters the commencement fray and the usually leftist suspects among the clueless faculty are up in arms. The stench from the poor political hygeine wafts all the way to East Boston.

In case you haven't heard, faculty liberals are circulating a letter questioning the college's judgement in honoring Secretary of State Condi Rice. Of course they have that right; and of course they believe in "free speech."

But apparently the vaunted and enligthtened faculty are shameless in thinking that only few people will notice the brazen hypocrisy.

The liberals at BC -- suddenly concerned about Catholic values -- think Condi Rice is a bad example of Catholic practice. Moreover they never lose an opportunity to express their hate of the Bush Administratio. They have the cancelled checks to the Kerry campaign to prove it. Such agitation of the spirit, such troubled conscience of the collective was missing several years ago when the liberals didn't raise a figure at pro-abortionists like Kate Michelman of the National Abortion Rights Action Leagure (NARAL) and their elected toadie Congressmen Ed Markey spoke. No one was worried about adherence to Catholic values.

Liberals are by nature hypocrites, and it would be wiser for one to be taught by the first hundred names in the telephone book than these self-important hacks.

Hub Politics scrapes the bark off the liberal bastards.


This controversy behind the bestowing of an honorary degree to Secretary Rice is just absurd. Come on, she is Secretary of State for an administration that is pro-life and believes in the sanctity of marriage, and they have a problem with it? It's clear that the primary impetus behind the "controversy" of inviting Secretary Rice is because of the War in Iraq--exclusively. The Boston College faculty and student body who object to the invitation of Secretary Rice are hypocrites for their conjured up controversy. Where were the petitions when Kate Michelman, President of NARAL was speaking at BU, or the handful of politicians with pro-choice agendas?

So much for teaching students to be open-minded.



Needless to say Secretary Rice is a class act.

It's a bad week for vegetarians, go cry in your beer

Can you believe it? The Brits says that vegetables cooked a certain way are bad for your teeth. Cooking increases the acidity.

You may think roasted vegetables are a healthy side-dish but they are actually as acidic as fizzy drinks, scientists have revealed.

They found this method of cooking made aubergines, green peppers and courgettes more acidic. The acid can cause dental erosion when it comes in contact with teeth.
The researchers from the University of Dundee also found oven-roasting the
vegetarian dish ratatouille significantly increased its acidity when compared to
stewing.

And it doesn't end there. Tim Worstall says beer is made possible by fish.

What's next flexotarian black and tan?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Of course Bolivia has oil wealth it can steal (back)

Socialists everywhere are happy that the price of oil is now high enough to make threats on of nationalization stick. Bolivia is jumping on the oil wagon, hoping to extract more of its natural endowments for the people through its government. Where have we heard this before? National oil companies have a terrible track record of securing economic prosperity for "the people." But some commentators at Tim Worstall's house think the idea's just dandy.

Meanwhile Daniel Drenzer points out via the Financial Times that other socialist governments will bear the brunt of President Evo Morales foray into Chavezismo!

The Financial Times reports on the international fallout. The Bolivian move has the greatest impact on... the socialst governments of Spain and Brazil:

Spain on Tuesday warned Bolivia that nationalisation of its energy sector would have ?consequences [for] the bilateral relationship?, a threat that could lead to the ending of debt relief. The Spanish government said it was ?deeply concerned? by the nationalisation law introduced by Evo Morales, Bolivia?s leftwing president, and complained about the ?way the changes were promulgated?.

Repsol YPF, the Spanish energy group, has invested more than $1bn in Bolivian gas production, which accounts for 18 per cent of the company?s total energy reserves and 11 per cent of production. Brazil?s Petrobras is another big investor, and other international companies could be forced to write
off their Bolivian gas reserves, analysts said....

Reacting angrily to Mr Morales? decision to seize control of gas fields using army troops and annul existing contracts, Antonio Brufau, Repsol?s chairman, told Argentine radio: ?We
were told there would be time for negotiations, but obviously this was not the case.?

In Brazil, which receives half of its natural gas from Bolivia,
President Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva called an emergency meeting of his cabinet and Petrobras executives, amid fears that any supply interruptions could trigger an energy crisis in South America?s largest economy. Mr da Silva intended to
consult other South American leaders about how to respond to the ?unfriendly? move, his spokesman said.

.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Not so fast Virginia!

The usually reasonable Virginia Postrel thinks that liberals should abandon the push for progressive income taxes if they favor immigration.

No matter how well the argument appears to tax cutters, Postrel misreads the liberal agenda. Texas seems to cope better with illegal immigration she believes because the Lone Star State lacks an income tax. Compared with highly progressive tax California, which has a problem with providing social services for illegal and legal immigrants, Texas is the model.

Even if you accept the Texas idea of tax policy you will never get a liberal to give up on the idea of progressive taxation. In fact Texans ought to be wary. The Democratic strategy is long term.

That's why you don't hear much forceful in terms of policy from Democrats particularly on the enforcment side. When the Dems are in charge you get bad policy (Kennedy's 1965 immigration bill and overwhelming support for the 1986 reform signed by Reagan in 1986) but they nonetheless get the votes.

As the Republicans engage in an intraparty war on immigration, the liberals wait quietly. All those Mexicans are Democratic voters. Amnesty translates into power for the Democrats. And yes Virginia once that happens you will see a greater push for progessive taxation to fund the bigger government you don't like.

There's a lot of ruin in a nation. It's too bad the Democrats are interested in political power at the cost of national identity.