Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
The economic crisis has awakened the most passionate desires for more intervention. In the collective imagination, more regulation and supervision by the state would secure economic growth without traveling the painful route of the crisis. Those who bet on the intuitive statist remedy forget, lamentably, that we have arrived at a level of development thanks to the creativity, curiosity and perserverance of chaotic systems; that is to say, thanks to the lack of the constructivism that -- now -- they promote so much.Whether there's a better translation of constructivismo than constructivism, I leave to a better translator.
Friday, November 28, 2008
From the India Times, a report on the U.S., U.K. and Israel providing intelligence help in response.
Some interesting background about Jews in India and Chabad Lubavitch from Ron Coleman and Mike Licht.
David Frum calls for Obama to go to India and make India relations a high priority.
Gordon Chang points out that, pace Fareed Zakaria, these are not "remarkably peaceful times."
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
On Portfolio.com, Michael Lewis pokes the corpse of Wall Street with a stick to try to figure out what happened. I have very limited knowledge of finance, and I still don't understand credit-default swaps, but Lewis is able to keep me turning the pages. Much as he did with Liar's Poker and Moneyball.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The need for a real bank in Boston had been evident for a while. Back in the 1760s, a merchant named Nathaniel Wainwright had acted in effect as banker for shopkeepers and others in the city. He accepted deposits and issued interest-bearing personal notes, which circulated like currency. Unfortunately, he went bankrupt in 1765, causing a panic.
The Bank of Massachusetts, also known simply as the Massachusetts Bank, financed the first U.S. trade mission to China , in 1786, and five years later funded the first U.S. voyage to Argentina . It was renamed the Massachusetts National Bank in 1864, and in 1903 merged with First National Bank of Boston to become the Bank of Boston, which merged with BayBank in 1996 to become BankBoston, which was acquired three years later by Fleet Bank, which in 2005 was merged into Bank of America.
And thus Bank of America can now trace part of its ancestry back to the 1780s, and the institution holds some historic documents to prove it (which have been displayed in recent years at its Charlotte headquarters). These include ledgers containing the accounts of, among others, Hancock, Sam Adams and Paul Revere, and a 1784 register of the bank’s original 105 shareholders, of whom, incidentally, 15 were women.
In my view, the challenge for the party is not, as many argue, to decide whether it is a movement of social conservatives, of fiscal conservatives, or of soft libertarians. To win elections, the Republican party has to gather support from all of those groups. If any one faction comes to dominate the party – as social conservatives have lately threatened to – its prospects are diminished. To get along with each other, never mind with the independents and uncommitted liberals whose votes the party needs, Republicans first need to develop their capacity for tolerance.
Social conservatives are suspected, often with reason, of wishing to impose their values on everyone else. For the sake of their own electoral prospects and to build alliances with other segments of opinion, they need to quell that instinct, insisting only that others do not try to impose their values on them. “Live and let live”, together with a lively scepticism about government-imposed solutions, is the watchword that can bring the strands of Republicanism together. It is a distinctively American creed, as well. This centre-right nation still resonates to it.Sounds good to me. If it's broken, fix it.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
My wife and I saw All My Sons on Wednesday night, an Arthur Miller play. It made me think about the secrets we all have in our families as well as guilt and shame (some more than others) and how it transcends to the family system. Basically, the patriarch of the family sold cracked cylinder heads resulting in the death of 21 american soldiers. This ultimately leads to the patriarchs son getting money to invest into his own company. The stages of grief, and denial are powerful in this and Katie Holmes isn't bad either. When I think about the ideas of this play, I think about men, and how power and greed can possibly lead to ones downfall. This might sound obvious, but this performance definitely transcends to modern day.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
UPDATE 6PM: "We do not have the votes."
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Then again, for single-party rule and a state-controlled economy, I could just stay in the U.S.
Nepal's Maoists, Split on Ideology, Chart Path of Revolution
By Jay Shankar
Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Nepal's Maoists, who won power this year after a decade-long civil war, meet today to chart the path of their revolution with leaders ideologically split over whether to maintain a free market or impose state control.
Puspa Kamal Dahal, the Maoist leader and prime minister, has pledged to remove barriers to foreign investment and wants the Himalayan nation to remain a multiparty democracy. Hardliners are pushing for single-party rule and a state-controlled economy.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
To return to the issue posed at the start of this column, when could an Indian American become US president? It could be as soon as four years from now. Piyush ‘Bobby’ Jindal, governor of Louisiana, is a hot tip for becoming the Republican candidate in 2012. He has the youth and charisma that McCain lacks. The Republican Party needs a fresh new face to challenge Obama. Jindal is not white, yet that seems not to matter at all, not even in a party long associated with notions of white superiority. Obama’s victory has truly sent the US over the racial threshold..I think "party long associated with white superiority" is a pretty misleading description of the Republican Party, but I do like the name of the column: Swaminomics. And now that President-elect Obama has omitted India, by accident or design, from his early phone calls, it would be good to have a president who could hardly fail to be aware of that strategically important relationship
Friday, November 14, 2008
Or, better stated, how much is it worth to hang your name on a school?
I work at a business school, and last year I had a discussion with colleagues at Chicago GBS and Columbia Business School about how large a gift would be necessary for any of the unnamed top tier schools (Harvard, Chicago, Stanford, Columbia) to change their names. They guessed somewhere between $250m and $500m. Turns out they were right.
Meet the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Price: $300m.
Five years ago, Stephen Ross paid $100m to Michigan.
In retrospect, John Anderson (UCLA, $15m), J.B. Fuqua (Duke, $10m), and John Kellogg (Northwestern, $10m) got into the game at bargain prices.
A new conservative movement that takes libertarian ideas seriously could use the inertia created by the nation's new progressivism to slingshot itself into the future on a platform of reduced government, lower taxes, and limited interventionism, while also respecting climate change (adjusting the tax code to encourage green reform without any expense to taxpayers) and reforming the immigration system (opening the borders as the market demands labor without sacrificing security).Some problems with the article (not an exhaustive list):
1. Randazzo praises "the small government, Goldwater-style GOP of old" and also states that the GOP has never been "a party of small government based on classical liberal principles," without clarifying what if any distinction he has in mind to reconcile these divergent descriptions.
2. He writes that "If the Ron Paul movement tells us anything, it's that the Republican Party can be more than a party of old white guys with bad hair cuts," but fails to note any difference between Ron Paul's anti-immigration fear-mongering and Randazzo's pro-immigration stance.
3. Randazzo presents his ideas as an electoral winner for the GOP without showing the slightest awareness that many of these ideas are deeply unpopular; e.g. a carbon tax. To wit, point 4:
4. He suggests having a carbon tax "without any expense to taxpayers." But even a revenue-neutral carbon tax will shift burdens from some taxpayers to others, exacerbating its deep unpopularity regardless of its plausible merits on environmental and security grounds.
5. His "limited interventionism," if it's anything like Ron Paul's, would damage remaining Republican credibility on national security, and blur distinctions between Republicans and Democrats on foreign policy. Isn't his whole thrust that Republicans shouldn't be a watered-down version of Democrats, or is that OK if we're talking about foreign policy?
6. Randazzo argues against "moving toward the political center" without noting that many of his positions (a carbon tax, open the borders) are not associated with an unyielding conservatism.
I too think the Republican Party should become more libertarian. But libertarianism, like other ideologies, is not immune to wishful thinking and mediocre arguments.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I would also like to thank Ken for having me as a guest publisher.
As a creative arts therapist and artist, I have become growingly disappointed with the arts being cut in the school as well as publicly. Several of my friends have encouraged me to debate how art can heal the world. Though I am not sure it fully can, it does have its benefits. Unfortunately with right people and left people complaining, censoring, or disallowing art, the power of creativity has become more diminished, and now one has to be a private collector to view even erotic art! So I decided the best thing for artists to do, who care about artistic freedom, and lack of censorship should move to Russia, and try to get the Kandinsky award.http://www.reuters.com/article/entertainmentnews/idUSTRE4A654P20081107 (not sure how to do the link thing!) and you can see Putin naked on a couch with Hilary, but also express yourself any which way you want.
Thanks to Ken for letting me chime in.
I read Dan McCleary's entry, and he might be happy to know that at least one fancy opera house that he eschews in favor of his favorite rock venues could be in trouble for lack of government funding.
This past week, the foo-foo frenchy music director, Gerard Mortier, dumped his impending directorship of the New York City Opera because he didn't have enough government money to play with. At his current gig, the state-sponsored Paris National Opera, the operating budget is $160 million. The City Opera, facing a $15 million deficit, is struggling to come up with a promised $36 million operating budget for next year and meanwhile has cancelled most of it's current season. The entire 2008 budget for the National Endowment for the Arts was $145 million.
While some readers might think any federal funding of the fine arts is outrageous, it should be noted that the US is nowhere as extreme as Europe. As an opera lover myself, I hate to see this "people's opera" facing such hard times but acknowledge that cutting arts funding from the federal budget may be warranted, especially with government spending reaching sickening levels. Love opera, love Paris, hate European entitlements and the entitled. It's a hard time to be an opera fan and a libertarian.
With gratitude to Ken for opening up his blog, I will add my thoughts on the current discussion of Palin and libertarianism. As much as a lightening rod as she has been, it bears noting that she is not the leader of the GOP or primary opposition to the Democrats for the foreseeable future. The only force that stands between responsible government and "creeping socialism" right now is Mitch McConnell, a shrewd legislative strategist and the Senate Minority Leader. Well, perhaps I should add Rahm Emanuel, whose duty as Obama's chief of staff will be to keep the Democratic extremists from derailing the Obama Administration's more "moderate" legislative agenda.
As for the future of the GOP, count me as a strong supporter of Palin. Libertarians like to attack social conservatives as threats to their liberty, but the cultural and political barriers to change are so enormous that even Ronald Reagan accomplished very little on the social/cultural front.
The true threat to liberty is not social conservatism, but rather the continuing erosion of societal values. To take one recent example, look at the civil rights ballot measures champtioned by Ward Connerly in Colorado and Nebraska. In formerly solid-red-state Colorado, the initiative narrowly lost. In Nebraska it passsed with 58% of the vote, meaning that in the one of the most conservative, wholesome corners of the Midwest and America, as many as 42% of the people supported politically correct but discrimatory affirmative action.
Not every issue goes as close to the heart of equality under the law as this one, but on a range of issues -- whether it be the freedom to own guns or affirmations of the religious values (all those "bitter" people out there) on which this country was founded -- social conservatives are the last ones holding the fort. My perception is that few do so with determination because they know how our culture of political correctness filters their beliefs as divisive, bitter, intolerant, etc.
Maybe it will take a plain-talking Alaskan with innate political talent and an appealing persona, who has not spent time in elite educational insitutions, to make American bedrock values "cool" again. To paraphrase the late William F. Buckley, I'd rather be governed by Sarah Palin than all the folks on the Harvard Law faculty, or even at Reason magazine.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Sarah Palin's greatest asset is her enemies. The smug, false and idiotic attacks on her have overwhelmed the reasonable concerns about her becoming vice president. I am not a wholehearted fan of Sarah Palin; she underperformed at crucial moments, overstated some of her rhetoric, and is more socially conservative than I'd prefer. But hearing her noxious critics -- not just on the left but also anonymous has-beens in the McCain camp -- makes me hope she will stick around on the national stage as a counterpoint to such knee-jerk cultural snobbery.
Robert A. George, never a Palin fan, has an insightful post about the latest attacks.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Thanks to Ken for the invitation to post.
Intro: I was a teenage punk rocker in DC in the early eighties. One night after a Minor Threat show in Arlington, Va., I was driving home along Rock Creek Parkway, under the cantilevered balcony of the Kennedy Center. I had worked a summer job in DC, and I thought to myself, "why do my tax dollars support an arts center for rich people, while DC punks are watching Minor Threat at Woodlawn High School?"
Though certainly liberal with regard to social issues, I developed an overly simplistic economic philosophy that boiled down to "the government shouldn't spend my money on anything." It took me at least fifteen years to realize that I was probably a libertarian.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
[Will] Wilkinson also sounded a sympathetic note about the idea of a social safety net, saying he sometimes feels ideologically "lonely" when he tells friends that he likes the positions of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman—including their sympathy for policies such as a guaranteed minimum income. Wilkinson's friends on the left denounce him as "a market fundamentalist," but the libertarians can be almost as negative: "They tell me I'm not a libertarian at all."
Brown University political science professor John Tomasi offered a plan for bringing together such feuding factions. Theatrically arranging three cups in front of himself on the podium, Tomasi encouraged libertarians (and liberals) to drink three metaphorical cups of potentially strange-tasting philosophical ideas: (1) Accept that there is a real distinction between classical liberals (who share a somewhat flexible bundle of ideas such as democracy, constitutionalism, and individual rights) and libertarians, adherents of a strict version of property rights that "not many people believe;" (2) accept that some version of "social justice" will seem intuitively appealing to most political thinkers and must be part of our agenda; and (3) recognize that once 1 and 2 are accepted, a friendly empirical conversation about economic policies can proceed.It seems to me that "libertarian" as defined above ought to be called something like "absolutist propertarian" and ought to exclude not just Hayek and Friedman but anyone who's inadvertently breathed on someone else without a signed contract. But be that as it may, if any such "strict version" becomes the broadly accepted meaning, count me out. And while I've never much liked the term "classical liberal" (it seems a little nostalgic and musty), the "somewhat flexible bundle of ideas" described above is something I would sign onto rather readily.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
UPDATE: This would be a good time to point out that the electorate has been growing, and therefore comparing absolute numbers of Libertarian votes now versus previous years is misleading. Over 110 million votes were cast in the 2008 presidential election, compared to 86 million in 1980. Thus, Barr having "the second-best Libertarian presidential performance of all time," albeit "well behind Ed Clark's 921,128 votes in 1980," is actually a bit pathetic.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
-- Jeff Flake charts a limited-government "way out of the wilderness." (Link thanks to Mike B.)
-- Jim Lindgren notes that the prospective chief of staff favors "universal citizen service."
-- Jason Zengerle points out that Robert F. Kennedy Jr., now being touted for EPA or Interior, is an exponent of anti-vaccine pseudoscience.
The latter two items should raise a few concerns among freedom- and science-loving liberals who voted for Obama. Right?
Note on headline: TK is an editor's term for "to come."
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Thou must admit, besides all blows and weight,
Some other cause of motion, whence derives
This power in us inborn, of some free act.-
Since naught from nothing can become, we see.
For weight prevents all things should come to pass
Through blows, as 'twere, by some external force;
But that man's mind itself in all it does
Hath not a fixed necessity within,
Nor is not, like a conquered thing, compelled
To bear and suffer,- this state comes to man
From that slight swervement of the elements
In no fixed line of space, in no fixed time.