Archive for July, 2012

How Much Do You Trust the Government? Politics, Patients, and Perverse Incentives »

Just as noneconomists think wages can be set at any level, some people think that any public policy is possible. If wages are judged to be too low, the noneconomist thinks that’s because the business owner is hardhearted. If a public policy is judged insufficiently generous, the person unfamiliar with public choice thinks that...
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Two Approaches to Regulation »

There are two fundamentally different ways of thinking about complex social systems: the economic approach and the engineering approach. Social engineers see society as disorganized, unplanned, and inefficient. Wherever they look, they see underperforming people in flawed organizations producing imperfect goods and services. The solution? Let experts study the problem, discover what should be...
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The Aurora Shootings »

The horrendous and calculated, July 20th shootings in Aurora, Colorado, are a great tragedy not just for the victims and their families but for everyone who can clearly see the utter evil of such acts and the helplessness we all feel as a result. However this massacre might have been far less likely for...
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Alexander Cockburn, RIP »

Journalist Alexander Cockburn has died after a painful battle with cancer at the age of 71. Cockburn wrote for The Nation and co-edited Counterpunch, my favorite radical leftist website. Whenever I talked about there being hope on the left, I was mainly thinking about people like Cockburn. Cockburn embodied the admirable concerns of leftism—good conditions...
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What’s Really Behind Student Fade-Out: Summer or Schools? »

Children get dumber over the summer, says Peter Orszag, vice chairman of global banking at Citigroup Inc. and a former director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Obama administration. He points to several research studies documenting fade-out among students when they’re away from the classroom during the summer months. But school...
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Obama’s Business Comment . . . »

Many readers will be aware that last week in a speech President Obama said “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” There have been many comments on this already — most of them I’ve seen have been negative — but I’m still going to add a...
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Adults Who Say the Kids Are Alright Get It Wrong »

Former New York City Board of Education Chancellor Joel Klein recently penned a compelling Time editorial lamenting the prevailing—and apparently growing—complacency about American students’ lackluster academic performance. He rightly points to research showing the failure to improve basic skills among students hurts their future earning potential, U.S. GDP, and even national security. While some...
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Obama Harkens Back to Clintonism »

Obama’s speech in Roanoke, VA, has been justifiably panned for its almost absurd degree of leftist sloganeering. If you’re rich, you didn’t get there on your own, he says. Also, we don’t each all have our own fire station—which presumably proves the case for big government. Yet I want to focus on one point...
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Obama’s “Emergency” Control Over Private Telcommunications: The Terrorists Win »

In the days following 9/11, we heard many poignant recordings of phone messages between victims caught up in the terrorist attacks and their families. Perhaps the most stirring was that from the mother of Mark Bingham, informing her son aboard United Flight 93 that planes were being used as weapons and urging him to...
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The Obamacare Ruling’s Threat to Charity »

While many were surprised that the Supreme Court recently moved from ruling on the actual arguments presented for the Constitutionality of the individual mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a/k/a “Obamacare”) into creating a justification not presented—that the penalty is in fact a tax—the potential broader unintended negative consequences of the...
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