[I]t is now generally agreed that the following ingredients came together to worsen an inevitable downturn and turn it into the Great Depression:
1. a crash in asset prices, wiping out much wealth that had been thought secure, 2. a revival in protectionism early in the downturn, destabilizing the world payments equilibrium and causing world trade to decline 3. a series of serious banking crashes – the Bank of the United States failure of December 1930, followed by the Austrian Creditanstalt crash of May 1931, leading to a collapse in the US and global money supply which was not corrected by the Fed4. a determined diversion of resources from the private sector to the public sector, initially in 1931-32 by President Herbert Hoover’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation and then by the New Deal 5. a panicky incentive-killing tax increase pushing up top marginal income tax rates sharply from 25% to 63% 6. a partial abandonment of basic principles of capitalism through the first New Deal, disrupting relations between buyers and sellers 7. a government-directed destruction of capital raising mechanisms, motivated by hatred of Wall Street and rendering risky debt and equity issues almost impossible for the next decade
"There are men, in all ages, who mean to exercise power usefully; but who mean to exercise it. They mean to govern well; but they mean to govern. They promise to be kind masters; but they mean to be masters." Daniel Webster
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I don't know all the dynamics in this family. Nor all of the dynamics between various family membes and the Obama campaign. But it's clearly more complicated than the "Obama bad" message spread by some drive-by bloggers.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Palin’s political style is the logical extreme of the Bushian folksiness-trumps-expertise and McCainesque “authenticity”-trumps-policy approaches. She is a natural product of mass democracy’s ongoing pursuit of charismatic mediocrity, in which voters not only seek someone with whom they can identify but also actively discourage politicians’ cultivation of expertise. Expertise grates against their egalitarianism, and so they try to avoid it in their political leaders.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
From the Washington Post letters:
While witnessing, but not participating in, the home real estate frenzy in 2005 and 2006, I kept asking: Who is the idiot buying up all these mortgages issued on inflated home prices to all these people who have neither the capacity nor the intention to repay the loans?
Now I learn it was me.
TED THACKER Ann Arbor, Mich.
HT: Todd Zywicki
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
My own decidedly unexpert opinion is that we likely aren't in a crisis now but we are close enough that the wrong policy decisions can take us into one.
In other words, Paulson, Frank, Dodds, Bernanke et al can do a lot more harm than good. Unfortunately, I think they are also more likely to make the wrong choices than the right ones.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Buckley makes explicit what has been an unstated premise of others with Obamacon tendencies: thoughtfulness, or any ability to think at all, is a necessary (if not sufficient) precondition for governing well, or at least not governing in a catastrophically terrible fashion
Monday, September 22, 2008
Employment attorney Julie Pace, who represents businesses attempting to overturn Pearce's law, says the legal situation is so complicated that most immigration lawyers do not understand it. She represents employers who are being simultaneously charged by ICE for having hired undocumented workers and by the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division for racial profiling in an effort to avoid hiring undocumented workers. Going over and above the demands of any one law can mean fines, a license suspension, and, increasingly, asset seizure.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Bryan's co-blogger, Arnold Kling, writes:
Bernanke and Paulson don't think of what they are doing as charity. It's more like an entrepreneurial business, where they intend to buy what they think are undervalued mortgages assets, which they believe they can finance profitably.
They may be right, but if they took their business plan as written to any bank or VC, they'd be laughed out of the office. The plan is utterly vague, untested, and there is no proof that they have or can find the executive talent needed to run a pilot program of this kind, much less scale it up to $700 billion.
Today, it is clear that the U.S. financial sector needs to shrink. As another one of your former classmates, Ken Rogoff, has pointed out, the financial sector has accounted for an unusually large share of corporate profits in recent years. It is time for this country to shift talent and capital elsewhere. In order for that to happen, some firms in the industry need to tighten their belts, some weaker firms need to merge with stronger firms, and the weakest firms need to fail. As tempting as it is to intervene in this process to try to make it more orderly, dislocation is inevitable, and intervention may only make it worse.
We have excesses. Too many housing units. Too many "homeowners" who don't have equity in their homes and never did. Too many banks and financial institutions. The excesses need to be worked out by the markets.
Also, it looks like the U.S. taxpayer will be bailing out foreign banks, too.
More from Sebastian Mallaby.
My rule of thumb is, as always, if you must choose between two evils, choose the one whose sins are less likely to tar capitalism and market liberalism.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
As Ilya Somin notes, the United States currently ranks eighth on the Cato/Fraser index, down from second in 2000, the last ranking before the Bush administration. The United States raw score also dropped slightly, due to the large growth of government on Bush's watch.
Glenn Reynolds can’t find any good reasons for the greater media coverage of Hurricane Katrina than of Hurricane Ike:
Perhaps, the reason is that Katrina’s death toll of over 1800 made it among the top ten natural disasters in American history, with most of the deaths occurring in Louisiana. It is also possible that the sight of the city of New Orleans under water was a compelling media image.
But then there is the possibility that Reynolds is simply wrong. I’ve seen coverage of Hurricane Ike on the news almost daily and The New York Times has had extensive coverage. So where is the media blackout on Texas hurricanes?
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I've said before that those libertarians and free-market conservatives who supported George W. Bush will have a lot to answer for. How can we blame the public for associating the free market with the policies of the Bush administration when so many alleged defenders of the free market were associated with Bush and his policies?
Yes, some free marketeers opposed Bush on some measures. But how many self-styled libertarians served in his administration, how many gave money to him and to other Republicans, how many editorial pages which claim to support free enterprise endorsed him for president, how many supported his interventionist foreign policy?
And it didn't start with Bush. For more than 30 years, the free market movement has been intertwined with the Republican Party. If the GOP'a policies fail, then it discredits defenders of the free market as well, and frankly, those who were ever a part of it deserve to be discredited. It's a shame they will discredit the rest of us.
The economic fallout from these events is dominating the headlines. The intellectual and ideological fallout we are just beginning to contemplate.
I fear he is right.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
If you glean one fact from the illustration, make it this: In an economically expansionary era in which 20 million jobs have been created in 15 years, unemployment hasn't once cracked 7 percent, and even the supposedly recessionary economy we're suffering through right now grew 1.9 percent in the second quarter of 2008, unskilled foreign workers are expected to fight over just 10,000 green cards a year. Restaurants and construction companies around the country have an exponentially higher demand for low-skilled workers, and laborers in Mexico have an insatiable desire for more money, but poorly conceived U.S. law prevents supply from meeting demand. That's one part of illegal I don't understand.
I think it is blazingly obvious that John McCain, as a matter of temperament and values, is completely unfit to be president. Giuliani’s convention speech about how the election is like a job interview only affirmed for me Barack Obama’s superior qualifications. He is a man of remarkable competence, with an eye for both the big picture and the institutional details, who has a sober temper and an evident ability to inspire and effectively lead those reporting to him. He’s just the kind of guy I’d want as an executive, were I filling an executive position. Joe Biden is qualified to be president in much the same way McCain is; he is a lifelong asshole and American senator.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Now that things are going well in Iraq, it has suddenly come to our attention that things are not going well in Afghanistan. As a result, both candidates are calling for more troops. However, given the fact neither the United States nor NATO has a clearly stated strategy for Afghanistan, the first question the candidates should explore is exactly what that strategy should be. Neither has expressed a clear national strategy for Afghanistan nor how he will convince NATO, the Afghan government and its neighbors to support his strategy and, of particular importance, how his strategy fits into a greater regional strategy. Despite this clear lack of a strategy, both candidates jumped to the assumption that more troops can solve the problems of Afghanistan.
Even worse, to date, the candidates are discussing only Afghanistan without mentioning Pakistan or India. Yet both these Southwest Asian nations are much more critical to the United States future than Afghanistan. Neither candidate has questioned the wisdom of bombing, and likely destabilizing Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of almost 170 million people, in order to help our security efforts in Afghanistan. Nor has there been a discussion whether dedicating more resources to Afghanistan is more effective than dedicating different but equivalent resources to support Pakistan. This is despite the fact that 80% of the supplies for the forces we have in Afghanistan come by road directly through one of the least stable parts of Pakistan. In short, if Pakistan destabilizes we probably lose in Afghanistan – the converse is not true.
Yet, our position in Afghanistan appears to be largely shaping our policy toward Pakistan. And our actions in Pakistan inevitably have a major impact on our relationship with India -- a rising nation destined to be the most important of the three.
We entered Afghanistan to destroy Al Qaeda’s operating forces and eliminate its training bases. We successfully eliminated the bases and hurt Al Qaeda badly. One reason often given for our presence in Afghanistan is that we must stabilize it as a nation so that Al Qaeda can never use it as a terrorist base again. Unfortunately, Al Qaeda has moved its forces and its bases into Pakistan. The subsequent conflict inside Pakistan is contributing to increasing instability in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and has greatly increased the strain on the Pakistani government.
Before we rush more troops into Afghanistan, we must answer basic questions about our strategy for the region and how our efforts in Afghanistan support that strategy. Good tactics and more troops are not a substitute for a strategy – and in fact can significantly raise the cost of a bad strategy. Both candidates need to explain the strategy that justifies such a commitment.
We asked the economists which candidate for president would be best for the economy in the long run. Not surprisingly, 88 percent of Democratic economists think Democratic Sen. Barack Obama would be best, while 80 percent of Republican economists pick Republican Sen. John McCain.
Independent economists, who in our sample are largely from the academic world, lean toward Obama by 46 percent compared to 39 percent for McCain.
Overall, 59 percent of our economists say Obama would be best for the economy long term, with 31 percent picking McCain, and 8 percent saying there would be no difference.
We can't know the degree of bias in our survey group. But we have some clues. On the issue of international trade, only 42 percent of our Democratic economists support Obama's plans, with 34 percent favoring McCain. Independents favored McCain on this question by 63 percent to 16 percent, while favoring Obama overall.
Now, John McCain's adviser Carly Fiorina says the sketch was actually sexist.
Sarah seems to have forgotten the McCain mantra that he can't be criticized or made fun of because he spent five years in a POW camp and any criticism, parody or hard questioning of her is sexism.
Update: David Weigel points out more another Palin reversal. Calling a bipartisan inquiry partisan? Maybe she is learning to play the McCain game.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Sometimes outnumbered by as much as seven to one, usually without air support, German troops nevertheless fought with remarkable skill and intensity, inflicting proportionally more casualties than they suffered, forcing their enemies to pay dearly for every kilometer they eventually conquered.
I'd take issue with the comment, however, about how well Germany's war economy ran. From everything I've read, even the Soviet economy functioned better than that of Nazi Germany. The German Army was always reliant on horse-drawn vehicles for transportation. German tanks were perpetually short of spare parts and fuel.
I've often wondered if the problems we face today with so many people so willing to commit to using force across the world is due to the American myth of World War II. The myth that, as one World War II vet told me recently, the Brits had lost everything, so we had to go in there and take care of things. Of course, this completely overlooks the Eastern front, where the war was really decided. What would have happened if the Russians hadn't bled Germany dry?
Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records.
Update: Radley Balko adds:
I’m starting to see the picture of a Bush-like ideologue who’s not only not particularly cultured or worldly, but also has no intellectual curiosity, no interest in being challenged, and has little tolerance for dissent. The article explains that she surrounds herself with doting supporters, and lashes out for even minor criticisms.
My tepid defense of Palin last week was based on what information was available shortly after her nomination. I may need to rethink it.
Seriously, if Palin the best libertarians can hope for from a major party, they probably should just go ahead and vote for Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader. At least they won't have to spend the next four or eight years trying to explain to people that Nader or McKinney's policies aren't what libertarianism is all about. The so-called libertarians who supported George W. Bush have already done enough damage to libertarianism's public image.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
It clearly tickles Brooks’ collectivist fancy “when John McCain talks at a forum about national service.” But that is precisely when McCain exposes his martial animosity to the character of his own country. Brooks may wish to join McCain in an effort to efface the separateness of lives, to degrade the dignity of self-creation and self-command by denying its possibility, to cultivate in Americans the docility of subjects ready to kill and die for the state. In Prussia this may have been a “conservative” project. But this is America. And defending American individualism is my one conservative impulse!
So, David Brooks, here’s a line. Paine, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Garrison, Spooner, Tucker, Twain, Mencken, Hayek, Friedman, Rand, and America are over here on this side. And there’s you over there. You are most welcome to step across and attempt to wrest the individualism from our cold dead fingers. Bring McCain! In fairness, I should say that Emerson is a vicious Indian leg wrestler.
HT: Diana Hsieh.
Friday, September 12, 2008
BTW, in Way of the Dragon there's a classic fight scene between Bruce Lee and Norris, where Lee famously rips a handful of hair from Chuck's very hirsute chest. These days, when you watch those TotalGym ads, Chuck's chest looks smoother than Christie Brinkley's. Does a real man really wax his torso?
Thursday, September 11, 2008
No big deal, except, as Radley Balko notes, the bush administration, John McCain and conservative bloggers blasted the idea when Barack Obama suggested it just a few months ago.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
The United States has become increasingly addicted to the trappings of militarism and the use of military force over time. Particularly over the past 30 years or so, this thesis has applied to both parties. But underpinning that basic assertion are some other disquieting observations, such as the idea that it has been one party in particular which has deliberately attempted to market itself as the party which supports "traditional" American values...by trumpeting their nominal support of the military, and the fact that at some point a large number of evangelical Christians abandoned their historical role as supporters for the poor and the weak around the world, and instead also adopted a mantra which advocated support of the military and the use of force overseas.
Apparently having nothing worthwhile to do for several hours, Glenn Reynolds put great effort in to examining the critical issue: did Barack Obama mean to refer to Sarah Palin when he used the phrase “lipstick on a pig”?
Reynolds often wonders why people consider him to be a partisan Republican. It has gone beyond that–the man has lost his mind
That blog had a number of good posts yesterday.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
A leading voice in the Conservative camp is Colonel Gian Gentile, a Berkeley graduate with a doctorate in history from Stanford, who currently teaches at West Point. Gentile has two tours in Iraq under his belt. During the second, just before the Petraeus era, he commanded a battalion in Baghdad.
Writing in the journal World Affairs, Gentile dismisses as “a self-serving fiction” the notion that Abrams in 1968 put the United States on the road to victory in Vietnam; the war, he says, was unwinnable, given the “perseverance, cohesion, indigenous support, and sheer determination of the other side, coupled with the absence of any of those things on the American side.” Furthermore, according to Gentile, the post-Vietnam officer corps did not turn its back on that war in a fit of pique; it correctly assessed that the mechanized formations of the Warsaw Pact deserved greater attention than pajama-clad guerrillas in Southeast Asia.
Gentile also takes issue with the triumphal depiction of the Petraeus era, attributing security improvements achieved during Petraeus’s tenure less to new techniques than to a “cash-for-cooperation” policy that put “nearly 100,000 Sunnis, many of them former insurgents, … on the U.S. government payroll.” According to Gentile, in Iraq as in Vietnam, tactics alone cannot explain the overall course of events.
All of this forms a backdrop to Gentile’s core concern: that an infatuation with stability operations will lead the Army to reinvent itself as “a constabulary,” adept perhaps at nation-building but shorn of adequate capacity for conventional war-fighting.
Monday, September 8, 2008
At the height of the Roman Empire, the Romans had an estimated 37 major military bases scattered around their dominions. At the height of the British Empire, the British had 36 of them planetwide. Depending on just who you listen to and how you count, we have hundreds of bases. According to Pentagon records, in fact, there are 761 active military "sites" abroad.
The fact is: We garrison the planet north to south, east to west, and even on the seven seas, thanks to our various fleets and our massive aircraft carriers which, with 5,000-6,000 personnel aboard -- that is, the population of an American town -- are functionally floating bases.
And here's the other half of that simple truth: We don't care to know about it. We, the American people, aided and abetted by our politicians, the Pentagon, and the mainstream media, are knee-deep in base denial.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Argue for the proposition that not every fight across the globe is properly America's, and you set yourself up for being called soft on tyranny. Who wants to vote for a squish? A poll out last week found that, 2-to-1, Americans believe Mr. McCain is better able to deal with a resurgent Russia than Mr. Obama.
Are Americans thinking through the implications of all this? In a must-see television interview with Bill Moyers (available at www.pbs.org/moyers/journal), Dr. Bacevich said, "What neither of these candidates will be able to, I think, accomplish is to persuade us to look ourselves in the mirror, to see the direction in which we are headed." That direction, he went on, is deeper into the hole of debt and foreign entanglements involving an overstretched U.S. military. We prefer to believe the romantic image of ourselves and our country and to deal with the world as we wish it were rather than as it is.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Last night John McCain proclaimed himself the candidate of “the party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan.”
One of Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speeches was his 1852 eulogy for Henry Clay. “He loved his country partly because it was his own country,” Lincoln declared, ”but mostly because it was a free country.”
John McCain managed to give a lengthy tribute to America’s virtues without mentioning that it was a free country:
I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else’s. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn’t my own man anymore. I was my country’s.
Fine sentiments, and he did mention that America is “an idea, a cause worth fighting for.” But what is that idea or that cause? He didn’t say. He never mentioned the Constitution, or the Declaration, or the freedom that has made America a beacon to the world. Indeed, his message seemed less like Lincoln’s and more like John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”
A text search of Sarah Palin's speech shows it, too, doesn't mention the words "freedom" or "liberty," and the only mention of individual rights was a sneering claim that Barack Obama is too concerned that terrorists won't be read their rights.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Some of you may remember another time when his ignorance was exposed.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Yes, no one is asking that about Barack Obama. No oen asked Joe Biden to put aside his political career after his wife died leaving him a single father.
Leaving the sexism aside, questioning Palin's ability to hold down the vice presidency and be a good mother just isn't going to play well among the working class. Asking the question may even alienate them. Yes, there are women out there who really can afford to be full-time moms. God bless them.
But there are plenty of women for home holding down full-time jobs outside their home isn't so much a choice as a financial necessity. Who's going to tell them they are bad mothers? Who is going to tell those who grew up with working moms that they had bad parents?
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
The idea that made Monderman, who died of cancer in January at the age of 62, most famous is that traditional traffic safety infrastructure—warning signs, traffic lights, metal railings, curbs, painted lines, speed bumps, and so on—is not only often unnecessary, but can endanger those it is meant to protect.
As I drove with Monderman through the northern Dutch province of Friesland several years ago, he repeatedly pointed out offending traffic signs. “Do you really think that no one would perceive there is a bridge over there?” he might ask, about a sign warning that a bridge was ahead. “Why explain it?” He would follow with a characteristic maxim: “When you treat people like idiots, they’ll behave like idiots.” Eventually he drove me to Makkinga, a small village at whose entrance stood a single sign. It welcomed visitors, noted a 30 kilometer-per-hour speed limit, then added: “Free of Traffic Signs.” This was Monderman humor at its finest: a traffic sign announcing the absence of traffic signs.
Hat Tip: LewRockwell.com
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
In particular, it helps explain why so many people see Barack Obama, who is from more-than-humble origins, as an elitist, but think John McCain, who was born into privilege and wealth and married into even greater wealth is a common man.
Monday, September 1, 2008
But, at the risk of being cruel, this really is looking more and more like mediocre TV series.
On the other hand, I'm no biologist, but I'm pretty sure that if she is five months pregnant now, she couldn't have delivered a child in April.
Sarah Palin’s enemies are automatically added to the Endangered Species List
Sarah Palin’s finishing move in the VP debate will be pulling Biden’s still beating heart from his chest & taking a bite.
Sarah Palin makes Andrew Sullivan regret some key life choices.
Sarah Palin will give birth to the man who will lead humanity’s war against the machines.
Hat Tip to Steve Sailer who observes
The Alaska governor's instant ascent to Frontier Folk Hero explains much of the unhinged rage among Obama supporters. They'd been fantasizing about their genetically nuanced man of the future, their political Tiger Woods, when suddenly they get blindsided by a figure seemingly out of America's buried past, a joyously comic tall tale character in the tradition of Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Annie Oakley, Mike Fink, and Paul Bunyan.
As for the core principles, they’re the same ones you’ll remember from back when the Washington Republicans were violating them: less regulation, smaller government, an end to bureaucratic “social engineering.”
But the urge to stick their fingers into other people’s business is too much for even Republicans to resist, as the Bush years have shown. The draft platform condemns the current tax code for its endless complications, for example, and then proposes several ways to make it more complicated: a tax-free Lost Earnings Buffer Account and a Farm Savings Account, more elaborate tax-free accounts for education and medical expenses, credits for people who don’t get health insurance at work and enough alternative-fuel tax incentives to make T. Boone Pickens hop up and down in anticipation.
It has something for everyone, the way platforms do, leaving the impression of a government that is not so small, not very limited, and busy, busy, busy.