Comments and observations on social and political trends and events.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Reply to Krugman on Austrian Business-Cycle Theory - Robert P. Murphy - Mises Daily

This essay from the Mises Foundation does a nice job explaining the key ideas of Austrian economics while rebutting Paul Krugman.

I do not claim that the Austrian theory of the business cycle captures every pertinent feature of modern recessions. What I doclaim is that a theory — including any of Paul Krugman's Keynesian models — that neglects the distortion of the capital structure during boom periods cannot possibly hope to accurately prescribe policy solutions after a crash.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Myths of the Great Depression by Lawrence Reed

This essay by economist Lawrence Reed challenges the current mantra of the Left claiming that our current economic ills are being caused by the excesses of the free market and too little government regulation. Reed is president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

The genesis of the Great Depression lay in the inflationary monetary policies of the U. S. government in the 1920s. It was prolonged and exacerbated by a litany of political missteps: trade-crushing tariffs, incentive-sapping taxes, mind-numbing controls on production and competition, senseless destruction of crops and cattle, and coercive labor laws, to recount just a few. It was not the free market which produced 12 years of agony; rather, it was political bungling on a scale as grand as there ever was.

John Lott's Website: Letter published in today's New York Times

John Lott's Website: Letter published in today's New York Times

Here is the introductory paragraph providing the background to this letter to the editor.

With all the recent articles and editorials calling for gun control, the New York Times ran letters responding to their pieces today.Of the five letters, four supported more gun control and mine took the other side (that is 503 words versus 162). Mine was the fourth in the list. It is strange that the New York Times has set this up so that Google searches don't show people the page when they search on (Kristof John Lott gun) (
[T]he overwhelming majority of studies support my results. Among peer-reviewed studies in academic journals by criminologists and economists, 18 studies examining national data find that right-to-carry laws reduce violent crime, 10 indicate no discernible effect and none find a bad effect from the law. Among non-refereed studies, three find drops in crime and two say either no effect or possibly small increases in crime.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tucson Shooting and Objectivity

As an advocate of objective thinking I have been dismayed by how quickly the shootings in Tucson were politicized. In this case the Leftist blog world started buzzing before anyone even knew whether Jared Lee Loughner had any ties with any political organization. Certain news media reporters and others fired up their best preaching tones to lecture us on the ill effects of the current political debate and to point accusatory fingers at the usual Right Wing targets (if I may use the term) such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. I won’t say the Left has a monopoly on such demagoguery. I’m sure if a suitable opportunity came along for the Right and if they had as much influence in the media as the Left I’m sure they would roll out their combines to make political hay.

In addition to the six poor souls who were wiped out by the gunman’s bullets there is another unnoticed victim in the ensuing barrage of verbal volleys that ensued: objectivity. As one commentator has pointed out the number of Americans who identify themselves as Republic or Democrat has dropped steadily while the number of folks who call themselves Independent swells. I think (but can’t prove) that many people have left the traditional parties because of these “knee jerk” reactions.

My point is that ideologies of all makes and brands treat their cherished ideas as ends in themselves with individuals (dead or alive) playing the role of pawns on their chessboard of power.

Naturally this tragedy has re-ignited the perennial debate on gun control which underscores the either-or thinking of ideologies. The Right argues for the right to bear arms even if it means we can buy weapons that are suited for armed warfare. The Right fears that making any exception to this right means we’ll eventually be completely disarmed. I do believe people have a right to bear arms for self-defense but do we need automatic weapons with extended clips for self-defense? Against what? The Iranian army? (Reminds me of a scene in the first Terminator where he enters a gun shop and orders a number of high powered automatic weapons. The store owner says they’re good choices for self-defense.) The Left, however, continues to capitalize on incidents like the Tucson shootings to nudge us along the path to having no privately owned handguns.

I can understand the Right’s resistance to this creeping disarmament while also understanding a part of the Left’s argument against allowing military style weapons in the hands of private citizens. To me this is what thinking objectively entails. I also know that some on the Left won’t be happy until all private guns are banned. I know their strategy doesn’t try to take guns away in one fell swoop but in a piecemeal fashion. The alternative is not to blindly argue for unlimited gun rights. Tragedies like Tucson undercuts the Right’s opposition to reasonable gun controls.

Here are some posts worth checking out.

Megan McCardle


Nick Gillespie at Reason

Jack Shafer at Slate.

Michelle Malkin's "primer" shows that the Left's charges about the Right's language of hate and violence amounts to the pot calling the kettle black. The progressive “climate of hate:” An illustrated primer, 2000-2010

Friday, January 7, 2011

Best health care political pull can buy by Dr. Paul Hsieh

This article by Dr. Paul Hsieh explains how Obamacare will not only shrink competition in health care services it will lead to another kind of undesirable competition.

Yet while Obamacare is suppressing genuine marketplace competition for medical services, it is also spurring a more sinister facsimile of competition - for political favors. Employers and insurers with sufficient political clout can save money by obtaining a much-coveted "waiver," exempting them from onerous new insurance regulations. The 222 current recipients of such waivers include popular employers such as McDonald's and Universal Orlando as well as the Service Employees Benefit Fund, which insures members of the Service Employees International Union (a major political supporter of the Obama administration). Because these waivers are granted at the discretion of the secretary of health and human services, they create easy opportunities for political favoritism and corruption.

Nor will the political favor-seeking be limited to insurance waivers. If the Obamacare individual insurance mandate survives current legal challenges, it will also spur a lobbying frenzy from special-interest groups seeking to include their pet benefits in the mandatory insurance package Americans must purchase.