Friday Roundup, January 18th

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  • @Econ Lib, Robert Murphy puts the (expansion) in austerity: By the mid-1990s, the Canadian federal government had been running deficits for two decades, with one third of federal revenue being absorbed by interest payments.  . . . . Yet the Canadians swiftly solved the crisis with serious reforms. In just two years, from 1995 to 1997, total federal government spending fell by more than seven percent, while the budget deficit of $32 billion (four percent of GDP) was transformed into a $2.5 billion surplus. There were also tax increases, but the ratio of spending cuts to tax increases was about five to one. Canada’s federal government ran 11 consecutive budget surpluses, causing the debt-to-GDP ratio to plummet from 78 percent in 1996 to 39 percent in 2007.

In the decade after reform, Canada out-performed all the other G7 nations on economic growth, investment, and job creation. According to International Monetary Fund data, from 1996 to 2005, Canada’s average growth of real GDP was 3.3 percent, with the United States the runner up with 3.2 percent average growth, and the G7 excluding Canada averaging only 2.1 percent growth.

In recent years, the Supreme Court’s use of the Federalist Papers has received much scholarly attention, but no analysis has focused on the Court’s use of Publius’ lesser-known sibling, the Anti-Federalist Papers. This Article undertakes the first systematic analysis of the Court’s use of the Anti-Federalist Papers and concludes that the Supreme Court has misused the Anti-Federalist Papers as a source of original meaning by treating all Anti-Federalist Papers alike when they are actually of differing historical value. Increasingly, the Court treats little-read Anti-Federalist Papers written by unknown authors identically to the widely reprinted writings of those Anti-Federalists present at the Constitutional Convention and prominent in the ratifying debates.

  • Keeping alive the flames: Andrew Ferguson profiles Ken Myers, editor of the Mars Hill Audio Journal in “Pop Goes the Culture.” Myers was once the arts editor for NPR’s Morning Edition until its arts coverage was eliminated in the early 80s. On this point, Ferguson’s essay features one of the most delicious take-downs of Bobo culture & NPR I’ve read.

With occasional gestures toward jazz, NPR music is the rock music of aging children; the visual arts begin and end with movies and TV, though stage plays will sometimes rouse attention if their themes are sufficiently progressive. This falling off isn’t the fault of the programmers alone, needless to say. In its decline NPR has tumbled in tandem with the tastes of its target audience​—​affluent white people with meaningless college degrees who weren’t educated into an appreciation for richer music and art and who, accordingly, find the whole cultural-patrimony thing intimidating, hence vaguely off-putting, and finally a snooze.