Kevin Hardwick of James Madison University, one of the site’s thoughtful commenters, called my attention to an op-ed in Politico making the case for a causal link between inequality and poverty. Its author is John Podesta, founder of the Center for American Progress, which hosted President Obama’s recent address on inequality, and soon-to-be White House staffer. Podesta argues, modestly, that “we don’t know nearly enough about what inequality means for economic growth and stability,” but the name of his new organization—the Washington Center for Equitable Growth—suggests some conclusions. The op-ed does not prove them. Instead, it offers the same conceptual confusion—not only unproductive but counter-productive—I discussed in a recent post on this topic. Continue Reading →
Liberty Law Blog
Coming just prior to the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the announcement that the U.S. embassy to the Vatican would be moved into the Rome embassy grounds struck many American Catholics as yet another insult by the Obama Administration. In fact, the Vatican Embassy is not being closed—though several former Ambassadors to the Vatican have criticized the change. (Ronald Reagan was the first President who authorized an Ambassador to the Vatican, so the move may be as much anti-Reagan as anti-Catholic.) But in reviewing the Kennedy record, we discover that the only Catholic President had campaigned against having an Ambassador to the Vatican. Continue Reading →
Recently, a number of college students at Princeton and UC Santa Barbara have caught Meningitis B, with some of them dying and others becoming permanently disabled. There is a FDA approved vaccine for other types of Meningitis, but not for type B. The vaccine for Meningitis B has been approved in Europe and Australia, but not in the U.S. I blame the FDA for those young students who have become permanently disabled. I feel this issue particularly because my son attends UCSB and one of his roommates was on the Lacrosse Team with one of the students who was victimized by the illness.
Critics of our regulation of medicines and vaccines have long pointed out that the FDA has a strict standard for approving drugs which means that many drugs that could provide benefits to the population are denied to them. While a strict standard protects against harm from dangerous medicines, it also prevents and delays the introduction of beneficial drugs. Getting the balance right is essential.
FDA critics have long claimed that the FDA standards are too strict in part based on examining the results of the agency’s actions. But they have also argued that the FDA has biased incentives. If they approve a drug that later turns out to be dangerous, the FDA is blamed for it. But if they delay a drug that is beneficial, they usually don’t receive much criticism. Continue Reading →
Last week, I posted a couple of pieces that discussed a recent scholarly article. A couple of commentators wrote that the posts were a bit difficult to understand, so I thought I would discuss some of the ideas that underlay the posts.
One of the significant issues within originalist scholarship is how originalist theory has changed over time. It has been assumed that originalists writing in the 1960s – 1980s exhibited a certain pattern of arguments and positions, and that originalists since that time have exhibited a different pattern. The question is how these two positions have differed.
The people writing in first period mainly included Raoul Berger, Robert Bork, William Rehnquist and Lino Graglia.
The people writing in the second period are a much more numerous group. If we just focus on those who write about originalist theory (as opposed to those who do originalism generally), then some of those people include Larry Alexander, Jack Balkin, Randy Barnett, Gary Lawson, John McGinnis, Larry Solum, Keith Whittington, and myself.
One transitional figure of immense importance is Justice Scalia, who started publishing material about originalism in the middle 1980s.
What then are the importance differences between the scholarship in these two periods? Since some people writing today exhibit strong similarities with people writing in the earlier period, we should recognize that there will be exceptions to the descriptions. We are looking for dominant patterns, not patterns that are universally followed. Continue Reading →
In the shiver-looking-for-a-spine department, the Boston Globe reports (paywall) that “two dozen of the nation’s top political scientists” held an October confab in California, fancying themselves “modern-day writers of the Constitution” anointed to rescue the republic from “an explosion in campaign money, the rise of political factions, and politically motivated redistricting,” all of which has induced a “democratic deficit.” Based on the admittedly limited scope of the Globe’s reporting on the meeting, the idea of a democratic surplus, a likelier suspect, seems not to have occurred to them. Continue Reading →
Apologies for the prolonged blogging hiatus. I’m not dead yet, just snowed under—I’ll resume my regular blogging at the nearest occasion. Herewith a forthcoming law review piece on the “Medicaid ruling” of NFIB v. Sebelius. The gist of it: NFIB didn’t really do very much about the horrendous economic incentives that drive the program.
“Not very much” doesn’t mean “nothing”: on the margin, the ruling may have increased some states’ willingness to forego the “opportunity” to expand the program even further; and in the short term it is an opportunity. To illustrate: in my home state of Virginia, newly elected Governor McAuliffe promised to finance big road-building investments—how? By participating in the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.
It’s the long-term costs that are ruinous. Not that that would concern a single-term governor. The question is, how big is the margin? Not big enough for Arizona, which has decided to join. This study strongly suggests that the consequences will be very bad. It’s a sad story. Sadder still is the larger story: Medicaid is ruinous with or without Obamacare.
Celebrities do not interest me, in part because I often do not know who they are. Not having had a television for forty years, and having survived quite happily without one, people apparently world famous are to me completely unknown, either by sight or sound; while those figures whom I consider important are often comparatively obscure and unknown to millions. I count myself lucky: there is evidence that those who interest themselves in the lives and doings of celebrities are unhappier than those who do not, though in which direction the causative relationship, if any, lies I cannot be certain.
However in the modern world, unless you are a complete hermit, celebrities, or rather news about celebrities, will come to you regardless of your wishes or interest. And even I, who have neither radio nor television, could not altogether avoid some knowledge of the current trial in England of two Italian sisters, former servants of Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson, who are accused of having defrauded the couple of $1 million by the unauthorized use of the couple’s credit cards. Continue Reading →
By its handling of China’s claim of a defense zone in international waters, Obama & co. violated diplomacy’s timeless fundamentals. First they loudly declared that America continues to regard the zone as international waters, and sent nuclear-capable B-52 bombers into the area to underline the point. Then they told US airline companies that the US government would not try to protect them in these international waters and advised them to submit to Chinese authority therein. Finally, when the Japanese government asked for US support for its own claims in the area, Vice President Biden told the Japanese to deal with China as best they can – much as the Administration had told US citizens. People who act this way should not be allowed near positions of power. They could not pass a basic exam in the field. Continue Reading →
Buried in President Obama’s Wednesday address on economic inequality lay this claim about the Affordable Care Act:
It’s the measurable outcomes in reduced bankruptcies and reduced hours that have been lost because somebody couldn’t make it to work, and healthier kids with better performance in schools, and young entrepreneurs who have the freedom to go out there and try a new idea—those are the things that will ultimately reduce a major source of inequality and help ensure more Americans get the start that they need to succeed in the future.
One assumes controversy ensues about the claims that Obamacare will lead to better performance in school and more entrepreneurship. Fair enough. The non-controversial pivot is supposed to be the assumption that these outcomes, if achieved, would reduce inequality.
But this is, strictly speaking, absurd. Such outcomes would likely increase inequality. What they would reduce is poverty. Opportunity has a way of doing both. The distinction is vital, and rhetorical imprecision—assailing inequality when what means to target is poverty—confounds the search for useful solutions to the latter.
- What should be the purpose of the for-profit corporation? Debate over this question has ignited yet again, and is the subject of this month’s Liberty Forum. George Mocsary’s lead essay “The Future of Shareholder Wealth Maximization” argues both that shareholder wealth is the bedrock of corporate law and for the efficacy of shareholder wealth as the norm for corporate activity in that it affords individuals the best possible latitude and security for entering into productive association with one another. Alexei Marcoux has the first response essay “For Shareholder Wealth Maximization, Against Corporate Purpose.” Cynthia Williams, co-editor with Peer Zumbansen, of The Embedded Firm: Corporate Governance, Labor, And Finance Capitalism, will respond next week.
- The current Liberty Law Talk is with Justin Dyer on his new book, Slavery, Abortion, and the Politics of Constitutional Meaning.
- Shruti Rajagopolan reviews Why Growth Matters in our feature book essay this week:
“Redistribution, as distinct from growth, cannot be the answer to removing poverty. In countries such as India, China, and Brazil, the large numbers of poor mean that redistribution will do little and that, too, will not be sustainable. … The pie has to grow; growth is a necessity.” So Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya begin their analysis on ‘Why Growth Matters’ and the lessons India and other developing countries can learn from Indian successes, failures, and missed opportunities for economic growth.
- I suppose we will have to keep making this case for time immemorial: Robert Murphy @ Econ Lib on Why Government Doesn’t and Can’t Manage Resources Like a Private Business.
- T.P. Carney on the crony capitalism behind the contraceptive mandate.
- Richard Epstein’s preview of the Classical Liberal Constitution.
- Don’t miss Michael Totten’s original reporting on Havana, a once beautiful city.