As central banks go, the Federal Reserve is one of the best. Much academic literature suggests that one of the reasons for its relative success is its relative political independence and freedom from partisanship. Central banks that are partisan or politicized are likely to engineer booms to elect the candidates of their party even if those booms have unfortunate long run effects on the nation. The classic case is a bank that pursues a loose money policy in the run up to the election to create a false sense of prosperity or to enable the party in power to finance…
Are you being true to yourself? Should you? Better question: What in the world is a true self, anyway?
Public choice theory is well known as a theory that attempts to provide something of a unified approach to behavior in the economic and political realms. The theory famously argues that people who pursue their selfish interest in the economic realm do not somehow become perfect altruists in the political realm. Instead, one must take serious account of the selfish interests of politicians who present themselves as selflessly pursuing the public interest. While public choice theory does not assume different preferences or personalities for people in the economic and political realms, it does not reject the possibility that people behave differently…
There are many subjects on which decent people may disagree and some subjects on which a person may not entirely agree with himself, in so far as he can see both sides of an argument at the same time (assuming there to be only two sides, when often there are more).
One such subject is that of assisted suicide and euthanasia. I can easily conceive of circumstances in which I should want it for myself, and circumstances in which it would be the kindest thing for others. And yet, at the same time, I can see the objections to it.
President Trump’s executive order on healthcare received a great deal of attention, but almost all of it emphasized the order’s short-term policy implications. Commentary from the Left ignored the constitutional implications of unilateral executive action, so if anyone was going to speak up about those constitutional issues, conservatives would have to do so. Their record thus far has been mixed. The editors of National Review, like their liberal counterparts, addressed the policy angle, not the constitutional one. Yuval Levin, on the other hand, wrote in that same publication that officials in the administration in which he served (Bush II) doubted whether…
A property case even more important than Kelo v. City of New London (2005) began to wend its way toward the Supreme Court a few weeks ago. The new case is Starr International Company, Inc. v. United States, and unless the Supreme Court repudiates the lower courts, the case will lay down a strange principle: that the government can unlawfully deprive shareholders of their ownership and control as long as it does not seize their shares.
Harold Berman, the late Harvard law professor and author of the great book, Law and Revolution, captured children’s innate understanding of law: A child says, ‘It’s my toy.’ That’s property law,” he said. “A child says, ‘You promised me.’ That’s contract law. A child says, ‘He hit me first.’ That’s criminal law. A child says, ‘Daddy said I could.’ That’s constitutional law.” Thus, the law has categories that appear to map on to inborn modules of our nature.
As my daughter turns two this week, nothing has been more remarkable to this law professor than her already intense relation with rules, vindicating Berman. Over a year ago, I made a deal with her in the playground: if she got in the stroller when I told her to, I would give her a pacifier. Occasionally, I forget my side of the bargain, and the response is completely different in tone and sharpness than when she simply wants a pacifier. It is the natural cry of natural justice. A sense of property was present from the earliest times. I think “mine” was the second word we heard after “no.”
It is not only that children have a natural grasp of the justice of certain legal concepts, they also have a sense of the difficulty of drawing lines.
As a practicing Lutheran, I was surprised to discover that a then-proleptic application of Thaler and Sustein’s “nudge” was advanced over 1,600 years ago by Augustine when he advocated nudging the Donatists back into unity with the Catholic Church. I’m obviously not interested in nudging anyone into Catholicism, but I do think the episode an instructive one. Only inertia and status-quo bias, Augustine suggests, induced most Donatists to maintain their schism. They did not need severe punishment or suppression, Augustine argued, but a nudge, no more than a gentle poke in the ribs (to Augustine), to make the choices they already knew they should.
Catalonia has entered a critical phase in its attempt to secede from Spain, a process initiated by the regional government and parliament back in 2013. Secession in a Western European country in the 21st century necessarily draws attention. People all over the world feel that type of sympathy often induced by revolutionary movements in distant countries. But this is not a repetition of what we saw in the 18th, 19th, or 20th centuries. This is more complex.
Political analyst Henry Olsen has written an iconoclastic portrait of a man conservatives thought they knew: Ronald Reagan. Olsen, a veteran of several conservative think tanks in Washington, D.C., is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center who writes frequently for National Review. A stalwart of the GOP, he has a track record of highly accurate predictions of the outcomes of U.S. elections. In 2014 he coauthored (with Dante J. Scala) The Four Faces of the Republican Party: The Fight for the 2016 Presidential Nomination. His new book is his first as sole author. The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism closely examines the entire span of the 40th President’s speeches, correspondence, and other writings and finds a decidedly non-libertarian Ronald Reagan—the Reagan who modeled himself on Franklin Roosevelt and was not hostile to, but supportive of, the social safety net.
For our latest installment of Conversations, Law and Liberty Associate Editor Lauren Weiner put questions to Olsen about The Working Class Republican. Here is our Q and A.