Blessed Memorial Day

Veterans Cemetery

Uwe E. Reinhardt is a celebrity prof (economics and public affairs) at Princeton. I’ve never met him but have read some of his stuff, on account of my passing interest in health care economics. I can’t judge it but it’s consistently informative, and leavened with a healthy sense that “we economists really do not know how the world works.” (They should nail that sentence over every door jamb at the Federal Reserve.) Professor Reinhardt’s most recent publication, which I suppose is rattling around on a thousand sites but deserves an additional shout-out here, is about the dead—specifically, “The American Dead in…

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Religious Belief, Religious Liberty, and the Art of Taking Rites Seriously

A row of Church pews

Some years ago at the law school at Texas Tech University, I delivered a lecture on the question of whether the teaching of Intelligent Design (ID) in public schools would violate the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause. During the question and answer session afterward, a professor from one of the university’s science departments exclaimed: “Your talk consists of cleverly disguised religious arguments.” To which I immediately replied, “I’m relieved. I was afraid you were going to accuse me of making bad arguments.”

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The Rational Objectivity of a Man of Letters


When David Hume died at the age of 65 in the year of the American Revolution, he was rich, famous, and often misunderstood.

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If We Love the Banks, We Must Love Them Enough to Let Them Fail

Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Commenting on the health of big U.S. banks last week, former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke wrote on his Brookings blog that “a lot of progress has been made (and more is in train) toward reducing the risks that large, complex financial institutions pose for the financial system and the economy.” Bernanke’s observation came after Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari’s recent commentary about the need to reduce the alleged problem of “Too Big To Fail” within banking. Some readers could be excused for wondering why Bernanke would have any opinion on the matter at all.

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The Classical Liberal Case Against Brexit

Britain votes on whether to leave the European Union in a month. If I were a British, it would be a difficult decision, but on balance I would vote against Brexit. The benefits of free trade outweigh the costs of the EU’s regulatory regime.

From its birth classical liberalism has been dedicated to free trade among nations. Trade allows nations to specialize at products and services and which they excel, enriching them all. It creates a larger market, providing incentives for innovation and it is innovation that ultimately transforms the standard of living. This latter benefit is particularly important in this era of technological acceleration. More generally, free trade signals an openness to the world and a tolerance of foreigners.  It is a moral as well as economic good.

EU is the largest free trade zone in the world and that counts heavily in favor of staying. But the free zone comes bundled with other more controversial requirements. For instance, membership carries with it the requirement to let citizens of other EU members work in Britain.

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Odd Legal Ethics


In an order that the Volokh Conspiracy’s Orin Kerr has described as “puzzling,” U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen has instructed U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to institute a five-year ethics training program for any lawyer seeking to appear in any of the 26 states that participated in the immigration case now pending before the Supreme Court. Judge Hanen presided over the district court proceedings in that case.

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ISIS as Cartoon Noire


The Secret History of ISIS aired recently on PBS’s Frontline. This 54-minute feature documentary was created by Michael Kirk, a prolific and highly successful television documentarian with a quiver full of awards to his credit. This documentary, however, is better termed a documonstrosity. It is an insult to the intelligence of anyone who knows anything about the subject, whether from personal experience or old-fashioned learning.

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