Friday , October 18 2019
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Adam Silver Cut No Constitutional Corners

Unfortunately, however, O’Rourke, Warren and Silver demonstrate the tendency of too many progressives to cut constitutional corners, to despise and bully adversaries, and to practice theatrical but selective indignation about attacks on fundamental American principles, some of which they themselves traduce. Just what we did not need in our dispiriting civic life: additional evidence that there really is no such thing as rock bottom. So writes George Will in...

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Is It Sufficient to Just Believe?

What’s the importance of truth in economics? Has the presidency of Donald Trump taught us anything in that respect? By “us”, I mean we libertarians who have been tempted by populist enterprises. The Economist writes (“The Man Without a Plan: Donald Trump Suddenly Withdraws from Northern Syria,” October 10, 2019) that Trump’s advisers are coping with a commander-in-chief who, according to his own former secretary of state, “is pretty undisciplined, doesn’t like to...

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Exporters Make Money

In an otherwise excellent critique of Donald Trump’s trade policy, Mercatus economist Veronique de Rugy writes: Worst of all, the deal would actually reinforce these Chinese behaviors. For instance, the deal in question would require that China use its state-owned enterprises to buy $40 billion to $50 billion worth of American agricultural products annually—instead of the roughly $20 billion it bought previously. That’s no victory. That’s a concession China already...

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Conformity and Perspective in Nickel and Dimed

As you might expect, Barbara Ehrenreich didn’t like working at Wal-Mart.  Why not?  Low pay is a big part of the story, but it’s the demand for conformity that really rubs her the wrong way: With competence comes a new impatience: Why does anybody put up with the wages we’re paid? True, most of my fellow workers are better cushioned than I am; they live with spouses or grown children or they have other jobs in addition to this one. I sit with Lynne in the break room...

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Is the UK about to become Canada?

Overall, I believe the EU has had a positive effect on Europe. Unfortunately, it has become too interventionist in some areas, especially when imposing regulations that are better left to national or local governments. At the same time, in many other areas it has not gone nearly far enough, especially in terms of creating a free trade zone in services. The UK is likely to leave the EU in the near future and there are indications that it may adopt a relationship that...

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A Coupon for Kids

Imagine I offer you a coupon for “CHOCOLATE – 25% off!” and you respond… You fail to consider that chocolate is fattening!  Also, it can kill dogs.  And it’s linked to acne.  Furthermore, many people are diabetic.  And lots of people are too poor to buy chocolate even if it’s 50% off.  I also have to tell you that chocolate melts.  Sometimes it makes your hands sticky.  And when you’re hands are covered with melted chocolate, you might get ugly stains on your...

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The Latest Nobel Prize in Economics

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences will award the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences to Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Michael Kremer of Harvard “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.” The award reveals a deepening fault line among economists about how best to fight poverty. What’s striking about the award is that the Nobel committee gave it to the three economists specifically for...

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Students Selling Notes, Part 2

(Editor’s Note: Last week, Professor Munger told us a story about having seen a former student attempting to sell his notes for Munger’s final exam. Here is the second part of the story.) Given that, how should I have reacted to the Facebook post where the student tries to sell his/her notes?  Remember, I myself give out the questions, so no harm there. And I suggest that students share the burden of preparing the answers. The only wrinkle would be whether there is...

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Credibility, predictability, consistency

The title of this post describes some of the characteristics of a sound monetary regime. Does the same apply to foreign policy? During the first 4 decades of the 20th century, the US foreign policy lacked consistency. At times we intervened in European affairs, and at times we were isolationist. One can make good arguments for either approach, but the lack of consistency was likely destabilizing. We were interventionist enough to help defeat Germany in WWI, but not...

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Build, Barbara, Build: Reflections on Nickel and Dimed

I finally read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, and was pleasantly surprised.  Her runaway best-seller is what researchers call “radical ethnography”; to study low-skilled workers in America, Ehrenreich became a low-skilled worker in America.  Ehrenreich mostly just walks us through her experiment: how she found work, where she lived, what the jobs were like, how she made ends meet.  While there’s ideological commentary throughout, she’s less preachy than most...

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