Assorted links (4/27/2011)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading lately:

What Professor Obama Doesn’t Understand

Quoting from this article, “…after just one term of office he (Obama) will have run up more national debt in four years than all prior Presidents combined, from George Washington to George Bush.”

Robert W. Fogel Investigates Human Evolution

“A Nobel-winning economist and his colleagues track the startlingly fast changes in human height and longevity since 1700.”

The Fed vs. the FDIC on Lehman’s Failure

“A recent FDIC report on Lehman Brothers’s financial condition before its failure puts in doubt the Federal Reserve’s account of its decision-making, and raises significant questions about the nature of the financial crisis.”

The Tehran-Damascus Axis

“In The Wall Street Journal, Amir Taheri writes that reports of Iranian snipers gunning down Syrian democracy activists are credible given the deep military and intelligence ties between the regimes.”

Medicare As We’ve Known It Isn’t an Option

“In The Wall Street Journal, Betsy McCaughey writes that Congressman Paul Ryan’s premium support plan is preferable to President Obama’s rationing panel.”

Inside Every Leftist Is a Little Authoritarian Dying to Get Out

“As Friedrich Hayek explained in The Road to Serfdom (1944), when democracies allow government to direct economic activity, the inevitable failures lead to calls for a more authoritarian form of governance.”

Economists in the Wild

“Far from damaging brains and killing seals, applying basic economics to the environment preserves it.”

A Glimpse Behind the Commodity Trading Curtain

University of Houston finance professor Craig Pirrong provides a clear and succinct case study (based upon recent Russian wheat and corn shortages) concerning how speculation can actually improve the allocation of resources.

Cutting Expenditure Is A Good Thing

“The crucial question facing the United States is whether the current path of federal expenditure is vital to our economic well-being. If so, then the U.S. faces a grim economic future. This path implies an exploding national debt, and the taxation necessary to tame the debt would cripple economic growth.”

Why Isn’t China Democratizing? Because It’s Not Really Capitalist

“The presence of markets and economic exchange does not make a country capitalist.”

Diagnosing Krugman

This may very well be the clearest and most succinct essay explaining the philosophical divide between liberal and conservative political perspectives that I have ever read, by the Economist’s Will Wilkinson (HT to Don Boudreaux (cf.

What’s Left of the Left

“Paul Krugman’s lonely crusade.”

Bad News on Gasoline Prices–What Government Should Do in Response

“As gas prices in the United States continue their relentless march upward, the political question of the hour is what, if anything, the United States government should do about the situation.”

The Freedom Movement Comes to Syria

“It was inevitable that the caravan of Arab freedom would make its appearance in Syria. It was there, three decades ago, that official terror hatched a monstrous state—and where practically everything Arabs would come to see in their politics in future decades was foreshadowed.”

How Health Reform Punishes Work

“In The Wall Street Journal, Stanford University Professor Daniel P. Kessler notes that the government subsidies that will be offered to buyers of qualifying insurance policies in the new health insurance exchanges will induce sharp reductions in the supply of labor.”

Time for a Cease-Fire in the War on Oil

“In The Wall Street Journal, Joseph Mason writes that the Obama administration’s policies are depressing the domestic production of oil.”

A Case for Hell

“While large majorities of Americans believe in God and heaven, belief in hell lags. How did they lose the fear of damnation?”

The White House Wants a List

“Want a federal contract? Show politicians the money.”

What S&P had to say about taxes

“BOTH Paul Krugman and Ezra Klein argue that America is lightly taxed, relative either to other countries or to history. But why take it from them?”

Notable & Quotable

“Columnist David Harsanyi says that more and more people make others pay for their votes as they become increasingly disconnected from the cost of government.”

A Little Advice from Bernankes Old Teacher

“Stanley Fischer, the governor of the Bank of Israel who mentored Ben Bernanke at MIT, has some advice for his former student and other central bankers around the world on how to prevent financial crises like the one that swept over the world in 2008.”

California Dreamin’—of Jobs in Texas

“In The Wall Street Journal, John Fund writes that hounded by taxes and regulations, employers in the once-Golden State are moving East.”

AIG Tries to Sell Securities Based on Death-Bets

“American International Group in recent weeks has sought to rally support among investors and credit-ratings firms for a controversial deal: the sale of securities backed by insurance policies on the lives of older people.”

America’s credit rating: Wakey, wakey

“Standard & Poor’s may not have said anything new. That’s no reason for American politicians to ignore it.”

The Gospel According to Hollywood

“Warner Brothers and Cecil B. DeMille have led countless people to Christianity.”

John B. Taylor: Obama’s Permanent Spending Binge

“If government got by with 20% of GDP in 2007, why not in 2021, when GDP will be substantially higher?”

Government Mortgage Guarantees Are Unnecessary

“Many predict calamity for the housing markets without them. Federal Reserve data tell a different story.”

Matthew Kaminski: Searching for Hayek in Cairo

“To make democracy stick, the Arab Spring now needs an economic revolution.”

Henninger: Obama’s Likability Gap

“Obama today is different than the 2008 candidate.”

In defense of Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan – Fortune Finance

“The House budget chairman’s vision of bringing the market to Medicare isn’t perfect, but it’s the best choice in a world of poor alternatives.”

Here’s What Happens When The US Treasury Hits “The Desperation Stage”

“When the debt ceiling fight really gets hairy.”

Obama 2012, the dollar and the stink of instability

“President Obama’s approval/disapproval ratings are now an upside-down 45 percent/50 percent, according to the RealClearPolitics average. If those numbers were to hold until Election Day 2012, Obama would be a decided underdog for a second term, at least that is what statistical  modeling tells.”