Assorted Links (2/11/2012)

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

Notable & Quotable

online.wsj.com

“Thomas Sowell on the self-aggrandizing social vision of intellectuals in Intellectuals and Society (2010).”  This excerpt from Thomas Sowell’s book entitled “Intellectuals and Society” reminds me of British historian Paul Johnson’s famous 25-year old essay entitled “The Heartless Lovers of Humankind” (cf. http://www.fortfreedom.org/h11.htm), which is also well worth reading. Johnson notes, among other things, that “…Almost all intellectuals profess to love humanity and to be working for its improvement and happiness. But it is the idea of humanity they love, rather than the actual individuals who compose it.”

The States Are Leading a Pro-Growth Rebellion

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal’s Cross Country column, Arthur B. Laffer writes that the message from Indiana and elsewhere is that aligning yourself too closely to unions is a losing strategy.”

Immaculate Contraception

online.wsj.com

“The Wall Street Journal reports on President Obama’s ‘accommodation’ that makes the birth-control mandate worse.”

The Gospel according to Obama

www.washingtonpost.com

Quoting from this article by Charles Krauthammer, “Now, I’m no theologian, but I’m fairly certain that neither Jesus nor his rabbinic forebears, when speaking of giving, meant some obligation to the state. You tithe the priest, not the tax man.”

$25 Billion Bank Job

online.wsj.com

“The Wall Street Journal argues the Barker Gang would have loved this housing caper.” See the “Barker Gang” Facebook page at http://on.fb.me/ytCw1G so you can “get” the Barker Gang analogy…

Dodd-Frank and the Myth of ‘Interconnectedness’

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Peter Wallison writes that there’s no evidence exposure to Lehman imperiled other banks—so why are we basing law on that premise?”

United We Stand for Religious Freedom

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Charles Colson and Rabbi Meir Soloveichik write that ObamaCare’s contraception mandate stands the First Amendment on its head.”

Consumer group seeks Texas insurance data to identify ‘junk’ policies

www.dallasnews.com

Texas Watch has taken a page right out of the playbook of Richard Cordray, who is the former attorney general of Ohio and was recently named by President Obama to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB is a creature of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law which is charged by Dodd-Frank to act as an “independent” consumer “financial watchdog” agency – see “The Dodd-Frank Act: Creative Destruction, Destroyed” (@ http://bit.ly/zc4d5P).

The underlying premise behind the action described in this article from today’s Dallas Morning News would appear to be that the consumer has virtually no protections whatsoever against being taking advantage of by “Big Finance” or “Big Insurance” (or Big “fill-in-the-blank-with-the-name-of-whatever-industry-you-feel-like-demonizing” for that matter). Texas Watch (and the legions of similarly named so-called “consumer” groups) demonstrate (at best) quite limited understanding and appreciation concerning the role that competitive market forces play in “regulating” the financial services industries. You have got to love the quote provided by the executive director of Texas Watch concerning the alleged harm: “…consumers are hard-pressed to find a policy that offers the same level of protection they had 10 years ago”. What a scandal – as consumer needs and preferences change over time, then so do policy forms. I am shocked!

The Real Trouble With the Birth-Control Mandate

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, John Cochrane writes that there are good reasons that your car-insurance company doesn’t add $100 to your premium and then cover oil changes—and the same logic applies to birth control.”  Hat tip to my colleague and coauthor Jim Hilliard for pointing this article out to me (as well as his many other FB friends). Jim also says (and I agree): “Wow, what a great article. It’s kind of long, but the most concise description of the problem with health insurance today that I have ever seen.” I also highly recommend University of Chicago finance professor John Cochrane’s blog “The Grumpy Economist” (http://johnhcochrane.blogspot.com/).

Capitol Assets: Mapping the earmarks

www.washingtonpost.com

“Interactive map of congressional earmarks near the personal property of members of Congress.”  Also see the Washington Post article “Congressional earmarks sometimes used to fund projects near lawmakers’ properties” at http://wapo.st/zeeCyX for further context…

The Media’s Blinders on Abortion

www.nytimes.com

“Half of the country wants to restrict or end abortion, but you wouldn’t know that from the coverage of the Planned Parenthood-Komen controversy.”

ObamaCare’s Great Awakening

online.wsj.com

“The Wall Street Journal argues that HHS tells religious believers to go to hell. The public notices.”

The STOCK Act’s Muzzle — How “Insider Trading” Bill Could Shut Down Grassroots Communication

www.openmarket.org

From the department of unintended consequences: “…if the STOCK Act is passed, the SEC may require meetings and calls in which Congress members and staffers participate to be open to the public or not occur at all. The result would be less outflow of information from Congress and a less-informed public.” It’s amazing how a bill that was supposedly designed to close a glaring loophole in the securities laws which allowed members of Congress to lawfully engage in insider trading will likely muzzle free speech, whistleblowers, and grassroots communication, all in the name of stopping “insider trading” by members of Congress…

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