Assorted Links (4/7/2012)

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

Obama v. SCOTUS

Quoting from this article by Charles Krauthammer, “The administration’s case for the constitutionality of Obamacare was so thoroughly demolished in oral argument that one liberal observer called it “a train wreck.” It is perfectly natural, therefore, that a majority of the court should side with the argument that had so clearly prevailed on its merits. That’s not partisanship. That’s logic.”

Confusion About Discrimination

“Last week, “Vandy Catholic”—a Catholic student group at Vanderbilt University—reluctantly decided to leave campus rather than affirm its compliance with the University’s new “nondiscrimination” policy, which requires religious student groups (but, interestingly, not all student groups) to open membership and leadership positions to “all comers,” without regard to religion.”

‘Second Thoughts’ Grow on Assisted Suicide

“Writing in The Wall Street Journal , Diane Coleman and Stephen Drake write that the risks of mistake, coercion and abuse are too great to warrant conferring legal immunity on doctors or others who assist suicide.”

Oh, for Some Kennedyesque Grace

Quoting from this article, “He (Obama) knows exactly what issues he’s running on and wants everyone else to know. He is not reserving fire, not launching small forays early in the battle. The strategy will be heavy and ceaseless bombardment… his campaign’s central theme: The Republican Party is a radical and reactionary force arrayed in defense of one group, the rich and satisfied, while the president and his party struggle to protect the yearning middle class and preserve the American future. This will be his campaign, minus only the wedge issues—the “war on women,” etc.—that will be newly deployed in the fall.”

How China Made Its Great Leap Forward

One of the co-authors of this WSJ op-ed is none other than the Nobel economics laureate Ronald H. Coase (born 29 December 1910; see for more information about this truly remarkable scholar. He has been publishing remarkably insightful work since the 1930’s, and continues to do so today, at 101 years of age!

The Real Causes of Income Inequality

“In The Wall Street Journal, Phil Gramm and Steve McMillin write that any analysis of taxes paid in high tax-and-spend countries shows that the U.S. has the most progressive income tax system in the world.”

When the Almighty Talks Back

“In The Wall Street Journal, Stanford University’s T.M. Luhrmann writes that the idea that God responds directly to questions and requests is not fringe among American evangelicals.”

The Supreme Court Lands in Oz

“Like the original wizard, Barack Obama doesn’t want anyone to look behind the curtain.”

The Exploitation of Trayvon Martin

“In The Wall Street Journal, Shelby Steele writes that the absurdity of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton in their use of Trayvon Martin is that they want to make a movement out of an anomaly. Black teenagers today are afraid of other black teenagers, not whites.”

Europe Needs the Bond Vigilantes

“In The Wall Street Journal, Harvard economist Martin Feldstein writes that the EU’s ‘fiscal compact’ is an empty gesture.”

Court Tells Obama To Do His Judicial Review Homework

“The Fifth Circuit Court seeks an explanation from the Justice Department on whether the Obama administration accepts court reviews of constitutionality.”

How to Replace Obamacare

The authors of this National Affairs article, James Capretta and Robert Moffit, basically argue for 1) a tax credit available to people whose employers don’t offer insurance, 2) better-financed high-risk pools and 3) stronger guarantees of continuous coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. These reforms would fit well with my preferred approach for reforming health care (see…

The Worst Economic Recovery in History

“In The Wall Street Journal, Edward Lazear writes that since the second half of 2009, the U.S. economy has grown at a rate of just 2.4%, a full percentage point below average long-term growth.”

What to Do on the Day After ObamaCare

Quoting from this article by University of Chicago economist John Cochrane, “The country can have a vibrant market for individual health insurance. Insurance proper is what pays for unplanned large expenses, not for regular, predictable expenses. Insurance policies should be “guaranteed renewable”: The policy should include a right to purchase insurance in the future, no matter if you get sick. And insurance should follow you from job to job, and if you move across state lines. Why don’t we have such markets? Because the government has regulated them out of existence.”

New Jersey Least Corrupt? Ha, Ha

“In The Wall Street Journal, Paul Sherman and David Primo write about the flawed methodology behind the recent ‘State Integrity Investigation’ and its quirky results on corruption.”  This very same ‘State Integrity Investigation’ that gave New Jersey high marks for “integrity” also gave passing grades to two states where I have previously been a resident: Illinois and Louisiana. I can’t help but wonder about the integrity of any “study” that assigns my home state of Illinois a C; really? Illinois is (in)famous for its level of public corruption. A recent (12/7/11) New York Times about the sentencing of former governor Rod Blagojevich (see notes that the Blagojevich jail sentencing “…delivered a warning in a state where political leaders — some aldermen, congressmen, and even the governor who immediately preceded Mr. Blagojevich, George Ryan — seemed to be headed off to jail on a regular basis.” Also Louisiana, which was highly overrated in “earning” a “C-”, has a similarly long list of politicians who are convicts; at last count, the list includes a governor, an attorney general, an elections commissioner, an agriculture commissioner, three successive insurance commissioners, a congressman, a federal judge, a State Senate president, six other state legislators, and a host of appointed officials, local sheriffs, city councilmen, and parish police jurors…

No Kindle for Kirchner

“In the age of the iPad, Argentina bans importing books.”  Strange but apparently true… This policy is supposedly all about “protecting” the Argentinian consumer…

Ex Parte Obama

“The president worries the Supreme Court might overturn a law passed by Congress. The Founders were quite comfortable with the idea.”

How Huge Banks Threaten the Economy

“Since the early 1970s, the share of assets controlled by the five largest banking institutions in the U.S. has tripled to 52% from 17%. This has to change.”

Justice Kennedy and the Commerce Clause

Quoting from this article, “Libertarian law professor Richard Epstein has a new column up at the Hoover Institution Web site, about last week’s Supreme Court arguments about ObamaCare and the history of the Commerce Clause. Professor Epstein describes “the constitutional showdown over Obamacare” as “a real horse race, with a five to four vote to strike the mandate down perhaps now the most likely outcome.””

Baylor Wins NCAA Women’s Championship

Quoting from this article, “The title, Baylor’s second, caps off a stellar season for the school: The Bears reached the Elite Eight in men’s basketball and had college football’s Heisman Trophy winner, Robert Griffin III.”

Connected, but alone?

“As we expect more from technology, do we expect less from each other? Sherry Turkle studies how our devices and online personas are redefining human connection and communication — and asks us to think deeply about the new kinds of connection we want to have.”  Sherry Turkle is Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and the founder (2001) and current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. In other words, she knows what she’s talking about. It’s interesting to see someone like Professor Turkle who is so deeply steeped in technology urging us to “unplug”…

Are Student Loans the Next Subprime Debacle?

“The average student debt upon graduation won t quite reach the level of the average subprime mortgage, but the investment in education will likely be farther underwater than the average subprime house.”  Hat tip to my Baylor colleague, David VanHoose, for pointing this article out to me. The answer to the question, quite unfortunately, is “yes”…

SCOTUS meets Chicago style politics

Quoting from this article, ” Laws are unconstitutional when they exceed the limitations placed on the government by the people, through the Constitution. The law restrains the government, as the civil and criminal codes govern us. Overturning a law on that basis is not activism, it is law enforcement. Overturning a law because of some imagined right discerned not in the text but in an invented doctrine such as a penumbra does count as judicial activism.”


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