Assorted Links (6/3/2012)

Here’s a list of articles and videos that I have been viewing lately:

On Poverty

“Federal, state and local governments have spent about $15 trillion… fighting “the war on poverty” since 1964.” Here’s the breakdown, “…federal welfare spending alone totals more than $14,848 for every poor man, woman, and child in this country. For a typical poor family of three, that amounts to more than $44,500. Combined with state and local spending, government spends $20,610 for every poor person in America, or $61,830 per poor family of three.”

Are we sending too many students to college?

“Fewer than half of students graduate in four years at 33 of the 50 state flagship schools. The overall four-year graduation rate is 31 percent for public colleges and 52 percent for private ones.”  Here are some more stats: “In 1960 about 45% of those who graduated from high school went on to college, today that figure is about 70%. Out of 100 randomly chosen high school students today, 25 will not graduate, 24 will gradate but not go on to college, 23 will attend college but never earn a degree, 28 will earn a college degree.”

Euro Crisis from Long Perspective

“The European crisis, in progress for years and still showing no sign of resolution, is largely the result of elite hubris.”  This is some of the best writing that I have seen on the ongoing saga known as the Eurozone crisis (from ThinkMarkets, which is a blog of the NYU Colloquium on Market Institutions and Economic Processes). Quoting from this article, “Creating the euro was a different level of ambition from building a common European market. The latter had historical roots. There had been free flow of goods, capital and people across parts of Europe in the 19th century and earlier… Hence by removing the barriers to the movement of goods, money and people, the European Union was not imposing a novel blueprint. Had it stopped with free markets, tremendous economic and political benefits would have been achieved with little downside. I have to admit that I never understood the aggressive drive to impose a common currency.”

The Morality of Capitalism

The Values and Capitalism blog features an 8-part series on the morality of capitalism. This series demonstrates “…how capitalism not only “passes the minimum test by failing to violate basic moral standards,” but that it’s also a system that works to actively promote morality.” To date, the following 3 essays have been posted:

1. The Morality of Capitalism: Introduction (

2. Capitalism is Honest (

3. Capitalism Is Peaceful (

Rich and Poor

I would like to recommend the following series of thought-provoking articles published by the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics:

Part 1: Rich and Poor (
Part 2: Rich and Poor 2 (
Part 3: Poverty and Government (

The Obama spending binge

Quoting from this article by Stanford University professor and Hoover Institution fellow Keith Hennessey, “Federal spending has averaged 20% of GDP for decades. President Obama is presiding over a much bigger government, at 24% of GDP. If his latest budget were enacted in full and he were elected to a second term, the average over his tenure would be 23.4% of GDP. This means that, relative to the economy, federal government spending would be 20 percent larger than the historic average during a one-term Obama presidency and 17 percent larger than average during a two-term Obama presidency. That is a spending binge.”

Obama Honors Socialist Leader

“One of the leaders honored by President Obama yesterday with the Presidential Medal of Freedom is Dolores Huerta, an honorary chair of Democratic Socialists of America (see”

An Economy Built to Stall

“The Wall Street Journal argues that with a third slowdown in three years, maybe the problem is the policies.”

Miserable May jobs report suggests U.S. in recession red zone

As the American Enterprise Institute’s James Pethokoukis notes, the Obama transition team forecasted in January 2009 that by May 2012, the unemployment rate would be 5.7% if only Congress would “do something” by passing the $831 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 (AKA the “stimulus bill) in February 2009. Congress complied, and President Obama signed ARRA into law on Feb. 17, 2009. Tragically, three years and three months later, our nation’s unemployment rate now stands at 8.2%.  Putting this into perspective (hat tip to my friend Louis Kokernak for supplying the following quote), “According to the BLS, the seasonally adjusted non-farm employment in the US in January 2009 was 133,561,000. In May of 2012, that total had fallen to 133,009,000. That’s right – we’ve LOST over 500,000 jobs while imposing drastic costs to the nation’s fiscal health. If the stimulus bill was an laboratory experiment in public policy, we’d had have to dismiss it as a failure.”

The 5th Avenue to Serfdom

“In The Wall Street Journal, Business World columnist Holman Jenkins writes that nobody thought about taking away your sugary Big Gulp until the government began to pay for everyone’s health care.”

Robin Hoods Don’t Smash Shop Windows

“Shouldn’t supposedly selfish conservatives—not idealistic liberals—be producing nasty mobs?”  This WSJ article provides a conservative assessment of the meaning of “social justice”. Quoting from the article, “Perhaps it’s the more centrist and even conservative side, with its constant call for individual liberty, for self-reliance, for individual responsibility and hard work, that results in stronger virtue and greater neighborliness—and the left, with its constant striving for equal results, greater redistribution and more entitlements, that results in a weakened moral sense and an erosion of moral character. Perhaps the more we tell people that their problems are always someone else’s fault, that “others” are robbing them of all they are “entitled” to, the more we corrode peoples’ character.”

California Cuts Threaten the Status of Universities

“If a proposed tax increase is not approved, officials say they would be forced to consider eliminating entire schools or programs, hurting the university system’s elite reputation.”

Obama: Drone Warrior

“The peacemaker becomes the avenger.”  The Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer writes, “A very strange story, that 6,000-word front-page New York Times piece (@ on how, every Tuesday, Barack Obama shuffles “baseball cards” with the pictures and bios of suspected terrorists from around the world and chooses who shall die by drone strike.”

Applying Economics to our Call to Help the Poor

“Loving our neighbor requires that we give help that protects dignity, that offers opportunity and that allows the unique gifts of the beneficiary to be unleashed.”

2012: Carrying the flame

“Earlier this month in Greece the Olympic flame began it’s ceremonial relay to the site of the summer games in London. The flame is being carried by some 8,000 torchbearers to spread the message of peace, unity and friendship over 70 days until it arrives at the opening ceremonies on July 27.”  Wonderful photoessay by our friends at the Boston Globe’s “Big Picture” website…

ObamaCare in Reverse

“The Wall Street Journal reports that Maine deregulates the insurance market. Premiums fall.”

John Chubb and Terry Moe: Higher Education’s Online Revolution

“In The Wall Street Journal, John Chubb and Terry Moe write that the substitution of cyber technology (which is cheap) for labor (which is expensive) can vastly increase access to an elite-caliber education.”

How to Put a Waitress Out of Work

“In The Wall Street Journal, Michael Saltsman writes that when the government forces restaurants to pay servers more, the number of jobs and tip income go down.”  This is an interesting and compelling case study of the law of unintended consequences, where public policy ends up hurting the very people that said policy is supposed to help…

Rules for America’s Road to Recovery

“In The Wall Street Journal, John B. Taylor writes that as the economist and philosopher Friedrich A. Hayek taught us, predictable policies will help restore economic prosperity and preserve freedom.” The latest missive on how to heal the American economy from my favorite macroeconomist, Stanford University’s John Taylor.

The Hunt for the Good Sermon

“In The Wall Street Journal’s Houses of Worship column, John Wilson asks: Are American churches really suffering a crisis of bad preaching?”

‘Facebook’ for Dead People?

“You think Facebook’s stock has flopped over dead? A new web service lets you post on Facebook even after YOU flop over.” No, this is not an Onion article…

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