Assorted Links (7/2/2012)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading and podcasts that I have been listening to lately:

Zingales on Capitalism and Crony Capitalism

“Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago and author of “A Capitalism for the People” talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his book.”

The Price of Health Care

Quoting from this essay by NYT columnist Ross Douthat, “But the Obama White House was convinced that it could fight the recession and rewrite the social compact all at once. And when the administration’s economic policies didn’t deliver as promised, it was almost inevitable that the focus on health care would cost Obama approval ratings, cost his party House seats — and perhaps help cost him a second term as well.”

The Return of the Protectionist Illusion

“Dartmouth economist Douglas Irwin writes that trade barriers are once again threatening the global economy, and the U.S. isn’t helping.”

A Vast New Taxing Power

“The Wall Street Journal writes that Chief Justice John Roberts’s ObamaCare ruling is far from the check on Congress of right-left myth.”

What Is the American Creed?

“In The Wall Street Journal, David Gelernter writes that if we forget our basic ideals or shrug them off, we no longer deserve to be great.”

Obama and ‘The Wealth of Nations’

“In The Wall Street Journal, Michael Boskin writes that after listening to his litany of economic excuses, it’s clear the president’s reading list should include Adam Smith.”  This is a sort of WWCD (what would Clinton do) essay by Stanford University economist Michael Boskin. Probably not going to happen…

Why Locavorism Doesn’t Make Us Happier, Healthier, or Safer

“All the rage among foodies today is locavorism, the idea that you should buy local food, but Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu defend the health, safety, and economic benefits of our global food-supply chain.”  This article about locavorism does a superb job in delineating its myriad unintended consequences!

The Grumpy Economist: My 2 Cents on the Supreme Court and Obamacare

The Grumpy Economist (AKA University of Chicago professor John Cochrane) gives his 2 cents on the Supreme Court and Obamacare; he also just posted two more cents earlier today @ Anything that Cochrane writes is worth reading, since even if you don’t agree with him, at least his arguments are logically coherent and thought provoking.

After reading both of these postings, my inner libertarian feels a lot better about what happened this past week. Although I am certainly not a fan of Obamacare (in fact, I hope Obamacare gets repealed and replaced with a more market friendly and patient centered approach which completely, once and for all breaks the link between insurance and employment; e.g., see for further discussion of these ideas), Professor Cochrane notes that 1) SCOTUS overturned the mandate under the commerce clause, and 2) while a mandate is a mandate, a tax is “only” a tax. The latter point is important since a mandate would have implied nearly unlimited and potentially highly intrusive federal enforcement powers, whereas once you pay the tax, there is nothing else that the government can do. Furthermore, taxes require congressional approval, whereas mandates are at the discretion of HHS.

Uncommon Knowledge: Thomas Sowell on the second edition of Intellectuals and Society

Peter Robinson’s 52 minute interview with Thomas Sowell centers around a discussion of a new edition of Sowell’s famous book entitled “Intellectuals and Society” (cf., which begins with the sentence “Intellect is not wisdom”. I especially appreciated the following quotes from the interview:

1. “The road to hell is paved with Ivy League degrees”, and
2. “It gives them a much bigger role in the world. I mean if you believe in free markets, what about all these people who want to have social justice. People just go out there; they make whatever deals they can with each other, work things out and then go on their way. Here is all this unused brilliance standing on the sideline watching with impotent rage.”

It Now Falls to Congress

Quoting from this article, “ObamaCare was a mistake from the start, a massive effort by the federal government to take over and control one-sixth of the economy — indeed, the part that concerns the most complex and intimate details of life, our health. It’s the most ambitious example to date of the political hubris progressives have displayed for over a century now, the belief that government can solve all of our problems.”

Who will pay the ObamaCare uninsured tax?

“These three million people are not rich, they will be uninsured, and they will be required to pay higher taxes. The tax increases on these people clearly violate the President’s pledge not to raise taxes on anyone earning less than $250K.”

He Knows Why We Fight

Here’s yet another book to add to my summer reading list: “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion” (cf.… “Holman Jenkins interviews Jonathan Haidt, as the professor of moral psychology explains that conservative or liberal, our moral instincts are shaped by evolution to strengthen ‘us’ against ‘them.’” 

Chief Justice Roberts and His Apologists

“In The Wall Street Journal, John Yoo writes that some conservatives see a silver lining in the ObamaCare ruling, but it’s exactly the big-government disaster it appears to be.”  Quoting further from this article by Berkeley law professor John Yoo, “Justice Roberts too may have sacrificed the Constitution’s last remaining limits on federal power for very little—a little peace and quiet from attacks during a presidential election year.”

ObamaCare—Upheld and Doomed

“In The Wall Street Journal, Business World columnist Holman Jenkins writes that regardless of the Supreme Court, fiscal reality will prevail.” Quoting further from this article, “The last thing we needed, in a country staggering under deficits and debt, a sluggish economy and an unaffordable entitlement structure, was a new Rube Goldberg entitlement. The last thing we needed was ObamaCare. The nation and the times were asking Mr. Obama to reform health care, not to double-down on everything wrong with the current system.”

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