Assorted Links (7/15/2012)

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

Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?

“The more progressive the Episcopal Church becomes, the more it shrinks.” One way to answer this question is to consider data on church membership. The Episcopal Church currently has roughly 1.95 million members. According to the Association of Religion Data Archives (see, the last time Church membership was at this level was 65 years ago, when the US population was about 40% of what it is currently. This same source indicates that membership peaked in 1966 at 3.4 million members. In the 46 years since then, the average annual rate of decline in church membership has been 1.22%. During this same period, the population of the United States has increased slightly more than 1% per year on average. So this is one heck of a delta!

The Tax Cliff Is a Growth Killer

“In The Wall Street Journal, Arthur Laffer and Ford Scudder write that no matter what happens from now on, 2013 will be a very tough year.”

How Europe Can Create Jobs

“The Wall Street Journal writes that the Spanish labor market has been regulated, mandated and taxed nearly to death, but Mariano Rajoy and other leaders in Madrid can still reverse 24% unemployment.”

Chávez’s War on the Media

“In The Wall Street Journal, Americas columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes that Venezuela is holding a presidential election between Hugo Chávez and Henrique Capriles, but the president has squelched free speech.”  This sure sounds familiar: “The president takes no responsibility. He blames everything on the rich. He says they are exploiting the working classes and don’t pay their fair share in taxes. Fomenting class envy and resentment is his stock in trade. Now suppose there are is no independent media.”

The Left’s War on Science

Quoting from this article, “Perhaps the best way to deal with this war on science is not to merely rant against the political party you hate but to produce science open to all possibilities and when the research suggests a finding that is counter to liberal presuppositions that we treat it like we treat the ones counter to conservative presuppositions. Mirroring the proper attitudes and actions for conservatives would go a long way to show how science should be used in our society.”

For those who have lost faith (in capitalism)

Quoting from this Economist book review, “”Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin. It doesn’t work well… However, the sins attributed to capitalism—corruption, fraud and greed, to name but three—are not only pervasive in systems where the state controls production, but far more damaging and far less likely to be rectified.”

The Intelligent Investor: Yields So High, They Can’t Be for Real

“The Cornerstone closed-end funds boast yields of as much as 22%. Why we’re not buying it.” This article showcases how innumeracy can be dangerous for one’s financial health!

Home Prices Are Hitting Bottom

“This may be the buyer’s market of the century, but what if you’re a seller? Here are some things to consider if you’re on the wrong side of the market.”

Forget About the Mandate. Let’s Fix Health Care

Quoting from this article by University of Chicago finance professor John Cochrane, “Health care is a complex service, in which each person’s needs are blurry, and the line between “need” and “want” blurrier still. Imagine if the government decreed that law firms, car-repair shops, or home contractors had to charge everyone the same price, and couldn’t turn anyone away. “House fix,” for example, would be $1,000 per year, no matter how large the house or what shape it’s in. Why do we think this will work for medical services?”

Five myths about free enterprise

Here is the list of five myths about free enterprise that American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks debunks in this Washington Post op-ed: 1. Free enterprise hurts the poor, 2. Free markets are driven by greed, 3. Free enterprise breeds envy, 4. The free market caused the financial meltdown, and 5. Free enterprise is unfair.

Italy and Germany’s Endgame for the Euro

“The risk of a euro-zone breakup may actually be rising rather than falling.”

What’s Really Behind the Entitlement Crisis

“Ben Wattenberg writes that declining birth rates mean there are not enough workers to support retirees.”  “Pay as you go” is obviously not a good system, given the demographics of American society (as well as most other western societies)…

What Ails the Episcopalians

Quoting from this article, “During the day, legislators in the lower chamber, the House of Deputies, and the upper chamber, the House of Bishops, discussed such weighty topics as whether to develop funeral rites for dogs and cats, and whether to ratify resolutions condemning genetically modified foods. Both were approved by a vote, along with a resolution to “dismantle the effects of the doctrine of discovery,” in effect an apology to Native Americans for exposing them to Christianity.”

The Ballot Box Is Not the Only Way to Stop Obamacare

“In the wake of the recent 5-4 Supreme Court decision holding the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) constitutional as a tax, the conventional wisdom is that the only way to save America from the consequences of Obamacare is via the ballot box. Elect a Republican majority to the U.S. Senate, keep the Republican majority in the House, replace President Obama in the White House, and then hope they keep their promises and repeal Obamacare.”

ACA ruling kicks the real challenges down the road

“The fundamental challenge for American health policy is to balance three competing goals: getting better value for our health care dollar, controlling public spending on entitlements, and providing a safety net for those who cannot afford care.”

Holder’s Jim Crow Politics

“The Wall Street Journal on the AG’s claim that voter ID laws are ‘poll taxes.’”

John Steele Gordon: Air Conditioning, Blessed Invention

“Willis Carrier changed the world for the better—though making Washington, D.C. livable in summer doesn’t help the cause of limited government.”

The Libor Scandal’s Threat to Growth

“In The Wall Street Journal, David Malpass writes that the world cannot afford endless litigation against banks in the wake of the allegations against the manipulations of Libor.”

Libor Demystified

“The Wall Street Journal on the attempt by the Bank of England’s No. 2 to put the minor scandal in context.”

Don’t Eat Your Dog: The Surprising Moral Case for Free Enterprise

“Government keeps growing — and freedom keeps shrinking — because we fail to make the moral case for free enterprise.”  I highly recommend this 8 minute animated video which provides a compelling summary of the moral case for free enterprise, based upon Arthur Brooks’ new book entitled “The Road to Freedom” (cf.

For Obama, taxes are about social justice

Quoting from this article, “For Obama, it’s clear that rising taxes for the affluent is about social justice, not balancing the federal budget or the economy. He doesn’t think that some people should be making that much more than other people, and government should do something about it.” For President Obama, raising tax RATES (which doesn’t necessarily translate into higher taxes paid; see below) on the affluent is all about “social justice”, not balancing the federal budget or improving the overall performance of the economy.

In a televised interview during the 2008 campaign, ABC’s Charlie Gibson pointed out to then candidate Obama that historically, an inverse relationship exists between capital gains tax rates and government revenue – i.e., the higher (lower) the rate, the lower (higher) are the tax collections that result (see for a partial transcript of this interview). Candidate Obama’s response was, “Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.”

Freakonomics » How Much Do Football Wins Pay Off for a College?

“An NBER paper by Michael L. Anderson looks into the how a university’s football performance affects its academic performance.”

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