Assorted Links (8/9/2012)

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

Financial Crisis Reading Lists

This article provides a summary (written from an academic perspective) of 1) what caused the financial crisis, 2) what amplified it, and 3) what the responses have been. The author also recommends MIT Professor Andy Lo’s “Twenty-One Book Review” (2012; available from and Yale professors Gorton and Metrick’s “Getting Up to Speed” (2012; available from

A Lesson in Crony Capitalism

“Pierpaolo Barbieri writes that as the U.S. gears up for an important presidential election, Argentina is a sad reminder of how crony capitalism is the enemy of genuine development.” Argentina provides a compelling case study of the adverse consequences of policy interventions in the absence of any evidence of market failure (for context, see the schematic from chapter 6 of Art Brooks’ book “The Road to Freedom” (reproduced below under the heading “On the appropriate role and scope of government”).

Economic Lessons from American History

John Steele Gordon writes, “Today we live in a world far beyond the imagination of those who were alive in 1607 (at the founding of Jamestown, Virginia). The poorest family in America today enjoys a standard of living that would have been considered opulent 400 years ago. And for most of this time it was the United States that was leading the world into the future, politically and economically. This astonishing economic transformation provides rich lessons in examples of what to do and not do. Let me suggest five.” The five lessons outlined by Mr. Gordon include: 1. Governments Are Terrible Investors, 2. Politicians Have Self-Interest Too, 3. Immigration is a Good Thing, 4. Good Ideas Spread, Bad Ones Don’t, and 5. Markets Hate Uncertainty.

On the appropriate role and scope of government

I have been reading Art Brooks’s book “The Road to Freedom” lately (see This schematic from chapter 6 of this book pretty much captures the major theme of the book, which is to critically ask what the appropriate role and scope of government is:

When Government May Act


London Olympics an ‘Economic Failure’

“Famously bearish economist Nouriel Roubini has branded the Olympics an “economic failure”, saying Londoners have left the city and tourists have stayed away following “excess warnings”.

‘Les Riches’ in France Vow to Leave”if 75% Tax Rate Is Passed

“President François Hollande’s call to raise the tax rate on France’s wealthiest citizens to 75 percent has some considering a move to Brussels or London.”

The Bad History Behind ‘You Didn’t Build That’

“The controversy surrounding President Obama’s admonishment that “if you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen” has defied the usual election-year pattern.”

The Numbers Behind the Tax Debate

“Over the past three decades, Americans—including most of the rich—have paid less of their incomes to Washington. Top earners have received more of the income and paid more of the taxes; a growing number at the bottom have paid less or, in some cases, nothing.”

Mr. Negative vs. Mr. Complacent

“The Obama campaign slashes and burns, while the Romney campaign stays generic.”

The Real ‘Stimulus’ Record

“Arthur Laffer writes that in country after country, increased government spending acted more like a depressant than a stimulant.”

Arthur Brooks: Obama and ‘Earning Your Success’

“In The Wall Street Journal, Arthur Brooks writes that the work mandate was the most successful welfare reform in 60 years—and the administration’s decision to end it is a tragedy.

London 2012 Olympics: One week in

“The London 2012 Summer Olympics enter their second week. Eight thousand two hundred and fifty seven images flowed into our system today from Reuters, AFP, Getty and The Associated Press (and it’s only mid-afternoon), yet they represent only a fraction of the visual coverage available of the summer games. Enjoy these select 56 new photographs.”

Healthy Main Dish and Dessert Please

“Studies show that people who order a healthy main dish also order more indulgent drinks, side dishes, and desserts and consume more calories than others.”

Does Free Enterprise Encourage Excess and Exploitation?

Here’s a tutorial about the nature of free enterprise – call it Capitalism 101…

July jobs report: America’s labor market depression continues

Quoting Arthur Brooks, “Today’s report says 8.3% unemployment…remember this, friends: Team Obama predicted for July 2012 we would be at 5.6% unemployment if Congress passed the $800 billion stimulus plan.”

The Romney Plan for Economic Recovery

“Columbia University economist Glenn Hubbard writes that tax cuts, spending restraint and repeal of Obama’s regulatory excesses would mean 12 million new jobs in his first term alone.”

Economic forecasting model predicts Obama will lose in near-landslide

What Mayor Bloomberg Doesn’t Know About Police and Guns

Economist John Lott says that police are not about to go on strike for more gun control—most believe law-abiding citizens should be able to own firearms for self-defense.

The ‘Farm’ Bill Is No Such Thing

These are some alarming stats concerning the level of dependency on government in our society: “In the 1970s, just one in 50 Americans received food benefits. Today that number is one in seven. In other words, 15% of the U.S. population is dependent on food stamps. Half of all food-stamp spending goes toward individuals who have been on the program for eight years or more.”

Harsanyi: Obama’s position on Jerusalem was identical to Romney’s

“Obama’s position on Jerusalem was identical to Romney’s”

Hope and Change 2.0

“Daniel Henninger writes that this time around, the Web is disrupting the youth vote for Obama.”

The Economics and History of Cronyism

Quoting from this article, “The more power the government has over the economy, the more allocation of resources will depend on political connections. The way to eliminate cronyism is to have free markets and little government control.”

Scott Atlas on American Health Care

Hoover Institution scholar Scott Atlas proposes an approach to health insurance and health care reform which is consistent with the “famous” Garven-Mackey proposal (outline in some detail in my August 2009 blog posting located at…

Bill Gross: We’re Witnessing the Death of Equities

Pimco founder Bill Gross is pounding the table right now about inflation being right around the corner, and the bad news is that there seems to be no place to hide. Basically, the global economy is toast… (I think he may have a point there but I will foolishly hope and pray for a better outcome than the “Gross” outcome…).

The Man Who Saved Capitalism

“Milton Friedman, who would have turned 100 on Tuesday, helped to make free markets popular again in the 20th century. His ideas are even more important today.”

Chick-Fil-A Is neither Hateful, Intolerant, nor Anti-Gay

“There is no peace, for Christians or anyone else, if there is not freedom of conscience.”

Defining Religious Liberty Down

“The Chick-fil-A flap is the latest sign of confusion about what âfree exerciseâ of religion means.”

“Gordon Crovitz adds more details to a previous column about the origins of the Internet.” Here’s more clarification concerning the history of how the Internet came to be. The first article in this series is located at

The Religious Silence on Christian Persecution

“Why isn’t imprisoned Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani known to activists, politicians and citizens in the West?”

Teachers Unions Go to Bat for Sexual Predators

“In The Wall Street Journal, Campbell Brown writes that the system to review misconduct is rigged so even abusive teachers can stay on the job.”

Slow Recovery or Failed Agenda?

“Stanford economist Ed Lazear lays out how Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will debate the employment and economic numbers during the campaign.”

Facebook, in Life and Death

“I’ve grown accustomed to finding out about friends’ milestones on Facebook: graduations, engagements, weddings, new jobs and children. But hearing about death that way – I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to that.”

My Education in Home Schooling

“Teaching kids at home has gone mainstream, and it is bound to grow as families demand more choices.”

Why Capitalism Has an Image Problem

“Charles Murray examines why a cloud now hangs over American business—and what today’s capitalists can do about it.”

Myths and Facts About the Gold Standard

“University of Chicago finance professor John Cochrane writes that no monetary system can absolve a nation of its fiscal sins.”

How to think about jobs numbers

“Very interesting article about how bad the job situation in America really is today. President Obama boasts about creating 4.4m jobs. We actually needed 8.5m simply to not fall behind population growth.”

Notable & Quotable –

“UCLA Law Prof. Eugene Volokh, writing at the Volokh Conspiracy blog, on mayors who want to deny city permits to Chick-fil-A restaurants on ideological grounds.”

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