Assorted Links (1/28/2013)

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

Travis Kalanick: The Transportation Trustbuster

Travis Kalanick is the John Galt of his generation! Quoting from this article, “Andy Kessler interviews Travis Kalanick, co-founder of Uber, on how he’s bringing limo service to the urban masses—and how he learned to beat the taxi cartel and city hall.”

World War II Spending Did Not End the Great Depression

“The aggregate statistics fail to capture essential details of life.”

Powers of prophesy: Davos looks to the future

Interesting multidisciplinary assortment of predictions; I am especially looking forward to owning a driverless car and my own 3D printer! 🙂

The Great Migration

“As the winners of our meritocracy hold the reins of progressive power, they may struggle to mitigate the inequality their own ascendance has helped produce.”

College Degree, No Class Time Required

“University of Wisconsin will grant bachelor’s degrees based on a person’s knowledge as demonstrated in online tests, not on class time or credits, the first such offering from a public university system.”

Revolution Hits the Universities

“Nothing has more potential to let us reimagine higher education than massive open online course, or MOOC, platforms.”

Yes, Mr. President, We Are a Nation of Takers

“AEI scholar Nicholas Eberstadt writes that since 1960, entitlement transfers have grown twice as fast as personal income—to $2.3 trillion annually.”

Climate-Change Misdirection

“Environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg writes that fear-mongering exaggeration about global warming distracts us from the real job of finding affordable and effective energy alternatives.”

The Collective Turn

“President Obama’s second Inaugural Address makes a compelling case for a pragmatic and patriotic progressivism.”

In his inaugural address, Obama suggested burgeoning entitlements aren’t a problem…

Excellent critique of President Obama’s second inaugural address by the AEI’s Nick Eberstadt…

Roe v. Wade at 40: Attitudes about abortion

AEI just put out a very interesting and informative summary of polling data from myriad sources (on (U.S.) public attitudes toward abortion, circa 2013. Quoting fromthis article, “Although opinion about abortion is stable (over time), it is also deeply ambivalent. Americans are simultaneously pro-life and pro-choice.”

Attorney general’s Web campaign invites N.Y. gun-lovers to ‘move to Texas’

“The Texas attorney general has launched an Internet ad campaign inviting New Yorkers who feel their state’s new gun laws are too restrictive to move to Texas.”

Gold, Greenbacks and Inflation—A History and a Warning

“In The Wall Street Journal, Paul Moreno writes that the Federal Reserve’s 100th birthday is no cause to break out the champagne.”

Moody’s now has negative outlook for all U.S. universities

“Moody’s Investors Service now has a negative outlook for the entire U.S. higher education sector, the rating agency said on Wednesday, citing “mounting fiscal pressure on all key university revenue sources.”

Find the Perfect Sleep Position

“Stomach, back or side? There is no one right way to sleep. But for people with certain types of pain and medical conditions, there are positions that can help keep problems from getting worse and may even alleviate them.

The progressive US tax code

I make similar points in my April 2011 blog posting entitled “Make the rich pay their “fair” share!” (cf. which, among other things, documents that the U.S. has by far and away the most progressive personal income tax system amongst 24 OECD countries.  Quoting from this article, “For many years, left-wing intellectuals have exalted Western Europe as the paragon of redistributive equity, contrasting it with the trickle-down nightmare that is America. But on tax policy, at least, that characterization is flat-out wrong, especially after the latest round of tax increases.”

The Wages of Unemployment

“Richard Vedder writes that labor-force participation has declined since 2000, and among the reasons are soaring government benefits. Here are some highlights:

1. There are over 30 million more Americans receiving food stamps today than in 2000 (increase from 17.1 million in 2000 to 47.5 million in October 2012).
2. Three million Americans received work-related disability checks from Social Security in 1990; this number increases to 5 million in 2000 and stands at 8.6 million today.
3. The traditional 26-week unemployment-insurance benefit has been continuously extended over the past four years—many persons out of work a year or more are still receiving benefits.”

New budget fix: Pawn Mount Rushmore?

“Hey, the country has been talking about minting a massive platinum coin. Could selling a giant granite tourist trap be any more ludicrous?”

Assorted Links (1/5/2013)

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

It Pays to Be Happy

“Earning more money tends to make people happier, at least up to a point. But new research suggests the reverse may also be true: happier people actually make more money.”

The Cleric Behind ‘Les Mis’

“Doris Donnelly writes that novelist and poet Victor Hugo was anticlerical, yet the hero in his famous novel is set on his course by a Catholic bishop.” The following quote from this Wall Street Journal article succinctly explains the story behind Les MisĂ©rables : “During the night he spent at the bishop’s home, mere days after his release from serving 19 years as galley prisoner 24601, Jean Valjean stole six silver place settings, was apprehended, and returned the next morning under police guard to face the consequences of his crime. Unruffled, the bishop brushed off the police, added valuable silver candlesticks to the bundle, “bought” Jean Valjean’s soul from evil and claimed it for God. He redirected the life of a man chained to hatred, mistrust and anger, and he enabled Jean Valjean to emerge as one of the noblest characters in literature.”

Close Shave for Asteroid

“Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass very close to Earth—much, much closer than the moon—on Feb. 15. Its path won’t lead to a collision with Earth, but it will pass close to a ring of orbiting satellites.”

Return of the real Obama

“After the fiscal cliff, the president is free to be himself — a committed big-government social democrat.”

2 months until next budget crisis?

“A prominent economist known as ‘Dr. Doom’ says the country’s budget dispute will come roaring back soon.” This (another budget crisis in 2 months’ time) seems like an eventuality, in view of the facts that 1) the fiscal cliff legislation passed 2 days ago delays $110 billion in spending cuts for two months, and 2) this is around the same time that Congress will need to debate whether or not to raise the debt ceiling… So definitely expect more 11th hour brinksmanship around the beginning of March…

The Morning Ledger: Cliff Dive Averted

For those of you who are wondering what was in the so-called fiscal cliff legislation that was literally passed last evening in the 11th (pm) hour, I recommend reading the first four paragraphs of the article “The Morning Ledger: Cliff Dive Averted” (@ Basically we get a two month reprieve from political theater and last-minute brinksmanship. As former Obama chief of staff (and now Chicago mayor) Rahm Emanuel once famously remarked, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste”…

Lost Decade, Revisited

“Holman Jenkins writes that bitter politics over taxing and spending will be our lot for years to come.” Quoting from this article, “The fiscal cliff turned into just another trial of strength by advocates of the welfare state to prove the welfare state is not rationally reformable in advance of a funding crisis. But we already knew that.”

Nothing Is Certain Except More Debt and Taxes

“In The Wall Street Journal, David Malpass writes that the Senate fiscal-cliff bill still means higher taxes on every working American—so much for just going after ‘the rich.'”

A Tax Cuts Mystery

“If Government spending wasn’t out of control, no one would have wanted to kill Bush tax cuts.”

Another Fiscal Flop

“The voters get what they want.”

Hummel on Moss on Limited Liability

Economist JR Hummel’s informative review of David A. Moss’s book, When All Else Fails: Government as the Ultimate Risk Manager – on the history and nature of liability rules, including limited liability…

Some clear thinking on the national debt and the real fiscal problem

Some clear thinking on the national debt and the real fiscal problem: Government’s spending on entitlement programs…

The Fiscal Cliff and Congress’s Dysfunction

“Spending every year is now twice what it was when Bill Clinton left office, and the national debt is three times as high. Republicans and Democrats alike should be able to find wasteful, extravagant, and unnecessary programs to cut back or eliminate.”

eBay for Professors

Here’s the story line for this podcast: “Ever heard of the self-employed college professor? Thanks to the efforts of the for-profit education company Straighter Line, some professors will now be able to go into business for themselves and set the price on how much their teaching is worth.”

Over the Cliff at Steven Landsburg

Here’s a positive spin about going over the fiscal cliff from University of Rochester economist Steven Landsburg (AKA the Armchair Economist)…

Le Tax Fairness

France’s Constitutional Court struck down the new 75% top French income tax rate, not because it is confiscatory; rather on grounds of—get this—unfairness. While it is apparently “fair” to take 75% of what someone earns, it isn’t fair unless the law confiscates 75% from all rich households equally…

Top 10 Economic Charts of 2012

The charts include 1) a look at what the largest and smallest parts of the economy have been, going back to 1949, 2) where Americans have been spending their money from 1901 to the present, 3) a snapshot of people moving in and out of the U.S. labor force, 4) a look back at the economic performance of the U.S. during presidents’ first terms, 5) a listing of how many weeks of unemployment benefits are offered by each state, 6) which states have the worst unemployment rates (going back to 1976), 7) the numbers behind the U.S.’s deficits, 8) how student loan debt outpaces all other forms of nonhousing consumer debt, 9) how overall food prices don’t move as much as corn prices do, and 10) how Germany’s economic performance compared to the rest of the euro zone.

Baby, You’re a Rich Man

“You don’t have to be Warren Buffett to be considered wealthy. It all depends on who is setting the bar. Here’s why it matters for your taxes, investment options and college aid—and what you can do about it.”

How to Read in 2013

“This is the moment to get out of your rut and visit the rest of the political spectrum.” One of my New Year’s resolutions is to follow Ross Douthat’s advice to: 1) take out a subscription to a magazine whose politics I don’t share, 2) expand my reading geographically as well as ideologically, and 3) make a special effort to read entirely outside existing partisan categories.

The Most Important Speech So Far in the 21st Century?

George Will at Washington University in St. Louis. The transcript of Mr. Will’s speech entitled ” titled “Religion and Politics in the First Modern Nation” is available for downloading from; the video is @