Assorted Links (2/15/2013)

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

Obama’s Executive Death Warrants

“Can a president really serve as judge, jury and executioner over any American he deems a security threat?”

From His Very First State of the Union Utterance, President Obama Got It Wrong

By Roger Pilon

“Not since FDR have we had a president with so little appreciation for our basic constitutional system, or so little understanding of basic economics.”

Obama’s Minimum Wage Plan

“President Obama’s new proposal to raise the federal minimum wage would bad for workers and the economy, but the administration seems to be ignoring the large body of theory and evidence on the issue.” Cato (correctly) notes that “President Obama’s plan to raise the minimum wage ignores 70 years of economic research.”

Four Key Questions for Health-Care Law

“The success or failure of the Affordable Care Act relies on what employers, individuals and states do in the next few years. David Wessel takes a look at what each will do.”

Small Acts, Big Love

“University of Rochester study finds people who put their spouses needs first make themselves happier too.”

Freakonomics Radio – How to Think About Guns

“No one wants mass shootings. Unfortunately, no one has a workable plan to stop them either.” This is definitely worth spending thirty minutes listening to. Freakonomics is really good at exposing the “the hidden side of everything” – particularly unintended consequences of public policy initiatives…

Minimum Wage Wars Round 23

“President Obama has proposed increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9. Since the demand for low-skilled labor is quite elastic, this will kill off a few jobs that would otherwise have been created. Not very many, because relatively few people would otherwise be paid between $7.25 and $9 anyway (in an economy with an average wage of about $20/hour); but this is a job-killing idea.”

State of the Union 2013: AEI scholars respond

AEI President Arthur Brooks writes, “What did AEI scholars think of the president’s State of the Union address? Watch this quick video for play-by-play commentary on a variety of issues from entitlement and immigration reform to minimum wage hikes and gun control.”

Households On Foodstamps Rise To New Record

“Since Obama’s first inauguration, the US has generated 841,000 new jobs through November 2012. That number is dwarfed by the 17.3 million new food stamp and disability recipients added to the rolls over the same time period.”

So God Made a Fawner

“Paul Harvey’s ad was terrific, Peggy Noonan write, but Steve Kroft’s interview was shameful.”  Peggy Noonan opines that the Fourth Estate is in a particularly bad state these days…

When Species Extermination Is a Good Thing

“Foundations tied to Bill Gates and Jimmy Carter report progress.” Interesting article by Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist and various other tomes. He’s sort of in a similar category as writers like Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Lewis…

Work Disincentives, Still Crazy After All These Years

“Economist Art Laffer writes that, in the spirit of Jack Kemp, a pro-growth agenda is needed for America’s pockets of poverty.”  Dr. Laffer runs the numbers and finds that “…People with low incomes who receive various forms of welfare subsidies in any number of states—with and without children, whether married or not—face enormous disincentives in trying to improve their lives by working.”

Dr. Benjamin Carson’s Speech at the National Prayer Breakfast (February 7, 2013)

“Pediatric neurosurgeon targets political correctness in National Prayer Breakfast speech.” Besides being a gifted and inspiring speaker, Dr. Carson is also an accomplished neurosurgeon who is famous for his ground-breaking work separating conjoined twins (see For the Wall Street Journal’s take on Dr. Carson’s speech, see “Ben Carson for President” @

Bernie Movie – Map of Texas

“Carthage, TX resident describes the ‘5 States’ of Texas.”  This is a succinct and highly informative explanation of Texas for non-Texans!

Should States Participate in the Medicaid Expansion?

As my Baylor colleague, economics professor James Henderson notes, “Only 18 states have agreed to expand the Medicaid program according to Obamacare guidelines. Is it a mistake to decline federal funding to expand a flawed program or should states accept the Faustian bargain? Short-run gain will likely translate into long-run pain for state budgets.”

Seidman on the Constitution | EconTalk

I listened to this EconTalk episode earlier this week, which involves a lively debate (featuring a prominent constitutional law professor) concerning whether the US Constitution should be relied upon to guide the process by which laws and public policies are enacted. The official description of this podcast (taken from the EconTalk website) is as follows:

“Louis Michael Seidman of Georgetown University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the United States Constitution. Seidman argues that the we should ignore the Constitution in designing public policy, relying instead on the merits of policy regardless of their constitutionality. Seidman defends his position by citing examples in the past where constitutionality has been ignored and says it would be better to recognize our disdain for the Constitution in a transparent way. In this lively conversation, Roberts pushes back against these ideas, citing the limits of reason and the dangers of using popular sentiment to determine policy.”

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