Tuesday, July 31, 2012

http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/

Like Nancy Pelosi, if you were to cast Harry Reid as the villain in an Ayn Rand movie, people would think you were being unrealistically heavy-handed.

#HarryReidFacts: Some guy totally told Truther Harry Reid a thing about Romney’s taxes; Media repeat; Update: #HarryReidIsAPederast | Twitchy

#HarryReidFacts: Some guy totally told Truther Harry Reid a thing about Romney’s taxes; Media repeat; Update: #HarryReidIsAPederast | Twitchy: "LOL! RT @mattdizwhitlock The most unbelievable aspect of Reid's "friend from Bain" is the idea of @HarryReid having a friend #HarryReidFacts"

'via Blog this'

NPR's Cokie Roberts: Romney Poland Trip Racially Motivated

NPR's Cokie Roberts: Romney Poland Trip Racially Motivated: "LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST: So today is Poland. Why is he stopping in Poland. What does he hope to accomplish with that?

Cokie Roberts: Well, I think part of it was a desire to portray President Obama as something of a wimp, and say he's abandoned Eastern Europe. But look, you remember well the Reagan Democrats. Those ethnic white voters who had been Democrats for many years; turned out for Ronald Reagan, and have been fairly predictable Republicans since then. Now it's a smaller percentage of the population -- of the voting population -- than it used to be, but white voters are still much more Republican than any other group in the electorate. They went for McCain in 2008 by 55%. And I think that getting those ethnic voters excited is really what Romney has in mind here. It's more for the folks at home -- the descendents of the people that he will be speaking to -- in Poland."

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Fermat

UPDATE: Thread-winner from Orin Kerr: “Fermat’s Dilemma is whether to admit that you don’t know the proof for a theorem or just to pretend you know the proof but you don’t have space in the margin to explain it.”

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Scalia Hearings

Patrick Leahy had (albeit minimal) hair!

Scalia Hearings

Watching Scalia's confirmation hearing has made one thing very clear to me. Senator Grassley loves committee reports!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Who Knew? 10 Celebrities Who Are Former Mormons (PHOTOS) - Gallery - Celebrities Who Are Former Mormons - wetpaint.com

Who Knew? 10 Celebrities Who Are Former Mormons (PHOTOS) - Gallery - Celebrities Who Are Former Mormons - wetpaint.com: " Katherine’s conservative upbringing still affects certain choices today, but the star says she’s too selfish to fully devote herself to the church. “I haven’t been an actively practicing Mormon in years,” she revealed to the Daily Mail. “I satisfy my vices instead of fighting them. I love being a sinner.”"

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty: "Brink thinks that Murray's plea for a return to older moral virtues is quixotic.

The absolutist conceptions of morality that once kept the working class (and everybody else, too) on the straight and narrow were a cultural adaptation to material scarcity...There is simply no prospect for a return to the more authoritarian morality of yesteryear."

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EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty: "I have a question. Who is more bothered by this "growing gap:" the people in the working class or the people in the elite? Often, it seems to me that it is the elite that is most worked up about it. The elite looks at everybody else and wonders, "what will it take to make them be like us?""

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hashtag fail: #ThingsMittRomneyHasNeverDone ends up exposing President Obama’s failures | Twitchy

Hashtag fail: #ThingsMittRomneyHasNeverDone ends up exposing President Obama’s failures | Twitchy: "Told you what dog tasted like. #ThingsMittRomneyHasNeverDone"

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Hard to Keep Track

So first Obama campaigned against a mandate.  Then, once elected, he passes a mandate.

Campaigning, Obama said he would not raise taxes on the middle class. He emphatically argued the mandate was not a tax. Then his administration argued that it was a tax to to the Supreme Court. Then the Supreme Court agreed, saying the mandate was only constitutional because it was a tax. 


Now the Obama administration is back to arguing the mandate is not a tax.

Chick-fil-A: if you’re not sure, this is how fascism works

Chick-fil-A: if you’re not sure, this is how fascism works: "“Whether these Chick-fil-A people support gay marriage or not, are people no longer entitled to their own opinions? I mean, denying them business licenses? Really? Is this what we’ve come to:”Either fall in line or you will pay; we will destroy you…” for having a different opinion?
Whatever happened to “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
If this is true, if this bullying is true, then this is not my father’s liberalism, that’s for sure. It’s something very, very different."

'via Blog this'

Greece expels Olympic athlete over racist tweets - Yahoo! News

Greece expels Olympic athlete over racist tweets - Yahoo! News: "Papachristou wrote: "With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!". "

'via Blog this'

I don't know what's racist about this.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444464304577539063008406518.html

If the government didn't invent the Internet, who did? Vinton Cerf developed the TCP/IP protocol, the Internet's backbone, and Tim Berners-Lee gets credit for hyperlinks. Enlarge Image Xerox PARC Xerox PARC headquarters. But full credit goes to the company where Mr. Taylor worked after leaving ARPA: Xerox. It was at the Xerox PARC labs in Silicon Valley in the 1970s that the Ethernet was developed to link different computer networks. Researchers there also developed the first personal computer (the Xerox Alto) and the graphical user interface that still drives computer usage today.

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner

In light of that fact, it’s worth noting how grim the basics are, even using CBO’s implausibly hopeful scenarios. The agency projects that the federal government will spend about $1.7 trillion, increase taxes by about a trillion dollars, and cut Medicare spending by more than $700 billion without any real structural reforms of the program (though it’s hard imagine that last one would actually happen in practice). It will create yet another unsustainable health-care entitlement program, expand the existing ones, micromanage the insurance industry in ways likely to make it even less efficient, employ even heavier price controls of the sort that have always failed in Medicare, and (especially through its taxes) stifle employment, investment, and medical research. And after all this, even the CBO’s very optimistic assumptions leave it concluding that 30 million Americans will be uninsured a decade from now—so we will have gone from today’s 80% coverage to 89% in 2023. If that’s what the Left means by universal coverage, there are far, far less costly and counterproductive ways to get there.

Monday, July 23, 2012

1 In the beginning Govt created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the economy was formless and void, darkness was over the surface of the ATMs, and the Spirit of Govt was hovering over the land. 3 And Govt said, “Let there be spending,” and there was spending. 4 Govt saw that the spending was good, and that it separated the light from the darkness. 5 Govt called the spending Investments, and this he did in the first day.

Science Lies Bleeding - Kathryn Jean Lopez - National Review Online

Science Lies Bleeding - Kathryn Jean Lopez - National Review Online: "‘It’s Time for Mark Regnerus to Get Collectively Dumped,” read the headline to a New Republic blog post in response to a study released earlier this summer by Regnerus, a professor in the department of sociology and at the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. His crime? Doing research on the effects of same-sex parenting on children. The shamelessness of the blogospheric eruption turned into an outrage when an activist in New York wrote to the university to accuse Regnerus of “using misinformation in an attempt to hurt others,” prompting an ethics inquiry. "

'via Blog this'

Sunday, July 22, 2012

What Big Government is doing to those 85,000 “disabled” is profoundly wicked. Let me quote a guy called Mark Steyn, from his last book: The evil of such a system is not the waste of money but the waste of people. Tony Blair’s ministry discovered it was politically helpful to reclassify a chunk of the unemployed as “disabled”. A fit, able-bodied 40-year old who has been on disability allowance for a decade understands somewhere at the back of his mind that he is living a lie, and that not just the government but his family and his friends are colluding in that lie.

The Golden Gate Bridge? As Reason’s Matt Welch pointed out, the Golden Gate cost at the time $35 million — or about $530 million today. So, for the cost of Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill alone, we could have had 1,567 Golden Gate Bridges. Where are they?

He certainly carries it forward from one dam speech to another. He was doing his Hoover Dam shtick only last month, and I pointed out that there seemed to be a certain inconsistency between his enthusiasm for federal dam-building and the definitive administration pronouncement on the subject, by Deanna Archuleta, his deputy assistant secretary of the Interior, in a speech to Democrat environmentalists in Nevada: “You will never see another federal dam.”

Friday, July 20, 2012

Time for Brian Ross to Find a New Job | Mother Jones

Time for Brian Ross to Find a New Job | Mother Jones: "Earlier this morning, ABC's Brian Ross reported that some guy named Jim Holmes who belonged to the Colorado Tea Party might be the same James Holmes who murdered a dozen people in a theater in Aurora last night. "Now, we don't know if this is the same Jim Holmes," Ross said "but it's Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado."

Needless to say, it turned out that this wasn't the guy. I don't normally call for people's heads for making a mistake, even a bad one, but this is really beyond the pale. What kind of reporter says something like this on national TV despite knowing full well that he has no idea if he's pegging the right person? Is there really any good reason Ross should still be employed by ABC News by the close of business today?"

'via Blog this'

Police fire rubber bullets after huge Madrid protest - Yahoo! News Canada

Police fire rubber bullets after huge Madrid protest - Yahoo! News Canada: "Spanish police fired rubber bullets and charged protestors in central Madrid early Friday at the end of a huge demonstration against economic crisis measures.
The protest was one of over 80 demonstrations called by unions across the county against civil servant pay cuts and tax hikes which drew tens of thousands of people, including police and firefighters wearing their helmets."

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I find this so depressing.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kids Prefer Cheese

Kids Prefer Cheese: "We propose that the “moral circle” is a common motivational source for engagement in environmentally beneficial activities across situations and may be thus drawn upon to efficiently promote these activities. Study 1 established an association between chronic moral circle size and nine pro-environmental activities from different domains. Via experimental manipulation of the moral circle size, Studies 2a–d demonstrated its causal effect on intentions to engage in pro-environmental activities. Together, these studies offer an important initial demonstration of the beneficial consequences of more expansive moral circle in the domain of pro-environmentalism. Routes for expanding the moral circle and thus promoting pro-environmental activities are discussed."

'via Blog this'

A Personal Note - By Conrad Black - The Corner - National Review Online

A Personal Note - By Conrad Black - The Corner - National Review Online: "The review is as I described it and is represented as the work of Douglas Brinkley and no one else. If Mr. Brinkley did not write the review, he should require a correction from the L.A. Times, the real writer should be identified, and I will then apologize to Mr. Brinkley. In the meantime, I thank Mr. Brinkley for his kind verbal reflection on my Roosevelt book, so sharply at variance with the review that bears his name."

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Secular Messianism, Cont’d. - By Michael Potemra - The Corner - National Review Online

Secular Messianism, Cont’d. - By Michael Potemra - The Corner - National Review Online: "But a Methodist minister of my e-mail acquaintance has put her finger on a more fundamental problem with Obama’s rhetoric, one that this instance illustrates quite strikingly:

I am struggling with an odd thing — our president is beginning to preach my sermons, albeit with a secular leftist twist! I realized this when I heard his now-infamous “you didn’t build that company” line . . . how many times I have preached on a text like the Pharisee and the tax collector and said something like that! Something along the lines of: “Whatever you have, it’s the result of the gifts God gave you” or some such comment."

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Yes, it kind of reminds me of Mosiah 2:20-21

20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all theathanks and bpraise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and cpreserved you, and has caused that ye should drejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
 21 I say unto you that if ye should aserve him who has created you from the beginning, and is bpreserving you from day to day, by lending you cbreath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own dwill, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your ewhole souls yet ye would be funprofitable servants.

Leading Protestant college sues over contraception mandate - The Hill's Healthwatch

Leading Protestant college sues over contraception mandate - The Hill's Healthwatch: "Another prominent religious college has filed suit against the Obama administration over a policy meant to ease women's access to free birth control.

The suit from Ill.-based Wheaton College — dubbed the "Notre Dame" of Protestant higher education — states that the controversial policy violates the religious freedom of people who object to birth control or consider forms of it equal to abortion. "

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DRUDGE REPORT 2012®

DRUDGE REPORT 2012®: "WEINER PULLS OUT..."

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

You didn't build that.

You didn't build that.: "Jefferson Starship gets educated by president Obama. They didn’t, in fact, build that city on rock and roll. Somebody else made that happen."

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Cafe Hayek — where orders emerge

Cafe Hayek — where orders emerge: "Such open-ended obligations would mean that people aren’t citizens represented by government so much as they are slaves ruled by the state."

'via Blog this'

Cafe Hayek — where orders emerge

Cafe Hayek — where orders emerge: "But Smith and Friedman and other people of good sense understand also something that Mr. Obama does not.  They understand that the agreements through which each of millions of people contracts to contribute to the production of coats and pencils and peas and policing and roads and barges and engineering textbooks and on and on and on are not open-ended.  Selling wool to tailors does not thereby give shepherds an open-ended claim upon the wealth of coat owners.  Government’s success at persuading taxpayers to fund the hiring of more teachers and the construction of new highways does not thereby give government (or teachers or highway workers) an open-ended claim upon the wealth of private citizens who benefit from these teachers or who use these highways."

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Greg Mankiw's Blog

Greg Mankiw's Blog: "The most surprising fact to me was that the effective tax rate is negative for the middle quintile.  According to the CBO data, this number was +14 percent in 1979 (when the data begin) and remained positive through 2007.  It was negative 0.5 percent in 2008, and negative 5 percent in 2009.  That is, the middle class, having long been a net contributor to the funding of government, is now a net recipient of government largess."

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Monday, July 16, 2012

BBC News - The terrible price of a Korean defection

BBC News - The terrible price of a Korean defection: "When they arrived at Pyongyang airport, Oh began to see he had made a mistake in coming. Communist party officials and children clutching flowers were there to meet them. But despite the cold of a North Korean December, the children were not wearing socks and their traditional clothes were so thin that they shivered. "When I saw this I was really surprised and my wife even started to cry.""

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Barnett on Obamacare

Lots of interesting stuff here about Obamacare. I found the discussion Lysander Spooner especially interesting.
 

PICKET:(VIDEO) Obama - 'If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen' - Washington Times

PICKET:(VIDEO) Obama - 'If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen' - Washington Times: "     If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet."

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I think Obama just offended every successful entrepreneur.

First, without knowing much about it, I really doubt government had much to do with the rise of the internet. But lets grant the premise. Does anyone actually believe that the internet would not have come about without the government? Wasn't the internet kind of an obvious idea that was going to happen regardless of whether government was involved?

Welcome to California: America without Republicans | WashingtonExaminer.com

Welcome to California: America without Republicans | WashingtonExaminer.com: "Apparently Obama believes that if he wins this November, Republicans on Capitol Hill will all begin to act like Chief Justice John Roberts by betraying their conservative beliefs and signing on to Obama's unprecedented expansion of the federal welfare state. But what would America look like if the Republican "fever" did break?

We already know. It would look a lot like the state of California, where no non-cyborg Republican has been governor since 1996. Democrats have also enjoyed complete control of the state legislature since 1997. And they have governed exactly the way you'd expect Democrats to govern."

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

From Seat to Shining Seat - By Mark Steyn - The Corner - National Review Online

From Seat to Shining Seat - By Mark Steyn - The Corner - National Review Online: "I hope you’re sitting down for this one…

Navy’s New Gender-Neutral Carriers Won’t Have Urinals"

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Blogger: Althouse - Post a Comment

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet."

Blogger: Althouse - Post a Comment: "You know, the basic idea is obviously true and important, but what is the point?"

'via Blog this'

If you got ahead in life, you didn't get there based on merit. You got lucky or got help. So two things follow: (1) you don't deserve what you have, and (2) it's not really yours. It belongs to everyone who has contributed in some small way. And pretty much everyone has contributed. So your stuff is our stuff.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Conglomerate Blog: Business, Law, Economics & Society

The Conglomerate Blog: Business, Law, Economics & Society: "Today, the NYT added another layer of shame on Paterno: shortly after receiving a subpoena to testify in the Sandusky scandal, Paterno contacted the University to negotiate his departure. While still in a position of great strength, Paterno negotiated for a $3 million severance payment if he left his position at the end of the 2011 season. He also wanted forgiveness of $350,000 in loans from the University, the use of the University’s private plane, and a luxury box at Beaver Stadium for him and his family for 25 years."

'via Blog this'

Instapundit » Blog Archive » ANN ALTHOUSE busts Matt Taibbi for racial dishonesty. UPDATE: From the comments: Taibbi has a…

Instapundit » Blog Archive » ANN ALTHOUSE busts Matt Taibbi for racial dishonesty. UPDATE: From the comments: Taibbi has a…: "Taibbi has a two-page play book. Page 1 is “It’s Racism ” and Page 2is “It’s corporate greed & corruption”.

Someone please tell him we have a black president who got a boatload of support from Wall Street."

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The Market Doesn’t Ration Health Care | The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty

The Market Doesn’t Ration Health Care | The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty: "Health care reformers say they have two objectives: to enable the uninsured and under-insured to consume more medical services than they consume now, and to keep the prices of those services from rising, as they have been, faster than the prices of other goods and services. Unfortunately, Economics 101 tells us that to accomplish those two things directly—increased consumption by one group and lower prices—the government would have to take a third step: rationing. The reformers are disingenuous about this last step, and for good reason. People don’t like rationing, especially of medical care."

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Bruno Iksil, 'London Whale' Trader, Leaving JPMorgan Chase

Bruno Iksil, 'London Whale' Trader, Leaving JPMorgan Chase: "The Fraud is a criminal crime"

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Althouse: "It was Romney’s Star Trek moment. They were always talking about entities on Star Trek, and entities were very seldom good news."

Althouse: "It was Romney’s Star Trek moment. They were always talking about entities on Star Trek, and entities were very seldom good news.": "ADDED: Let's pay attention. I think what is going on right now is an effort to create a mindset, and emotional orientation toward Romney. Business is an alien entity. It's scary and mystifying, and Romney is part of that. You can't understand it, so don't even try. Collins is planting the seed of fear. You laugh now. You won't even feel it. But it will grow. Be afraid. Be very afraid."

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Obama: Romney should answer Bain questions - Jennifer Epstein - POLITICO.com

Obama: Romney should answer Bain questions - Jennifer Epstein - POLITICO.com: "“My understanding is that Mr. Romney attested to the SEC, multiple times, that he was the chairman, CEO and president of Bain Capital and I think most Americans figure if you are the chairman, CEO and president of a company that you are responsible for what that company does,” Obama said."

'via Blog this'

This is sooooo disingenuous.

Instapundit » Blog Archive » TO PROVE THAT WE’RE AT THE TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN, NATCH: Why Kill Animals That Attack Humans? Pe…

Instapundit » Blog Archive » TO PROVE THAT WE’RE AT THE TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN, NATCH: Why Kill Animals That Attack Humans? Pe…: "TO PROVE THAT WE’RE AT THE TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN, NATCH: Why Kill Animals That Attack Humans?

Personally, I’ve made a point of eating things like rattlesnake, shark, alligator, etc. whenever possible. That way, even if one of them eventually gets me, I’ll still be ahead."

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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Twitter / IMAO_: Has Obama considering solv

Twitter / IMAO_: Has Obama considering solv: "Has Obama considering solving unemployment through a not-having-a-job tax?"

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[slightly edited for clarity.]

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Public Choice Riddle

Most people think that democracy produces outcomes representing the will of the people. Under this theory of democracy, the people elect representatives to government who hold similar policy preferences. These representatives then propose and pass laws that reflect their policy positions. The result is that the people living in a democracy--or at least the majority--get the laws they want enacted. If people get bad laws, it is their own fault. 


Justice Roberts endorsed this view when he said, "It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices." This statement presume that the Affordable care act is the natural extension of the people's political choice. The people got what they should have expected after they voted for certain politicians.

Public choice theory, in contrast, explains that we often get laws that do not reflect the will of the people. Special interests can get laws passed that are not supported by most people because the benefits of the law are concentrated and internalized to the special interest, but the benefits to Americans at large are much smaller and diffuse. Thus, you get sugar quotas, which are bad on the whole because they drive sugar prices up for everyone. But because they only increase prices a little,  sugar farmers, who reap huge profits from the quotas, are able to keep the policy in place against the presumptive will of the people.

The riddle I've been thinking about, is how do you make Democracy work better? How do you avoid this government tragedy of the commons where everyone seeks and gets special favors from government?


This is the "is-ought" trade off economists talk about. Economic theories attempt to approximately describe the way things actually work based on incentives and self-interest, instead of propose how things could work if everyone acted selflessly.


Because one answer to preventing this kind of special interest problem is simply to say, everyone should be selfless. I think that is basically the liberal answer. If everyone just stopped being greedy, things would be better.


But then people are self interested. It seems naive to base a system on the idea they will not act in their self interest. So we need a system based upon individuals pursuing their self interest. 

But it seems to me that when you allow for the fact that people will pursue their self interest, it becomes a lot harder to see what must change to stop special interests. 


So perhaps special interests shouldn't lobby government for special favors. But then, lobbying for a favor is in the best interests of the special interest. So instead of saying stop lobbying, we should say politicians should stop giving out special favors. But again, public choice theory assumes that politicians are acting in accordance with their incentives. So, instead of saying politicians should buck their incentives, we should instead say that the public at large should throw the bums out to give the politicians an incentive to stop handing out favors to special interests. But then, that is hard to say, too, because people do vote. so why is that not already happening? Additionally, people have lots of competing demands on their time. Voters are rationally ignorant about what politicians do with their tax dollars. And that again is consistent with their incentives.


So, it's a little bit of a puzzle.


I have some thoughts about answers to this riddle, but I'll leave it there for now.



Michael Kinsley: Citizens United got it right - latimes.com

Michael Kinsley: Citizens United got it right - latimes.com: "A pretty good argument, I've always thought, but it stumbles over media companies (as Kennedy notes at length in Citizens United). If "money isn't speech," as many a New York Times editorial has declared, may the government put a limit on how much a corporation can spend publishing a newspaper? The law Citizens United overturned actually exempted media companies from its spending limits. But the difficulty — impossibility, really — of defining a media company and explaining why it should have more rights than any other company suggests that a right granted to one company should be granted to all."

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Bench Memos - National Review Online

Bench Memos - National Review Online: "1) He explains that the Constitution allows a “capitation” tax — a generally applicable “head tax” that applies regardless of someone’s actions or inaction. If we take the chief justice at his word, this citation could not possibly justify taxing inaction. His initial concern related to the government’s ability to reach “what we do not do,” not its ability to tax someone regardless of anything they do or don’t do."

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Cafe Hayek — where orders emerge

Cafe Hayek — where orders emerge: "One of the points I make in The Invisible Heart is that those of us who want smaller government because we think it will make the world a better place are the allies, whether we like it or not, of purely selfish people who want smaller government in order to avoid taxes and who have no intention of giving to charity. That should give us pause. At the same time, those who care so much about others that they would run their lives for them are allied with those who would run the lives of others because of less attractive motives–for power and profit."

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Cafe Hayek — where orders emerge

Cafe Hayek — where orders emerge: "The other day a friend of mine was defending a regulation related to smoking. I hate smoking. I’ve never smoked in my life. But I think people should be free to smoke if they want and I believe that private establishments–restaurants and apartment buildings and businesses–should be free to allow people to smoke on their premises. My friend doesn’t. He’s a great guy and knows as I do, that smoking has some very damaging health consequences. He feels very self-righteous about his quest to regulate smoking even more throughly than we currently do. Part of that self-righteousness comes from his motives. He knows they are pure and they are. He is a fine person. I respect him. He also happens to be overweight. I wonder how he would feel if I explained to him that I have been doing a lot of reading lately on diet and health and that I thought he should eat fewer carbohydrates and spend more time at the gym? I do wish he were thinner. I think it would be good for him. But I would never want to force him to change his habits and even more than that, my respect for him would keep me from even making the suggestion. I think he knows he’s overweight."

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Jonah Goldberg: Lots of losers under 'Obamacare' - latimes.com

Jonah Goldberg: Lots of losers under 'Obamacare' - latimes.com: "For the record, there are losers under Obamacare. Here's a short list: 1) taxpayers who will carry the load of what the Congressional Budget Office says will be a $2-trillion price tag when the law is fully implemented; 2) the CBO also says it's likely that at least a few million workers will be pushed off their current insurance coverage, even though the president insists you can keep your existing insurance if you like it; 3) innumerable and unknowable numbers of sick people who will not be screened for various diseases because some bureaucrats' protocol says it's too expensive; 4) Roman Catholic and other religious institutions forced to violate their values; 5) a few million so-called freeloaders who don't want to buy health insurance for perfectly rational reasons."

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Earlier in the piece the NPR correspondent defends the idea that this is great news for America's 50 million uninsured. Some of my co-workers also said something like, now I can get health insurance! How so?

If you don't already have insurance, you now have to pay a "tax" for not having insurance, unless you fall within an exemption. But if you decide to buy insurance, it is likely going to be much more expensive for at least three reasons. First, it must cover more things that should not be insured to begin with--like contraceptives. Second, if you don't have insurance, you're probably a young person, and now you will have to buy "community rated" insurance, meaning you as a young person pay the same price as someone that's old and decrepit. You can't buy insurance without subsidizing and old person. Third, your insurance will be more expensive because of all the people who will simply wait until they get sick and buy insurance because insurance companies cannot discriminated based upon pre-existing conditions (guarantee issue.)

Am I missing something? Maybe these people are thinking they will now qualify for medicaid?

Oreo Pride: Rainbow-Stuffed Cookie Sparks Threats of Boycott - ABC News

Oreo Pride: Rainbow-Stuffed Cookie Sparks Threats of Boycott - ABC News: "Oreo is the latest in a string of juggernaut brands to show support for the LGBT community.
In honor of Pride month Target launched a line of gay pride t-shirts, and the proceeds went to support the Family Equality Council, a Washington D.C.-based gay rights advocacy group. The pride shirts sold out in less than a month.
Ben & Jerry’s, a longtime supporter of LGBT causes, renamed its apple pie flavor “Apple-y Ever After” in scoop shops throughout the U.K. in March, while the British government was debating legalizing same sex marriages.
The Vermont-based ice cream company re-vamped its peanut butter-filled pretzel flavor in 2009 when same sex marriage was being legalized in Vermont, swapping the “Chubby Hubby” name for “Hubby Hubby.”"

'via Blog this'

Look at how corporate money is corrupting our politics! Look what Citizens United has wrought! I call on liberals everywhere who hate the influence of corporations in politics to denounce and boycott these companies.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Live Free — and Uninsured - Jonah Goldberg - National Review Online

Live Free — and Uninsured - Jonah Goldberg - National Review Online: "So, Obamacare creates no losers except where it fails to tax people sufficiently and where GOP governors fail to accept the wisdom of the law. In short, the only thing wrong with Obamacare is that it isn’t even more punitive, more mandatory, and more intrusive."

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The Franck Defense of Roberts - By Ramesh Ponnuru - Bench Memos - National Review Online

The Franck Defense of Roberts - By Ramesh Ponnuru - Bench Memos - National Review Online: "Opinions on this question will of course differ. I will note three facts that do not settle the matter but do seem highly suggestive. Lower courts did not find Roberts’s argument persuasive. Few of those who find his opinion congenial find it persuasive either. And as sympathetic an observer as Matthew Franck has not been fully persuaded by it either."

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Bench Memos - National Review Online

Bench Memos - National Review Online: "First, and most obviously: He was unwilling to faithfully apply the Constitution in one of the most important cases, if not the most important case, he will ever decide. Yes, I know, he took the conservative/Burkean step of applying the doctrine of constitutional avoidance, and found what he believed to be a “fairly possible” solution that would avoid striking a major federal statute. But here is a question for my friends who make that argument: Would you have done the same or would you have sided with the dissenting justices? Why? The bottom line is that he took a position that his conservative colleagues, three of whom consider themselves originalists, refused to join even in part."

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The Volokh Conspiracy

The Volokh Conspiracy: " Indeed, some of the pro-Roberts leaking actually reinforces the notion that the latter was the reason for his switch. For example, if it is true that some two-thirds of what eventually became the dissenting opinion was initially drafted by Roberts, that makes it more likely that he had a strong belief that the mandate is unconstitutional. I doubt he would have taken the time to write a long and detailed opinion invalidating the mandate if he were not pretty clear in his mind that that was the way he intended to vote."

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Bench Memos - National Review Online

Bench Memos - National Review Online: "I can’t speak for all of the chief justice’s critics, but I can assure Brooks that my own frustration is about a lot more than the majority’s failure to rid us of a bad law. It is about the majority’s failure to rid us of an unconstitutional law."

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hear, hear.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bench Memos - National Review Online

Bench Memos - National Review Online: "But what does Crawford actually claim to know?  Just the following:

that Roberts held one view in March, and a different one in May;
that one or more of the four conservative justices, notably including Kennedy, tried to win him back to their view;
that a month of trying to persuade him failed;
that Chief Justice Roberts “pays attention to media coverage.”
That’s it."

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Well, we know the conversation was described as lobbying and arm-twisting by the sources. Those words to not conjur the picture of a principled debate about the substance of the law. We also know that Roberts was asked about why he changed his vote and gave an unsatisfactory answer. We know there was an extensive public lobbying effort by people like Patrick Leahy just around the time Roberts was, in fact, going squishy on his prior decision.

And we also know that his opinion is hard to swallow in some respects. He says the ACA is not a tax for anti-injunction purposes--because it uses the "penalty language."  But apparently it was a tax for constitutional purposes. We know that his opinion doesn't deal with the fact that taxes must originate in the house for political accountable branch. We know that his opinion doesn't address the serious and difficult direct tax issue.

I'm not saying its a slam-dunk case, and I find it sad and disappointing conclusion. But you start to see a picture of a justice that's more concerned with the politics of a decision than the soundness of his interpretation. Let's hope this is a one-case lapse of judgment.

Blogger: Althouse - Post a Comment

Another Comment:


Blogger: Althouse - Post a Comment: ""Once it emerged that Roberts would rely on the taxing power, there was 'fair amount of give-and-take with Kennedy and other justices,' that one justice described as 'arm-twisting.'"

I wonder what this arm-twisting sounds like. Does it sound like "You, Kennedy went along with a similar statutory interpretation in case X." Or does it sound like "this is going to be a huge public relations disaster if you don't vote with me." Some clerk or justice can provide vital evidence on whether Roberts actually believes his opinion or was just faking it for the sake of politics."

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The Volokh Conspiracy » My Politico Post Assessing the Individual Mandate Decision

The Volokh Conspiracy » My Politico Post Assessing the Individual Mandate Decision: "It is not yet clear whether Roberts really was motivated by such considerations, and we should keep an open mind on the subject…. But if reputational concerns really were at the heart of his switch, it is very sad that the highest-ranking judge in the land valued reputation more than his duty to enforce the Constitution…."

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The Corner - National Review Online

The Corner - National Review Online: "Roberts, who wanted to cement his reputation as a sober and judicious jurist, through his Hamlet-like deliberations ended up seeming incoherent, tentative, and unsure of himself. And if it’s true that rumors of Roberts reconsidering his vote swirled in Washington prior to the final outcome, and that such perceptions of hesitation prompted renewed venom and pressure — from not just the media, but from those such as Senator Leahy (who had voted to confirm Roberts) on the floors of Congress, and the president himself (who attacked the Court even earlier in his State of the Union address) — then the Court comes off as far more suspect after the opinion than before. Everything Roberts wished to prevent he ensured."

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Liberals tend to attribute political motives to conservative judges when they vote. I've always though this was wrong--that the conservative justices really do care about following the constitution as they understand it. I can point to a number of judicial opinions by Scalia that show he voted the opposite way you would presume he would vote if he was simply voting his political preferences.

But then this case comes along and confirms that, at least in some cases, the justices really do vote based on their politics or outcome preferences.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

What Was Roberts Thinking? | Hoover Institution

What Was Roberts Thinking? | Hoover Institution: "The original intuition was that general welfare of the United States only covered standard public goods, leaving all welfare functions to the state. That position was obviously abandoned.  But in its place, the rule was that the taxation power could never be used as an indirect form of regulation that Congress could not impose directly. That is exactly the argument that Chief Justice Roberts holds for the Commerce Clause, but at no point does he address the connection between the two clauses."

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NFIB v. Sebelius


For all these reasons, to say that the Individual Mandate merely imposes a tax is not to interpret the statute but to rewrite it. Judicial tax-writing is particularly troubl-ing. Taxes have never been popular, see, e.g., Stamp Act of 1765, and in part for that reason, the Constitution requires tax increases to originate in the House of Representatives. See Art. I, §7, cl. 1.  That is to say, they must originate in the legislative body most accountable to the people, where legislators must weigh the need for the tax against the terrible price they might pay at their next election, which is never more than two years off.  The Federalist No. 58 “defend[ed] the decision to give the origination power to the House on the ground that the Chamber that is more accountable to the people should have the primary role in raising revenue.”  United States v. Munoz-Flores, 495 U. S. 385, 395 (1990).  We have no doubt that Congress knew precisely what it was doing when it rejected an earlier version of this legislation that imposed a tax instead of a requirement-with-penalty.  See Affordable Health Care for America Act, H. R. 3962, 111th Cong., 1st Sess., §501 (2009); America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009, S. 1796, 111th Cong., 1st Sess., §1301.  Imposing a tax through judicial legislation inverts the constitutional scheme, and places the power to tax in the branch of government least accountable to the citizenry.

NFIB v. Sebelius

Our cases establish a clear line between a tax and a penalty: “‘[A] tax is an enforced contribution to provide for the support of government; a penalty . . . is an exaction imposed by statute as punishment for an unlawful act.’” United States v.  Reorganized CF&I Fabricators of Utah, Inc., 518 U. S. 213, 224 (1996 (quoting United States v. La Franca, 282 U. S. 568, 572 (1931)).  In a few cases, this Court has held that a “tax” imposed upon private conduct was so onerous as to be in effect a penalty.  But we have never heldnever—that a penalty imposed for violation of the law was so trivial as to be in effect a tax.  We have never held that  any exaction imposed for violation of the law is an exercise of Congress’ taxing power—even when the statute calls it a tax, much less when (as here) the statute repeatedly calls it a penalty. When an act “adopt[s] the criteria of wrongdoing” and then imposes a monetary penalty as the “principal consequence on those who transgress its standard,” it creates a regulatory penalty, not a tax.   Child Labor Tax Case, 259 U. S. 20, 38 (1922).



So the question is, quite simply, whether the exaction here is imposed for violation  of the law.  It unquestionably is.

The Volokh Conspiracy

The Volokh Conspiracy: "gain, I wondered, why would defenders of the law be personalizing their focus so aggressively and harshly on a man more likely to be the sixth than the fifth vote for their side?

Now, though, CBS News tells us that the Chief Justice was the defenders’ only hope for a fifth vote — and one that started looking “gettable” right around the time of Senator Leahy’s remarks.  Suddenly, the Senator’s remarks look a lot less foolhardy.  In fact, they look like a miraculously prescient and well-timed gamble.

So well-timed and prescient a gamble that I can’t help wondering whether it was a gamble at all.

I’d like to be wrong. A leak about Court deliberations, especially a leak that went only to one side in a pending case, would truly be a scandal."

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The Volokh Conspiracy » Who Leaked?

The Volokh Conspiracy » Who Leaked?: "The other primary possibility is one or more of the Justices themselves. On one hand, Crawford appears to have particularly good relations with several of the Justices, especially among its more conservative members. Here’s Crawford interviewing Justice Thomas, and here’s Crawford interviewing Justice Scalia. On the other hand, leaking so directly and so soon after the decision is out would be sure to strain the relationships among the Justices. If a Justice was directly involved, it could be something that has significant negative consequences for the Justices’ collegiality and working relationships going forward."

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My guess? Scalia or Kennedy. My guess is that one of them is pretty mad.

Roberts switched views to uphold health care law - CBS News

Roberts switched views to uphold health care law - CBS News: "Roberts then engaged in his own lobbying effort - trying to persuade at least Justice Kennedy to join his decision so the Court would appear more united in the case. There was a fair amount of give-and-take with Kennedy and other justices, the sources said. One justice, a source said, described it as "arm-twisting.""

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lame.

Roberts switched views to uphold health care law - CBS News

Roberts switched views to uphold health care law - CBS News: "Roberts had begun to focus on a different argument to uphold the law and the mandate's penalty by defining it as a tax. That strained argument had received almost no attention in the lower courts, which had uniformly rejected it. It was seen as a long-shot by the law's supporters."

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Roberts switched views to uphold health care law - CBS News

Roberts switched views to uphold health care law - CBS News: "It is not known why Roberts changed his view on the mandate and decided to uphold the law. At least one conservative justice tried to get him to explain it, but was unsatisfied with the response, according to a source with knowledge of the conversation."

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He could have just changed his vote. But to me, this seems seems more consistent with Roberts giving in to political pressure.