Archive for the 'Worthy Reads' Category

31
Dec
08

Will Obama Repeat the Mistakes of Bush and FDR?

Amity Shlaes, author of an excellent economic history of the New Deal (The Forgotten Man), explains how President Roosevelt made the economy worse – somewhat akin to the erratic policy of the Bush Administration. The key question now is whether President-Elect Obama makes the same mistakes:

The United States has entered the era of the experiment. President-elect Barack Obama is putting forward an infrastructure program whose plans and price tag are unclear. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson whipped up the Troubled Asset Relief Program to buy up bad mortgage instruments, and, expanding on that experiment, President Bush wants to try extending TARP to autoworkers. The idea that experiments are warranted in current circumstances comes from the New Deal. …there is significant evidence that the very arbitrariness of the New Deal made the Depression worse. In 1932, stunned market players and citizens wanted to know what the new rules were. They voted for a party with a platform so moderate it could have been written by today’s Concord Coalition: stability, sound money, balanced budgets. That was the Democratic Party, led by Roosevelt. …Using emergency powers, FDR yanked the country off the gold standard. …Some of the worst destruction came with FDR’s gold experiment. …Roosevelt was right to want to introduce more money into the economy (the United States was deflating). But his method was like trying to raise an ocean level by adding water by the thimbleful. What horrified markets even more was that FDR managed the operation personally, day by day, over a breakfast tray. No one ever knew what the increase would be. One Friday in November 1933, for example, Roosevelt told Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau that he thought the gold price ought to be raised 21 cents. Why that amount, Morgenthau asked. “Because it’s three times seven,” FDR replied. ….The arbitrary quality of other initiatives reinforced concerns. The New Deal centerpiece, the National Recovery Administration, helped some businesses compete and criminalized others for the same behavior. Sometimes Roosevelt goaded federal prosecutors into harassing corporate executives. Other times, he schmoozed the same execs at the White House. …Uncertain, markets froze. Businesses refused to hire or invest in equipment. Unemployment stayed stuck in the teens. The ‘deal’ part of the New Deal phrase was problematic; businesses didn’t want individual favors, they wanted clear laws for all. ….Today, uncertainty also chills. Questions abound over the future regulation of stocks and derivatives, over tax policy, over bailouts. All this makes it hard for the market to settle on equity or home prices.

Read the whole thing.

03
Dec
08

Worthy Reads

Worthy Reads

Gold-Plated Coffee Machines Illustrate Wasteful Habits of European Politicians and Bureaucrats. The European Commission spent more than six thousand dollars apiece for 20 coffee machines – and now does not use them because of health concerns. The chief bureaucrats in Brussels now have to get in line and buy coffee, making one wonder if they are asking for hardship pay? The International Herald Tribune reports…

America’s Insane Farm Subsidies. The Seattle Times has. Story of how rich people, including many foreigners, are taking advantage of farm subsidies to fleece taxpayers…

Politicians Want to “Cure” Problems Caused by Easy Money with More Easy Money. Inflationary policy by the Federal Reserve was one of the main causes of the housing bubble. So how do many politicians propose to solve the mess? With more inflation of course! John Stossel examines this foolish policy prescription…

Coercing Kids to Be Left-Wing Activists. With his usual clarity, Thomas Sowell shreds the notion that school kids should be forced to do so-called community service…

More Victims of Gun Control. India has very strict rules against private gun ownership. As John Lott explains, these rules didn’t stop terrorists from getting weapons. But the rules did ensure that innocent people had no ability to defend themselves…

19
Nov
08

Worthy Reads

Worthy Reads

Socialism Is Slavery. Walter Williams aptly summarizes the coercive nature of redistributionism.

Paulson’s Keystone-Cop Bailout Policy. President Bush has ceded economic policy to his Treasury Secretary, but Hank Paulson has a reverse-Midas touch. As John Stossel notes, the market seems to go down every time Paulson pipes up.

Subsidizing Reckless Behavior. Politicians specialize in bad law, but sometimes they go above and beyond in their search for foolish policy. The mortgage bailout is a good example. As a San Francisco news article explains, feckless government policy creates an incentive for people to default on their mortgages.

19
Aug
08

Worthy Reads

Obama Supports School Choice for His Kids, but Not Your Kids. Investor’s Business Daily skewers Senator Obama for kowtowing to the teacher unions and opposing school choice…Worthy Reads

Markets Are Best Weapon Against Discrimination. John Stossel explains why government should not interfere with private hiring choices…

Sweden Leads on School Choice. A column in the Washington Times reviews the successful nationwide school choice system in Sweden…

Obama’s Nutty Energy Tax Grab. Many commentators mocked Senator McCain for his “silly” gas tax holiday, but Senator Obama is getting kid-gloves treatment for his awful proposal to impose a “windfall profits” tax on energy companies. The Wall Street Journal highlights some of the reasons why Obama’s proposal would wreak havoc…

Norway’s Hypocritical Socialists. Richard Rahn exposes the stupidity and hypocrisy of the Norwegian campaign to persecute tax havens…

13
Aug
08

Worthy Reads

More Proof that Tax Harmonization Means Higher Taxes. The bureaucrats at the OECD and European Commission sometimes claim that their anti-tax competition schemes are motivated by a desire for efficient

Worthy Reads

taxes, not greed for higher taxes. This is a rather spurious claim, and the latest evidence comes from a new EU-wide effort to impose higher (and harmonized) taxes on tobacco…

Nanny State Run Amok. Most politicians see tobacco as a major source of revenue, though they often pretend that they want higher taxes to discourage tobacco use. But not all of them are pretending. As the EU Observer reports, some politicians in Europe seem genuinely determined to impose their preferences on other people by banning tobacco products…

Obama’s Radical Foreign Aid Scheme. A column at Townhall.com exposes the huge cost of Senator Obama”s so-called Global Poverty Act…

The Deadly Impact of EU Farm Subsidies. According to new research, farm subsidies in Europe are killing people by encouraging over+consumption of certain foods. These deaths are unfortunate, but they are the result of voluntary choices. The greater outrage is the misery and death inflicted on developing nations because subsidies in rich nations deprive poor nations of trade opportunities…

30
Jul
08

Wrothy Reads.

Government Is the Source of Housing Problems, Not the Solution. Tom Sowell explains how politicians caused the turmoil in housing markets with misguided (is there any other kind?) intervention…

Worthy Reads
Tax Competition Is a Driving Force for Good Tax Policy. The best evidence for tax competition being a positive force is that politicians from high-tax jurisdictions are opposed to governments competing with each other. The second best evidence for tax competition is that politicians often do the right thing only after other politicians lower tax rates and force them to keep pace. Reports from Canada, for instance, demonstrate that the potential for a flat tax in New Brunswick already is compelling politicians in neighboring provinces to consider similar, pro-growth reforms…

Schwarzenegger’s Spending Binge. Voters in California got rid of former Governor Gray Davis in a recall election, but they may have jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been far more irresponsible with taxpayer money, boosting state spending by record amounts. Investor’s Business Daily has the sad details…

Lower Tax Rates Are the Best Way to Soak the Rich. The Wall Street Journal analyzes new IRS data and finds that the 2003 tax rate reductions resulted in more revenue from the so-called rich…

Voters Reject Pork. Pat Toomey of the Club for Growth unveils a new poll showing that voters overwhelmingly prefer less wasteful spending, notwithstanding the rationalizations in Washington that pork-barrel projects are the best way to get reelected…

California Elitists Seek More Control over Lives of Ordinary People. Jerry Brown was known as Gov. Moonbeam when he served as chief executive of California. He’s now Attorney General, but his collectivist thinking has not changed. He wants to use the coercive power of government to herd people out of the suburbs and into what is known as high-density housing. Supposedly, this will reduce global warming. Not only is the science rather suspect, as the Wall Street Journal explains, but elitists like Attorney General Brown rarely practice what they preach…

24
Jul
08

Worthy Reads.

England Attracting the Wrong Kind of Tourists. European integration is a mixed bag. It is a big free-tradeWorthy Reads zone, which is good. There is also very active tax competition between nations, which is very good. In general, though, European integration is part of creating an unwieldy superstate run by bureaucrats from Brussels. One interesting aspect of integration is that scam artists are quickly learning which nations have the biggest (and dumbest) welfare systems. Many of these people have moved to the United Kingdom, for instance, though the gravy train may soon be derailed because even the Labour Party government recognizes that there is a problem..

One Set of Rules for the Peasantry, Another Set for the Political Elite. Until the seedy practice was exposed, the host committee for the Democratic national convention in Denver was dodging state and federal taxes by filling its cars using city pumps. Defenders of this scam tried to say the GOP elites were doing the same thing in Minneapolis (plausible, but not true in this instance). They also have the absurd excuse that city pumps were being used for security purposes (I suppose we should be happy that these nonentities are not demanding 24-hour police protection)…

Forget Drinking and Driving, Don’t Mix Bureaucracy and Air Travel. A television station in Chicago exposes some of the unavoidable consequences of giving power to bureaucrats. While it is amusing to point out the inefficiency and idiocy of the Transportation Security Administration, let’s also remember that airport security personnel are only federal bureaucrats because President Bush rolled over and signed a bad bill. Just like he did on education. Just like he did on agriculture. Just like he did on transportation. Just like he did on Medicare. Just like he’s about to do on housing. One would almost think there’s a pattern in these decisions…