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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope


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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

FDR's policies prolonged the Great Depression

Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian, economists at UCLA, have released the results of four years of research trying to determine why the Great Depression lasted so long. Their conclusion - President Roosevelt's New Deal economic policies stifled recovery and prolonged the Depression by seven years:
President Roosevelt believed that excessive competition was responsible for the Depression by reducing prices and wages, and by extension reducing employment and demand for goods and services," said Cole, also a UCLA professor of economics. "So he came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies."

Using data collected in 1929 by the Conference Board and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Cole and Ohanian were able to establish average wages and prices across a range of industries just prior to the Depression. By adjusting for annual increases in productivity, they were able to use the 1929 benchmark to figure out what prices and wages would have been during every year of the Depression had Roosevelt's policies not gone into effect. They then compared those figures with actual prices and wages as reflected in the Conference Board data.

In the three years following the implementation of Roosevelt's policies, wages in 11 key industries averaged 25 percent higher than they otherwise would have done, the economists calculate. But unemployment was also 25 percent higher than it should have been, given gains in productivity.

Meanwhile, prices across 19 industries averaged 23 percent above where they should have been, given the state of the economy. With goods and services that much harder for consumers to afford, demand stalled and the gross national product floundered at 27 percent below where it otherwise might have been.

"High wages and high prices in an economic slump run contrary to everything we know about market forces in economic downturns," Ohanian said. "As we've seen in the past several years, salaries and prices fall when unemployment is high. By artificially inflating both, the New Deal policies short-circuited the market's self-correcting forces."

The authors conclude with words especially poignant in light of the current economic collapse:
"The fact that the Depression dragged on for years convinced generations of economists and policy-makers that capitalism could not be trusted to recover from depressions and that significant government intervention was required to achieve good outcomes," Cole said. "Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened."

read the whole article here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"The Republican Party in its current form has forfeited the right to govern"

Radley Balko of Reason Magazine on why the Republicans need to lose on Nov. 4:
While I'm not thrilled at the prospect of an Obama administration (especially with a friendly Congress), the Republicans still need to get their clocks cleaned in two weeks, for a couple of reasons.

First, they had their shot at holding power, and they failed. They've failed in staying true to their principles of limited government and free markets. They've failed in preventing elected leaders of their party from becoming corrupted by the trappings of power, and they've failed to hold those leaders accountable after the fact. Congressional Republicans failed to rein in the Bush administration's naked bid to vastly expand the power of the presidency (a failure they're going to come to regret should Obama take office in January). They failed to apply due scrutiny and skepticism to the administration's claims before undertaking Congress' most solemn task—sending the nation to war. I could go on.

As for the Bush administration, the only consistent principle we've seen from the White House over the last eight years is that of elevating the American president (and, I guess, the vice president) to that of an elected dictator. That isn't hyperbole. This administration believes that on any issue that can remotely be tied to foreign policy or national security (and on quite a few other issues as well), the president has boundless, limitless, unchecked power to do anything he wants. They believe that on these matters, neither Congress nor the courts can restrain him.

That's the second reason the GOP needs to lose. American voters need to send a clear, convincing repudiation of these dangerous ideas.

If they do lose, the GOP would be wise to regroup and rebuild from scratch, scrap the current leadership, and, most importantly, purge the party of the "national greatness," neoconservative influence. Big-government conservatism has bloated the federal government, bogged us down in what will ultimately be a trillion-dollar war, and set us down the road to European-style socialism. It's hard to think of how Obama could be worse. He'll just be bad in different ways.

Ted Nugent endorses McCain

Ted Nugent doesn't like Barack Obama much:
We are voting Republican, because we see that Barack Obama's voting record, not what he has been so cleverly scripted to say, but his voting record. If the guy likes France so much, why won't he just go there? Why would you want to turn America into France? There's already a France. That's the way I see it. It's a clusterfuck, and it's heartbreaking, really.

(ht: Ann Althouse)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cloth diapers are bad for the environment

via Reason.com:

In related news, cloth diapers are bad for the environment, and the government doesn't want you to know about it. The pleasingly labor intensive and disgusting practice of using cloth diapers because they're better for the environment than those awful disposables manufactured in China by multinational corporations turns out to be a big lie. A government report showing that cloth diapers are bad for the environment was (God forgive me for this) leaked to a newspaper:

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has instructed civil servants not to publicise the conclusions of the £50,000 nappy research project and to adopt a “defensive” stance towards its conclusions....

To reduce the impact of cloth nappies on climate change parents would have to hang wet nappies out to dry all year round, keep them for years for use on younger children, and make sure the water in their washing machines does not exceed 60 degrees C.

Gay gourmet cannibals

Headline of the week:

GAY CANNIBAL KILLER'S JOB AS A PRISON CHEF
Former Mr Gay UK winner Anthony Morley, 36, was convicted on Friday of murdering Damian Oldfield.
He slit Damian's throat then cut off chunks of his body, seasoned them with herbs and fried them in olive oil.
Now Morley's best pal has revealed jail chiefs have given him a job as a cook - but will not let him use knives.
Michael Graham, 25, said: "I reckon some of the other inmates might get a bit worried if they knew who was serving up their food but I'd eat it. Whatever he's done, Tony can cook. He's a brilliant chef. They obviously knew about his talent with food so they offered him the chance to work in the canteen.
"He was really angry that they weren't letting him use any knives. He asked me, 'How the hell am I supposed to do this without knives?'"

Graham adds:
... he still would not hesitate to eat a meal talented Morley cooked - despite his gruesome crime.
He added: "Tony's green Thai curry is mouth-watering."


(ht: Gay News Watch)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Headlines I wish I'd written

Sometimes I spend a lot of time fussing about the wording of the title of a blog post, worrying that it's too wordy, trite or not catchy enough to draw attention on an aggregator. Some bloggers have a gift for this & when you read a good title you are left in awe. Here are a couple that fit that description:

From a Powerline post on the MSM's campaign to discredit Joe the Plumber:

Bring me the head of Joe the Plumber

From Reason.com on Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama:
Irritable Powell Syndrome


We are not worthy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Vladimir Putin: the mask slips

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's dog Koni was recently used in a demonstration of Russia's new Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS):
Televised images yesterday showed a GLONASS specialist putting the black collar on the black Labrador, pictured. "She looks sad, it's the end of her freedom," [deputy Prime Minister] Ivanov said. But Mr. Putin countered, "She's wagging her tail, that means she likes it."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Elizabeth May sums up the Green Party

Elizabeth May in her speech last night acknowledging her defeat in Central Nova (video here) crystallized the reason why the Green Party will never be a serious force in federal politics:
"If the kids five years [and] up coulda voted, I would have won by a landslide."

I've rarely seen a politician provide such a strong case against a) proportional representation, and b) lowering the voting age. On the other hand, the Greens would siphon the toddler vote away from the Liberals, so I guess it's all good.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Gay conservatives & the "GLBT movement"

Dale Carpenter has an excellent article up at Independent Gay Forum about the political difficulties many gay conservatives have with the "gay movement", specifically in the context of the US election:

... it is time for gay conservatives to admit that we are aliens in this movement, that we disagree with its leadership and its most visible activists on some very basic questions about what it means to be gay, about what must be done to improve the lot of gay Americans, and about how much weight should be given to purely gay issues in a time of economic and military turmoil. This presidential election has rawly exposed the rifts that have been there from the beginning.

Carpenter nicely summarizes why many gay conservatives feel uncomfortable with gay activist organizations:

But the experience of discrimination is different for different people, and we draw wildly different conclusions from it. While gay progressives believe we must have more government in our lives to end discrimination, gay conservatives are wary of interventions in the private sphere. While many movement leaders would punish anti-gay “hate speech,” gay conservatives want freedom even for thought we hate.

Even when we agree on issues, we have very different rationales. Gay leftists tend to see access to marriage and the military as legalistic matters of “civil rights,” even as they distrust these institutions. Gay conservatives eschew such rights talk, and instead see these institutions as important traditionalizing, stabilizing, and integrating forces in our lives.

At a deeper level, gay conservatives believe the path to happiness leads through the inclusion of homosexuals in all aspects of American life. Many gay leftists dismiss this as “assimilation.” Gay conservatives want a place at the table. Gay leftists want to upend the table.

On non-gay issues, the chasm is wider and deeper still. Gay progressives, like others on the left, support wealth redistribution through higher taxes on financially successful people and social programs for the poor. Gay conservatives want low taxes and doubt the efficacy of anti-poverty programs. Gay leftists often oppose free trade; gay conservatives support it. The gay left supports abortion and believes it is intimately tied to gay rights. Gay conservatives either oppose it or think it is simply not a gay issue. Gay conservatives want an aggressive fight against Islamic radicalism. Gay leftists tend to distrust American military power and seem to think the greater threat comes not from terror but from the war on terror.


Carpenter feels that it is time for gay conservatives to part ways with the "GLBT movement":

The marriage of the gay left and gay conservatives under the umbrella of the “GLBT movement” has failed. It’s like waking up one morning next to your spouse and realizing all of a sudden you don’t really like each other. You’ve been squabbling all these years to save a relationship you no longer believe in.

Suddenly you grasp the futility of it. It’s saddening but also liberating


Hear hear.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

US Democrats: escape to Canada!

Hilarious video from Slate.com:

Introducing the Expatriate Liberal Intellectuals' Theocracy Escape (ELITE) Plan!
Do you like liberal public broadcasting? In Canada, the state pays! No pledge drives! No tote bags!

An 8 yr old explains Canadian politics

I had a conversation recently with my 8 yr old nephew, who informed me that his elementary school had recently held a mock election with students representing the Canadian federal parties. I asked him if anyone at his school voted for the Conservatives. "No one should vote for the Conservatives" he replied. "They don't care about the environment."

He told me "I didn't vote for the Green Party even though green is my favourite colour, because they had lots of green Jell-o but they wouldn't share it with anyone."

I asked him how he voted. "I voted for the NDP" he replied. "Lawrence the NDP guy had a really cool fake moustache. Plus they promised that if they were elected, everyone would get lots of candy." I wanted to ask him who was going to pay for all the "free" candy, or if his school NDP was going to force rich students to bring candy to school and distribute it to poor kids, but by this time he was off chasing the dog.

So there you have it, folks: 100% of 8 yr olds in this poll support the NDP.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

John McCain on gay issues

A Q&A interview with John McCain was published today by the Washington Blade , a gay newspaper in DC. I think McCain's position on gay issues represents a positive shift by the Republican Party, and while gays will disagree with his opinions on some things like gay marriage, McCain is at least making an effort to reach out. As he put it in the interview:

I hope gay and lesbian Americans will give full consideration to supporting me. The stakes are high in this election. I will have an inclusive administration and I will be a president for all Americans.


I was particularly impressed with his answer to the question "what personal experiences or friendships in your life have shaped how you view gay issues?":


I have known former Congressman Jim Kolbe for 25 years. We first ran for Congress in Arizona the same year — in 1982. We served together starting in 1985. He’s a great American who spent two decades serving his country in Congress. Like me, he also served in Vietnam so we have a special kinship. When he came out in 1996, there was no question that I would stand by him. He’s a friend and a patriot and has been an admirable public servant, and a good example of why someone’s sexuality should not be relevant in public life.

I have also known former Tempe Mayor [Neil] Giuliano for many years. He headed Mayors for McCain in our 2000 campaign. I stood by him when there was an effort to recall him in 2001, led by people who objected to him being an openly gay public official. He was a hard-working public servant and someone I have great respect for.