National Public Radio had a piece this morning about how some think tanks committed to "law and economics" (applying economic principles to the law) were hosting seminars for judges. The segment asserted that these think tanks, which purportedly receive large contributions from the tobacco industry, the oil industry, and other industry lobbies, are committed to free market economics.
This should have been one of those paid public relations spots that helps NPR pay the bills. The tobacco industry does not want to be held responsible for things like marketing to children or concealing evidence of the danger of cigarettes. The oil industry doesn't want to be held accountable for the damage that oil does to the environment.
THE DAY AFTER. More interesting than the state of Hillary Clinton's marriage is the state of her foreign policy thinking:
But on Tuesday, she was also forced to deal with Iraq when two women protesting the war interrupted her speech. The protesters, who yelled, "Stop the war," were dragged from the room, leaving Clinton to explain in a question-and-answer session that she did not regret voting for war but opposed the way the president has conducted the conflict.
She said the United States could begin thinking about "making other decisions" about Iraq once an Iraqi government is "fully formed."
SO NOW IT'S SAFE. Within hours of Ken Lay's and Jeff Skilling's guilty verdicts coming down, the MSM had begun to form their inane analysis. No less a barometer of conventional wisdom than Newsweek's Howard Finemanwrote:
THE BENEFITS OF SOFTWARE PIRACY.Via the Technology Liberation Front, a study was released claiming that software piracy "resulted in a loss of $34 billion worldwide in 2005, a $1.6 billion increase over 2004, according to a study commissioned by the Business Software Alliance." This is moronic. As is typically the case with these industry sponsored surveys the method seems to have been to add up the number of pirated units, look at the retail price of one unit, and multiply the two together.
WALKING IT BACK. I want to retract my instapunditry of Tuesday morning about the New York Times article on Hillary Clinton's marriage. I momentarily forgot to put on my political journalist hat and reacted to it as a woman. As a woman, I find it impressive and admirable that she's been able to preserve her marriage and turn it into something that, by all accounts, works for her. She has a friend, advisor, and peer in Bill Clinton, and the article's unprecedentedly detailed accounting of their days showed that they somehow manage to find a way to spend a substantial amount of time together for a congressional couple, while still being mindful of not getting in each other's way.
THE ECONOMICS OF SELF-INTEREST. I tend to agree with the consensus in the economics profession in general, and with Alex Tabarrok in particular, in the current immigration debate. But this is a bridge too far for me: "Economists are probably also more open to immigration than the typical member of the public because of their ethics -- while economists may be known for assuming self-interested behavior wherever they look, economists in their work tend not to distinguish between us and them." That's a mighty generous self-interpretation.
MORE ON PROTEST MUSIC. Fellow haters of Neil Young's thuddingly literal-minded and reductive new Bush-bashing album might appreciate this SNL sketch plugging Young's follow-up record, I Do Not Agree With Many of This Administration's Policies (Andy Samberg, as Conor Oberst, makes a guest appearance.) I should note that, contrary to the thrust of the spoof, lack of subtlety isn't really the core problem with Young's album as a piece of political art; of course totally unsubtle protest musi
THOSE WHO IGNORE HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO NOT DISCREDIT IT. I'm going to go ahead and disagree with Matt's admonition to leave the last 30 years alone when arguing economics. I certainly agree that liberal policies shouldn't be sold on a platform of "your life sucks," but certain strains of recurrently ascendant conservative policy-making do need to be discredited, and there are few ways to do that without going to the tape. That's not to say, of course, that we're not better off than we were 30 years ago. We are. But our growth is being shared less and less equally, and our economy is ever more oriented towards facilitating remarkable success for the lucky few.
THE END OF LEGAL BRIBERY? I have to say, I'm a little concerned with this "end of legal bribery" business. The thing smart people say after some pol goes down in a corruption scandal is that the real scandal is what's legal -- the perfectly ordinary day-to-day business of favor granting, cash-for-access, blah, blah, blah. I've always understood that clich� to mean something like "the biggest problems need to be solved through the political process (i.e., elections) rather than the legal system." The FBI seems to have taken it in the opposite spirit to mean "we ought to start treating things formerly understood as legal as, in fact, illegal."
THESE WERE THE BEST OF TIMES.David Leonhartsays Americans have never been better off than they are today. There's a certain amount of truth to this, but also a great deal of non-truth. I think Brad DeLonglays out the real shape of the situation pretty well.