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The Happy Body
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Langley Schools Music Project

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Star Trek

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Speed Racer

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Chronicle of the Conspiracy
Join us as we discover, document, expose and challenge the bad people, the bad institutions and the bad ideas that stand in the way of wealth creation -- and show you how to fight back!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

KUDLOW REPLAY   Save us from the Austrians! Is it just the "narcissim of small differences," or is it especially annoying when self-proclaimed "specialists" like Michael Pento get it vaguely right -- but not because they really understand anything, but only because they've memorized a few free-market slogans and econobabble statistics? Or is it just his sheer amateurishness? The raving about "Phillips Swerve analysis" and the "ay-po-gee" of the bond market rally? Well, not to complain -- after all, he's promised me 7% of his income (now if only he had an income).


Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:20 PM | link  

HEALTH CARE "REFORM" TALKING POINTS   Brilliant! Best ever! A simple catalog of right-on responses to all the liberal BS about why we need government-run and government-rationed health care. Read them all -- but I like these especially:
"Forty-five million people in the U.S. are uninsured."

Even if this were true (many dispute it) should we risk destroying a system that works for the vast majority to help 15% of our population?

"The cost of treating the 45 million uninsured is shifted to the rest of us."

So on Monday, Wednesday and Friday we are harangued about the 45 million people lacking medical care, and on Tuesday and Thursday we are told we already pay for that care. Left-wing reformers think that if they split the two arguments we are too stupid to notice the contradiction. Furthermore, if cost shifting is bad, wait for the Mother of all Cost Shifting when suppliers have to overcharge the private plans to compensate for the depressed prices forced on them by the public plan.


Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:48 AM | link  

AMTRAK TODAY, GENERAL MOTORS TOMORROW!   What wonderful things happen when the government owns companies. "Mick Danger" snapped this on the Acela between Washington and New York. He says, "Maybe the Senate will junk the Pelosi-Waxman-Markey bill and just let frequent train travelers cash in their miles to handle global warming."


Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:32 AM | link  


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DOES OBAMAMANIA HAVE NO LIMITS?   It's the end of the world.
With Wal-Martís endorsement of a legal requirement that employers provide health benefits to their workers, the nationís largest employer has broken from the business community...

Moreover, Wal-Mart declared its support for the employer mandate in a joint letter to Obama with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the liberal Center for American Progress, which is run by John Podesta, a close associate of the White House.

ďWe are entering a critical time during which all of us who will be asked to pay for health care reform will have to make a choice on whether to support the legislation,Ē says the letter, signed by Wal-Mart President and CEO Mike Duke, SEIU President Andy Stern and Podesta.

The Chamber of Commerce is not pleased:
The Chamber issued a blistering denunciation of Wal-Mart's action Tuesday, saying the company is trying to undermine other retailers through anti-competitive means.

"Some businesses make the decision to use the government as a weapon against their competition," James Gelfand, the Chamber's senior manager for health policy, said in a statement. "We do not agree with this method -- the government is a blunt instrument and taxes have extreme unintended consequences, negatively affecting the economy as a whole. We also recognize that momentum is moving against an employer mandate. The business community will be stepping up our advocacy as necessary, too."

Update... My DC-insider friend "Mick Danger" says,
Anything to hold off the union.

Whenever business in general needs strong defenders, as is often the case regarding free trade, they are AWOL.

Canít say Iím surprised. I suspect they they see it as wooing employees to stay non-union.

I am not a fan. They freeloaded their way through Reagan until now. Huge, huge beneficiary of policy world when it was pro-growth and spent not a dime to make it so or to defend those who did.

If they get f#cked it's b/c they have no friends and thousands of enemies in the business community.


Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:18 PM | link  

CHECK YOUR PREMISES   This kind of moral/political commentary masquerading as economics is a very dangerous thing. Here's a blog post by James Kwak, part of the Baseline Scenario blog, a cottage industry of quotable commentary on the current economic crisis (he and his colleagues like Simon Johnson are constantly showing up as "expert" interview subjects, mouthing off on whatever twist or turn happens to be in the news that day for admiring reporters).
Mark Thoma links to a medical paper that brings up the issue that few people want to talk about: at what point is the cost of medical care to extend life not justified? Like Thoma, I donít have a great answer, except to point out that in a world of scarce resources, the answer cannot be that any effort to extend life by any small amount is always a good idea. (And as David Leonhardt explained, our health care system is certainly constrained by scarce resources, whether we like it or not.)
Set aside whether the fault is with this blog post or the sources it links to (it's both). The problem here is the premise it is implicitly based on -- the idea that medical goods and services are different from any other from the consumer's point of view, or from a moral point of view. How can a "medical paper" opine on whether a health care cost is "justified"? Doesn't each consumer have his own utility function for that, just as he does for all other goods and services, based on his personal needs, preferences, and endowments? Why is it useful to point to a New York Times' reporter's banal observation that these services are scarce resources? What services are not?

These questions only mean anything worth debating if you presume from the start that government is supposed to be paying for these things. That presumption makes these questions a matter of public choice, and this debatable. But if you assume that patients ought to be free to decide as they will, then who cares about any of this?

Framing it this way is not about actually debating the issue of scarce resources at all. For economists like Kwak (aptly named, I might add), the idea is to insert the unspoken premise of government involvement for its own sake -- to make a "baseline scenario" of the debate, not to be questioned.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 9:26 AM | link  


Monday, June 29, 2009

SCOTUS DETERMINES THAT WISE LATINO WOMAN IS NOT SO WISE AFTER ALL   Breaking (good) news:
The Supreme Court, voting 5-4 in a case that has been a lightning rod for high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, invalidated a Connecticut city's decision to scrap the results of a firefighter promotion exam in which the white candidates scored better than their black peers.

...Ms. Sotomayor was one of three judges sitting on an appeals court panel that upheld the city's decision not to certify the test results.


Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:15 AM | link  

HOW DOES GREG MANKIW KEEP HIS COMPOSURE?   From his blog this morning:
In a brief blog post on healthcare, Paul Krugman says that George Will and I are "either remarkably ignorant or simply disingenuous." I cannot speak for George, but I can attest that I am completely ingenuous. So I suppose I must be remarkably ignorant.

There is a lot of that going around lately. In an earlier post on the state of macroeconomics, Paul says, "Brad DeLong and I have been sort of tag-teaming the Great Ignorance which seems to have overtaken much of the economics profession."

What is going through Paul's head as he writes these posts? ...He likely believes that civility is overrated. He seems to think that in the blogosphere, and perhaps in the public debate more generally, you score points simply by insulting your intellectual adversaries. Sadly, I am afraid he may be right.

Thanks to Rohit Dewan.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:12 AM | link