Division of Labour: November 2004 Archives
November 30, 2004
This Can't Be Good for His Self-Esteem

The Florida teacher who had a fling with a 14-year old student plans an insanity defense. The boy must be thrilled to hear his paramour's I-must-have-been-crazy plea. Perhaps this is a beginning of a trend away from government schools' obsession with students' self-esteem.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 02:05 PM  ·  TrackBack (150)

Incentives Matter--Atlanta Gridlock Division

Since moving to Georgia seven plus years ago, I've maintained that Atlanta's traffic congestion could be mitigated by putting up toll booths at the interstate on-ramps in Cobb County, Gwinnett County, etc. This idea has now dawned on the powers that be.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 01:28 PM  ·  TrackBack (149)

Dan Rather's Slam Poetry

From Tony Pierce.

My favorite:

"We used to say if a frog had side pockets, he'd carry a handgun."

Hat Tip: Matt Welch.

Posted by Joshua Hall at 09:47 AM  ·  TrackBack (289)

What's in a name?

A writer for the Washington Post takes some good shots at crazy celebrity names. A taste:

Demi Moore and Bruce Willis are the parents of Rumer Glenn, Scout LaRue and Tallulah Belle. Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay singer Chris Martin recently begat Apple. Sylvester Stallone sired Sage Moonblood and Sistine Rose. Courteney Cox Arquette and David Arquette are the proud parents of Coco. Singer Erykah Badu -- herself on the celebrity all-name team -- has a child named Puma. John Travolta and Kelly Preston named their boy Jett. Christie Brinkley's youngest is a girl named Sailor. The late rock star Michael Hutchence named his daughter Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily. Long-ago rock star Bob Geldof calls daughter Fifi Trixabelle to dinner. Soccer star David Beckham and Victoria "Posh Spice" Adams's brood includes Brooklyn, Romeo and a soon-to-be wee one who reportedly may be dubbed San Miguel. Supermodel Claudia Schiffer has a girl named Clementine, as does Cybill Shepherd. Rob Morrow, of "Northern Exposure" quasi-fame, dubbed his baby Tu, as in Tu Morrow.

For those interested, Fryer and Levitt have a paper about "distinctively Black names" and find "no negative causal impact of having a distinctively Black name on life outcomes."

Posted by Robert Lawson at 09:36 AM  ·  TrackBack (28)

Phil Gramm, Treasury Secretary?

John Fund:

Phil Gramm was one of the most visible and outspoken members of the U.S. Senate until his retirement last year. Then he almost dropped out of sight to focus on his new career as an investment banker in New York. But now the American Spectator reports he is quietly lobbying to replace John Snow if the treasury secretary should depart sometime in the next year or so.

Posted by Joshua Hall at 09:22 AM  ·  TrackBack (28)

Too Much Time on His Hands

As most of you are aware, Marginal Revolution has a recurring theme of "markets in everything." I was reminded of MR's efforts by this story on an anti-Coke hedge fund.

I'm no fan of carbonated sugar water so ordinarily I would have no qualms about this chap's devoting his energy to harming Coke. However, I hope he's a miserable failure since my college has an unusually large share of its endowment funds in Coke and has already taken a large hit as Coke's share price has fallen from $80+ to $40. (Berry is not alone in having its endowment insufficiently diversified; Emory and Agnes Scott apparently also have large Coke holdings. I'm told that the colleges have been slow to diversify out of fear of angering donors.)

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 08:52 AM  ·  TrackBack (191)

And He Makes Movies Too

Here's a journal article by Hugh Grant.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 08:32 AM  ·  TrackBack (167)

November 29, 2004
Textbook Rant

A few selections (and comments) from my 4th grader's "social studies" text:

(1) Europeans first settled in the Americas in the late 1400s. Actually I think the first settlements came in the early 1500s, and amazingly there's no reference to Christopher Columbus?

(2) In the 1860s, slavery was made illegal in the United States. No mention of the Civil War?

(3) Norbert Hill [Native American education], Marian Wright Edelman [Children's Defense Fund], and former President Jimmy Carter [Habitat for Humanity] are examples of Americans who work to give everyone a fair chance. Gee and the millions of employers who give people jobs do what?

UPDATE: Frank asks if it shouldn't be called a "socialist studies" book. :-)

Posted by Robert Lawson at 07:54 PM  ·  TrackBack (32)

Another Item to Add To The Amazon Wishlist

Seeing as how Ray Kroc's autobiography is one of the most useful autobiographies I have ever read, it would appear that I would have to get the new Mark Knopfler album.

Tom Bell:

So much, so good, but driving tunes come a dime a dozen. The lyrics of Boom, Like That mark it as something truly special. Reading Ray Kroc's autobiography, Grinding it Out, inspired Knopler to describe how the founder of McDonald's launched his fast food empire. Boom, Like That uses Kroc's own words to describe how he got the idea for a hamburger franchise after delivering milkshake mixes to a popular hamburger joint:


The folks line up all down the street,
And I'm seeing this girl devour her meat, now.
And then I get it—wham!—As clear as day.
My pulse starts to hammer and I hear a voice say:
"These boys have got it down!
Oughtta' be one of these in every town.
These boys have got the touch.
It's clean as a whistle and it don't cost much.
Wham, bam! You don't wait long.
Shake, fries, patty, you're gone.
And how about that friendly name?
Heck, every little thing oughtta' stay the same."


Knopler hardly portrays Kroc as some sort of Randian hero. Rather, he shows the hamburger magnate as a fellow just as happy to offer a friendly buy-out as to throw a sharp elbow into a competitor's ribs. Knopler makes Kroc out not an idealized titan of commerce, nor an blandly evil capitalist pig, but rather as a hard-driving, rough-hewn, hamburger hustler. The refrain of Boom, Like That, which follows immediately after the verse quoted above, neatly captures Kroc's character:


Or my name's not "Kroc"—that's "Kroc" with a "K."
Like "crocodile" but not spelled that way, now.
It's dog eat dog, rat eat rat.
Kroc-style. Boom! Like that.


Here and elsewhere on Shangri-La, Knopler offers a fascinating and realistic view of the human side of business. Though sympathetic to his subjects, he cuts them no slack. So much the better, to my taste; I like music with an edge to it. Knopler accomplishes what few artists even attempt: he makes commerce sound gritty, dramatic, and, in an all-important word, cool.

Posted by Joshua Hall at 07:22 PM  ·  TrackBack (131)

The Benefits of Competition: Movie Theater Edition

From Morgantown's Dominion Post:

Paul Whitlock, former manager of Kanawha Cinemas in Charleston, was the victim of too much capacity in the Charleston market. His theater, owned by United Artists, went out of business in 2000 after Marquee Cinemas built a 12-screen theater in Southridge Centre in 1999.

The Beckley-based business is building a 14-screen movie stadium-seating theater in the Suncrest Towne Centre off W.Va. 705.

. . .

Whitlock said Charleston, with a population of more than 195,000 people countywide, was not big enough to support three large multiplexes. Kanawha's competition, Park Place Cinemas, upgraded its theater to stadium seating and sound. When Kanawha didn't follow suit, it lost out.

"We had a theater that was in disrepair, we couldn't get funds to replace the roof," Whitlock said. "We went from being a profitable organization to losing about $30,000 a month."

In an effort to compete with the new theaters coming into town, Carmike will begin retrofitting its theaters to bring them up to contemporary standards, according to Judy Russell, director of investor and public relations for the company based in Columbus, Ga. Carmike intends to put in stadium seating and a new sound system in each of its eight theaters.

[Hat Tip: William Trumbull]

Posted by Joshua Hall at 06:24 PM  ·  TrackBack (131)

New to the Blogroll

We've added links to a couple of sports economics blogs to the blogroll. The Sports Economist offers up sports economics commentary from Clemson's Skip Sauer. Sabernomics is run by John Charles Bradbury of Sewanee; he specializes in econometric studies of baseball. Happy reading!

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 03:41 PM  ·  TrackBack (3)

The Christmas Price Index

The folks at PNC bank have calculated the cost of purchasing all the items from the classic song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

The cost comes to $17,296.91 up from $12,623.10 in 1984. This increase "closely mirrors that of the government’s Consumer Price Index." If you include all the repititions from the song, the total cost is $66,344.46 up from $62,427.10.

Interestingly, and consistent with Baumol's cost-disease problem, services now account for 74 percent of the index compared with just 38 percent in 1984.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 11:32 AM  ·  TrackBack (31)

Thanksgiving Recap

(1) I ran the Thanksgiving Day 10k in 44:23 (7:09/mile pace) which is a good, though not great, time for me. I finished 605th out of 8923 participants. My wife ran her first-ever 10k in 1:03:10. Congrats!

Best t-shirt I saw: "The Pride Lasts Longer Than The Pain"

(2) This fellow criticizes my inflation adjustment of the Thanksgiving dinner price.

Um, so what? News flash folks: Life is not "adjusted for inflation."

But he's wrong. Life is in fact adjusted for inflation because our wages and salaries go up with (and typically by more than) inflation. The whole point of adjusting for inflation is to see if the price of something, in this case Thanksgiving dinner, is going up faster or less fast than most other things (including your wages). The fact is that Thanksgiving dinner prices have risen less than other prices (including wages) over time.

Yes, many (sometimes questionable) assumptions have to be made about how to do inflation adjustments. But to argue that there's no value in trying to do so makes no sense to me.

Btw, this is my favorite publication (.pdf) looking at the real prices of things over time. ATSRTWT.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 11:07 AM  ·  TrackBack (139)

November 24, 2004
Ode to Bow Ties

I prefer a bow tie over a four-in-hand, though I wear both. I, therefore, found this story delightful. (Hat tip: Mini-me)

By the way, I've looked for Adam Smith bow ties but had no success. If any reader knows of a source, I'd be most grateful.

ADDENDUM: While searching for Adam Smith bow ties, I found the St. Andrews Liberty Club. Among other things it sells FREE trade coffee. Fabulous!

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 04:40 PM  ·  TrackBack (325)

Say What?

From ESPN's Jayson Stark:

... these words provide such an eloquent endorsement of free-market economics, they could practically have been written by John Kenneth Galbraith.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 02:41 PM  ·  TrackBack (130)

Southern Econ Meetings Diary

I'm back in town for a day between the Southern Econ meetings and a family trip for Thanksgiving. A few highlights and lowlights from the Southerns in New Orleans:

1. Washington University grad student Art Carden was showing off his clever dissertation at the job market poster fair. He uses lynchings as a proxy for the (lack of) rule of law to study its effect on economic growth in the U.S. South. Art's work isn't on the web yet but I'll post an update when he makes it available. His methodology and findings are similar to those in my friend John Dawson's 1998 Econ Inquiry paper.

2. I went to several good sessions on sports economics and saw papers by top-notch folks like Brad Humphreys, Craig Depken, Dennis Coates, John Fizel, Skip Sauer, and Bruce Johnson. Not only are these guys good economists, they're also a collegial bunch. Sauer's paper testing the Moneyball hypothesis is particularly interesting.

3. While there were lots of good sessions at the conference, much of the benefit of conferences is doing some brainstorming with other economists. To this end, my friend John Charles Bradbury of Sabernomics and I spent a few hours and a couple of cigars kicking around a paper idea. I expect to have more on this in a few weeks.

4. About a year ago, I received a lousy referee report. The lousy part wasn't that it recommended rejecting my paper but how it went about doing so. On one hand, it's no big deal--we'll all get (maybe even write) a mediocre report at some time in our careers and we'll all probably benefit from an unduly generous report at some time or another. On the whole, I have nothing to complain about. Nonetheless, I heard lots of griping about this journal's mediocre refereeing from other folks, some of whom indicated they wouldn't be submitting there again soon. Who says reputation effects don't matter ...

5. I had lunch Sunday less than 10 feet from Paul "Broken Window Fallacy" Krugman. I wish I'd had a copy of Bastiat's essay--it would have been fun to ask for an autograph.

6. Dinner Sunday was at the Crescent City Brewhouse. The weiss and dark lager (black forest) were tasty.

7. At the airport yesterday I stopped at Subway (the best of mediocre set of choices) for a sandwich. A large and heavily accented Scottish fellow behind me in line had some difficulty communicating with the sandwich artists. A certain movie character came to mind.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 01:03 PM  ·  TrackBack (133)

Is Freedom Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Do?

I was tempted to write something on this article by Nick Gillespie, but Tim Lee beat me to the punch.

One of the reasons I like Gwartney, Stroup, Sobel and MacPherson as a textbook is the focus on thinking like an economist - especially the focus on thinking "on the margin." While I enjoy Nick's writing, it's clear he doesn't think like an economist (something you need to do if you want to effectively criticize economic research).

Posted by Joshua Hall at 11:42 AM  ·  TrackBack (2)

Economic Education

Roy Cordato discusses calls for higher corporate income taxes in The Freeman.

One of my many regrets from my former job is that I didn't do enough basic economic education. While I realize that state-based think tanks have a different role than FEE, I still think the payoff from doing basic economic education is higher than op-eds on narrow policy topics.

One of the difficulties in doing basic economic education through op-eds is convincing editors to run them since their timeless quality frequently means they are never as timely as something else sitting in front of the editor. Really good writing usually could overcome this problem, such as in this piece by Ralph Frasca "Businesses Are People Too" or this one by Bob Lawson "Real Fundamental Tax Reform."

Posted by Joshua Hall at 09:45 AM  ·  TrackBack (0)

Art Laffer, meet O.J. Simpson

O.J. Simpson provides an object lesson on how high marginal tax rates reduce the incentive to work.

“I’ve said this so many times, I’ve said it to Fred’s face in debtor hearings: ’If I have to work to pay them, I won’t work,”’ Simpson told WSVN-TV in Miami on Tuesday. “It’s that simple. So I’ll just play golf every day.”

Posted by Robert Lawson at 09:18 AM  ·  TrackBack (30)

Policy Wonks Writing About Sex?

Dan Drezner has more.

This best part is his parody of the genre:

Diane had longed to bandwagon with Jack since their first year in grad school. In their own prisoner's dilemma, she now knew that she wanted more than just tit-for-tat -- she had to have Jack's grim trigger. This wasn't just a one-shot interaction for her. She wanted repeated play -- and although she would never say this out loud, she sensed that Jack had a very long shadow of the future.

Posted by Joshua Hall at 08:55 AM  ·  TrackBack (129)

November 23, 2004
$10,000 just ain't what it used to be

Brad DeLong asks

We've spent $10,000 per Iraqi on the war, and we can't even get Iraqi children fed?

Gee, Brad, isn't this the same government that spends almost $10,000 per kid and can't get them educated?

Posted by Robert Lawson at 12:58 PM  ·  TrackBack (294)

November 22, 2004
Charter Schools

Isn't it amazing how often the editorial side and the news side of a particular newspaper are at odds?

Consider this article in Sunday's Columbus Dispatch about the rapid growth of local charter school enrollment versus today's editorial about the "risks" of charters.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 09:37 AM  ·  TrackBack (38)

People with too much time on their hands

Here's a survey rating of municipal flags from the good folks at the North American Vexillological Association. Looking to design your own flag? They offer tips here.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 09:30 AM  ·  TrackBack (28)

November 20, 2004
Thanksgiving Dinner Prices

According to the American Farm Bureau's annual estimate of the price of a Thanksgiving Dinner, this year's feast will be 60 cents cheaper than last year's.

The table below gives AFB's figures since 1986 along with my calculations for the real Thanksgiving Dinner Price. Although the nominal price has increased by almost $7, the inflation-adjusted price is over $14 cheaper (in 2004 $) than it was in 1986.


Year Nominal Real (2004 $)
1986 $28.74 $49.74
1987 $24.51 $40.58
1988 $26.61 $42.26
1989 $24.70 $37.54
1990 $28.85 $41.25
1991 $25.95 $36.05
1992 $26.39 $35.53
1993 $27.49 $36.02
1994 $28.40 $36.26
1995 $29.40 $36.52
1996 $31.66 $38.18
1997 $31.75 $37.51
1998 $33.09 $38.52
1999 $33.83 $38.40
2000 $32.37 $35.51
2001 $35.04 $37.64
2002 $34.56 $36.39
2003 $36.28 $37.44
2004 $35.68 $35.68

Posted by Robert Lawson at 09:30 AM  ·  TrackBack (161)

November 19, 2004
Who Would Have Guessed?

This is a wealthy country and we have all sorts of niche trade groups and professional associations, but I doubt many people would have guessed that there is a North American Restroom Association.

The folks from this august organization are busy celebrating--I bet you wouldn't have guessed this one either--World Toilet Day. Yup, November 19 is World Toilet Day and it is being celebrated with a gathering in China. For a NPR World Toilet Day report that is flush with potty puns, click here (scroll down).

In case you want to get a headstart on your travel plans, the next World Toilet Day conflab will be held in Belfast. Things have been peaceful there for a few years, but let's hope s#*t doesn't hit the fan and disrupt the conference.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 06:56 PM  ·  TrackBack (55)

Travel Tips

Be careful what you pack--or at least take out the batteries.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 06:42 PM  ·  TrackBack (47)

So Much for the Internationale

Czech communists are displeased about their country's joining the EU.

NB: My blogging will be light over the next week as I'm off to the Southern Economics meetings and then a family trip. I hope all my readers and co-bloggers have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:35 PM  ·  TrackBack (21)

More on Arafat's Money

I recently posed the question: How did Arafat accumulate millions of dollars of wealth?

Now The Weekly Standard has a hilarious parody on the topic.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:31 PM  ·  TrackBack (259)

More on Cost-Ineffective Safety

Florida and a few other states require that school buses be equipped with seatbelts. I strongly suspect (and vaguely remember seeing research supporting) that this requirement is also cost ineffective. Here's some background; here's an unfortunate story of a child being killed on a seatbelt equipped bus.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:24 PM  ·  TrackBack (127)

November 18, 2004
Bias in the academy

Ok, I know this is a "dog bites man" kind of thing, but the NYT has an article about the overwhelming number of Democrats relative to Republicans among faculty in colleges and universities.

The article cites some work by Dan Klein of Santa Clara University (who is one of the best young and most innovative economists in the country). Here are a couple factoids:


Professor Klein found a nine-to-one ratio of Democrats to Republicans on the faculties of Berkeley and Stanford.

The ratio of Democratic to Republican professors ranged from 3 to 1 among economists to 30 to 1 among anthropologists.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 01:54 PM  ·  TrackBack (104)

Cost-Ineffective Safety

Related to my last post, let's compare that cheap $630,000 road safety device against the NTSB's new regulations on power window switches.

I'm guessing this regulation will cost tens of millions of dollars, and yet according to the NTSB only "an average of three fatalities every two years have been confirmed" as a result of the current switches.

Ok, here's the test:

Option A: For a cost of tens of millions we can save 1.5 people per year.
Option B: For a cost of $630,000 we can save (likely) dozens per year.

Why are we bothering with Option A before we've exhausted opportunities to spend money on Option B?

Posted by Robert Lawson at 09:35 AM  ·  TrackBack (195)

Cost-Effective Safety

Check out this very cost-effective safety innovation. The way I read it this one-time expenditure of $630,000 has already saved many lives.

Economists are often accused of being cold, heartless beasts for complaining that some safety devices are too costly. But these critics really miss the point. Let's suppose we have $1 million to spend and two safety devices we can buy. Option A will save 1 person per year and Option B will save 20 per year. Which should we choose? Obviously B.

The economist's point is that spending money on low-yield options like A means that we forgo spending on high-yield options like B. People are less safe not more safe as a result. Non-economists will ask why we can't do both A and B, but the economic reality is that scarcity precludes us from doing everything we want. In a world of scarcity, it is important that we choose options like B before options like A.

The sad fact is that all too often our political process forces us to spend resources on options like A instead of B.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 09:25 AM  ·  TrackBack (21)

Economic Freedom in Sweden 1950-1970

The Economic Freedom of the World index that I work on is available for many countries back to 1970 (in five year intervals). For some countries it may be possible to push backward in time much earlier. We simply don't have the resources to do this.

Richard Johnsson (he has a cool website too) of Sweden's Ratio Institute has laboriously constructed the index for Sweden back to 1950. The entire report is now available in English here. Here's a copy of the abstract.

The Economic Freedom of the World Index (EFI) is presently available for the years 1970-2002 for Sweden. In this paper I present Swedish Economic Freedom Index (SEFI), an attempt to create a corresponding index for the period 1950-70. By combining EFI and SEFI, it is possible to see the changes in the economic freedom in Sweden for the longer period 1950-2002. On an aggregate level, the economic freedom seems to have been fairly constant 1950-80, then increasing somewhat 1980-95, but seems to have been falling slightly since 1995. The overall level is, however, rather moderate. The most conspicuous decline in economic freedom during the period is related to the size of government and it’s growth. A certain amount of stabilization has occurred in this area, but the overall level is still considerably lower than the already moderate level of 1950. The decline in economic freedom since 1995 is also associated with infringements of the freedom to exchange with foreigners. Only in one case has the economic freedom been increasing considerably from an earlier low level of economic freedom, namely when it comes to the less restricted foreign capital market exchange (i.e. possibilities to own foreign currencies, at home and abroad).

ATSRTWT.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 08:42 AM  ·  TrackBack (110)

Damned Sunk Costs

A couple weeks ago I registered for the 95th Annual Thanksgiving Day 10k Race in Cincinnati. The problem is that I just found out that I have a stress fracture in my foot (2nd metatarsal). It's not that painful or serious, but I'm not supposed to run for 3-4 weeks to let it heal.

But I've already signed up for the race! The economist in me says that my registration fee is now a sunk cost and whether I run in the race or not the registration fee is gone. I know that if I hadn't already signed up, I would not run it with this injury. So, the economist reasons that I will not run the race.

Guess what? I'm going to run. I do hate to let that registration fee go to "waste".

Note to students: When it comes to sunk costs questions on exams you should follow the old saying, "do as I say not as I do."

Posted by Robert Lawson at 08:20 AM  ·  TrackBack (121)

Service Learning

A bunch of folks on my campus are trying to force through a "service learning" requirement into our general education program. I just filled out a survey for them. Here's what I said:

I'm opposed to this ideological indoctrination in the guise of academics. Service learning, everywhere I've seen it defined and practiced (and I have seen it in practice up close), is about glorifying the poor and downtrodden and blaming he rich. The anti-business, pro-government slant of such programs is shameful. "We must 'serve' humanity because evil rich people and businesses are out to screw us," is the message. Aside from being total nonsense, such normative views have no place in a required general education program.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 08:20 AM  ·  TrackBack (109)

November 17, 2004
We must count EVERY vote (twice)

An elderly couple in London, Ohio apparently voted twice, and a local school levy failed by 1 vote.

How about a "do over"?

Posted by Robert Lawson at 10:51 AM  ·  TrackBack (24)

Marketing Gone Bad

Networks use televised sports as ad platforms for their other programs. This one didn't work out as planned.

Here's (3rd item down) what I thought of a previous cross-marketing endeavor.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 09:01 AM  ·  TrackBack (18)

November 16, 2004
The Effect of Third-Party Payment

Heavy Lifting has a nifty chart depicting the falling share of medical expenditure paid for out of pocket and the rising per capita medical expenditures. It brings to mind the saying about eating at a restaurant: If you're paying I'll have steak.

In fairness, I suppose one could quibble that causation does not run from falling out of pocket payment to higher expenditure but that higher expenses caused by other factors (malpractice issues?) have lead to a decrease in the share paid out of pocket. However, while more evidence on the matter might be welcome, the RAND Health Insurance Experiment established that lower out of pocket payment causes people to utilize medical services more frequently. How about that--incentives matter and demand curves do slope downward!

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 04:37 AM  ·  TrackBack (296)

November 15, 2004
This One Is For You, Bob

I do not arbitrarily dismiss copy-editors’ suggestions. I usually consider them and find them to be stupid beyond belief.*

*Thomas Sowell, "Some Thoughts About Writing."

Posted by Joshua Hall at 06:55 PM  ·  TrackBack (23)

Working Poor

Steve Malanga writes on the working poor in City Journal. Among other things, he dissects Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed. Hat tip: John Hood

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 01:01 PM  ·  TrackBack (183)

A Necessary Question

USA Today ponders the question of what will happen to Arafat's millions. Here's a better question: How did a bloke who did little or any real work in his life and who did not inheret his wealth end up with millions to be disposed of? Oh how the stench of corruption is in the air.

UPDATE: One of my co-bloggers sent this interesting story:

Your Arafat post reminded me of the old Jersey City mayor/boss (Frank Hague) who had a desk with a lap drawer that opened outward toward his visitor. This was to allow them to place the envelopes filled with cash into the drawer! This man had no other job in his life and his official pay never exceeded $8000/yr and yet he died with a multi-million dollar estate.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 09:45 AM  ·  TrackBack (34)

SYPHILIS CLIMBS AMONG GAY MEN

Yet another example of the media reporting an increase in the rate of a disease that in all probability is mostly a result of an increase in reporting.

[The Columbus Health Department] worked with doctors and gay organizations, posting fliers and leaving cards in bars and coffee shops about free tests.

"It said, 'Bring the card in, we'll give you a syphilis test quick and easy; you'll be a priority,' '' said Joni Finley, coordinator of prevention services for the sexual-health program at the Columbus Health Department.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 09:12 AM  ·  TrackBack (118)

November 12, 2004
My Students are Slogging, So I'm Blogging

I used to find test days dull (just sitting and watching my suffering students) but not anymore. Just look at some of the goodies I found:

1. Beyond Stage One has a nice parlor game called "Let's Play Find the University." Besides UGA and UF, I think the counties for UVA, UNC, and Indiana U. show up in blue.

2. One thing that has bothered me is trying to sort out fact and fiction on the Patriot Act. Today's WSJ (sorry subscription required but Barr's website is here) has a nice article on the topic by Bob Barr.

3. Dennis Coates has more on the DC baseball stadium ripoff. (Hat tip: The Sports Economist)

4. JC Bradbury of Sabernomics has a nifty post on predicting no-hitters. Speaking of JC, I'm looking forward to my session with him and Skip Sauer of The Sports Economist at the upcoming Southern Econ meetings.

The last student just finished my exam so I need to stop blogging and get my conference paper finished ...

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:00 PM  ·  TrackBack (21)

November 11, 2004
The Empire Strikes Back (at the FCC)

The Sinclair Broadcast Group preempted tonight's scheduled airing on ABC of 'Saving Private Ryan' because they say they fear it could run afoul of the FCC's crackdown on indecency. You can read the Sinclair press release here.

An excerpt: It is similarly unfortunate, however, that the actions by a small but vocal group of individuals in the past have influenced the FCC to the extent that broadcasters are fearful of exercising their First Amendment rights, lest they result in fines by the FCC or action being taken against their licenses. We ask that our viewers join with us in letting the FCC and our elected officials know that censorship is dangerous and that the current rules have gone too far.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 10:30 PM  ·  TrackBack (30)

Quip of the Day

Have you ever been to Storrs [CT], so named, Lou Holtz once quipped, because the town now has two?*

* "Most Rootable Teams," Sports Illustrated on Campus, 11 November 2004.

Posted by Joshua Hall at 10:41 AM  ·  TrackBack (3)

Why Johnny’s sociology professor is a Marxist

Having written just yesterday a very negative review of a book by a Marixist sociologist, this article was pretty timely.

Best one liner: Marxism is an emotional disorder, not a political philosophy.

[Hat tip: Ann Reed]

Posted by Robert Lawson at 09:09 AM  ·  TrackBack (276)

This Can't Be Good for Employee Morale

A boss uses spanking as a management tool.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 09:08 AM  ·  TrackBack (313)

November 10, 2004
"Shame on you" is right.

The Gambles of Norwood, Ohio (a Cincinnati suburb) have their house stolen by the city.

When council completed their action on the holdout properties, some of the property owners began chanting, "Shame on you. Shame on you."

[Hat tip: Paul Goins]

Posted by Robert Lawson at 01:50 PM  ·  TrackBack (32)

Johnny Cash Sings About Price Discrimination

Don't know why I never noticed this before Itunes spit it out today, but "Rock Island Line" by Johnny Cash is a good introduction to price discrimination.

Here are the lyrics to the first section of the song:

Read More »

Posted by Joshua Hall at 12:53 PM

'Talk to someone in Cincinnati? Are you crazy?'

Tom Wolfe on liberal elites.

Or we can just let Geraldine Ferraro make his point:

"You know what? Just let me make one point. You were talking about the map before. If indeed all those blue states all got together and seceded from the union, think what would be left for those red states, nothing. There would be no educational system. You would have nothing. What would be left to you? I mean, where is all of this talent in this country? It's on both sides, the Northeast corridor."

(Source: "Hannity and Colmes" November 5. Hat tip: Wilson Mixon.)

ADDENDUM: Apparently Ms. Ferraro is not alone in her despair. Kerry's defeat has led to an upsurge in distraught liberals seeking therapy.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:03 PM  ·  TrackBack (31)

Miracle Baby

This story reminded me why I'm anti-abortion.

I confess that have some respect for the pro-abortion position intellectually. On moral grounds, pro-abortionists can assert that life does not begin at conception. I think it does, but I understand their position. On consequentualist grounds, I appreciate their argument that making abortion illegal will only create a black market which makes things worse. This argument has merit to be sure.

I should mention that I have NO respect for the typical so-called pro-choice argument since most of the people--excluding libertarians--saying abortion should be a woman's "choice" certainly don't believe she should have the choice to work for less than the minimum wage or be a doctor without a license or not pay taxes.

But emotionally I read about this young man and I can think only of all the other lives lost to abortion over the years. I can't get over that thought.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 10:28 AM  ·  TrackBack (121)

Ashland U: No room at the inn.

"New profs must be Christian or Jewish" at Ashland University.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 10:11 AM  ·  TrackBack (187)

Practicing What They Preach

The Catalogue of Philanthropy has released its 2004 Generosity Index. I haven't looked at the underlying methodology carefully (and I wonder if the differences are caused by interstate cost of living differentials), but it appears that those awful benighted red-staters are more charitable than states populated by lots of caring liberals. MS, AR, and OK are the top three while RI, MA, and NH are the bottom three. Amazingly, the top 25 states are all states that went for Bush.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 08:56 AM  ·  TrackBack (30)

November 09, 2004
The Political Economy of Disaster Relief

Matt Hisrich channels Garrett and Sobel

Posted by Joshua Hall at 03:54 PM  ·  TrackBack (192)

Corruption

Thankfully this crook is headed for the pokey. Maybe the next Representative for my parents district can restrain himself to honest graft.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 01:02 PM  ·  TrackBack (21)

The Practical Man

Apparently this previous post of mine is derived from this famous passage in Albert Venn Dicey's classic book Law & Public Opinion in England (1914).

"The practical man, oblivious or contemptuous of any theory of the social organism or general principles of social organization, has been forced, by the necessities of the time, into an ever-deepening collectivist channel. Socialism, of course, he still rejects and despises. The individualist town councillor will walk along the municipal pavement, lit by municipal gas, and cleansed by municipal brooms with municipal water, and seeing, by the municipal clock in the municipal market, that he is too early to meet his children coming from the municipal school, hard by the county lunatic asylum and municipal hospital, will use the national telegraph system to tell them not to walk through the municipal park, but to come by the municipal tramway, to meet him in the municipal reading-room, by the municipal art gallery, museum, and liberty, where he intends to consult some of the national publications in order to prepare his next speech in the municipal town hall, in favour of the nationalisation of canels and the increase of Government control over the railway system. `Socialism,' Sir, he will say, `don't waste the time of a practical man by our fantastic absurdities. Self-help, Sir, individual self-help, that's what made our city what it is."

Dicey himself puts the story of "the practical man" in quotations, attributing it to the English socialist Sidney Webb.

[Hat Tip: David Mayer]

Posted by Robert Lawson at 08:13 AM  ·  TrackBack (141)

I wonder what would happen...

If an angry mob of white students surrounded and threatened a group of peaceful minority students....

Posted by Robert Lawson at 08:08 AM  ·  TrackBack (30)

November 08, 2004
Barrow and Rouse on School Spending

An interesting paper from Lisa Barrow and Cecilia Elena Rouse.*

The abstract:

We examine whether school expenditures are valued by potential residents and whether the current level of public school provision is inefficient by estimating the effect of state education aid on residential property values. We find evidence that, overall, state aid is valued by potential residents and that school districts do not overspend on education. However, we find that districts may overspend in areas where residents have fewer schooling options but find no difference in efficiency by the degree of district unionization. One interpretation of these results is that increased competition may reduce overspending on public schools in some areas.

My take: Here are the really interesting findings:

Page 1764: "Overall, it appears that districts with poorer and less-educated residents overspend on schools relative to wealthier and more highly educated districts."

Pages 1761-1762: "The results, in Table 5, suggest that changes in state aid for education increase education expenditure, decrease school district tax rates, and have no effect on total local revenue for public schools... A $1 increase in state aid per pupil increases total expenditures per pupil by approximately 83 cents."

*Lisa Barrow and Cecilia Elena Rouse, "Using market valuation to assess public school spending," Journal of Public Economics 88, nos. 9-10 (August 2004): 1747-1769.

Posted by Joshua Hall at 09:24 PM

Out of Hibernation

I've made it through my Micro and Macro midterms and my Math Econ final alive and thus will be coming out of blogging hibernation.

I'd like to thank Frank and Bob for keeping things going in my absence. I'd also like to thank John Moser for his eloquent election day post.

Posted by Joshua Hall at 08:59 PM  ·  TrackBack (136)

"Despite Drop in Crime, an Increase in Inmates"

Fox Butterfield of the New York Times discovers that incapacitation works. (Hat tip: Jon Sanders)

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 05:23 PM  ·  TrackBack (34)

Cleveland and Sports Subsidies

The Sports Economist has the following quote from the Washington Post's Michael Wilbon:

The people who do all the screaming in the town hall-style meetings probably don't make it to Denver or Cleveland to see what sports stadiums and arenas have done to revitalize those cities, to lure businesses that create new jobs, and lure developers who want to build new housing, which creates real-estate taxes. Sometimes, I can't believe the stupid junk I read from academics who spin their silly obstructionist excuses on what stadiums don't bring, when all you have to do is look at what they actually contribute in Cleveland and in Denver, or for that matter along 7th Street near MCI Center, which around here ought to be Exhibit A.

Yes, Mr. Wilbon, let's do take a look at Cleveland. In an October 6 posting I wrote:

Below is part of a Gwen Ifill question in last night's vice presidential debate:
IFILL: Mr. Vice President, the Census Bureau ranked Cleveland as the biggest poor city in the country, 31 percent jobless rate.

This (and a couple of subsequent comments about poverty in Cleveland) struck me as interesting because Cleveland is often held out as a stadium-driven economic development success story. (In the last decade or so, Cleveland has build new football and baseball stadia; I think there is also a new basketball arena. The Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame is also often lumped in the tale of success.) Ifill's question suggests that maybe this strategy hasn't been successful; this would hardly be surprising since--developers' claims and Cowboys propaganda notwithstanding--there's a strong body of research showing that stadia don't boost local economies. (For an example, click here.)

Just wondering--does Michael Wilbon think Ifill's figure of 31% unemployment constitutes a success story for Cleveland?

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:43 PM  ·  TrackBack (19)

November 07, 2004
Values Voting

The chattering class attributes Tuesday's election outcome to a surge in voting by folks opposing gay marriage etc. David Brooks begs to differ. (Hat tip: Wilson Mixon)

I'm not sure if Brooks is correct or not, but there's one thing I did notice about some exit poll results I saw on tv. If I recall correctly, moral concerns were the top issue for 21% of voters with 20% and 19% citing other issues (I think one was the economy and the other was Iraq). There just can't be any statistically significant difference in these three issues yet the nattering nabobs prattle on about homophobia etc.

Whether or not values voters drove the election's outcome, the perception that they did so has driven some media folks a bit batty. Here's CNN's Carol Lin (10:00 pm show on 11/6) fretting about living in a society akin to Khomeini's Iran:

But how do you convince people of that, when people are actually asking me, when they take a look at the anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran, all right, when you had a secular state that went completely the other way, and the mullahs and the ayatollahs and their agenda were telling people then how they could live, what music they could listen to. And it's astonishing to hear that Americans are saying how far away are we from that if the right wing and the moralist agenda takes over the election process?

Here's a darned if you, darned if you don't quandry: Illiberals often decry behavior motivated by greed. So presumably they'd be upset if voters cast their ballots based strictly on economic self interest. Now we have an election in which (David Brooks's analysis notwithstanding) many voters cast ballots based on moral beliefs. Yet leftists are not happy--there just doesn't seem to be any pleasing them.

None of this post is meant to reveal much about my own views on these matters--I find the culture wars annoying and, as regular readers have probably noticed, I largely avoid culture war topics. Instead, this post is aimed at two of my regular topics--our awful media and hyperbolic hand-wringing leftists. (Of course, there is a tremendous overlap between the two categories.)

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 11:15 PM  ·  TrackBack (30)

November 05, 2004
"You just can't trust voters"

At the ballet tonight, the person seated next to me complained to her other neighbor about the election result:

I'm going to become a fascist. You just can't trust voters.

Heh, heh, heh.

Prof. Bainbridge has more on the subject.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 10:48 PM  ·  TrackBack (140)

On Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson

For anyone who's interested, an op-ed that I wrote this week has been published at the Ashbrook Center's site. It simply poses the question of why, when Americans again and again seem to prefer candidates like Andrew Jackson, do the Democrats insist on running candidates who are more like Woodrow Wilson.

Posted by at 03:38 PM  ·  TrackBack (288)

Those lousy liberals (and conservatives)

A big shout out to Russ Sobel who forwarded to me this annoying e-mail (in italics below). His response (in bold at the end) is fantastic!

This is long but ATSRTWT.

Read More »

Posted by Robert Lawson at 09:21 AM  ·  TrackBack (105)

Tidbits

1. Occasionally one vote can be decisive. An election in Nevada ended in a tie; fittingly the tie was broken by drawing cards.

2. Those of you who are TIAA-CREF participants have probably noticed the company's recent ad blitz. I'm inclined to think the ad campaign is more in the interest of company management than the company's investors. (Can you say principal-agent problem?) The Chronicle of Higher Ed has a discussion forum on the topic if anyone would like to chime in.

By the way, I think one of the ads I saw was during a college football game. I suspect that many TIAA-CREF participants hold the view that athletics (at least "big-time" football and basketball programs) undermine the academic integrity of many institutions and that such ads from TIAA-CREF are particularly inappropriate.

3. While some folks have misgivings about free market environmentalism because government decides on the number of pollution permits to make available, there is at least one upside. People who think the air should be cleaner can now put their money where their mouths are by purchasing (but not using) some permits. Eric Rasmusen reports that students at Bates College are retiring a few sulfur dioxide permits.

4. So much for McCain-Feingold's getting the money out of politics. I received an email indicating that total labor union 527 spending amounted to some $148 million, including $31.1 million by the Service Employees Union and $19.9 by the government employees union AFSCME. Just wondering: If the SEIU members are so poorly paid that the union has to run a "justice for janitors day" campaign then how does the union come up by $31 million for campaign spending? (The true total is probably higher--the $31m is only 527 spending.) Stated differently, if SEIU members are so bad off isn't it immoral to use compulsory union dues to fleece them in this manner for political purposes? Note: I'll update later if I can find a link to support the info I received via email.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 09:00 AM  ·  TrackBack (63)

Peggy Ryan

My family and I were saddened to learn of the death of Peggy Ryan. Peggy was a terribly talented dancer and perky actress of the 40's and 50's. She performed with Donald O'Connor (of "Singin' in the Rain" fame) in many low-budget movies for Universal Studios. In the 60s/70s she had a regular role on "Hawaii Five-0". And most recently she was active running her own dance studio in Las Vegas where she and her senior citizen tappers performed regularly.

My wife, the tap dancer, and daughter met her on a couple occasions and kept up a correspondence, and I met her myself on my last trip to Vegas. Peggy was a real sparkplug. As they say in show business, thanks for the memories, Peggy.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 08:14 AM  ·  TrackBack (264)

November 04, 2004
Richard Vedder to talk at OSU

My former teacher, Richard Vedder, is speaking next week for the Libertarian Studies Organization at OSU about his new book, Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much.

For details...

Read More »

Posted by Robert Lawson at 03:21 PM  ·  TrackBack (123)

Should Professors Compel Students to Vote?

George Leef thinks not.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 09:57 AM  ·  TrackBack (28)

More on Moore

While I most sincerely hope (though I doubt) Michael Moore will crawl back under the rock from which he came, the controversy on my campus about him not being permitted to speak here continues to brew.

A little mole delivered to me this letter from an outraged alumn--a Lutheran pastor no less!

Read More »

Posted by Robert Lawson at 08:42 AM  ·  TrackBack (3)

I'll take some Heinz ketchup with my crow.

I've never been so happy to have been wrong in my life!

I should have listened to David Mayer and my "well-placed" source in D.C. Or I should have listened to my old friend, Dave Sollars ( dean of the Washburn University School of Business) who wrote me the following on election morning. As Dave said "not bad for an economist."

Bush electoral votes: 296 (Bush gets Ohio, Florida, New Mexico, and less confident—Wisconsin, Iowa)

Kerry electoral votes: 242 (Kerry wins PA, Minnesota, Michigan, NH)

Bush ends up with 50 percent of national popular vote, Kerry with 48.5, 1.5 assorted others.

Senate: Dems win Colorado, Reps win SD (goodbye Tom), FL, NC, SC, OK, and ALASKA!

[Note: Sorry I didn't post anything yesterday but I was having trouble accessing the site. Anyone else having problems?]

Posted by Robert Lawson at 08:35 AM  ·  TrackBack (185)

November 03, 2004
Media Bias

In 2000, the networks called states won by Bush about 15 minutes slower on average than states won by Gore even after controlling for other factors that might have affected call lags. There were no states that Gore won by six or more points that received delayed calls (i.e., were not called immediately upon poll closings) but there were nine states that Bush won by six or more points that received delayed calls. (See my article with Wilson Mixon and Amit Sen in the January 2004 issue of Public Choice for details.)

I haven't had time to run the numbers from last night, but ocular least squares (a nifty term I first heard from co-blogger Bob) suggests CNN might have been up to its old tricks. There were a number of states that Bush easily carried such as NC, SC, VA, and MT that received delayed calls. I'll update after I get a chance to fully analyze the call times.

UPDATE: I've now had a chance to analyze the call lags and have found a pattern similar 2000 (so much for the networks fixing the system).

Some quick descriptives:
States won by Bush with margins of 5-10 percentage points: 5
Number of those states receiving lagged calls: 5

States won by Kerry with margins of 5-10 percentage points: 5
Number of those states receiving lagged calls: 2

States won by Bush with margins of 10+ percentage points: 22
Number of those states receiving lagged calls: 6

States won by Kerry with margins of 10+ percentage points: 8
Number of those states receiving lagged calls: 0

Probit and Tobit analyses that control for each state's number of electors, pre-election poll margin (absolute value), and actual election margin (absolute value) find that, ceteris paribus, Kerry states were significantly less likely to receive lagged calls and that, ceteris paribus, Kerry states received significantly shorter call lags. ("Significantly" in the previous sentence refers to the 1% level.)

What to make of the results? There are at least two possible interpretations (other than random happenstance). First, the apparent media bias may really reflect systematic problems (deliberate or otherwise) in the methodologies (e.g., exit polling) that networks use to call states. Second, it could be a deliberate attempt on the part of networks to dampen voter turnout in states which still have open polls. Consistent with this interpretation is the fact that many of the Bush states with healthy margins but delayed calls are early closers NC, SC, VA, FL, MS, LA, and AR.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 09:11 AM  ·  TrackBack (115)

Hey, Bob, Pass the Crow

Confession time--it looks like my prediction of Kerry 279-259 was off. It looks like OH and IA went Bush's way when I predicted Kerry would win them.

The best news of the night--the Senate. Daschle is history and a couple of Club for Growth small government stalwarts (Coburn and DeMint) have been elected. The increased margin and the infusion of some free market types should diminish the influence of the Lincoln Chafee, Susan Collins, et al. The narrow Senate and its mushy composition are no doubt responsible for some of the awful policy of Bush's first term.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 08:58 AM  ·  TrackBack (30)

November 02, 2004
My Prediction...

John Kerry wins. Big time. This is based on two gut feelings. First, the enthusiasm of the anti-Bushies is stronger than the enthusiasm of the pro-Bushies. Second, I think the polls that show the race a dead heat or a small Bush lead suffer from some pretty large selection bias. They over sample Republicans and undersample Democrats. Does anyone remember Bush's big lead in the polls going into the 2000 election?

I hope I'm wrong and David Mayer is right (scroll to the bottom of the post).


Or consider this scenerio offered up by a well-placed friend of mine in D.C.:

Some have noted the real possibility of an electoral college tie, 269-269. All it would take would be for Bush to carry the same states as in 2000, except that Kerry peels off New Hampshire (likely) and West Virginia (less likely but not inconceivable). Other plausible scenarios also get you to a 269-269 electoral tie; e.g. Kerry takes away New Hampshire and Florida but loses Wisconsin, New Mexico, and Iowa. But WAIT! The plot thickens... In this scenario, Bush still carries West Virginia, with some complications... last summer at their state convention the West Virginia Republicans chose their electors, and they chose as one a man named Rich Robb, for 29 years the GOP Mayor of South Charleston; but nobody told Robb they were going to nominate him, and Robb wasn't there at the convention. Robb now says he will not vote for Bush. In this scenario, would he vote for Kerry, giving Kerry a 270-268 electoral college v ictory? What if Kerry won the national popular vote? Or would he vote for someone else, leaving no candidate with a majority and sending the race to the House of Representatives? Where, incidentally, Bush will almost surely win, since the Republicans control most state congressional delegations.

Well, I doubt it will come to that. These are parlor games for the Washington elite. I have predicted Bush all year by 3-6 points, enough to translate into a solid electoral college majority. I'm very nervous about that prediction tonight but see no opportunity for glory in changing it now!

Overall, the Republicans go into tomorrow with a higher upside than the Democrats. It is almost impossible to conjure a realistic scenario for a Kerry win if he fails to take two of three of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. While Bush losing two of the three would put him in a tough spot, there remain several plausible scenarios in which he could win, especially if Ohio is one of those going to Kerry - then Bush could win just by picking up Michigan. Wisconsin and Minnesota would also offset an Ohio defection, and those two plus Iowa would offset the loss of Florida, as would Michigan and Wisconsin or Minnesota; or Michigan, Iowa, and surprising Hawaii. Wisconsin or Minnesota plus Iowa and either New Mexico or Hawaii offsets the loss of Pennsylvania, and so on. In a dream night for Bush, he gets about 375-380 electoral votes; a dream night for Kerry gives him between 325 and 350. I'm sure either will settle for 270.

Similar in the Senate. A dream night for the Democrats maybe gets them to 51 seats; a dream night for the GOP and they find themselves at 56 seats. I'd look for a GOP gain of a couple seats. The GOP will keep the House - in a dream night, they could gain 12 or more seats.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 08:40 AM  ·  TrackBack (2)

November 01, 2004
My Prediction and My Vote

MY PREDICTION: I hope I'm wrong (especially because the terrorists will think they've pulled another Spain), but I expect Kerry to win. I'll venture that he'll get 279 electoral votes and Bush 259. Among the battleground states, I think Kerry takes WI, IA, HI, OH, PA, and NH while Bush takes FL and NM. Note that we could have a tie at 269 if all of the above are correct except that Bush carries WI.

My primary rationale for this prediction is the increased turnout of new voters (some fraudulent, no doubt) and young people. One source of optimism--Eleanor Clift, who has to be among the worst 5 political columnists in the country, sees things as I do.

MY VOTE: Like my co-bloggers, I harbor no illusions of being the decisive vote.

The easy part of my decision--I will not vote for Kerry. He is awful. Although Bob's issue by issue run-down more or less reflects my thinking and would lead to me similarly prefer Bush to Kerry, my dislike for Kerry is more than the issues. I also think he is fundamentally lacking in leadership and character. To offer just one example (though so many are possible), Kerry thinks the "right war at the right time at the right place" would be one with lots of allies and with a generous sprinking of United Nations' holy water. Yet he voted against the 1991 Gulf War which was a multilateralist's dream-come-true.

The hard decision for me is Bush or the Libertarian Bednarik. Although it seems odd to say given my dim view of his first term, I'm going with Bush as a protest vote of sorts. I'm protesting the LP's choice of a crackpot (see Bob's links); if ever there were a year that a respectable LP candidate could do well, this is the year. Instead, the LP turned itself into a sideshow.

More importantly, I'm also voting for Bush as a protest against Democrat/leftist shenanigans. Comparing Bush (for all his flaws) to Hitler, advocating so-called campaign finance reform then hypocritically being bankrolled by Soros et al., playing fast and loose with voting proceedures then having the gall to play the race card about Republicans suppressing the black vote, and having an army of lawyers just waiting to turn election results into a courtroom circus are offensive to me. Like Bob, I offer a hearty second to John's eloquent posting.

One additional thought: I'm also swayed to line up behind Bush as a show of support for the soldiers in Iraq. Perhaps they shouldn't be there and I sure hope they are home soon with as little additional loss of life as possible. However, if news reports are correct, the military seems to strongly prefer Bush to Kerry. Moreover, I can't imagine giving them the disrespect of having a flip-flopper in chief who behaved as Kerry did upon his return from Vietnam and who might not have even gotten an honorable discharge (hat tip: John Hood).

ADDENDUM: George Will's recent column is on the mark.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 04:10 PM  ·  TrackBack (151)

7 for 7!

Craig Neumark cites stats on political contributions from university employees at Duke and NC St and some of the Ivy League. Kerry/Edwards has gotten 90+% of the donations.

So using the same database, I checked on my own little school. Searching under Capital U*, I found 7 donations to presidential campaigns from university employees. All 7 went to Kerry/Edwards--including $300 from the university president. Indeed all 16 donations I found went to Democratic candidates of one form or another.

Sigh.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 09:22 AM  ·  TrackBack (2)

The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it. -Adam Smith

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