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.
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.
Dan Rather's Slam Poetry
From Tony Pierce.
"We used to say if a frog had side pockets, he'd carry a handgun."
Hat Tip: Matt Welch.
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."
Phil Gramm, Treasury Secretary?
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.
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.)
And He Makes Movies Too
Here's a journal article by Hugh Grant.
November 29, 2004
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. :-)
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.
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 Benefits of Competition: Movie Theater Edition
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]
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!
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.
(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"
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.
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!
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.
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.
Is Freedom Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Do?
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).
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."
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.”
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.
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?
November 22, 2004
Isn't it amazing how often the editorial side and the news side of a particular newspaper are at odds?
People with too much time on their hands
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.
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.
Be careful what you pack--or at least take out the batteries.
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.
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.
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.
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:
The ratio of Democratic to Republican professors ranged from 3 to 1 among economists to 30 to 1 among anthropologists.
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.
Why are we bothering with Option A before we've exhausted opportunities to spend money on Option B?
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.
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).
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."
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.
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"?
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.
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!
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."
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
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.
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.
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 ...
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.
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.
Why Johnny’s sociology professor is a Marxist
Best one liner: Marxism is an emotional disorder, not a political philosophy.
[Hat tip: Ann Reed]
This Can't Be Good for Employee Morale
A boss uses spanking as a management tool.
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]
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 »
Johnny Cash: "Rock Island Line"
Now this here's a story about the Rock Island Line
« Close It
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.
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.
Ashland U: No room at the inn.
"New profs must be Christian or Jewish" at Ashland University.
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.
November 09, 2004
The Political Economy of Disaster Relief
Thankfully this crook is headed for the pokey. Maybe the next Representative for my parents district can restrain himself to honest graft.
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]
I wonder what would happen...
If an angry mob of white students surrounded and threatened a group of peaceful minority students....
November 08, 2004
Barrow and Rouse on School Spending
An interesting paper from Lisa Barrow and Cecilia Elena Rouse.*
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.
"Despite Drop in Crime, an Increase in Inmates"
Fox Butterfield of the New York Times discovers that incapacitation works. (Hat tip: Jon Sanders)
Cleveland and Sports Subsidies
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:
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?
November 07, 2004
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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Those lousy liberals
Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards.With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised.
His employer's medica plan pays all but $10 of his medications because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it, too. He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.
In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained. Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath.
He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.
Joe begins his workday. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union.
If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.
It's noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. The FSLIC federally insures Joe's deposit because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.
Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.
Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck is nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.
He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.
Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees:
"We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of himself, just like I have."
Bob finishes his coffee and goes in to wake his 5 year old daughter, who is dying from a rare form of liver disease. A private, for-profit company has developed medicine that can cure the disease, but the drug has been stuck in the FDA government approval process for years, and will likely be delayed until after she is dead. On the internet Bob has seen that this drug is available in other countries with less government regulation of drugs, but he can't afford to go there to get it. Medical marijuana would also help his daughter's pain, but that too is illegal because of Bob's government.
Bob has lost his job. Actually two. The first job loss happened after the union formed and drove up the labor costs at the company where he worked. The plant could not compete with plants in other states after that. He finally got another job, but when the union there went on strike, that plant laid off some workers after the wage increases. Even though Bob was a more productive worker than many of the others, he was laid off because he had less seniority. He never liked the union but was forced to pay dues to the union at both jobs.
Bob's son, Mike, has a learning disability. He attends the local public school, which offers only a limited amount of help for his son's disability. There is a private school in Mike's town that offers much better help for kids like Mike, but Bob can't afford to send him there. He wishes he could take his tax money that goes to support the public school with him to help pay for the better schooling at the private school. Bob has heard of a "voucher" plan that would allow this, but both his Liberal and Conservative friends are too busy arguing about whether or not to teach religion in public school to consider vouchers.
Sunday evening comes and Bob's two children are staying with their grandparents. Bob wants to have a rare romantic evening with his partner, Patrick. Yes, Bob is gay. Bob thought about getting some wine, but he can't in his state because the Conservatives have passed laws forbidding the purchase of alcohol on Sundays. He should have gotten the wine on Saturday but didn't know the parents could keep the kids until Sunday morning. Bob is Jewish, and thinks it's unfair that other religions can tell him when he can drink.
And while there are private companies willing to offer Bob and Patrick health insurance as a couple, the companies can't because of a state government law forbidding gay marriage. Bob remembers being gay since he was a child and discussing it with his sister, Sally. Sally is married now but has no children. Her reproductive organs were badly damaged during an illegal abortion procedure in the 1960s during a time when the government made abortion illegal.
A super Wal-Mart has been trying to open in Bob's town. It would save his family almost $100 a month on groceries and household products. But his neighbors have been fighting to keep Wal-Mart from opening because they worry about the local mom and pop businesses in town suffering.
Bob's parents live on Social Security. They only have about 75 percent of the retirement income they would have had from a private investment, but they couldn't do that on top of their forced contributions to Social Security. The program has been so badly managed that Bob is likely to contribute for years to come and there is a good chance the program won't have any money left at all when he retires. He wishes he could put his retirement money in his local bank where he could earn a higher rate of interest than in social security.
Bob sees Joe use the subway every day, but Bob never was able to. The subway didn't go anywhere near Bob's place of work. He hears Joe say "public transportation gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor" but Bob feels like he's forced to pay taxes to support it, even though he doesn't use it. It doesn't feel like much of a contribution to him, but rather a robbery. Bob needs a new car to have transportation for work, if he can find it. His car is very old. The new cars are just too expensive these days, with the 10% luxury tax, 6% sales tax, and he knows cars themselves cost about $3,000 more on average due to the cost of installing all of the mandated safety equipment. So he drives an old car that doesn't even have shoulder belts until he can afford a new car.
Bob listens to his grandparents talk about the great depression, and how unfortunate it was that government policy makers didn't know better about the effects of their policy back then. Harvard researchers have found that the great depression would have only been a mild recession if not for the good intentioned government programs put in place that ended up making things worse and last longer. Back then, the government just didn't know that cutting our money supply, raising taxes, and putting up tariffs would all result in further contractions in the economy, rather than helping.
Bob goes to take the trash out and sees his liberal neighbor Joe outside. His other, conservative neighbor Fred is also outside. He explains to Joe and Fred that while their programs both have good intentions, that these programs end up hurting other people in the process. So while Joe and Fred are better off, they are hurting the many other Bob's out there.
Bob is an independent and thinks that well meaning liberals AND conservatives have used government laws and regulations to interfere too much in his life.
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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.
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.
November 04, 2004
Richard Vedder to talk at OSU
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Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much
The dramatic rise in university tuition costs is placing a greater financial burden on millions of college-bound Americans and their families. Yet only a fraction of the additional money colleges are collecting – twenty-one cents on the dollar – goes toward instruction. And, by many measures, colleges are doing a worse job of educating Americans. Why are we spending more – and getting less? In Going Broke by Degree, economist Richard Vedder examines the causes of the college tuition crisis. He warns that exorbitant tuition hikes are not sustainable and explores ways to reverse this alarming trend.
Vedder's research demonstrates that America’s universities have become less productive, less efficient, and more likely to use tuition money and state and federal grants to subsidize non-instructional activities such as huge pay raises for the administration, reduction in teaching loads for professors, opulent social functions and funding sometimes trivial research. These factors combine to produce dramatic hikes in tuition, making it more difficult for Americans to afford college
RICHARD VEDDER is Distinguished Professor of Economics a t Ohio University and an Adjunct Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Trained as an economic historian, much of his work has dealt with the history of American labor markets and issues such as immigration, internal migration, slavery, and unemployment. After serving as an economist with the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress, Mr. Vedder focused on public policy issues dealing with labor markets and governmental budgetary policy. In the past decade he has worked on issues relating to ed ucation at both the primary/secondary and university levels.
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Should Professors Compel Students to Vote?
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!
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This past weekend, my son brought home a copy of the “Chimes”. He called my attention t the article pertaining to Michael Moore’s non-appearance at Capital. My wife and I are both alumni (1973 and 1972. respectively) and we each read the article at least twice.
To say the least, I am appalled by the actions of the University and the remarks attributed to you. I do not use the word appalled lightly. When I was a student at Capital, the following appeared on campus: Madeline Murray O’Hair, Dick Gregory, William Stringfellow, the Black Panthers, the Nation of Islam, and Bill Mauldin, whose cartoons skewered both Nixon and Agnew. They were challenging speakers, and I feel challenge is good.
University Education is about challenging, making informed choices, questioning, and reevaluating. It is about nurturing young people in their journey to adulthood. I was grateful for professors like Drs., Sturnick, Owens, Bond, Foster, and Skrade, who in their ways demanded us to think; to hold up the values we had and to think, and to pay attention.
They changed my life. I volunteered for VISTA work and went into the ministry. It was controversial thinking that drove me God-ward and gave me values that made my son the person he is. My wife became a licensed counselor working with abused children and their families – not bad consequences of diversity of thought. What is there to fear?
It is sad that Capital chooses to be a hotbed of rest, that it has become not a place of nurture, but rather a place where minds have closed up and are to be quieted rather than challenged. An unexamined mind is a sad thing, but if that is what is supported, so be it. From what I have heard, this appears to be the tip of the iceberg, with Capital becoming the “security mom” for our young adults. To also use the concept of only having Lutheran speakers (as you stated was Dr. Frederickson’s preference) seems to go against the inclusivity and diversity Capital has worked for in the recent past.
You seem to fear the consequences Mr. Moore’s appearance might have on giving. Although my wife and I might not have given that much to Capital in money, we gave you our son, not to be protected from Michael Moore, but challenged by him, and maybe to get some noodles and underwear.
Now, let me tell you that in the next fifteen years or so, I will come into a trust valued at one million dollars. Guess what my University stands to gain from this at this point - bupkis, nada, zilch, gar nichts, nothing. Gifts for education will go to my mother’s and father’s alma maters, Mary Washington College (University of Virginia) and Columbia. If you are worried about fundraising, I suggest you think a little further down the line.
It is a marvel how much Capital has retreated from what it could be. I am sorry that my letter is acrimonious, but I cannot keep silent, nor will I.
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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?]
November 03, 2004
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 Kerry with margins of 5-10 percentage points: 5
States won by Bush with margins of 10+ percentage points: 22
States won by Kerry with margins of 10+ percentage points: 8
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.
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.
November 02, 2004
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).
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.
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.
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.
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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