It is interesting that nearly all the pundits‘ models incorporate GDP growth in their forecast of this election’s outcome. In reality, at least since 1900, there has been no historical evidence that GDP growth rates impact reelection chances of a sitting president. It is also amusing that these models measure vote share, as if it matters. In fact, of course, in the US the presidential election is a binary contest. Continue reading
It is only by slicing away with the laser light of awful clarity the fetters of received opinion, accepted shibboleths of decency, and social acceptability that one can reach awareness of the truths of the human condition and its development.
In considering the reason why some European colonies upon achieving independence established societies with political stability and strong rule of law and others so signally failed to do so it is tempting to view the issue either through the prism of the strength of the rule of law of the colonizing nation or else to divide the natures of the colonies into extractive and settled. Neither approach, however, yields a satisfactory explanation. Continue reading
Low-trust societies require strong leadership to function because a great deal of trust is necessary for a voter to feel confidence in a politician’s offering of promises and pandering.
Those who advocate so strongly for a welfare state in the basis of Rawlsian principles of social justice usually neglect the well-established counter-principle of reciprocity that is inherent in the resulting master-client relationships. A one-way flow of resources from the better-off to those worse-off — whether “deserving” or not — creates both perverse incentives for those on the margin and, predictably, a tendency to backlash from taxpayers who, with at least some justification, feel exploited. Continue reading
In the foundational times of the formation of law, the government (in the person of Hammurabi), subsumed the obligation of retribution from the family of the victim in order to end blood feuds. When — as is increasingly common in the West — governments refuse to exercise this obligation, they create a void in the body of societal justice that gets filled by criminal enterprise and vigilantism, and particularly so when self-defense is treated with greater harshness than is crime. Continue reading
No no-one’s surprise, the debate about how to restart economic growth continues to rage on with remarkable disregard for demonstrated efficacy of the proposed remedies. On one hand, there are calls for the Fed to do more, because, apparently, it can. The reality, of course, is that the Fed can print money until we all have to use wheelbarrows of the stuff to pay for a loaf of bread without causing the economy to grow one iota, as has been repeatedly demonstrated among many others in the past two centuries alone: in Germany (twice), Russia (twice), the American Confederacy, Argentina, and quite recently Zimbabwe. On the other hand — and how economists love that expression — we have Krugmanesque calls for more direct Keynesian stimulus, without any regard to the fact that an entire trillion dollars has been injected into the economy already without restarting growth. Instead, predictably, it produced waste, malinvestment, and a crushing debt load. China, that well-known economic miracle, is now finding out the limits of that policy. Continue reading