Current Affairs

"In Honor of His 103rd Birthday, Here Are The 20 Best Quotes From The Late, Great Milton Friedman"

Magnificent beyond the telling.

The great danger to the consumer is the monopoly - whether private or governmental. His most effective protection is free competition at home and free trade throughout the world. The consumer is protected from being exploited by one seller by the existence of another seller from whom he can buy and who is eager to sell to him. Alternative sources of supply protect the consumer far more effectively than all the Ralph Naders of the world.


"Income Inequality, Beltway Style"

Neal B. Freeman:

In Washington, and marbled throughout its pricy suburbs, there’s income inequality of a different sort. The richest counties in the country — Fairfax, Montgomery, Loudon, and the rest — are now clustered in the metro Washington area. They’re rich not because D.C. has just emerged as the Silicon Valley of the East or the North Dakota of the South. The D.C. region produces few new products, few new services, but it is rolling in boomtown money, nonetheless. Its faux prosperity is generated the old-fashioned way: by state coercion. The central government takes money from the folks “back home” and spreads it around the lobby culture, creating a fix-and-favor economy so prosperous that it outstrips all — literally, all — of the productive communities “back home.”

This situation can’t be politically hygienic.


"Pension Funds Burn Cities as $1 Trillion Shortfall Set to Grow"

To quote what the psychiatrist, Dr. Krakower, chillingly tells Carmela Soprano: "One thing you can never say: You haven't been told."

(Transcript of part of the scene here; video clip here. One of the absolutely best scenes of the show.)

Related: You might think they'd know better by now. But noooooooo! "The Dangers of Pension Obligation Bonds". (With extra nice touch: this unanticipated problem is due to a fix to an earlier problem.)

Also related: "Chicago's Financial Fire: The city faces trouble from every direction."

Also related: the private sector, no surprise, is smarter.

The stunning improvement in business and family balance sheets is arguably the most impressive and under-reported characteristics of this U.S. recovery (see chart). The latest government statistics indicate that the private sector has massively deleveraged following the debt binge from 2000 to 2008.


"Pension doomsday: How will Illinois pols cope with this crisis?"

Editorial, July 24, Chicago Tribune:

More bad news for Chicago (and Illinois) taxpayers arrived Friday morning in a 35-page, double-sided packet. On one of the last pages: "The entire Act is void."

. . .

The state is in a grotesque stalemate over its finances. Gov. Bruce Rauner, Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan can't agree on much of anything, let alone a pension strategy. Even a compromise offered by Cullerton and supported by Rauner that would give pensioned employees a choice on how to reduce their benefits doesn't appear likely to pass constitutional muster, given the courts' rulings. In this state, under these unambiguous decisions, you can't willingly negotiate away a constitutional right.


"Hillary Clinton's economics: Suddenly it's 1947"

It is rather amazing how much affection today's Liberals have for the U.S. of 50 to 60+ years ago.

You can understand why that confidence was strong in Clinton's early years. The United States had just won a world war and was facing not the widely predicted resumption of the Depression of the 1930s but the surging postwar prosperity that is still fondly remembered by many.

"We must drive steady income growth," Clinton said, as if that were as simple as popping those new automatic transmission shift levers into "D." "Let's build those faster broadband networks." Which private firms were doing until a Federal Communications Commission network neutrality ruling demanded by Barack Obama. We must provide "quality, affordable child care," as if government were good at this.

"Other trends need to change," Clinton said, including "quarterly capitalism," stock buybacks and "cut-and-run shareholders who act more like old-time corporate raiders." This sounds like a call to return to the behavior of dominant big businesses in the early postwar years, when they worked in tandem with big government and big labor — and faced little foreign competition or market discipline.