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Current Affairs

April 09, 2014

"A demand for silence is not a sign of intellectual self-confidence."

A'int that the truth.

See also Joel Kotkin, "The spread of 'debate is over' syndrome".

Three recent pieces on the status of Obamacare

"The ACA: Still Falling Short".

"6 Big Unanswered Questions About Obamacare".

"Survey: US sees sharpest health insurance premium increases in years".

April 08, 2014

"A Guide to Congress's Gimmicks"

It would be so good if they would just stop lying

See also Ruth Marcus, most definitely not a member of the vast-right-wing-conspiracy: "The budgetary fix we’re in".

Two answers to MIchael Lewis's new book and the HFT panic

"Michael Lewis’ high-frequency bull".

It’s easy to bash Wall Street as the root cause of all financial problems (and some non-financial ones), which is why Michael Lewis is getting away with blowing so much smoke about the latest supposed ripoff of the “little guy.”

Easy, but completely and utterly disingenuous.

"Michael Lewis’s HFT Book: More of a Dark Market Than a Lit One".

In sum, there doesn’t appear to be a lot new in Lewis’s book. Moreover, the morality tale doesn’t capture the true complexity of the markets generally, or HFT specifically. It has certainly resulted in the release of a lot of heat, but I don’t see a lot of light. Which is kind of fitting for a book in which a dark pool is the hero.

Three on Paul Ryan's new proposed budget

"An Overview of the Ryan FY2015 Budget".

"Paul Ryan's 2015 Budget: Playing It Safe — and Disciplined".

"Paul Ryan Announces Balanced Budget Plan With Massive Spending Cuts". ("Massive," of course, is in the eye of the beholder.)

April 07, 2014

"Which Side Are You On?"

Kevin Williamson beautifully admonishes the conservative nit-pickers: "If you don’t care whether Republicans win, care that Democrats lose."

"California's Vanishing 'Surplus'"

Kind of hard to believe. And California's finances are notably convoluted. 

Last year, California’s Governor Jerry Brown proclaimed an end to the state’s worrisome and persistent deficit. How did he do it? In the 2012 election he had fed voters the notion that a proposed income tax increase would be spent on education. California voters treat education as a sacred cow, even though the state ranks near the bottom in test outcomes. They passed the ballot issue.

On January 31 last year, the state’s General Fund had a deficit of $15.7 billion. The higher tax rates brought in new money. This, along with internal and external borrowing, made it look as if the deficit had gone with the wind, but it hadn’t. Brown called it a surplus, amid much cheering by the spendthrift legislature. 

Fast forward to the end of January this year. The deficit had been whittled down to $12.6 billion. Some surplus!

But on second thought, these days I'd believe almost anything about politics. 

"Fort Hood attack: My son, our soldiers, are defenseless, sitting ducks"

Astonishingly stupid:

Ironically, my son is a concealed handgun permit holder. He can carry a concealed handgun whenever he is off the Fort Hood base so that he can protect himself and others. But on the base he and his fellow soldiers are defenseless.

See also "Here’s What Happened to Crime in Chicago After Illinois Finally Passed Concealed Carry Law".

"The Next Age of Invention"

Joel Mokyr, distinguished professor of economics and history at Northwestern, is optimistic, and I agree:

Certainly, it is difficult to know exactly in which direction technological change will move and how significant it will be. Much as in evolutionary biology, all we know is history. Yet something can be learned from the past, and it tells us that such pessimism is mistaken. The future of technology is likely to be bright.

April 06, 2014

Heck of a first paragraph

Great job. Kevin D. Williamson, "The Liberal Gulag":

The word “liberal” has taken a beating over the last few days: A Mozilla executive was hounded out of his position at the firm he co-founded by a coalition of IRS criminals and left-wing campaigners resolved to punish him for having made a donation to a successful California ballot initiative that defined marriage in traditional terms; Adam Weinstein, whose downwardly mobile credibility has taken him from ABC to Gawker, called for literally imprisoning people with the wrong views about global warming, writing, “Those malcontents must be punished and stopped”; Mr. Weinstein himself was simply forwarding a dumbed-down-enough-for-Gawker version of the arguments of philosophy professor Lawrence Torcello; Katherine Timpf, a reporter for Campus Reform, faced a human barricade to keep her from asking questions of those attending a feminist leadership conference, whose organizers informed her that the group was “inclusive” and therefore she was “not welcome here”; Charles Murray, one of the most important social scientists of his generation, was denounced as a “known white supremacist” by Texas Democrats for holding heterodox views about education policy; national Democrats spent the week arguing for the anti-free-speech side of a landmark First Amendment case and the anti-religious-freedom side of a case involving the Religious Freedom Restoration Act; Lois Lerner, the Left’s best friend at the IRS, faces contempt charges related to her role in the Democrats’ coopting the IRS as a weapon against their political enemies; Harry Reid, a liberal champion of campaign-finance reform, was caught channeling tens of thousands of dollars to his granddaughter while conspicuously omitting her surname, which is also his surname, from official documents, cloaking the transaction, while one of his California colleagues, a liberal champion of gun control, was indicted on charges of running guns to an organized-crime syndicate.

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