"For Democrats, Taxes Aren’t about Revenue"

Another terrific Kevin Williamson piece.

When politicians fail at the basics of governance — and ours have failed and are failing — they embrace moral crusades and moral hysterias. That’s why New York City is proposing to put people in jail for using the perfectly accurate English words “illegal alien” to describe aliens whose presence in these United States is illegal — while the trains are failing, the schools continue to fail, the garbage piles up, and the police department continues its long history of acting as an organized-crime syndicate. Etc. One of the reasons you have a more libertarian view in the United States and more support for the welfare state in Sweden is that the Swedes can look at their government and say, “Oj, my taxes are higher than the Norralaån in springtime, but at least I get something for all that money.” People in New Jersey? Not really. We’ve seen veterans dying of preventable causes and pointy-headed little bureaucrats lying about it, and nice progressives getting very, very upset about that — and then saying what we really need is higher taxes on the rich so that we can bring the same model of care to everybody else in the country and make it mandatory.

"A Renaissance Runs Through It--What Pittsburgh’s latest comeback tells us about urban revitalization"

Detailed analysis of what has worked and what hasn't in reviving Pittsburgh. Some of the choicest bits:

They’d been too busy imagining what East Liberty should look like instead of observing what was going on in the street—how developers and customers and tenants behaved in the current market. “Test to the market” became ELDI’s new mantra, and it led to some new strategies. . . . 

“We realized that crime is a non-negotiable,” says ELDI’s deputy director, Skip Schwab. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re high-income or low-income, black or white, homeowner or renter, people don’t want to move into a neighborhood that is unsafe. . . .

What can other cities learn from Pittsburgh’s renaissances? The first lesson is the one that Jane Jacobs saw early on: beware of master planners, especially when they’re spending other people’s money.

And that brings us to the second lesson from Pittsburgh’s renaissances: the master planners never go away—they just change tactics.

"How to reform the economics Ph.D"

Tyler Cowen proposes as follows:

Eliminate the economics Ph.D, period.  Offer everyone three years of graduate economics education, and no more (with a clock reset allowed for pregnancy).  Did Smith, Keynes, or Hayek have an economics Ph.D?  This way, no one will assume you know what you are talking about, and the underlying message is that economics learning is lifelong.

It's an interesting idea but I, for one, certainly won't be holding my breath waiting for it to be adopted.