Sundry Notes

I’ve still got a lot of things to go through, so here are various notes.

This is political science done right.  Positive politics is about understanding politics as it is, not how you want it to be.  The linked article describes how a dictator in a democracy (think Vladimir Putin) would act given his constraints, and gets to the heart of it very well.

– If the above article doesn’t strike close enough to home, maybe this post, describing how the Treasury and Federal Reserve bullied banks into doing what the government wanted, will get you more in that mood.  If Congress wants to investigate any one aspect of the Bush administration, this is significantly better than what they’re getting on their high horse (and Nancy Pelosi’s falling off of her high horse) about.  And the best part is that many of the people who were involved in this shakedown are still at the Treasury.  Hank Paulson is gone, but Tim Geithner is still there.  Furthermore, Ben Bernanke is still in charge of the Fed.  These are people who are abusing their power, plain and simple.  This is the kind of stuff that goes on in a banana republic, not in a free society.

– It seems as though the “stimulus” bill is going to go even further than we could have possibly hoped.  Now, because of the idiotic “buy American” provisions in the bill, one of our largest trading partners is retaliating.  Seriously, guys, Smoot-Hawley was so 1930s.

– Nick Schultz, on what undermines monopolies.  In many fields, he’s right.  It’s possible, though, that monopolistic bottlenecks can exist in certain network industries.  In that case, technology can still evolve fairly quickly and can eventually eliminate the monopolist (think Internet access:  even though one company may control all of the cable in a region, you can still get internet access via DSL, satellite, or dial-up, and we will come up with superior measures as time goes on).

Carbon taxes are a bad idea.  At best, if there’s a carbon tax, there should be offsetting tax reductions, and real tax reductions, not welfare payments.

– Finally, to round things out, here is an article Robert Murphy wrote concerning the Austrian Business Cycle Theory vis-a-vis rational expectations theory.  I plan on reading it during my upcoming vacation.


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