Kissinger on Bismarck

by Chidem Kurdas A man described as both great and evil, Otto von Bismarck-Schönhausen makes a fascinating study,  as Jonathan Steinberg’s Bismarck: A Life demonstrates.  Henry Kissinger reviewed this biography in the New York Times Book Review, highlighting the diplomatic and political victories the unifier of Germany won through nimble maneuvers. The review is a … Continue reading Kissinger on Bismarck

Public Unions vs. the Real Underdog

by Chidem Kurdas Wisconsin governor Scott Walker successfully made the financial case to limit collective bargaining by public unions. Not only have the unions imposed an immense burden on taxpayers, present and future, but they create bureaucratic rigidities that cause dysfunction and, in financial crunches, layoffs of promising employees. Yet in recent weeks it has … Continue reading Public Unions vs. the Real Underdog

Egypt Best Case Scenario via Korea

By Young Back Choi and Chidem Kurdas Compared to the turmoil in the Middle East, South Korea appears to be an oasis of calm. But as recently as 20 or so years ago you could  still smell tear gas on the streets of Seoul. Violent demonstrations shook the city for decades—-making it look like Cairo … Continue reading Egypt Best Case Scenario via Korea

Voters’ Best Interest

by Chidem Kurdas Ronald Dworkin, a well-known legal scholar, describes last month’s election results as depressing and puzzling. In a commentary in the New York Review of Books, he asks, “Why do so many Americans insist on voting against their own best interests?”  The New York University law and philosophy professor is not the only … Continue reading Voters’ Best Interest

Thanksgivings Past

by Chidem Kurdas Thanksgiving was originally a spontaneous celebration. Over time it grew into a social custom. It did not become an official holiday until Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving proclamation in 1863. Then in 1939 Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the date. New England Puritans must have needed an alternative holiday because they did not like … Continue reading Thanksgivings Past

Two Takes on Political Donations

by Chidem Kurdas The Wall Street Journal reports that the biggest campaign spender of 2010 is a public sector union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which lavished $87.5 million on helping Democrats. This single union outspent the US Chamber of Commerce, which came second with $75 million. Reading the WSJ article … Continue reading Two Takes on Political Donations

China Catch-Up and Two Freedoms

by Chidem Kurdas China is expected to produce more than Japan this year, thereby becoming the world’s second largest economy after the US.   Chinese annual output is only $5 trillion compared to American $15 trillion and per person income is only a fraction of the US, but it is clear that China is catching up. … Continue reading China Catch-Up and Two Freedoms

Constitutionalism: Point/Counter-Point

By Chidem Kurdas and Thomas McQuade In our previous post, Thomas argued that voter feedback is weak in constraining the exercise of legislative power. Chidem countered that the other fundamental constraint, the constitution, is therefore all-important. Commentators were divided, with cogent arguments pro and con. We continue this discussion. Chidem:  Constitutionalism is the idea of … Continue reading Constitutionalism: Point/Counter-Point

Understanding Politics: Point/Counter-Point

by Thomas McQuade and Chidem Kurdas Our previous post and the ensuing discussion raised points for and against the appropriateness of understanding markets as complex adaptive systems. We discuss here whether the same approach can say something useful about modern political systems, taking the US as the illustrative example. Thomas: I think it could be … Continue reading Understanding Politics: Point/Counter-Point

Two Takes on Class Conflict

by Chidem Kurdas A presentation at this week’s NYU Colloquium by Ralph Raico, professor of history at the State University of New York Buffalo, generated a thought-provoking discussion.  His paper traces the early-to-mid 19th century development  of the classical liberal theory of class conflict—which long predated Marx and is different from class conflict in the Marxian … Continue reading Two Takes on Class Conflict

The Price of the Mega-State

by Mario Rizzo   The recent Supreme Court decision that “ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections” is a true victory for freedom of speech.    What many people do not realize, however, is that both sides in this dispute had important and valid points. The terrible truth of the … Continue reading The Price of the Mega-State

The Rule of Law Kneels Before the Welfare State

by Mario Rizzo The rule of law always suffers before the political exigencies of welfare state legislation. This is because, contrary to its name, the welfare state has little to do with the general welfare. It is essentially a vehicle by which some groups benefit at the expense of others.  The latest is the sweetheart … Continue reading The Rule of Law Kneels Before the Welfare State

Retreat From Reality: Some Obvious Observations

by Mario Rizzo I am amazed (but shouldn't be) at how far the American political system has evaded the acceptance of reality and how quickly the chickens are coming home to roost: 1. The War on Drugs. This is clearly a fool's endeavor  now that Mexico is being destabilized and the US border towns will … Continue reading Retreat From Reality: Some Obvious Observations

Politics in One Lesson

by Roger Koppl It is better to signal goodness than to do good. That’s it.  That’s the lesson.  (Thanks to Steve Horwitz for the title of this post.)  Democratic politics is mostly about signals not substance.  The lesson is simple, but somehow hard to learn. Okay, okay, I admit that’s not really the One Great … Continue reading Politics in One Lesson

Paul Krugman Is Right About Differences

by Mario Rizzo   Paul Krugman is right. David Broader recently said that we need “the best ideas from both parties.” We could of course interpret this trivially. I too want the best ideas to predominate. But Krugman sees an important point:   You see, this isn’t a brainstorming session — it’s a collision of fundamentally … Continue reading Paul Krugman Is Right About Differences

Old Wisdom for New Year

by Chidem Kurdas   New year, new government, new policies, new promises. How about some wisdom distilled from the past? Here is a selection of quotes I find illuminating.   Since (the legislature) possesses authority to arrange everything, it cannot refuse responsibility for anything. There will be no particular grievance which it will not be … Continue reading Old Wisdom for New Year

Hayek Explains Bush on the Auto Bailout

by Mario Rizzo Today from George Bush’s remarks announcing to use of TARP funds to bailout the auto industry --  until they ask Obama for more later next year:     … [M]y administration worked with Congress on a bill to provide automakers with loans to stave off bankruptcy while they develop plans for viability. This legislation … Continue reading Hayek Explains Bush on the Auto Bailout