Toward a Libertarian-Progressive Alliance

by Roger Koppl Ralph Nader recently appeared on Judge Napolitano’s “Freedom Watch” to herald the rise of a coalition between “libertarian conservatives” and progressives.  Within Congress, he says, both groups put principle above party.  The first episode in this new alliance will be cooperation on the whistleblower bill. Let’s hope it happens! Libertarians and progressives have … Continue reading Toward a Libertarian-Progressive Alliance

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

Insider Trading Regulatory Bubble

by Chidem Kurdas After going easy for years on the fraudster Bernard Madoff, the Securities and Exchange Commission is now engaged in an all-out war against insider trading.  After financial crisis comes regulatory frenzy—so it has been for some 300 years. Both the SEC and the Dodd-Frank Act are right on cue in this long-running … Continue reading Insider Trading Regulatory Bubble

Equality Destroyed in the Name of Equality

by Chidem Kurdas Law and government should treat people equally. This old principle may seem obvious and firmly in place, but in fact it’s much violated. Instead, the focus is on income distribution. Thus Robert H Frank in the NYT points to the bad effects of income inequality – like people spending too much money … Continue reading Equality Destroyed in the Name of Equality

Limited Purpose Banking?

by Jerry O’Driscoll   The following is a book review from the Cato Journal, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Fall 2010).   Jimmy Stewart Is Dead: Ending the World’s Ongoing Financial Plague with Limited Purpose Banking Laurence J. Kotlikoff      (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2010, 241 pp.)   Chapter 1 of the book is titled “It’s a Horrible … Continue reading Limited Purpose Banking?

Broken Banks, Durable Delusions

by Chidem Kurdas Some 829 commercial banks are at risk of failure, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.  This year 118 banks already failed and were taken over by the FDIC. At this rate, more banks will fail in 2010 than in 2009. If bank regulators were a commercial bank, they too would have … Continue reading Broken Banks, Durable Delusions

Fannie, Freddie and Mortgage Addiction

By Chidem Kurdas In the first inning of what looks to be an intricate political game, the Obama administration and its financial industry allies suggested that the economy needs the federal government full force in the mortgage market. The case was pithily made  by bond honcho Bill Gross,  who oversees more than $1 trillion of … Continue reading Fannie, Freddie and Mortgage Addiction

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

Understanding Markets: Point/Counter-Point

by Thomas McQuade and Chidem Kurdas Though it should be obvious to all that markets are of immense benefit to humanity, any appreciation of these institutions is almost always hedged with a perceived need to constrain and regulate—in short, to subject them to conscious outside control.  The reasoning is understandable: the unconstrained pursuit of self-interest … Continue reading Understanding Markets: Point/Counter-Point

Market Circuit Breakers as Regulatory Zombies

by Chidem Kurdas Last month the Securities and Exchange Commission and stock exchanges started another experiment with circuit breakers. The new rule puts a stop to trading for five minutes if the price of a share moves by 10% or more within the past five minutes. The supposed object is to dampen volatility. So far, … Continue reading Market Circuit Breakers as Regulatory Zombies

Lobbyist Job Creation Act

By Chidem Kurdas Happy Fourth of July! Don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but  the state of the Republic requires serious thought. Our government has managed to create endless opportunities, but not for ordinary people—only for political operators and influence peddlers, with the Obama Administration pushing some 4,500 pages of medical and financial regulation … Continue reading Lobbyist Job Creation Act

Grounding Oil Spill Politics

by Chidem Kurdas BP flounders, the Obama administration hastily reverses its deep-water oil drilling policy and bans what it previously wanted to expand and another regulator proves itself worse than useless. Better – or at least more realistic – decisions should be made about a valuable common resource like offshore oil. For that, we need … Continue reading Grounding Oil Spill Politics

The BP and MMS Spill: More of the Story Begins to Emerge

by Mario Rizzo   Sometimes, amid the yakking and incessant moralization, a fact or two will emerge that is big with meaning. From today's Wall Street Journal:    BP has come under heavy fire from Congress and environmental groups for its lack of readiness to handle a worst-case spill. But that criticism has overlooked a key fact: … Continue reading The BP and MMS Spill: More of the Story Begins to Emerge

What Oil Leak Politics Says

By Chidem Kurdas In the Obama administration’s script for passing around oil-spill blame, the drilling regulator Minerals Management Service shares the stage with chief villain BP. The disaster is said to have exposed the weakness of MMS, a problem the president has now tackled by appointing a new head for the agency. One can understand … Continue reading What Oil Leak Politics Says

The Cost of Making Exceptions

by Mario Rizzo   As a political and legal culture, we do not know how to deal with slippery-slope tendencies. The recent discussion (here and here, and many other places) of the public-accommodations provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has made me more conscious of this issue.   I am willing to agree for purposes … Continue reading The Cost of Making Exceptions

Why Rand Paul is wrong about Title II

by Roger Koppl Rand Paul won the Republican primary in the Kentucky Senate race and almost immediately stepped into a big pile of steaming controversy by telling Rachel Maddow that he did not support Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Since then few voices have defended his statements on Maddow’s show, with John … Continue reading Why Rand Paul is wrong about Title II

Naked Truth on NYT Finance Column

By Chidem Kurdas Media coverage compounds the confusion about financial problems. Take a recent piece by Floyd Norris, probably the best informed of the New York Times finance columnists.  “Credit-default swaps are, in reality, insurance,” he writes in “Naked Truth on Default Swaps”.  The seller of a credit default swap pays the buyer of the … Continue reading Naked Truth on NYT Finance Column

New Paternalism, Regulation and Cass Sunstein

by Mario Rizzo The New York Times magazine has an interesting, if somewhat uncritical, article on Cass Sunstein, the Obama regulation czar. The "best" part is the section about me: Some scholars dislike the strong, if subtle, governmental hand that is embedded in this last proposal. It seems more forceful than a nudge. “Once you get … Continue reading New Paternalism, Regulation and Cass Sunstein

Arizona law a blow to liberty

by Roger Koppl Kris Kobach defends Arizona's new immigration law, SB 1070, in today's New York Times.  He says, "Presumably, the government lawyers . . . will actually read the law, something its critics don’t seem to have done."  Well, I read the law and I do not like it. Whenever a  law enforcement officer makes … Continue reading Arizona law a blow to liberty

Goldman Sachs Hate Week

by Chidem Kurdas George Orwell’s classic novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, describes a political ceremony called the Two Minute Hate, featuring Public Enemy Number One, a reprobate named Goldstein. People attend official rituals to work up a frenzy of hatred against Goldstein and love for their protector, Big Brother, or B-B. To quote Orwell, at the climax … Continue reading Goldman Sachs Hate Week

Our Inconvenient Constitution

by Mario Rizzo  The question of questions for the politician should ever be -- "what type of social structure am I tending to produce?" But this is a question he never entertains. (Herbert Spencer, "The Coming Slavery.") It is hard for an abstraction to win against a poor mother with a kid who is uninsured. But this … Continue reading Our Inconvenient Constitution