Big Bank Breakup or Tea Party?

by Chidem Kurdas

We’ve been going back and forth on the economics of too-big-to-fail banks but paying less attention to the politics. The most recent ThinkMarkets broadside on banks is Jerry O’Driscoll’s post on the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas annual report.

In part of the report, the Dallas Fed’s director of research Harvey Rosenblum argues that the new Dodd-Frank regulations are insufficient to deal with the threat posed by too-big-to-fail banks and therefore these need to be broken into smaller entities. He and the bank’s president, Richard Fisher, made a similar point in a Wall Street Journal column.  Some other Fed officials have espoused the position as well.  Continue reading

Thing 1 and Thing 2 Sit Down To Talk

by Roger Koppl

Right in the middle of the book, Thing 1 and Thing 2 sat down to talk about a controversial topic.  It might have been politics or religion.  It might have been economics or, perhaps, global warming.  I don’t know.  Anyway, it was a Very Important Topic.   Just like you and me, Thing 1 and Thing 2 think in models, though not necessarily mathematical models.  Thing 1 thinks about the Very Important Topic with Model A and Thing 2 thinks about the Very Important Topic with Model B.  These models are in their heads.  Continue reading

Anti-Intellectualism and Freedom

by Chidem Kurdas

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter, a historian who died in 1970, is very much part of politics several decades after it was written. The past two years brought many charges of anti-intellectualism by left-liberals against people on the other side of the political divide.  The latest in Hofstadter-inspired critiques is an attack on Tea Partiers by Will Bunch — The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama.

The term anti-intellectualism does not just denote those who don’t care for intellectuals. Rather, Hofstadter presents it as an ideology, an “ism” that periodically besets American culture and deprives intellectuals of political power. This deprivation disappears under certain administrations. Thus regarding the late 19th and early 20th century he wrote that “In the Progressive era the estrangement between intellectuals and power … came rather abruptly to an end.”

Similarly in the New Deal: “Never had there been such complete harmony between the popular cause in politics and the dominant view of the intellectuals.” Unfortunately – from Hofstadter’s perspective – this harmony was disrupted by right-wing reaction against policies associated with intellectuals. Continue reading

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 Stossel as one of the rare exceptions.  In his recent Christian Science Monitor op-ed on this topic, Sheldon Richman defends Paul’s statements saying, “individuals are either free to do anything peaceful or they are not.”  I reject libertarian objections to Title II precisely because I agree with the quoted remark: individuals are either free to do anything peaceful or not. (For the record: I’m not a libertarian, but the quoted statement is a logical truth, not a political program.)  Black and white people in the recently-Jim-Crow South would not have been free to associate without the assistance of Title II. Continue reading