Elitist Hokum from Krugman

by Chidem Kurdas

It has become a standard left-liberal jibe that those complaining of government largesse receive a piece thereof themselves. Such beneficiaries go against their own interest if they favor smaller government—so it is alleged. Thus Paul Krugman in the NYT  largely agrees with Thomas Frank, who attributed apparent red state ingratitude to the exploitation of social issues by Republicans in his book What’s the Matter with Kansas? 

In addition Mr. Krugman cites evidence suggesting large percentages of Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries  are confused about their use of these government programs.  They don’t seem to think they’re getting handouts.

Maybe that’s because they’re in fact not getting handouts.  Continue reading

Financial Crisis from Lehman to Europe

by Chidem Kurdas

The current financial crisis is a reverse of the 2008 disaster in key respects. Then, investment banks were seen as the main culprits while governments appeared in the guise of cavalry riding to the rescue. The trouble originated in the United States and spread to Europe. This time, the culprits are certain governments, the problem is European and how badly it will affect the American financial system is a question. How did the crisis go from US-based mortgage securities and Lehman Brothers to Italian sovereign debt and French banks?  Continue reading

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 to emulate the rich – and suggests we “try to do something about it.”

His column about the costs of income differences shows no awareness of the costs of equity-promoting policies.

Attempts to create income equality erode equality  before the law, as F. A. Hayek made clear. The Road to Serfdom – the historic experience as well as the title of Hayek’s book – is paved with egalitarian good intentions.  If you feel “serfdom” is too extreme a word, the operative term here is “the road”. Continue reading

Two Visions Fuel Political Attacks

by Chidem Kurdas

Apparently left-liberal pundits are convinced that people oppose government expansion either out of stupidity or cupidity—not, say, out of a sincere belief in freedom. The oft-repeated story is that ignorant and misguided masses are being led by greedy business interests. Paul Krugman’s recent column is one of  many examples in the genre where billionaires intent on ravaging the country provide the bucks while clueless Tea Partiers provide grass roots brawn.

The best insight regarding this type of criticism comes from Thomas Sowell, whose analysis of two distinct visions of human nature puts current attacks into long-term perspective. Jerry O’Driscoll referred to this work in his comment on anti-intellectualism, a charge often levied by the same left-liberal critics.

In A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles (published 1987, new edition 2007), Professor Sowell contrasted two fundamental views that go back several centuries. Continue reading

It’s All About Say’s Law

by Jerry O’Driscoll

A friend with Keynesian leanings recently remarked that “it’s all about Say’s Law.”  He was referring to the contemporary debates over macroeconomic policy.  He was correct, but few economists on any side of the debates understand that is the issue, or why it is important. Continue reading

Judicial Empathy

by Roger Koppl

Thomas Sowell and others have criticized Ombama’s call for “empathy” from the bench.  Criticizing the Sotomayor nomination, he says, “ ‘Empathy’ for particular groups can be reconciled with ‘equal justice under law’– the motto over the entrance to the Supreme Court– only with smooth words. But not in reality.” 

I have my doubts about Sotomayor.  For example, I fear she may too readily defer to law enforcement.  (See here and here.)  I think the quoted remark of Sowell is mistaken, however.  Empathy is a friend to justice.  Continue reading