RIP, John Rapp (bumped)

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UD Professor John Rapp passed away this morning at the age of 77. John was Emeritus Professor in the Department of Economics and Finance, where he previously served as chair of the department. He also served for many years as Associate Dean of the School of Business.Rapp

John was known as an excellent teacher with a gift for communicating complex economic concepts in understandable terms. He taught for more than 40 years, often in large auditorium classrooms, and over those many years he must have taught economics to more than 10,000, perhaps more than 20,000, students. Indeed, his students can be found almost anywhere, all around the country, spanning multiple generations, often in the same family.

We recall an incident from last summer, when we were sitting with John outside a restaurant, and some sort of outdoor festival was taking place nearby. Suddenly, a young man emerged from the crowd and rushed toward us. He strode up to John, his face beaming and his hand extended, and exclaimed, “Professor Rapp! You were my professor back in 20_ _.” That sort of thing happened a lot, since John touched so many lives.

We were fortunate to work with John for the last 14 years of his career. Despite working in a profession–academia–that attracts more than its share of schemers and backstabbers, John was notably trustworthy and a straight-shooter. In a profession with more than its share of eccentrics, John was normal and down-to-earth.

As an administrator, John consistently displayed equanimity, and treated people with fairness and decency. Experience taught him which battles were worth fighting and which were not, and his decision-making reflected prudence and good judgement.

As an economist, John staunchly defended free-markets and human liberty.

He will be missed.

Leftists are Anti-Science

The political left likes to flatter itself as being pro-science while labeling their political opponents as being anti-science. For instance, one of the first hits to pop up after Googling the term ‘antiscience’ is a CNN headline that reads

Green billionaire prepares to attack ‘anti-science’ Republicans.

As Robert Bork said, however, “The left is not known for telling the truth.” The fact of the matter is that leftists themselves are particularly anti-science. For the left, politics and ideology trump all, and if science gets in the way of political correctness, science gets shoved aside.

The truth of this statement can be supported through innumerable examples. The left, for instance, engages in scaremongering against products shown by science to be quite safe, such as pesticides, genetically modified crops, and nuclear power.

Just the latest example involves the liberal stats guru Nate Silver, founder of the FiveThirtyEight website. Silver made uncannily accurate predictions of the 2012 election, and as a result, attained near cult status on the left as a premier prognosticator.

Recently, Silver hired Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. to write for FiveThirtyEight about environmental issues. Pielke’s very first article for the site got him in trouble. The problem was that the Pielke’s article contradicted the political agenda of ‘climate change.’ And since the left has a lot riding on the climate change gravy train, Pielke had to go. The Climate Cathedral attacked Pielke for heresy.

As for Pielke himself, he was re-excommunicated with extreme prejudice. “Disinformer!” the Daily Kos screamed. “One of the country’s leading tricksters on climate change,” charged the Huffington Post. “Inaccurate and misleading,” was ThinkProgress’s measured verdict. Even that doyen of professionalism and sworn enemy of hyperbole, Michael Mann, weighed in, knocking his foe for his “pattern of sloppiness.” The pile-on was as predictable as it was unjust. At root, Pielke’s biggest crimes are to have walked at slightly different pace than his peers and to have refused to bow to the president. Pielke accepts the IPCC’s view of the climate-change question but suggests in parallel that man’s response is unlikely to have a “perceptible impact on the climate for many decades” and that civilization should thus adapt to, rather than attempt to prevent, change. Elsewhere, Pielke has corrected Barack Obama’s “science czar,” John Holdren, who has recently taken to claiming that everything under the sun is the product of global warming — droughts, hurricanes, wildfires — and who never misses a chance, in Pielke’s words, to “[exaggerate] the state of scientific understanding.” For this unconscionable resistance to fashion, Silver and his hire were marked for destruction.

Dr. Judith Curry, who is an actual, for real, climate scientist, was appalled by the attack on Pielke.

RP Jr’s post at 538 has elicited what is probably the most reprehensible and contemptible smear job that I have ever seen of a scientist, at least from an organization that has any pretense of respectability.

Silver is supposed to be a wonky science guy, but in response to the attack, Silver never again published a piece by Pielke on climate. We agree with Kate McMillan that this incident tells us everything we need to know about Silver and his site.

Thank you for this, Nate Silver… It’s helpful to know that Fivethirtyeight is just another product of spineless pc conformity before I waste any time with it.

Pielke himself summed up the experience this way.

Of course, I do wish that 538 had shown a bit more editorial backbone, but hey, it is his operation. If a widely published academic cannot publish on a subject which he has dozens of peer-reviewed papers and 1000s of citations to his work, what can he write on? Clearly Nate is a smart guy, and I suspect that he knows very well where the evidence lies on this topic. For me, if the price of playing in the DC-NYC data journalism world is self-censorship for fear of being unpopular, then it is clearly not a good fit for any academic policy scholar.

That last sentence is especially damning: “[T]he DC-NYC data journalism world is…clearly not a good fit for any academic policy scholar.” But that “DC-NYC data journalism world” is precisely the authority that so-smart liberals follow unquestioningly.

We note in closing that one of those establishment figures who piled on Pielke was the ever-deplorable Paul Krugman. He seems determined to make society pay a heavy price indeed for the fact that he was not popular in high school.

Architect of Obamacare Beclowns Self

MIT economist Jonathan Gruber played a significant role in crafting and promoting the Obamacare law, to the extent that the media routinely refer to him as the “architect of Obamacare.” As we noted previously, Gruber’s Obamacare consulting earned him some $400,000, and his work included putting out a report predicting that Obamacare would end up reducing premiums in the individual market. Instead, premiums increased sharply.

This week, Gruber made an even bigger fool of himself. The issue involves the ongoing legal challenge to Obamacare tax credits in 36 states where Obamacare exchanges are not exclusively state-run but are jointly or fully run by the federal government. The problem is that nowhere does the law state that the IRS can offer tax credits on federal exchanges. The law explicitly allows individuals to be subsidized through tax credits only on state-run exchanges. As a result, a panel of the DC circuit court ruled this week that tax credit subsidies on federal exchanges are unlawful. And without those subsidies, the whole Obamacare scheme falls apart.

Jon Gruber once again rushed in to defend Obamacare. He went on TV to argue that the omission of federal subsidies was just a “typo” and that literally everyone involved with creating the law intended for subsidies to be available and that for anyone to argue otherwise was “criminal.” Yes, “criminal.”

Gruber also told Mother Jones magazine that the legal challenge to the Obamacare subsidies was nutty and stupid.

Jonathan Gruber, who helped write former presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care law as well as the Affordable Care Act, calls this theory a “screwy interpretation” of the law. “It’s nutty. It’s stupid,” he says. And beyond that, “it’s essentially unprecedented in our democracy. This was law democratically enacted, challenged in the Supreme Court, and passed the test, and now [Republicans] are trying again. They’re desperate.”

But notwithstanding Gruber’s protestations, this week video emerged of someone closely involved with Obamacare making that very same “nutty” and “stupid” claim that the law makes subsidies available only to exchanges that are state-run. And that person was…wait for it…Jonathan Gruber!

What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges. But, you know, once again the politics can get ugly around this.

When confronted with the contradiction, Gruber replied that he misspoke, or as he put it, made a “speak-o,” the verbal equivalent of a typo. “Speak-o” That’s a term that’s new to us.

But then John Sexton found a recording of Gruber speaking on another occasion in 2012 and saying essentially the same thing. That recording can be heard here. Rather than a one-off speak-o, the statement seems to have been a regular feature of his stock presentation.

At nationalreview.com, Veronique de Rugy reminds us that this isn’t the first time that Gruber has contradicted himself on Obamacare.

[T]his is also the same Gruber who said in January that Obamacare wasn’t designed to save money, even calling the idea that savings were a “misleading motivator” for Obamacare. This was after he very actively promoted the deficit-reducing side of the law before it was adopted and called Obamacare “a historic and cost-effective step in the right direction” toward saving our health-care cost problems.

We know that consulting work can be lucrative, but at this point we wish that Gruber would just focus on academics because he’s making economists look bad.

David Hogberg has a new moniker for Gruber.

I’ve previously dubbed Jonathan Gruber as “Society’s Spokesman.” I’m now also conferring on the MIT professor and architect of ObamaCare the title Hero of the Republic. The reason is back in 2012 he stated that ObamaCare only permitted premium subsidies to go to state exchanges.

Jonathan Gruber, Hero of the Republic.

stupid_haha

Government now incompetent even at killing

When King Henry VIII decided to execute his wife, Anne Boleyn, he wanted the killing to be done quickly and efficiently. He therefore paid extra to summon an expert swordsman from Calais. swordsman

The fact that Henry ordered an expert French swordsman has been seen as an act of mercy because Anne could have been burned or beheaded in the usual way. Burning was an awful death as the victim could suffer quite a long time, particularly if the wood was damp. Beheading could also be a slow way to die if the axeman missed the neck and it took a few blows to finish you off. Death by sword, however, was a very quick and clean death, so it could be seen that Henry was being merciful to Anne by letting her die in this manner.

The swordsman indeed made quick work of poor Anne Boleyn. Today, almost five hundred years later, one might think that government’s methods of execution must have evolved to become even more effective and efficient. Instead, government in carrying out executions has proven less competent in the 21st century than it was in the 16th. News reports in recent months have carried multiple reports of ‘botched’ executions.

On Jan. 9, Michael Lee Wilson, who was convicted of murdering a convenience store clerk, declared he “felt his whole body burning” after Oklahoma administered a combination of pentobarbital, vecuronium bromide to stop respiration and potassium chloride to stop the heart. A week later, Dennis McGuire, who was sentenced to die for raping and killing a 22-year-old pregnant woman, thrashed and snorted before finally succumbing after about 25 minutes following Ohio’s use of a new lethal drug mix. McGuire’s family is now suing Hospira, a pharmaceutical company, for providing the state with execution drugs. Ohio said this week that its review found McGuire’s execution was “conducted in a constitutional manner,” but that it was increasing drug dosages in future executions.

In April, an execution in Oklahoma went so badly that the state tried to stop it while in progress by issuing a stay.

A little after 6:40 p.m. on Tuesday, Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton entered the viewing room of the state penitentiary’s lethal injection chamber and announced that a stay of execution had been issued for death row inmate Clayton Lockett, who was then on the other side of a lowered beige curtain writhing and twitching from the drugs entering his veins.

The announcement surprised those watching the execution from behind the glass window.

“My impression was, my God, they’re going to try to save this poor guy so they can kill him later,” says Dean Sanderford, one of Lockett’s attorneys. Sanderford and his co-counsel David Autry were asked to leave the viewing room, believing Lockett would be revived and executed at a later date. At 7:06 p.m., the D.O.C. announced that Lockett had died of a heart attack.

Exactly what happened in those 25 minutes is known only to the prison officials inside the execution chamber. The attorneys were told to leave the viewing room. A few reporters stayed behind, but the curtain remained drawn and their view was blocked. However, some facts are not in dispute. Lockett, a convicted murderer, was injected with an untested blend of drugs obtained from an undisclosed source…

It appeared that midazolam – a sedative meant to put Lockett to sleep – was beginning to take effect. The doctor came over to see whether Lockett was still conscious. He said he was, so they waited a few more minutes.

“At that point, the warden says in this formal tone, ‘Mr. Lockett is now unconscious,’” Sanderford says. “I took that as a cue to the executioners to start with the second and third drug.”

A couple more minutes passed, and that’s when things started going horribly wrong.

“It was almost subtle at first,” Sanderford says. “He started writhing and twitching, and then the writhing and twitching just got stronger and more violent. It looked like he was trying to lift his whole upper body off the table, as if he was trying to sit up. He was mumbling things that were clearly words but I couldn’t understand. His eyes opened at one point. It was the most gruesome spectacle I’ve ever seen in my life.”

And yet another bungled execution occurred just this week in Arizona.

A convicted murderer in Arizona gasped and snorted for more than 90 minutes after a lethal injection Wednesday, his attorneys and witnesses said, dying in a botched execution that prompted the governor to order an investigation and the state Supreme Court to mandate that the materials used in the procedure be preserved.

Joseph Rudolph Wood III’s execution almost certainly will reinvigorate the national debate over the death penalty. He received an injection at 1:52 p.m. at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence. The execution became so prolonged that reporters witnessing the execution counted several hundred of his wheezes before he was finally declared dead at 3:49 p.m. — nearly two hours after the procedure began.

While this last inmate’s case was still in the courts, just days before the execution, Appellate Judge Alex Kozinski wrote a prophetic dissent against the use of lethal injection. Instead, Judge Kozinski argued that firing squads would be more effective.

In calling for firing squads, Kozinski said, “Eight or 10 large-caliber rifle bullets fired at close range can inflict massive damage, causing instant death every time.”

Or maybe the states should just try to hire a swordsman from Calais.

The situation has gotten so bad that it raises 8th Amendment issues regarding cruel punishment.

[T]he White House implied that Lockett’s protracted death may have violated the ban on cruel and unusual punishment established in the Eight Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“We have a fundamental standard in this country that even when the death penalty is justified, it must be carried out humanely,” said Jay Carney, President Obama’s press secretary. “And I think everyone would recognize that this case fell short of that standard.”

The death penalty certainly involves significant moral issues. But leaving aside the morality of the death penalty, it seems to us rather remarkable that government in this day and age should struggle to competently carry out an execution. This is especially remarkable in light of the fact that killing is one of the few things that governments throughout history have done with any proficiency. In particular, executing people relatively quickly and painlessly is something that authorities have managed to do for hundreds of years, even in technologically backward circumstances. But for government today, it’s apparently a real challenge.

Anne Boleyn was fortunate not to be executed in 21st century America.

Even Henry VIII would be appalled.

Sorry, but Glass-Steagall would not have prevented the financial crisis

The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 separated commercial banking from investment banking. This meant that commercial banking activities (primarily making business loans) and activities characterizing investment banking (underwriting issues of corporate securities to bring them to market) could no longer be conducted under one roof. As a result, the banks had to spin off their investment banking divisions as separate institutions; for instance, J. P. Morgan’s investment banking division split off to become Morgan Stanley.

In 1999, Glass-Steagall was repealed. As a result, a lot of people now blame the repeal of Glass-Steagall for the financial crisis of 2008, and want to see Glass-Steagall reinstated. Among those voicing support for Glass-Steagall is one of the most ambitious politicians in America today: Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Senator Elizabeth Warren. This pic is for Tony.

Senator Elizabeth Warren. This pic is for Tony.

While running for office back in 2012, Warren

sent an e-mail to thousands of her constituents, pressing to bring back the law, which she said, “stopped investment banks from gambling away people’s life savings for decades — until Wall Street successfully lobbied to have it repealed in 1999.”

Do the facts support the idea that repeal of Glass-Steagall played a key role in the financial crisis? Author Andrew Ross Sorkin calls the idea the “Glass-Steagall myth.”

The first domino to nearly topple over in the financial crisis was Bear Stearns, an investment bank that had nothing to do with commercial banking. Glass-Steagall would have been irrelevant. Then came Lehman Brothers; it too was an investment bank with no commercial banking business and therefore wouldn’t have been covered by Glass-Steagall either. After them, Merrill Lynch was next — and yep, it too was an investment bank that had nothing to do with Glass-Steagall.

Next in line was the American International Group, an insurance company that was also unrelated to Glass-Steagall. While we’re at it, we should probably throw in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which similarly, had nothing to do with Glass-Steagall.

Now let’s look at the major commercial banks that ran into trouble.

Let’s first take Bank of America. Its biggest problems stemmed not from investment banking or trading — though there were some losses — but from its acquisition of Countrywide Financial, the subprime lender, which made a lot of bad loans — completely permissible under Glass-Steagall.

What about Wachovia? Its near-collapse was largely a function of its acquisition of Golden West, a mortgage lender that saddled it with billions of dollars in bad loans.

Citigroup’s problems are probably the closest call when it comes to whether Glass-Steagall would have avoided its problems. It gorged both on underwriting bad loans and buying up collateralized debt obligations.

In that case, Glass-Steagall would have done two things: it would have prevented the trading losses and it also would have kept Citigroup from getting so big, which was one of the reasons it required a bailout.

But Citi’s troubles didn’t come until after Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, A.I.G., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were fallen or teetering — when all hell was breaking loose.

And since all hell was already breaking loose before Glass-Steagall would have had any relevance, it follows that having Glass-Steagall in place from the start would not have prevented all hell from breaking loose.

Moreover, the locus of the crisis was precisely those stand-alone investment banks that had been engendered by Glass-Steagall. From the viewpoint of Glass-Steagall, those investment banks were supposedly safe because they did not engage in commercial banking. Yet they got themselves in trouble anyway and sparked the crisis.

Sorkin’s logic seems compelling, and in fact Elizabeth Warren, when confronted by Sorkin, retreated from her position.

When I called Ms. Warren and pressed her about whether she thought the financial crisis or JPMorgan’s [2012 trading] losses could have been avoided if Glass-Steagall were in place, she conceded: “The answer is probably ‘No’ to both.”

Most folks in the article’s comment thread, however, remained obstinately in support of Glass-Steagall.

IndymacAh, but Washington Mutual and IndyMac were not commercial banks; they were thrifts, and therefore…say it with us…had nothing to do with Glass-Steagall.

But getting back to Elizabeth Warren, why would she publicly agitate in favor of Glass-Steagall when she admits it would not have prevented the crisis?

In my conversation with Ms. Warren she told me that one of the reasons she’s been pushing reinstating Glass-Steagall — even if it wouldn’t have prevented the financial crisis — is that it is an easy issue for the public to understand and “you can build public attention behind.”

She added that she considers Glass-Steagall more of a symbol of what needs to happen to regulations than the specifics related to the act itself.

In other words, she was deliberately manipulating the ignorant masses through propaganda.

Just another day at the office for America’s decadent Ruling Class.

Study: Legalizing prostitution lowers violence against women

Due to a government screw-up (can you believe it?) in writing legislation, prostitution was inadvertently legal in Rhode Island from 2003 to 2009. This legislative mistake gave economists Scott Cunningham and Manisha Shah an opportunity to study what happens when prostitution becomes legal. They found, remarkably, that legalization reduces the incidence of both rape and disease.

The statewide incidence of gonorrhea among women declined by 39 percent, and the number of rapes reported to police in the state declined by 31 percent, according to the paper…

In addition to the lower rate of gonorrhea infections among women, Shah and Cunningham estimated that decriminalizing prostitution prevented 824 rapes that would have been otherwise reported to police — and presumably many more that otherwise would not have been reported in any case.

The decline in the number of rapes was so large that Cunningham and Shah felt obliged to examine their data with three separate statistical methods, but the effect persisted. The authors were eventually persuaded that their result was not a fluke, and that imposing criminal sanctions on prostitutes and their clients might cause violence against women. “The human costs are so big, if this is in fact a very real causal effect,” Cunningham said. “I think we have convinced ourselves that we have done everything we can do rule out alternative explanations.”

A possible explanation for the result is that legalization gives prostitutes more opportunity to screen potential clients, and to report, or credibly threaten to report, clients who give them trouble to the police.

There are a number of reasons to think that making prostitution legal might improve working conditions for prostitutes. If they were having a problem with a client, they could threaten to call the police. Not only could this threat reduce the risk of physical violence, but it could also allow them to demand that their clients use condoms.

Additionally, according to supporters of legal prostitution, unlawful streetwalkers have no opportunity to vet their clients before their hurried, clandestine encounters. A regular market for sex, whether online or in a brick-and-mortar establishment, could solve that problem.

In contrast, feminist Melissa Farley proffered the usual objection that legalization would make victims of more women and provide a boon to the criminal class.

Farley, along with major international feminist organizations such as Equality Now and the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, worries that legalizing prostitution would make it easier for traffickers to operate, and that many of the new prostitutes who appeared in Rhode Island between 2003 and 2009 were unwilling participants.

A sociologist points out, however, that the reverse is true; criminalization offers an opportunity for criminals, because criminals are the ones who will step in to provide goods when they are illegal. Prohibition also raises the price of the good, which gives criminals more financial incentive to traffic in women.

Ronald Weitzer, a sociologist at George Washington University, disagreed, arguing that legal prostitution would reduce the financial incentive for organized crime to risk running afoul of law enforcement by kidnapping and transporting girls. “When something is prohibited, it allows organized crime to gain a foothold,” he said, comparing the sex market to the markets for alcohol during Prohibition or for marijuana and other drugs today.

Worth noting was the reaction of the lawyer for the Providence massage parlors in response to the notion that the sex workers, during the 2003-2009 decriminalization, were unwilling victims of ‘trafficking.’

“They have heard that, and they laugh at it,” said Mike Kiselica, a Providence attorney who represented massage parlors and their prostitutes during decriminalization. “The frontline workers, the girls, they were free to move around, and would do so if one of the other places offered them a more attractive working environment or a better clientele,” he said.

He said that even though the law had changed, police continued to conduct extensive raids on his clients, often involving superior officers, social workers and Korean interpreters. Although the police confiscated ledgers, calendars and cell phones, they did not find evidence of involvement by organized crime, Kiselica said. To his knowledge, few if any of the arrests made during the period led to convictions on trafficking charges.

Many Western nations have successfully legalized prostitution, but in the U.S. it seems unlikely to happen anytime soon. In the U.S., unfortunately, the prostitution laws are staunchly defended by an unlikely combination of potent interest groups: radical feminists, pro-family conservatives, and police unions.

Those groups believe strongly that they enjoy the moral high ground, but the evidence now suggests that their preferred policies are responsible for increased rates of rape and disease, and incidentally, a significant waste of scarce police resources.

Maybe it’s time to start asking the prostitution prohibitionists, “Why do you want to promote rape and disease?”

The Most Underrated President Ever

That would have to be Marion, Ohio’s Warren G. Harding. Much maligned for decades by the leftists that dominate academic history, Harding’s brief two-and-a-half-year presidency was actually characterized by sound policy choices and an elevated moral sense. A good summary of Harding’s presidency is offered by Ronald and Allis Radosh is a new article at slate.com.

On economic policy:

[H]e cut government spending to the bone and reduced federal income tax rates across the board. As he said to Congress, the government acted during the war as if “it counted the Treasury inexhaustible”; if that pattern continued, it would result in “inevitable disaster.” To get government spending under control, Harding established the nation’s first Budget Bureau (the forerunner of today’s Office of Management and Budget) in the Treasury Department. As a result, federal spending dropped from $6.3 billion in 1920 to $5 billion in 1921 and then $3.3 billion in 1922. He supported the Revenue Act of 1921, which eliminated the wartime excess-profits tax, lowered the top marginal income tax rate from 73 to 58 percent, decreased surtaxes on incomes above $5,000, and increased exemptions for families.

By the time Harding died, the signs of economic growth were evident…Unemployment fell from 15.6 percent to 9 percent. The industrial side of the economy revived at a rapid pace. A boom took place in construction, clothing, food, and automobile sectors. From 1921 to 1923, the volume of manufacturing climbed 54 percent.

Also not widely appreciated is the fact that Harding, unlike his Democrat predecessor Woodrow Wilson, was a champion of civil rights.

Harding stood, as the head of the party of Lincoln, for civil rights. That included support for a federal anti-lynching law, something that even FDR would not back out of fear of losing support for the New Deal from the all-white Southern Democrats. As expected, the Democrats in the House and Senate continually voted to defeat it, as well as Harding’s proposal for the establishment of a biracial commission that would have investigated lynching and abuses of electoral law, such as literacy tests for blacks and “white primaries” used to disenfranchise black voters. That proposal died in committee.

Harding also instructed his Cabinet members to make a place in their departments for black Republicans. He announced that he wanted to appoint “leading Negro citizens from the several states to more important official positions than were heretofore accorded to them,” although not to federal positions in the South. (He received protests for one exception—his appointment of a black collector of the customs in New Orleans.)…

Harding also supported equality before the law for all Americans. In October of 1921, he gave his “Birmingham speech,” in which he called for equal educational opportunity and an end to disenfranchisement of black voters. The white section of the audience received it in silence, while black Americans, standing in a roped-off segregated section, cheered his remarks…

Harding also acted to free the political prisoners incarcerated by the Wilson administration, thus putting an end to what was called by historians the First Red Scare. On the day before Christmas in 1921, he freed from prison the Socialist Party leader Eugene V. Debs, who had run for president the year before, inviting Debs to come to the White House before returning home, where he would be welcomed to celebrate his freedom on Christmas Eve with his wife. On the 26th, Debs was received by Harding in his White House office.

The Radoshs’ piece is entitled “What If Warren Harding Wasn’t a Terrible President?”

What if? Well in that case generations of leftist historians would be exposed as the tools and fools that they are.

Keeping the Kids at Home

A nice illustration of the law of demand via the New York Post:

A mogul spent six figures to win lunch for two with Bill and Hillary Clinton at a charity auction benefiting the Clinton Foundation — but when the winner asked to bring his two kids along, he was told he’d have to double his bid to $1 million.

Spies said Charitybuzz CEO Coppy Holzman was talking about the recent Clinton auction hosted by his website at a swanky Hamptons Magazine party for ArtHamptons last Friday.

One witness said Holzman regaled guests with a tale that “lunch for two with Bill and Hillary went for $500,000 to benefit the Clinton Foundation.” And the winning bid came from “a Chinese business mogul who then asked if he could bring his two children along to the meeting.”

But, our spy said, the high bidder was then told by the Clinton camp he could only bring his kids for a cool $1 million.

“The couple opted to leave the children at home,” the source cracked.

Protectionist Racket

Our friend Mark Perry pounds the table in his blog post which highlights a recent WSJ editorial against steel tariffs:

Thanks to the WSJ for correctly pointing out that antidumping enforcement is a “protectionist racket” that allows politically-favored and politically-connected companies and industries like Big Steel to raise prices, gain market share legally “pick the pockets” of millions of Americans.

This, of course, just serves to illustrate a major problem in representative democracy since every instance of waste, graft, and monopolistic racket is somebody’s fat paycheck or government contract. Those few who see the systemic damage wrought by unproductive policies are motivated by a concern for the foundations of the entire system, while those fighting to retain their share of the swag are driven by a fierce desire to keep their bounty regardless of the consequences to the system. Who do you think wins?

TSA Efficiency

Here is a story about a TSA agent who apparently didn’t know that the District of Columbia is part of the USA!

If college ID’s were officially accepted as appropriate airport documentation all those students studying abroad at places like Columbia University might have some explaining to do.