Fiscally I'm A Right-Wing Nutjob, But On Social Issues I'm Fucking Insanely Liberal
129 stories
·
2 followers

Spot the Problem

2 Shares

Google searches from the United Kingdom.

EU

Hat tip: Catherine Rampell on twitter.

The post Spot the Problem appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

Read the whole story
smilerz
63 days ago
reply
Chicago or thereabouts
Share this story
Delete

Prince, R.I.P.

1 Share

As all or most of you know by now, Prince has passed away.  I don’t listen to him nearly as much as I did in the eighties, but songs such as “When Doves Cry,” “Dirty Mind,” “Glam Slam,” “Starfish and Coffee,” and (most of all) the acoustic, CD-single version of “Seven” still stick in my mind, among others.  I think his “dirty little secret,” if you will forgive the pun, is that once you get past the first album he wasn’t much of a true Dionysian, but rather a playful polyglot who assumed various poses.  Most of all I was impressed by his urge to create, and how strong and how internal that drive seems to have been.

The post Prince, R.I.P. appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

Read the whole story
smilerz
127 days ago
reply
Chicago or thereabouts
Share this story
Delete

Heartwarming Libertarian Story

1 Share

From Bretigne Shaffer.

Essentially, the DTMC [Detroit Threat Management Center] has done what libertarians like Murray Rothbard and David Friedman have long been saying could be done: They have turned the provision of public safety into a profitable business model, and they have done it in some of the worst neighborhoods in the country. The results have been incredible: According to Brown, crime has dropped dramatically in the areas where they work, and all without the loss of life to their staff or anyone else.

Read the whole story
smilerz
157 days ago
reply
Chicago or thereabouts
Share this story
Delete

[Ilya Somin] The Constitution does not require the Senate to give judicial nominees an up or down vote

1 Share
The U.S. Supreme Court building (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

The U.S. Supreme Court building (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

At a recent press conference, President Obama claimed that the Republican-controlled Senate has a duty to vote on his nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away on Saturday:

President Barack Obama on Tuesday vowed to pick an indisputably qualified nominee for the Supreme Court and chided Republicans who control the U.S. Senate for threatening to block him from filling the pivotal vacancy.

Obama told senators he has a constitutional duty to nominate a new justice after Saturday’s death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and reminded them of their constitutional obligation to “do their job” and vote to approve or reject his nominee….

“I’m amused when I hear people who claim to be strict interpreters of the Constitution suddenly reading into it a whole series of provisions that are not there,” Obama said.

“The Constitution is pretty clear about what is supposed to happen now,” Obama, a former constitutional law professor, told a news conference at the close of a two-day meeting with leaders from Southeast Asia.

I. What the Constitution Says.

The Constitution is indeed clear on this issue, but not in the way the president suggests. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution states that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law.” Notice that the Senate is not required to give its “advice and consent.” Rather, its consent is a prerequisite to enabling the president’s nominee to take up his or her office.

Article II, Section 2 does not lay out any specific procedure by which the Senate can refuse its consent. It does not indicate whether it must do so by taking a vote, or whether it can simply refuse to consider the president’s nominee at all. However, Article I, Section 5 states that “Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings.” That power includes the rules for considering judicial nominations, as well as all other Senate business. Thus, so long as the Senate has established rules that allow it to refuse to vote on a nominee, it can do so – just as it can refuse to vote on bills, treaties, or any other business that comes before it.

This interpretation of the text is consistent with years of practice. Both Democrats and Republicans have often blocked judicial nominations by filibustering them or otherwise preventing them from coming to a vote. In one well-known case, the Democrats held up George W. Bush’s nomination of Miguel Estrada to the DC Circuit for over two years, until he was finally forced to withdraw without ever getting a vote of any kind. They did so because they had concerns about Estrada’s judicial philosophy – exactly the same reason why Republicans might end up blocking Obama’s Supreme Court nomination today.

Historically, most such refusals to vote involved nominations to the lower courts rather than the Supreme Court. But the Constitution does not establish different rules for Supreme Court nominations as opposed to lower court ones. Any procedure that is constitutional for the latter is also permitted for the former. Blocking a Supreme Court nominee may be unwise, irresponsible, or politically risky. It may be worse behavior than blocking a lower court nomination. But it is not unconstitutional.

In July 2007, Senator Charles Schumer – then, as now, a leading Democratic spokesman on judicial confirmation issues – argued that the Senate “should not confirm a [Bush] Supreme Court nominee EXCEPT in extraordinary circumstances.” He was willing to use the filibuster to prevent a vote, if necessary. Reasonable people can disagree about the soundness of Schumer’s negative assessment of Bush’s likely appointees. But the Senate had every right to adopt the approach he advocated.

Although the Constitution does not require it, the confirmation process might well work better if the Senate adopted rules that require a timely vote on every judicial nomination. Like Jonathan Adler, I would welcome a bipartisan deal along those lines. But unless and until such an agreement comes into force, senators of both parties have every right to use the existing rules to block Supreme Court nominations. Neither can reasonably be expected to accept unilateral disarmament.

II. Why Senators have the Right to Consider Nominees’ Judicial Philosophy.

In deciding whether to block a nomination, senators also have every right to consider the nominee’s ideology and judicial philosophy, not just his or her professional qualifications. Nothing in the Constitution forbids such consideration. Responsible senators can and should scrutinize an attribute that might well have a major effect on the nominee’s future performance on the bench.

No one explained this point better than then-Senator Barack Obama, in his speech defending his vote against the confirmation of Justice Samuel Alito in 2006 (Obama had previously advocated filibustering the nomination, so it would not come to a vote at all):

There are some who believe that the president, having won the election, should have complete authority to appoint his nominee and the Senate should only examine whether or not the justice is intellectually capable, and an all-around good guy. That once you get beyond intellect, and personal character, there should be no further question as to whether the judge should be confirmed.

I disagree with this view. I believe firmly that the Constitution calls for the Senate to advise AND consent. I believe that it calls for meaningful advice and consent that includes an examination of a judge’s philosophy, ideology, and record.

Objections to the nominee’s judicial philosophy led Obama to oppose Alito’s nomination and advocate a filibuster, even though he had “no doubt that Judge Alito has the training and qualifications necessary to serve” and conceded that Alito “is an intelligent man, and an accomplished jurist.”

Lest readers think I have come around to then-Senator Obama’s position only now when it is convenient to do so, I should point out that I said much the same thing back in 2007, during the Bush administration, when I supported Senator Schumer’s views on the subject. I will be happy to say it again during the next administration.

Senators cannot reasonably expect a nominee whose judicial philosophy matches their own in every way, and they should not let it be the only factor in their decision. But it would be a mistake to ignore this extremely important aspect of a nominee’s record.











Read the whole story
smilerz
191 days ago
reply
Chicago or thereabouts
Share this story
Delete

[Jonathan H. Adler] Is there a libertarian case for Bernie Sanders?

1 Share

Andrew Kirell at the Daily Beast poses the question. The Niskanen Center’s Will Wilkinson provides an answer:

The libertarian case for Bernie Sanders is simply that Bernie Sanders wants to make America more like Denmark, Canada, or Sweden . . . and the citizens of those countries enjoy more liberty than Americans do. No other candidate specifically aims to make the United States more closely resemble a freer country. That’s it. That’s the case.

Of course, it’s not that simple. As Wilkinson adds:

The biggest problem with my particularist, data-first libertarian argument for Bernie Sanders is that Bernie Sanders doesn’t seem to actually understand that Denmark-style social democracy is funded by a free-market capitalist system that is in many ways less regulated than American capitalism.

Or as Wilkinson wrote a few months ago:

The lesson Bernie Sanders needs to learn is that you cannot finance a Danish-style welfare state without free markets and large tax increases on the middle class. If you want Danish levels of social spending, you need Danish middle-class tax rates and a relatively unfettered capitalist economy. The fact that he’s unwilling to come out in favor of either half of  the Danish formula for a viable social-democratic welfare state is the best evidence that Bernie Sanders is not actually very interested in what it takes to make social democracy work. The great irony of post-1989 political economy is that capitalism has proven itself the most reliable means to socialist ends. Bernie seems not to have gotten the memo.

In other words, “democratic socialism, according to Bernie Sanders’ superannuated understanding of it, may have a dash too much Venezuela in it.” Yup.

Chicago’s John Cochrane comments:

Yes, Denmark scores much above the US on ease of doing business indices. An interesting case. A welfare state is not necessarily a politicized regulatory state, with strong two-way political-industry capture. The latter may be more dangerous economically. Those who wish to eat golden eggs have an incentive to let the Goose grow fat.











Read the whole story
smilerz
195 days ago
reply
Chicago or thereabouts
Share this story
Delete

Economists who lack an imagination, by Scott Sumner

1 Share

One thing that bugs me is economists who seem to think that their way of looking at life is the right way. Indeed the only sensible way.

1. Economists who complain that Christmas presents are inefficient.

Do they ever consider the fact that people might get utility from the thought that others are thinking about them? You don't have to think about someone else to give them money, whereas you do have to try to think about their preferences if you give them a gift.

2. Economists who complain that buying lottery tickets is foolish.

Do they ever consider that people with dreary lives might get utility from buying a little bit of hope for the future? I seem to recall a study that suggested that people with unrealistic expectations about the future are happier.

3. Economists who assume that smoking is inefficient because (they assume) the health risk is greater than the benefit (i.e. enjoyment) from smoking.

My dad knew the health risk, and smoked anyway. Why assume it was not rational? He was highly intelligent, and seemed rational to me. Do they know something that my dad did not?

4. Economists who say that voting is not rational because there is only a tiny probability that your vote will swing an election.

Why not assume that people get utility out of voting? Maybe they are patriotic.

This is not a left/right thing; I see this narrow-minded thinking among economists on both sides of the political spectrum. Rather it seems to reflect a lack of imagination.

This kind of thinking led Deirdre McCloskey to turn away from "maximizing utility" models of behavior. I see her point. But I don't see utility as the problem, but rather a lack of imagination as to all the subtle ways that people can derive utility.

PS. This is my biggest problem with behavioral economics. The field has certainly produced some interesting results, but at times it seems like the practitioners are over-confident about their ability to second guess the decisions of people they have never even met.

PPS. And I think the problem goes far beyond behavioral economics. I often find it hard to even have a conversation with my fellow economists. Sometimes their views on "scientific" methodology are so narrow that any claim that doesn't fit some arbitrary mathematical model is ruled out of order. Or the failure to follow some arbitrary testing procedure results in claims being ignored. Or vast consequences are assumed to flow from whether a statistical test yields a "significant" result.

PPPS. I will be traveling today, and may do less blogging over the holidays.

(3 COMMENTS) (0 COMMENTS)
Read the whole story
smilerz
245 days ago
reply
Chicago or thereabouts
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories