"The New Old Economics of Trade"

A terrific--especially for a journalist (although the author does have a degree from the LSE)--article on recent commentaries questioning the value of free trade

But the prevailing mood of expert disenchantment with free trade is still disappointing. It misconstrues important new research, directs attention to the wrong questions, and supports the adoption of bad policies. It does the country a grave disservice.


"Raising Income Taxes Won't Fix Wealth Inequality"

Summary of a recent academic study, "The Dynamics of Wealth Inequality and the Effect of Income Distribution".

The researchers then used their model to predict the future. What would happen, they wondered, if income inequality was varied? In their model, income inequality was tied to a metric called the Gini index, a statistical measure of inequality used for decades. They found that altering income inequality to a Gini index of 0.1 (very low inequality) resulted in the top 10% controlling 78.6% of wealth in 2030, while raising income inequality to a Gini index of 0.9 (very high inequality) resulted in the top 10% controlling 79.3% of wealth in 2030, hardly a significant difference.


"The Many Ages of Adulthood in the Nanny State"

This is so true.

Liberals have blurred the lines much further. Girls of any age can elect to have an abortion in California, but they can’t get a tattoo without parental consent until they are 18. Liberals construct fancy arguments to justify the differences, but we know that they are using age as a pretext to trample on the rights of free adults to do things they do not like. If you fit their politics, they want to expand your franchise. If you do not, they feel free to tell you what you cannot do. Next stop: You have to be 21 to buy a gun to protect yourself.


"$25 grocery rebate when you spend $50"

This puzzles me.

There are 2 new online rebates available for $25 off a $50 grocery purchase!

These rebates are issued by Coors and Miller and are valid for North Carolina residents who are at least 21.

The rebate is for $25 when you buy $50 worth of groceries ($50 must be pre-tax and cannot include tobacco, pharmacy prescription or lottery).

This offer is valid May 16-30 and must be submitted by 6/29/16.

I applied for mine and in a few minutes I got an e-mail confirming they had received the information. I had to send them a scan of a cash register tape and my contact information. I didn't have to answer any other questions and I didn't have to buy any beer.


"Why are so many celebrities dying in 2016?"

The Telegraph offers six theories and actually chooses a couple.

It certainly seems the case. The death of the musician Prince, at the age of 57, just a day after Victoria Wood died from cancer, aged 62, has shocked their millions of fans. But it also appears to prove that 2016 is cursed in some way.  The two entertainers are the latest in a long line of celebrities to die in 2016, following Ronnie Corbett, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Sir Terry Wogan, Harper Lee,David Gest, Garry Shandling, Johan Cruyff among others.


"The Book That Will Save Banking From Itself"

Tell me how the banks will inevitably game the system Mervyn King proposes and I'll tell you whether it's a good idea. 

The first thing that King thinks must be done is to separate the boring bits of banking (providing a safe place to deposit money, facilitating payments) from the exciting ones (trading). There is no need, he thinks, to break up the existing institutions. Deposits and short-term loans to banks simply need to be separated from other bank assets. Against all of these boring assets, banks would be required to hold government bonds or reserves at the central bank in cash. That is, there should be zero risk that there won’t be sufficient cash on hand to repay people wanting to flee any bank at a moment’s notice -- and thus no reason for those people to flee.

The riskier assets from which banks stand most to gain (and lose) would then be vetted by the central bank, in advance of any crisis, to determine what it would be willing to lend against them in a pinch if posted as collateral. Common stocks, mortgage bonds, Australian gold mines, credit default swaps and whatever else: The banks would decide, before any crisis, which of their risky assets they would be willing to pledge to -- basically, pawn with -- the central bank. The riskier the asset, the less the central bank would be willing to lend against it.


"Real Reform for Detroit’s Kids: It’s time to break up the city’s dysfunctional school system."

Four teacher strikes in less than 25 years is enough, yes? Obama education secretary Arne Duncan calling the system "a national disgrace" is enough, yes? And then there's this:

Residents keep fleeing the city, and students keep leaving the school system. Enrollment is down to just 49,000, from 168,000 in 2000.


"Hope for Reversing Type 2 Diabetes"

This seems encouraging:

Recently, a small clinical trial in England studied the effects of a strict liquid diet on 30 people who had lived with Type 2 diabetes for up to 23 years. Nearly half of those studied had a remission that lasted six months after the diet was over. While the study was small, the finding offers hope to millions who have been told they must live with the intractable disease.


Diagnosis, analysis, and solution . . .

As Stuart Scott used to yell, "Ring the bell. School is out!" I recommend reading the three excerpted pieces in order:

Walter Russell Mead, "The State of Our Union: The biggest deficits in the United States these days are not the ones grabbing the headlines".

The state of our union can be summed up pretty easily: Democratic policy ideas don’t work, and the Republican Party is melting down. From New York state, where Democratic power brokers are beginning to be herded into prison, where so many of them belong, to Chicago, where a civil war between Democrat-run public unions and the Democratic mayor rages even as the city’s finances fall apart, to the collapsing cities of Detroit and Flint, and on out to the high-speed rail boondoggle in California, the country is covered in the ruins of decades of “progressive” governance. Take Obamacare itself, a “reform” that is already making health care more bureaucratic and less affordable. Even as premiums and deductibles rise and the provider networks shrink, special interests like labor unions, insurance companies and hospital chains seek to rewrite its rules and regulations to achieve windfalls for themselves at the public expense. They will almost certainly succeed, and over time, Obamacare like other programs will become increasingly encrusted by sweetheart deals, carve-outs and other provisions that reduce its positive qualities while making it ever more expensive and bureaucratic.

The more “Democratic” an institution is these days, on the whole the less well it is working. What institution in the United States has been under Democratic control longer and more thoroughly than the failing public school systems of major cities? Or their police departments?

Philip Wallach, "Farewell to the Administrative State?"

Because administrators style themselves as above-the-fray solvers of collective problems, it makes it very difficult for them to question their assumptions or open themselves to exchanges with critics on equal terms. Doing so would threaten their pose as “wise rulers” and show the political choices embedded in their thinking, and so their natural tendency is to hunker down—the very thing that has led to legitimacy problems over the long run, even as it fends off some short-term headaches by branding critics as “political” or as working for “special interests.” Legislatures, on the other hand, institutionally specialize in openness and the ability to find compromises even among people who remain in open political disagreement.

Glenn Reynolds, "How to make the U.S. collapse-proof".

So one answer would be for a society not to become so complex. This is easier said than done, of course. Human nature being what it is, bureaucrats want to expand their empires, politicians want to employ their constituencies on the taxpayers’ dime and various groups are always trying to mobilize the state’s resources on their own behalf. . . .

So one thing you’d want would be to limit the growth of this web. That means smaller government, government that’s less involved in administering the things that special interests care about, and one that provides more opportunities for citizens and groups who want to do things to break the web somehow. . . . 

Of course, in describing a limited federal government, ruling over a nation made up of semi-sovereign states, subject to the rule of law and judicial review I’m not describing anything shocking or new: That’s precisely the kind of government we in the United States are supposed to have under our Constitution.