Saturday, December 27, 2008

Jaguars Suffer Existential Meltdown

From the Onion: "Unless someone can convince the Jags that existence has meaning Peyton Manning can rest easy."


Pre-Game Coin Toss Makes Jacksonville Jaguars Realize Randomness Of Life

Friday, December 26, 2008

I've Come to the End of Me

On December 15th, the Economist's Blog 'Certain Ideas of Europe' ended. I'm not sure where I will now read about Walloon-Flemish bickering and the impending collapse of Belgium - probably just the print edition. Although not as frequently updated as I would like, this was one of my favorites and it's a shame to see it go.

Now in a move that may scare Europeans, I will replace the CIE link on this blog with a link to James Fallows Beijing-based Atlantic blog. I can only emphasize that if Europe had followed the Economist's frequent recommendations to liberalize continental labour markets this may not have happened.

The Do-Nothing Senate

I generally am a fan of the Senate, the filibuster, and other techniques that slow down legislation. While the 2/3 majority necessary for a budget in California is too far, in general I am biased in favor of restrictions on making major changes to long-term establish laws. In Washington, the House may be reactionary, but the Senate is set up to be sensitive to the long-run and thus more cautious. It is difficult to get controversial pieces of legislation through the Senate, and Senators’ terms make them think about the effects 6 years down the road (i.e. the long tem). Thus, the Senate is generally a body that increases the stability and predictability of government, and I think there is a good deal of benefit to society from having these things.

When there is uncertainty over whether the rules of the game will change, it becomes more difficult to do long-run planning, hurting investment, and so the economy and society. When the future is more predictable one is better able and more likely to set long-term plans. So (perhaps this is the Tory conservative in me coming out) I think it’s very necessary to have significant pressures against sudden changes.

In its recent article titled ‘The trouble with the Senate’, the Economist makes this point more anonymously than I can:‘When the House passes a bill in hotheaded haste, the Senate cools it down. In a country as vast and diverse as America, there is something to be said for making it hard for the central government to impose sudden, radical change on everyone. And the excruciating difficulty of getting anything controversial through the Senate forces lawmakers to sit down and take account of opposing views. On December 11th, for example, Senate Republicans blocked a bail-out for Detroit’s carmakers. This thwarted the clearly expressed will of majorities in both the House and the Senate. But it was the right thing to do. A bail-out would either delay inevitable restructuring or (worse) put Congress in charge of it. The bail-out’s advocates will try again. But they will have to come up with a more plausible plan.’

The Economist makes an interesting point in its article, that in the United States “The biggest and best reforms of the past have usually been bipartisan—think of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 or welfare reform in 1996.” I would add the 1986 Tax Reform to this list of perhaps the most successful pieces of major legislation of the last half century. All were passed with broad bipartisan support. I think it’s more difficult to point to overwhelmingly successful pieces of legislation that were passes narrowly, although some tax cuts and trade deals may count.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Don Young Loses Ranking Member Position

As corrupt Democrats are being pushed from office, it's nice to see the Republicans make moves to marginalize some of their blatantly corrupt members.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thailand's Government Has Fallen

Being outlawed by the Supreme Court will do that