Donald Trump is many things. But one thing he is not is a defender of the 2009-2016 status quo and accepted progressive convention. Since 2017, everything has been in flux. Lots of past conventional assumptions of the Obama-Clinton-Romney-Bush generation were as unquestioned as they were suspect. No longer.
In a delightfully YIMBY "Americans Need More Neighbors" the New York times gets it almost all right. Housing is one area of American life where government really is the problem. The United States is suffering from an acute shortage of affordable places to live, particularly in the urban areas where economic opportunity increasingly is concentrated. And perhaps the most important reason is that local governments are preventing construction.
Now there is a man who deserves our admiration: the man who taught English to the young Churchill, who in turn became one of the language’s greatest masters — second only to Shakespeare, in my view. Robert Somervell, like Hammond, dedicated his life to teaching. He did not aspire to be prime minister, for teachers are generally modest types. But should we admire only the ambitious?
With over 20 Democrats announcing 2020 presidential bids, the campaign reflects the chaos of a NASCAR race. But already there is one defining separation in the pack: Will Democrats steer hard left with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris, or center-left with Joe Biden?
Many Republicans are feeling optimistic about Trump’s reelection in 2020. The Mueller investigation, on which Democrats’ pinned their hopes for mortally wounding the president, has crumbled like a bride’s first pie crust. AG Barr, unlike the lollygagging Jeff Sessions, is vigorously investigating the corruption in the FBI and DOJ that led to government agencies’ interference in an election in favor of Hillary Clinton, and then their attempts to engineer a bloodless coup to remove a legally elected president. The economy is roaring, with numbers on growth, employment, and productivity not seen in decades. And international rivals like Iran and China are now being confronted rather than coddled.
Anja Shortland of King's College London talks about her book Kidnap with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Kidnapping is relatively common in parts of the world where government authority is weak. Shortland explores this strange, frightening, but surprisingly orderly world. She shows how the interaction between kidnappers, victims, and insurance companies creates a somewhat predictable set of prices for ransom and creates a relatively high chance of the safe return of those who are kidnapped.
Americans may like to buy things online, but people who live in neighborhoods with stores, libraries, restaurants, schools, and parks nearby have higher levels of community satisfaction and lower levels of social isolation.
San Jose State University economics professor Jeff Hummel recently wrote a former student to answer a question about how to follow and understand the details of monetary policy. I found it so insightful that I got his permission to post it. I liked the personal reminiscence and the insights in the last paragraph. Here it is.
Even some free-market economists, such as Duke University’s Michael Munger, argue for a UBI that would replace the current welfare state. But assuming unrealistically that the existing means-tested welfare state programs could be completely replaced, a UBI of $12,000 a year or even of $10,000 a year would require large increases in federal government spending and large increases in taxes.
Psychologist Dan Ariely, who writes an “Ask Ariely” column in the weekend Wall Street Journal, leads in last weekend’s column with a psychological explanation of a phenomenon that often arises in auctions. In doing so, he fails to consider an obvious economic explanation.
China today holds as many as a million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities in “political education” camps. Across China, Xi Jinping is pioneering a technological despotism of ubiquitous cameras, facial-recognition software and mass surveillance. In Vietnam, Belarus, Egypt and elsewhere, resilient tyrants rule through police monitoring, ethnic division and brute coercion. Burma’s liberalization ended in renewed military supremacy and the bloody expulsion of some 730,000 Rohingya Muslims into neighboring Bangladesh. In its 2019 report, Freedom House notes that last year, more countries became more oppressive than more free — the 13th consecutive year of more decline than progress.
The World Affairs Council of Orange County has organized a lecture/dinner event with world renowned economist Raghuram Rajan. He is the former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India and Chief Economist of the IMF. He will be speaking about his new book, 'The Third Pillar: How Markets & the State Leave the Community Behind.'
In the first presidential election after the full recovery from the subprime mortgage crisis, which was largely caused by legislation promoting “affordable housing,” presidential hopeful Senator Cory Booker (Spartacus) has released his plan for achieving affordable housing. Thomas Sowell clarifies this way of thinking in his book “The Housing Boom and Bust,” where he explains how the market learns from these mistakes and adjusts with remarkable speed, but “the question is whether politicians and government bureaucrats learn, especially when they pay no price for being wrong, and are able to deflect blame toward the market with denunciations of ‘greed,’ ‘Wall Street’ or whatever other convenient scapegoats are available.”
Is anybody ticked off that Trump flip-flopped on all of this stuff? I mean, there’s CNN: Trump changes his mind saying he would call the FBI. Trump changes his mind, says if offered dirt on rivals he would tell the FBI. Trump changes his mind. Trump this, Trump that. Why did Trump change his mind? Who got to Trump? Who told him you gotta do this ’cause the media’s all over you? Trump changed his mind. Trump incorrectly says Mueller report hardly mentioned Don Jr.
Wildfires are starting to light up California and other parts of the West again. Vegetation from a very wet winter is drying out. And so the chief of the U.S. Forest Service is warning of another catastrophic fire season. And she's pushing to change how the country gets ready for and fights wildfires. NPR's Kirk Siegler has the story.