April 11-18, 2010

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Abstract Orderism Fractal X:
G. Stolyarov II
April 11, 2010
This fractal by Mr. Stolyarov is based on the juxtaposition of variations on geometric objects, such as spheres, circles, and hyperbolas, that can be described symbolically via equations consisting of squared terms (e.g., x^2 + y^2 = r^2 for a circle,  x^2 + y^2 + z^2 = r^2 for a sphere). Subtle alterations of these objects, however, result in their departure from what one would plot on a set of a coordinate axes. 

Krugman's Hoover History:
Robert P. Murphy
April 11, 2010
At his popular New York Times blog, Paul Krugman is at it again, offering what Dr. Robert Murphy considers a very misleading analysis of deficit spending. Without technically lying, Krugman perpetuates the myth that Herbert Hoover insisted on budget austerity in the midst of the Great Depression. Then Krugman interprets a chart with adjectives that show his eyes can only see what his Keynesian theory will allow.

Why on Earth is Protectionism Still Popular?:
Bradley Doucet
April 11, 2010
One of the things economists across the political spectrum agree on is that protectionism is bad. It is clearly bad for foreign companies being excluded from domestic markets, but it is also bad for domestic companies using foreign inputs, and bad, too, for domestic consumers who must pay more for goods and services. It is bad for everyone, in short, except the specific domestic industries targeted for special privileges and the politicians who cater to those industries and can expect votes and contributions in return. And yet, it is not simply a matter of special-interest lobbying. In spite of being bad for almost everyone, protectionism is widely popular around the world.  Bradley Doucet explores why this may be the case. 

The FCIC: Passing the Buck:
Ron Paul
April 18, 2010

Last week the federal government’s Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission held hearings as part of their continuing investigation into the causes of the acute economic meltdown which occurred in late summer 2008.  This bipartisan commission, partly inspired by the Pecora Commission -- which investigated the causes of the Great Depression -- is expected to report back to Congress before the end of the year. Things don’t seem to be going well, observes Rep. Ron Paul. The individuals questioned by the commission mostly seem to be diverting blame for the whole fiasco to someone else.  Nobody is offering any tangible insights into the causes of the financial crisis.

Welcome to Zimbabwe:
Douglas French
April 18, 2010
But while Helicopter Ben Bernanke is considered the great inflator, he's no match for Gideon Gono, governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. So while Bernanke may have been named Man of the Year in 2009, Gono was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in 2009 for "giving people a simple, everyday way to cope with a wide range of numbers by having his bank print notes with denominations ranging from one cent to one hundred trillion dollars." The aim of the Ig Nobels is to honour achievements that "first make people laugh and then make them think." Douglas French writes, however, that Bernanke's policies may eventually bring about a Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation. 

A Sad Birthday for Jefferson:
Gen LaGreca and Marsha F. Enright
April 18, 2010
On a spring day in 1743, a towering figure in our country’s founding was born: Thomas Jefferson. His skillful hand carved much of the character of America. Today, however, what Jefferson so painstakingly crafted lies pulverized almost to stone dust.  Gen LaGreca and Marsha Enright write that, were he alive to celebrate his birthday this April 13, instead of sipping champagne, Jefferson might want to drown his sorrow in whiskey.

Picking a Fight With Patriots:
Alan Caruba
April 18, 2010
The British, when they still ruled the American colonies, learned to their displeasure what a bad idea it is to pick a fight with patriots. This historical article by Alan Caruba explores some of the events that led to the confrontations between British authorities and groups like the Sons of Liberty prior to the Revolutionary War.

Particular, Principled, Context-Specific Justice:
G. Stolyarov II
April 11, 2010
Mr. Stolyarov briefly outlines the fundamental features of a new approach to justice that departs radically from the egalitarian view typical of our era. The best way of encapsulating particular, principled, context-specific justice is to say that justice should not be blind. Indeed, justice should see as much as possible about the situation which is being judged and use all relevant information to arrive at a remedy specifically tailored to that situation. Any simplification of this principle -- including the invocation of group- or class-based stereotypes, inflexible norms, and binding precedents -- leads a departure from the just outcome.  If we use an analogy to medical evolution, class-based justice could be compared to the pre-scientific treatments of bleeding and leaches; egalitarian justice could be compared to a mass-marketed pill that helps some people, but not in all ways, and also causes substantial adverse side effects in others; particular and context-specific justice is like an army of tiny nano-machines, repairing specific instances of bodily damage cell by cell without damaging healthy tissues. What nano-medicine promises to accomplish for the principle of health, particular and context-specific justice can accomplish in advancing the principle of merit.

The New National ID: Just Say "No"!:
Charles N. Steele
April 11, 2010       
Imagine this: you've just landed your dream job. Everything about is just what you've wanted - the work, the people, the pay. You arrive on the first day, greet your new employer, hand him your biometric national ID to be scanned, and... it's rejected. Your employer looks at you with surprise and more than a little suspicion. "Uh, there must be some mistake,” you stammer. "I'm a citizen. I am authorized to work.” Dr. Charles Steele writes that such a scenario may become common if a bill to "fix" immigration problems by requiring each of us to obtain a biometric national ID is passed. 

The EPA Monster:
Alan Caruba
April 18, 2010
Among the legacies of Richard M. Nixon, famed for the Watergate scandal that forced his resignation, it should be noted that he created the Environmental Protection Agency. There was no vote in Congress. He did it with an executive order. Today the EPA has an annual budget of $9 billion and some 18,000 employees, and it attempts to unjustifiably intrude upon all aspects of the economy and people's lives. Alan Caruba writes that the Environmental Protection Agency needs to be reduced in size and authority to its original intent. Better still, eliminate it entirely. It is a monster.

"I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it." 
~ Benjamin Franklin