Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cruising the Web

Well, so much for the idea that the Ames straw poll is meaningless. Gov. Pawlenty is dropping out due to his third-place showing in the straw poll. It's a strange, strange political system when a few thousands Iowans who pay to vote get to determine the main candidates for a party's nomination.

Republicans excited about Rick Perry's entry into the race might want to put that thrill on pause for a bit. The WSJ had a story about the Texas Emerging Technology Fund that Perry established to send as a sort of public-sector venture capital agency to steer money to technology companies in Texas. As so many of these attempts to have government choose winners and losers in business, it's devolved into a source of government funds for those who had given money to Perry's political campaigns.

Britain is finally deciding to get tough with the thugs looting its streets by expelling families of those convicted in the recent violence from their government housing. Get ready for lots of moaning about how this punishes the innocent siblings along with the guilty. People seem amazed that the government would hold them to the contracts they signed warning that criminal behavior by any member of the household could result in eviction.

Historians are looking back into the history of riots in Britain to seek parallels to today's events. One lesson is that the progressive view of man's nature is flawed.
British social policy for the last hundred years has been based on the false assumption that man is innately good. Throw enough money at him and he’ll flourish. The events of the last week have reminded us that, actually, man is innately evil. It wasn’t consumerism, alienation or bad parenting that caused the riots: it was opportunity. When the fighting kicked off in Tottenham, a bizarre mix of bored schoolchildren, teaching assistants, Olympic ambassadors, itinerant labourers, blacks, whites and middle-class anarchists took the opportunity to get a telly for free from Currys. No amount of public money or draconian cruelty will cure that kind of selfish nihilism because, I repeat, it is innate.

The British have a fixed idea of themselves rooted in a historical myth and a psychological misnomer. Since the 1940s, the Left has sold us the vision of a New Jerusalem: peaceful, generous, abundant. But while the welfare state allayed social tensions with its generous benefits, it could not change the basic nature of man – which is to take, demand more and grab what he does not have.
This echoes Thomas Sowell's classic, A Conflict of Visions, which examined the dichotomy of views of mankind between the unconstrained vision of man as perfectable if we only get the right social justice government programs in place with the constrained vision that acknowledges man's weaknesses and limitations.

To get a sense of what the past week in the UK has wrought, look at this slide show of before and after pictures of neighborhoods that suffered the violence of Britain's "violent shoppers." But note that they left the bookstores alone.

And alarm bells are ringing across
Europe that Britain's violence will spread to their nations. Check out the chart of youth unemployment in European countries. The average is 20.5% in European Union countries ranging from 7.1% in the Netherlands to 45.7% in Spain. And we don't have any reason to breathe easily here in the United States. The average teen unemployment rate in the District of Columbia is 50.1%. The next highest is California with 34.4%. As an average from 2010, the unemployment rate for those 16 to 19 years old is 25.9% and those 20 to 24 years old, it is 15.5%. Those are scary stats.

Applying fiction to reality: first, inspired by those calling the tea partiers Hobbits, here is a Middle-Earth Guide to Campaign 2012. Deciding that the Ring represents government spending and debt, here are the lead Hobbits,
That would make Congressman Paul Ryan Frodo since he knows more about that burden than anyone; and thus Samwise Gamgee must be John Boehner because he helps Frodo and he cries a lot.
Rush Limbaugh is Gandalf and Charles Krauthammer is Elrond. Click on over to find out who the bad guys are.

And Foreign Policy takes a semi-serious look at the difficulties the good guys would have in the "real world" after the defeat of Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Is it so clear who should be imprisoned and punished and who should be forgiven? Are you ready for a Wizard Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

It just hasn't been a good week for the Obamanians. In addition to the 11th circuit striking down the individual mandate; a District Judge has ruled against the Obama administration's regulations to slow down review of oil and gas drilling on federal land.

Mickey Kaus ponders whether Obama is just not adapting to the new paradigm.
The president is in a situation in which virtually none of his considered beliefs–in Keynesian economics, in the power of redistributive populism, in coalition politics, in his own oratorical skill–is being affirmed by the real world. It’s like the period Thomas Kuhn talks about in his famous Structure of Scientific Revolutions, when scientists are working along within the old “paradigm” but the data start coming back funny. Most scientists just ignore the discordant data and keep plodding along. A few start to question the “paradigm.” You’d want a President in tough times to be one of the latter, no? You’d expect someone like Obama to undertake some reevaluation. As Bret Stephens noted recently, genuinely smart people know what they don’t know–or in this case they know what they used to know but now aren’t so sure about anymore.

Take Keynesianism. I’ve always assumed that Keynesian remedies–e.g. government deficit spending–worked. Certainly deficit spending seemed to work for Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s. And Paul Krugman may well be right that the only problem with Obama’s stimulus is that it wasn’t big enough. But you can’t say that anymore with certainty, can you? The data–big stimulus,weak recovery–hardly reinforce the paradigm with anything like inarguable clarity. And there are some respected economists–Kenneth Rogoff, and Greg Mankiw, to name two–who question whether the classic Keynesian paradigm still holds in the current slump. Has Obama read them? Consulted them? No need to make a show of it like Carter. He can do it quietly. But has he?

Or is it possible that Obama is … what did they call his predecessor … intellectually incurious?

And here's another data point that the Obama team is ignoring:
President Barack Obama is ignoring heated concerns from within his own administration that new Environmental Protection Agency coal industry regulations will be economically devastating.
So much for all that hooey that Obama tried to blow by us that he would get rid of regulations that were bad for the economy.

And yet another way that the Obama administration is stalling economic growth - businesses acknowledge that the NLRB's case against Boeing could keep them from expanding and hiring new employees.