Maybe protectionism is best justified for its dietary benefits.  (HT Andy Morriss)

The always-wise and informed Tim Worstall reflects on innovation and creative destruction.

Thank heaven – not! – that government supplies us with infrastructure.  (HT IndianaJim)

I especially like this line -

While we are not told what fairness means, we are told the government can attain it.

- from Merrill Matthews’s short essay on Obama and Teddy Roosevelt (an essay, btw, that helps to explain why I regard T.R. as a candidate for Worst U.S. President Ever; his top competitors [in a competitor-rich field], as I see matters, are Wilson, Roosevelt II, LBJ, Nixon, and Bush II).

Gerry Nicholls pokes jolly good fun at Occupy Christmas.

Howie Rich reflects on Boeing and the N.L.R.B.  (HT Adam Bitely)

Citing, among others, GMU Econ grad Ryan Young, the New York Sun editorializes insightfully on Andy Stern’s recent paean in the WSJ to the large remaining communist part of China’s communist government.  (HT Mary O’Grady)

Here’s Arnold Kling on Deirdre McCloskey and Austrian economics.

Finally, although I have been an avid New Orleans Saints fan since my dad took my brother Ryan and me to the Saints’ first-ever regular-season game (where we were sitting in endzone seats at Tulane Stadium behind John Gilliam when he received the opening kickoff) – and to this day I spend far too much time following them – I dislike the franchise’s origin.  Quoting from the Times-Picayune:

New Orleans got its Saints in 1966 through a classic Louisiana political maneuver. The NFL needed an anti-trust exemption to merge with the AFL, but the powerful duo of Sen. Russell Long and Rep. Hale Boggs — both of Louisiana — stood in their way. A deal was done.

The NFL got its merger, and the city got its team. Just two weeks earlier, voters had approved the money to build the Superdome.

Ugh.  And I’d much-prefer that the Saints leave New Orleans than the citizens of Louisiana be taxed to further subsidize that franchise in any way.  (The late Hale Boggs, btw, is the father of NPR’s Cokie Roberts.)

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{ 47 comments }

Josh S December 10, 2011 at 11:16 am

I don’t think Bush II was even in the same league as FDR, and I don’t know how anyone can rationally make that comparison. Any civil liberties abuse during the Bush administration was much worse during FDR’s. And things like TARP are small potatoes compared to the New Deal.

Greg Webb December 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Perhaps, but Bush II is a more recent bad memory than FDR. And, that makes Bush II’s big-government excesses seem worse to many than FDR’s big-government excesses, which to many are merely a memory learned from propagandized TV programs.

Methinks1776 December 10, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Maybe it’s okay to hold more recent presidents to a higher standard. Perhaps we should expect them to learn from history.

Greg Webb December 10, 2011 at 12:42 pm

I understand your point. But, the lesson that men are not angels and that they are really bad if given too much power through government was learned thousands of years ago. FDR cannot use that as an excuse to justify his poor decisions and illegal power grab.

Methinks1776 December 10, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Good point.

Invisible Backhand December 10, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Any civil liberties abuse during the Bush administration was much worse during FDR’s

Yeah, FDR was all about torture and waterboarding.

jjoxman December 10, 2011 at 12:23 pm

No, FDR was more on the order of prison camps. And instigating war.

Greg Webb December 10, 2011 at 12:44 pm

And executing German terrorists based on the findings of military tribunals instead of courts.

Gil December 10, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Oh yeah the secret history in which Libertarians shows that FDR started the war against Japan.

Sam Grove December 10, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Actually, what was shown, not by libertarians, but by historical scholars and historical documents, is that FDR maneuvered to get the U.S. into the war.

Dan J December 10, 2011 at 11:40 pm

PRISON CAMPS in America for Korean Americans. Talk about abuse of GOVT!! There is worry behind use of IIM (intense interrogation methods) or GITMO…….. But, to try and elevate FDR when he rounded up Americans and imprisoned them for their looks and color of skin……. Tsk, tsk……

nailheadtom December 10, 2011 at 12:24 pm

FDR would never have dropped the atomic bomb on anybody, would he?

Sam Grove December 10, 2011 at 12:37 pm

It was FDR that came up with the idea of unconditional surrender regarding Japan during WWII.

Gil December 10, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Why would Truman not use his trump card and instead risk more troops’ lives to save the lives of the enemy? Unconditional surrender? That’s pretty much surrender is supposed to mean. It’s just as if you cornered a burglar with a gun and felt only giving the options of unconditional surrender or getting shot.

Sam Grove December 10, 2011 at 11:37 pm

The Japanese attempted to surrender with the condition that they keep their emperor. Truman insisted upon unconditional surrender and let them keep their emperor anyway.

Essentially, there was no need for a military invasion of Japan.

jjoxman December 11, 2011 at 7:35 am

As Sam points out, the Japanese were already offering surrender. What is the point of using nukes on civilians? It is morally reprehensible. At least, if you order an invasion, it is soldiers being met by soldiers.

Still, no invasion of Japan was necessary. Their external threat had been eliminated.

“Save the lives of the enemy.” The Japanese civilians were never the enemy. The war was between the Japanese state and the American state and their collective allies.

vikingvista December 10, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I agree. It shows a lack of historical perspective. W makes the list, but Lincoln does not? W was a lightweight when it comes to Presidential villainy. Our great grandchildren will likely be unmarred by his offenses, which you cannot say about Lincoln or others on that list.

nailheadtom December 10, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Can we really call it “villainy” when somebody orchestrates the death of over 600,000 men and boys over a political disagreement?

jjoxman December 10, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Diabolical or demonic maybe?

Josh S December 10, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Can we call it “villainy” when a whole race of people has no more rights than cattle?

Josh S December 10, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Clarence Thomas once pointed out to his friends at the Cato Institute that if you’re black, the story of America is not one of declining liberty.

The Civil War did have unfortunate consequences for federalism in the USA. But it is the unfortunate price we paid for trying to found a republic based on the natural rights of man while declaring a large fraction of the population to simply not be “man.”

In my opinion, we’re lucky that nothing worse than the Civil War happened. Look at modern South Africa to see how much worse the consequences of legally enforced racism can be.

jjoxman December 10, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Josh,

It matters, though, that Lincoln’s intent was not to free the slaves. Was that a happy consequence? Of course. Does it make the civil war an acceptable conflict? In my view, it does.

But we can also hold more than one thought in our head at the same time, and so can condemn Lincoln even though the ultimate consequences of the civil war were net positive.

vikingvista December 10, 2011 at 7:46 pm

“Does it make the civil war an acceptable conflict? In my view, it does.”

And since neither I, nor anyone I know, was killed or maimed in the Civil War, or denied Habeas Corpus, or had his home–or his whole town–burned to the ground, I find it acceptable too. Yes, ending slavery sooner rather than later was, to me, well worth the price of the wholesale slaughter of 600,000 *other* Americans. I’m glad you agree.

I wonder if either of us would have a different perspective staring down the hollow end of a musket.

jjoxman December 10, 2011 at 8:19 pm

“I wonder if either of us would have a different perspective staring down the hollow end of a musket.”

As a rule, when one’s life is threatened, one discovers all sorts of previously unknown perspectives.

nailheadtom December 10, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Brazil was even more focused on slavery than the US south yet the importation of slaves was banned in 1850 and slavery itself made illegal only in 1888. Yet no civil war was fought, hundreds of thousands weren’t killed, millions of dollars in property wasn’t destroyed, and race relations doesn’t seem to be the political football that it is in the US. Perhaps the Democratic Party isn’t as active there.

jjoxman December 10, 2011 at 9:16 pm

nailheadtom,

That is interesting, and bears pondering. Thank you.

g-dub December 10, 2011 at 11:02 pm

That is interesting, and bears pondering.

Most western nations ended slavery without massive bloody war. This is pretty well known, except,… they don’t teach it in government schools. Instead, the biggest tyrant in US history is idolized, and called “honest.” A monument was built in his “honor.”

For all I know, all western nations ended slavery without war. I can’t think of any off the top of my head.

g-dub December 10, 2011 at 11:04 pm

…western nations (except the US) ended slavery…

jjoxman December 11, 2011 at 7:32 am

g-dub,

That’s true, isn’t it? At least of European states. Canada never had slaves. My knowledge of the history of South & central America is non-existant.

nailheadtom December 11, 2011 at 10:02 am

Prior to the distraction of the War of Northern Aggression and in its aftermath, it was US policy to literally exterminate many of the natives of North America, ostensibly sovereign in their own lands, or incarcerate them on “reservations”. Treaties, written in languages that these people couldn’t understand, were signed by leading figures among them who held no official positions and are used today,many decades later, to justify US government actions. It is a commentary on the capacity for human rationalization that the German National Socialists, as evil as they were, are ranked so much higher on the scale of evil than the US government, the Soviet government, the French government, the Belgian government and so on. But as long as there is one super representative for evil, everyone else can bask in self-congratulation. It is highly likely that in the centuries to come, if an epidemic of reason should afflict the planet, that the transgressions of all governments, including that of the US with its misconceived “war on drugs”, will come to be considered as the true evil that they have been, just as has been the case with the Nazis.

khodge December 10, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Spare us from compassionate conservatives.

Sigmund Fraud December 12, 2011 at 9:39 am

Any civil liberties abuse during the Bush administration was much worse during FDR’s.

Really? Read about how FDR sent his justice department to pursue Andrew Mellon in frivolous prosecution for LEGITIMATE tax deductions, or the Schecters for high crime of haggling. How about the proscription on owning gold. Does Executive Order 9066 ring a bell?

Its not even close.

Mesa Econoguy December 10, 2011 at 1:11 pm

“While we are not told what fairness means, we are told the government can attain it.”

That is because the left, the primary hucksters of the current bloated offering, don’t know or care what “fair” is, only that they can be arbiters of the term.

They also cannot understand that “fairness” is not something government can or should be in the business of dealing, or that government is the least effective means of attaining virtually any goal.

But the left has never been accused of having intelligence.

Greg Webb December 10, 2011 at 1:17 pm

“But the left has never been accused of having intelligence.”

And, they don’t want anybody to forget it. That’s why so many trolls post on Cafe Hayek instead of DeLong’s blog.

rbd December 10, 2011 at 5:53 pm

For the egalitarian, the beauty of “fairness” lies not in its attainment, which can never be accomplished, but rather in its eternal pursuit.

Darren December 10, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Perfect for ‘occupiers’: a sense of humor.

Darren December 10, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Perfect *gift* ….

Bill Stepp December 10, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Re: the worst president, don’t forget three other candidates, body count winner Lincoln, and, with real unemployment more like 17% than the reported 8.+%, Truman, and Comrade O.
And extra credit Q1: which non-president gets the body count award?
EC Q2, what event does Comrade O hold the world record in?
A1: Bombs Away with Curt LeMay.
A2: Drone killing event.

Bill Stepp December 10, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Rank Milhous wherever you like, but don’t forget that he made the best statement ever by a 20th c. president, namely, “The American people have got to know whether their president is a crook.” It still rings with the same alacrity that it did when he uttered it in 1974.
In fact every presidential candidate should have to go on TV and answer the question: “Are you a crook?”
They can either lie (like Milhous did) and say, “Well, I am not a crook,” or they can tell the truth and say, “Well, I am a crook.”

Krishnan December 10, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Sooner or later, WalMart (and such “evil” corporations that dare supply consumers with cheaper goods so they can live better) WILL open stores in India – they will bring their ideas of inventory management, supply chain logistics – and yes, drive many inefficient businesses out of business – and yes, many will lose jobs – it is about time. For far too long, consumers in India have suffered under the soft tyranny of some businesses/business people that have cozy to crony relationships with the political class (yes, it happens in the US also).

Dan J December 10, 2011 at 8:36 pm

I could barely stomach thru Andy Stearns op-Ed the other day. I was stunned that they were willing to come out with it. And, I told friends that the article was the ice breaker and to expect Obama admin and much of media to start playing the centralized planning theme. Obama did it in his speech in Kansas. Full Marxism is will be on the march for the next year. And, if he gets re-elected, expect all of the totalitarianism to come with it.

indianajim December 10, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Gerry Nichols pokes jolly good fun at Occupy Christmas, fine; but IMO his characterization of Christmas of complete folly: “Christmas, with its crass commercialization, is a nightmare of capitalistic exploitation, decking the halls of big business power and jingling the bells of corporate profit.”

“Nightmare of capitalistic exploitation”?? Really? Just exactly how does “big business” exploit people? Is, for example,the 13th Amendment revoked perhaps during the holidays so that “big business” can temporarily enslave people??? No; an army of addition workers is hired, and overtime hours and pay surge. Perhaps the commerce clause is temporarily extended (as Obama-”snare”, not “care”, seeks to extend it) forcing people to buy the things that “big business” offers? Again, no; people buy things they desire and choose to buy sans coercion.

More crass than the commercialization of Christmas is the zero sum mentality of Nichols to think that when business profits increase, exploitation is necessarily implied. Baah Humbug Gerry Nichols!

Methinks1776 December 10, 2011 at 9:40 pm

IJ,

You are sheeple ensnared by the evil corporations who exploit your stupidity. Got it? Gerry is smart. Too smart to be exploited by evil corporations who want to sell him really good stuff. He lives in a mud hut with a thatched roof, grows his own food, slaughters his own animals, makes his own candles and so on. For he will not be exploited as he is not a sheep. A lemming. And he’s richer for it.

….what I want to know is how the SOB made that computer and electricity he’s using to write the article.

indianajim December 11, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Maybe he made a his computer in the manner of this toaster:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ODzO7Lz_pw

Bliss Point December 11, 2011 at 1:27 am

On the topic of infrastructure: Here in Salt lake, the Chamber of Commerce runs a monthly “business minute” ad on the radio. This month the ads brags about how awesome Utah is because Utah spends 3% of it’s income tax on infrastructure, as opposed to the rest of the country which only spends 2% (losers). The ad cites that this is a brilliant strategy because infrastructure stimulus has a multiplier effect of 1.44. So, for every dollar you spend on infrastructure you get back $1.44.

If this is true, I’m not sure why Utah doesn’t spend all of it’s money on infrastructure.

Slocum December 11, 2011 at 8:53 am

The always-wise and informed Tim Worstall reflects on innovation and creative destruction.

The comments to that article are both depressing and predictable. Which suggests that even though Worstall is absolutely right, it’s not an effective act of communication. I mean, what point is there, really, in getting a ‘preach it brother’ response from Don and the rest of us already sitting in the libertarian choir? If you say something provocative like:

“Well, yes, wiping out the jobs of those millions of small-scale operators is actually the whole darn point of the exercise. That’s what we’re trying to do, destroy jobs.”

The people whose minds you’re presumably trying to change are, indeed, provoked — at that point, they’re so angry, and so convinced that the writer is a moral monster, that they’re no longer listening or thinking (as is reflected in the comments). And what Worstall says is not even really true. The point of replacing millions of farm workers with machinery in the early 20th century was NOT to wipe out all the jobs, but to wipe out hunger and poverty — to produce much more at a lower cost and make food more affordable for everybody. And the idea was not to make the people who were doing the back-breaking (and dangerous) farm work unemployed, but move them on to better, safer, higher-paying jobs — which is what, in fact, happened. Which is what happens over and over in a open, dynamic, growing economy — new opportunities are created.

The next thing to point out would be that India stayed very poor for a very long time because of the strangling regulation of the Licence Raj and the disastrously misguided ‘small is beautiful’ economics of Gandhi and EF Shumacher. But India is still poor and it may remain so indefinitely if the trend away from ‘License Raj’ style policies is reversed. So this piece seems to me to be more likely to be persuasive than Worstall’s:

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2011/11/30/india-economic-revolution/

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools December 12, 2011 at 9:53 am

New Orleans got its Saints in 1966 through a classic Louisiana political maneuver. The NFL needed an anti-trust exemption to merge with the AFL, but the powerful duo of Sen. Russell Long and Rep. Hale Boggs — both of Louisiana — stood in their way. A deal was done.

The NFL got its merger, and the city got its team. Just two weeks earlier, voters had approved the money to build the Superdome.

Somewhere, Juvenal is still whispering “panem et cirque” (bread and circuses).

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