I’m on record as being opposed to “President’s Day,” which seems to be simply another excuse for a federal holiday, and it mushes all the presidents together as though they’re all equally worthy of honoring, when clearly some are better than others, even if we disagree on which are which. Back in the olden days, we used to celebrate both Lincoln’s birthday on the 12th, and Washington’s birthday on the 22nd (today). Scott Johnson has some thoughts on the birthday anniversary of the American Cincinnatus, a man who could have been king, but instead created the republican template for all presidents to follow, broken only by FDR, who ran for third and fourth terms.
Megan McArdle says (correctly) that no one knows, and anyone who tells you that they do is lying or fooling themselves, but that what you were taught in school is almost certainly wrong. She also notes (again correctly) that there was a lot more to the New Deal than simply government spending (which likely didn’t have much stimulative effect), some of it good, much of it disastrous (particularly the artificial propping up of wages and prices by fiat).
One can’t run controlled experiments in economics, so we can never know for sure, but I’m inclined to at least go with economic theories that make sense and for which there is useful empirical evidence. Someone has to tell me what Hayek and von Mises got wrong to persuade me that Keynes is right. And most people who think that Keynes is right haven’t even read them.
[Update a few minutes later]
“Mr. Obama, give back my wallet.”
[Update a while later]
The correct position is the one held by self-loathing intellectuals, like Isaiah Berlin, Edmund Burke, James Madison, Michael Oakeshott and others. These were pointy heads who understood the limits of what pointy heads can know. The phrase for this outlook is epistemological modesty, which would make a fine vanity license plate.
The idea is that the world is too complex for us to know, and therefore policies should be designed that take account of our ignorance.
What the world needs now is not love sweet love, but epistemological modesty. Particularly inside the Beltway. Unfortunately, the perverse nature of humanity is that often the less one knows about something, the more certain one is in his knowledge. They have never learned from the ancient Greeks that to admit the limits of your knowledge is the beginning of wisdom.
[Via Manzi, who reads David Brooks so I don’t have to]
[Late morning update]
Are we going to emulate Japan’s lost decade? It seems to be what they want to do, unfortunately.
[Update a couple minutes later]
And here’s a novel concept: let housing prices find their clearing price. Can’t do that — it makes too much sense.
Here’s a good round up of the corruption and collusion between Congress and the financial industry:
While Americans were asked to foot the bill—for generations—to bail out Wall Street executives from their sub-prime, mortgage-mad, derivatives driven, un-regulated market—politicians from all parties lined up to feed at the trough—knowing full well that it was these same companies’ bad business practices that placed our financial system at systemic risk.
Sen. Christopher Dodd, who is being paid by taxpayers to oversee these institutions, should return the money on principle or resign from the committee.
Don’t hold your breath.
Thoughts on the phony lead bullet issue. Don’t expect much of the media to call them on this bravo sierra, though. They hate guns, too. Unless they’re controlled by the goverment.
Color me unimpressed. “The best and the brightest” are never really either the best or the brightest. Incidentally, I’ve never been as impressed by David Brooks as I’m supposed to be, either.
[Update a few minutes later]
Oh, and that goes triple for Bill Moyers.
Frank Tipler on the tendency of the global warm-mongers to argue from authority rather than from the science:
…why did Halsey believe the meteorologists against the evidence of his own eyes? The report of the Board of Inquiry on the disaster answers that question. Halsey simply accepted the authority of his chief meteorologist, against his own experience. The report listed the “qualifications of this “expert” — his degrees, the numerous courses on climate studies he had taken, his years flying over hurricanes. But in contrast to Bryson’s successful forecasts, two of which I have described above, not one correct forecast was mentioned by the Court of Inquiry! I find this extraordinary. Imagine picking an admiral on the basis of the prestige of an officer’s education. Halsey himself had two famous victories, the Battle of Guadalcanal and the Battle of Leyte Gulf. I admire Halsey immensely, but he was wrong to give any weight at all to mere academic credentials, rather than performance credentials like his own. For true scientists, one knows the achievements, not the academic credentials. Albert Einstein discovered relativity (everyone knows E = mc2), he discovered the photon, and he discovered gravitational waves. But where did Einstein go to school? Who cares?
For killing the African child that Iowahawk sponsored. Seriously.
From today’s Journal:
In a passage from his 2006 book, “The Audacity of Hope,” he sounds like a Republican complaining about the stimulus. “Genuine bipartisanship,” he wrote, “assumes an honest process of give-and-take, and that the quality of the compromise is measured by how well it serves some agreed-upon goal, whether better schools or lower deficits. This in turn assumes that the majority will be constrained — by an exacting press corps and ultimately an informed electorate — to negotiate in good faith.
“If these conditions do not hold — if nobody outside Washington is really paying attention to the substance of the bill, if the true costs . . . are buried in phony accounting and understated by a trillion dollars or so — the majority party can begin every negotiation by asking for 100% of what it wants, go on to concede 10%, and then accuse any member of the minority party who fails to support this ‘compromise’ of being ‘obstructionist.’
“For the minority party in such circumstances, ‘bipartisanship’ comes to mean getting chronically steamrolled, although individual senators may enjoy certain political rewards by consistently going along with the majority and hence gaining a reputation for being ‘moderate’ or ‘centrist.'”
The hypocrisy kind of makes me sick. As do the people who remain willfully blind to it. Because he’s going to bring “hope.” And “change.”
[Update early afternoon]
In response to this post:
How come the Left always preaches ‘sustainability’ or ‘it’s for the children’…until it comes to their economic plans?
How come, indeed?