November 28, 2013
I set this article aside in 2009 (!!) meaning to blog it, and I just found it now. It is as timely now as it was then. Maybe a little more now to me, because although I'm very impressed with Papa Frank's new document, Evangelii Gaudium, I think his economic thoughts are defective.
As the world approaches the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism, it is worth investigating the costs borne by countries like India that did not become communist but drew heavily on the Soviet model. For three decades after its independence in 1947, India strove for self-sufficiency instead of the gains of international trade, and gave the state an ever-increasing role in controlling the means of production. These policies yielded economic growth of 3.5 percent per year, which was half that of export-oriented Asian countries, and yielded slow progress in social indicators, too. Growth per capita in India was even slower, at 1.49 percent per year. It accelerated after reforms started tentatively in 1981, and shot up to 6.78 percent per year after reforms deepened in the current decade.
What would the impact on social indicators have been had India commenced economic reform one decade earlier, and enjoyed correspondingly faster economic growth and improvements in human development indicators? This paper seeks to estimate the number of "missing children," "missing literates," and "missing non-poor" resulting from delayed reform, slower economic growth, and hence, slower improvement of social indicators. It finds that with earlier reform, 14.5 million more children would have survived, 261 million more Indians would have become literate, and 109 million more people would have risen above the poverty line. The delay in economic reform represents an enormous social tragedy. It drives home the point that India's socialist era, which claimed it would deliver growth with social justice, delivered neither....
November 15, 2013
James Madison on, well, a lot of things government does these days...
Steven Hayward posted this perfect quote at Power Line:
...For now, here's how James Madison sized things up in Federalist #62:The internal effects of a mutable policy are still more calamitous. It poisons the blessing of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?
Another effect of public instability is the unreasonable advantage it gives to the sagacious, the enterprising, and the moneyed few over the industrious and uniformed mass of the people. Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue, or in any way affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change, and can trace its consequences; a harvest, reared not by themselves, but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow-citizens. This is a state of things in which it may be said with some truth that laws are made for the few, not for the many.
November 12, 2013
I abominate Apple's new headquarters...
Leftists always try to make people fit their ideas, rather than adjust their ideas to human nature. A lefty dreamer like Jobs has a vision of austere purity and clarity, and imposes it on others with no regard to what they actually want or need. He was, in essence, like a Lenin or Mao, but without the power to send people to the Gulag.
I have a suspicion that the best working spaces for creative people would be funky and simple, with walls you can pound nails into or staple posters onto. With simple sturdy furniture that people can select and move around themselves. With small quiet offices that introvert-types can retreat into. Plus more open group spaces where people can mingle around the coffee pot, or spread paperwork out on big work-tables. Plus nearby cafes and snack-shops that one could walk to for a bit of exercise and fresh air.
And the flavor of "work" in the Information Age is increasingly like creative teamwork. Teams are put together to think and solve problems, without the tyranny of org charts and formal management structures. In my imaginary buildings for today's work-world, people who are trying to accomplish something could commandeer some rooms, could roll their preferred desks and chairs and tables in themselves, and just set themselves up.
November 3, 2013
Our Constitution was designed to prevent "lightning victories."
There's a reason why every "big" piece of legislation in our history (outside the Civil War) was passed with bipartisan support. Except Obamacare. The constitution was explicitly designed to prevent radical change, unless there is broad support for it. For instance the different parts of government have different lengths of their terms: Representatives two years, senators six years, Presidents four years, judges life. This was intended to stop things happening in a sudden wave of enthusiasm.
And our constitution normally forces compromise. A group gets something they want by giving other groups things they want. But the oddity of the electoral situation in 2009 enabled Dems to ram through their bill alone. In American politics, this is simply a "dirty trick." It guarantees that the bill will never have legitimacy.
BH Liddell Hart wrote that in war there is a terrible danger inherent in "lightning victories." This is because the defeated don't feel they were beaten honestly. So they never accept their defeat, and will come back and extract terrible revenge in the future. Americans never considered that Pearl Harbor was a legitimate victory. It was and is considered a dirty trick. So there was never a possibility that we would negotiate a peace, as the Japanese leaders hoped. And we had no qualms about killing them by the millions.
..."They were running the biggest start-up in the world, and they didn't have anyone who had run a start-up, or even run a business," said David Cutler, a Harvard professor and health adviser to Obama's 2008 campaign, who was not the individual who provided the memo to The Washington Post but confirmed he was the author. "It's very hard to think of a situation where the people best at getting legislation passed are best at implementing it. They are a different set of skills."
The White House's leadership of the immense project -- building new health insurance marketplaces for an estimated 24 million Americans without coverage -- is one of several key reasons that the president's signature domestic policy achievement has become a self-inflicted injury for the administration.
Based on interviews with more than two dozen current and former administration officials and outsiders who worked alongside them, the project was hampered by the White House's political sensitivity to Republican hatred of the law -- sensitivity so intense that the president's aides ordered that some work be slowed down or remain secret for fear of feeding the opposition. Inside the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the main agency responsible for the exchanges, there was no single administrator whose full-time job was to manage the project. Republicans also made clear they would block funding, while some outside IT companies that were hired to build the Web site, HealthCare.gov, performed poorly.
These interwoven strands ultimately caused the exchange not to be ready by its Oct. 1 start date. It was not ready even though, on the balmy Sunday evening of March 21, 2010, hours after the bill had been enacted, the president had stood on the Truman Balcony for a champagne toast with his weary staff and put them on notice: They needed to get started on carrying out the law the very next morning. It was not ready even though, for months beginning last spring, the president emphasized the exchange's central importance during regular staff meetings to monitor progress. No matter which aspects of the sprawling law had been that day's focus, the official said, Obama invariably ended the meeting the same way: "All of that is well and good, but if the Web site doesn't work, nothing else matters."...