A Laboratory Experiment of the Law of Unintended Consequences


Here’s a good piece you may have missed by Sheldon Richman about everything that’s wrong with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. And that’s a lot.

Most generally, the new law exhibits the standard governmental hubris. Who truly believes that an army of necessarily myopic bureaucrats can ever know enough to 1) anticipate a systemic crisis and 2) do something intelligent about it in a timely way? The more centralized the power the more vulnerable we average taxpayers are. Mistakes are system-wide. The virtue of a freed market is not that it’s unregulated (it’s not) but that its radically decentralized.

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Take a gander at what happens when Schumpeterian creative destruction is jettisoned in favor of Obanomical hope and change. Recall that way back in 2009 the President singlehandedly averted the horrors of a lawful reorganization of General Motors under the Bankruptcy Code. For the greater good, Obama fired the CEO, nationalized the company, elevated an […]

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Rob Long, Peter Robinson, and James Lileks are joined this week by Istanbul based contributor Claire Berlinski (AKA, Queen of Comments) and WSJ editorial writer Joe Rago. We cover pesky software updates, The List, Mitt, Breitbart, Mac v. PC, and the lessons we should learn from the Massachusetts health care reform experience. Ricochet Rundown:  Preview […]

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Beware Big Wind


Greetings all — just back from ten days on Martha’s Vineyard, and ready to report back to my fellow earthlings. Aside from Obama bumper stickers, what I mostly saw around the Vineyard was the following sign:

Cape Wind is the massive wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound. The windmills will spoil a lot of oceanfront views and so the otherwise uber-liberal residents of the Cape and Islands have united in a classic NIMBY protest.

John Kerry Sails Away From Massachusetts Taxes


“I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ babies,” cried the young lady in Gone With The Wind. But John Kerry knows a thing or two about berthing yachts. The Boston Herald reports that Kerry has docked his 76 foot luxury boat, the “Isabel,” in Rhode Island where he will avoid a six-figure tax bill from his own state of Massachusetts.

If left in Massachusetts, the $7 million yacht would require approximately $437,500 in sales tax, and an annual tax in the neighborhood of $70,000. Obviously, someone of Kerry’s standing as a compassionate liberal can’t be saddled with a bill like that. Remember, liberals are famously generous …with other people’s money. But it is tough to take seriously Joe Biden’s admonition that we should have “skin in the game,” when limousine liberals won’t even dip their sails in.



God bless Matt Drudge. I write that with no ironic or sarcastic hidden meanings. Matt figured this whole Internet thing out long before any of us realized the word was supposed to be capitalized. The speed with which a Drudge link can shut down a server is breathtaking. I’ve had a couple of political pieces linked by Drudge, and it took me days to read the comments and questions. (Unlike Ricochet users, however, many of the posters made suggestions involving body parts that seemed to push biological and physiological envelopes beyond human endurance.)

Like all of us, Mr. Drudge has certain kinds of stories that seem to capture his fancy. He loves weather extremes of any kind, especially when they raise havoc, as in today’s “Giant Sinkhole in Milwaukee swallows Escalade.” And there’s a bizarre side to him as well. He likes old ladies with rotting mounds of dead cats and items like today’s “Saudi man chains son in basement for six years; ‘Possessed by an evil female genie’…” Where else can you find these gems?

Are You Really a Friend?


One of my prize hobbyhorses concerns the War on Nouns. Yes, every day we suffer from the War on Nouns, as perfectly good things are cast down and abandoned in favor of adjectives and adverbs which then masquerade maliciously as authentic nouns. It’s a veritable invasion of the body snatchers. Paranoia is the appropriate response. Colbert has popularized the infamous example of truthiness — a word which, technically, is a red-blooded American noun, but hardly belongs in the same grammatical category as truth. The integrity even of a word like truthfulness is under attack, when we slip so quickly and easily from friend (n.) to friendly (adv.) to friendliness (???). A friend, as shown in the brilliant comic below, is not at all necessarily whoever emits friendliness in your general direction…

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The fifth annual gathering of the Netroots Nation (it used to be known as YearlyKos) is being held at the Rio in Vegas. Van Jones, the 9/11 Truther who was forced to resign as President Obama’s “green jobs” czar, is apparently the hit of the convention thus far. Judging from the lefties I follow on […]

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I <3 My Liberal Friends, But They Need Diversity Training


So as I said yesterday on the podcast, a couple of the more controversial folks who’ve suddenly seen their JournoList contributions hit the news — Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor who mused about having the FCC yank Fox News’ license; and Sarah Spitz, a colleague at the NPR station in Los Angeles where I’m a weekly commentator, who described the joy she’d feel watching Rush Limbaugh die of a heart attack — are friends of mine.

Jonathan is a smart, thoughtful person. So is Sarah. You’ll just have to trust me on that.

Worst Job in the World


Mel Gibson’s publicist.

This kind of reminds me of a conversation I had here recently with the head of PR for a big pharmaceutical firm. I asked her, just as a hypothetical, how she’d handle communications for British Petroleum right about now. She positively blanched. Even thinking about it obviously made her ill. Anyway, Mel’s people are presumably having another very, very long day.

Viva Las Vegas?


I’ve been away from my keyboard lately because I spent ten days in Las Vegas taping this little game show I host. It’s not that I couldn’t have written anything from that city; in fact, I had intended to do so. But ten days is a very long time to be in Las Vegas, and by about the middle of the third day my brain had turned to tapioca.

I’m not sure the temperature ever fell below 100-degrees, even overnight, and the tinted windows of my room kept me in a constant state of twilight. The outside world meant less and less to me as each moment went by. I spent more hours than I should have in the casinos, where time doesn’t seem to count. We taped from about 3:30 till 9:30, so I never had any proper dinners. By the middle of the fifth day I had trouble picturing the members of my family, and I was sure I had been there for well over a year.

Why the Housing Crisis is Jefferson’s Fault — and 8 Other Reasons to Hate TJ


Diane Ellis has convinced me to come out of hiding and declare that I hate Thomas Jefferson. And love Alexander Hamilton. I think that one of the binary choices to identify personality types must be whether someone likes Jefferson or Hamilton (also: cats or dogs, the Beatles or the Who, salty or sweet, Yankees or Red Sox, and so on).

It all started with Rob Long’s proposal to do away with the mortgage deduction. I blame this on Jefferson. Jefferson inflicted on the United States the idea that society should be based on the yeoman farmer. He thought that property-owners would have, as Diane pithily put it to me, “skin in the game.” Jefferson feared cities, with their dense populations and what he would have called corruption, decadent ways, and “stock-jobbing.” He wanted people to grow food, not invent financial derivatives. Hamilton loved New York, I think, for exactly those reasons — classless, restless groups of merchants/tradesmens/workers and the endless activity of capitalist destruction/invention. Jefferson wanted the nation to remain essentially pre-industrial, exporting its foodstuffs to Europe but without any large industrial or financial base. Hamilton brought the modern financial system to America and wanted the United States to become a great producer as well as consumer.

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I don’t know how useful it is to think of certain parts of the country as “real America” but my travels this month took me out of my Washington, D.C. residence and into Texas and Colorado. And let’s just say that these are parts of the country where President Obama doesn’t have an 85% approval […]

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The Queen of Comments Demands that Her Subjects Do Her Bidding


Hey, you guys totally ignored this post, and I actually really wanted to know what you all thought of this idea. I know, I know — it’s about the Turkish construction industry, which isn’t exactly a subject calculated to grip the imagination, but I really, seriously want to know whether anyone thinks it’s a feasible idea. I’m thinking about trying to get this started.

I’m not sure how I’d go about it, and I don’t know whether the government would immediately clamp down on it. One of the big problems is that all the major political parties here are in bed with the construction industry, so they’d all have a pretty strong incentive to discourage anyone from taking it on. Still, the idea strikes me as so elegant, so wonderfully free-market. Am I missing something? Is it obviously unworkable? Is there any precedent for something like this working somewhere else?