Thursday, January 31, 2008

BMBS Political Dictionary

pronunciation: [mav-er-ick, mav-rick]
function: adjective

1. not conservative

example: The New York Times loves John McCain because he is a maverick politician.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How to solve Kenya's conflict:

Step one: Stop machete production.

One More Reason to Hate Florida...

I could be wrong on this, but it looks like McCain is going to win the sunshine state tonight (barely). This will effectively give him front-running status and lead to his winning the nomination.

So the question now becomes: which Democrat to vote for in November? One who supports the war or one who opposes it? There is always the side chance, of course, that McCain will end his campaign sometime in the Spring and ask to be Hilary's running mate.

Somebody wake me up when the GOP emerges as a political party again...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rebublican Debate

Chris Matthews interviewed Rudy Giuliani after the debate, and the two joked about "if every person owned and carried a gun on the New York subway, what would happen?" What would happen?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

More on the Fallacies of "Stimulus"

Good morning. If you get some time today please read this short 2-page editorial. Every day it seems I come across an article that better and more fully explains just how bad of an idea this stimulus package is that Bush & Co. are about to hand out. In addition, it briefly explains in simple terms what recessions are, what causes them, how inflation is created, etc. Understanding these terms is crucial to understanding why stimuluses never work and why they usually prolong and worsen downturns instead of ending them. Finally, the article lays out what Bush can and should be doing instead of throwing dollars around.

I'm sure you all are really sick of me beating a dead horse on this issue but let's face it: we're all 25 now and nothing funny happens on this blog anymore. Might as well bore everyone with something about economics for the 90th time.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Thompson Out

To Fred Thompson supporters:

Now that he's out of the race, which candidate will you endorse? And, yeah, I get that it's not an easy decision. Don't embarrass yourself by making a very unfunny joke - just answer the question.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A St. Patrick's Day Parade Route Race?

This past weekend at City Market's officially new "Country Day kid" hangout, Rooftop, Joe presented a brilliant idea to Patrick and our old blogger friend Stephen. (This new idea is in addition to the idea of creating a St. Patrick's Day-like men's social club to celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade... for white guys)

A week or so before March 17th, the Irish Hurricanes should host a footrace that follows the sacred parade route through The Historic District, which spands about 3 miles. And, from a suggestion by Patrick, each runner must chug one beer at Skyler's on Bay Street.

The prize?

There is no prize... your reward is the opportunity to run the greatest parade route on Earth.

But, the contestant finishing last (which most likely will be Snuffy) must purchase the post race beer for all participants. The party is to be held at Joe and Stephen's downtown apartment... (assuming they get the apartment they want by March 1st.)

Spectator Permits Floated for St. Patrick's Day Parade

The SMN had an interesting article today about the possibility of purchasing a permit to reserve your spot along the parade route. My favorite line in the article is:

Chippewa Square has drawn a rowdier group known to urinate in public and destroy vegetation.

I have no earthly idea where they got that idea from...

Friday, January 18, 2008

John McCain (D) for President

Hello, I'm John McCain. I want to be the President of the United States of America. I have no idea how economics work.

Bush Rebate Plan

Can anybody give a breakdown on President Bush's stimulus plan he is announcing today? I'm too lazy to do the research.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Get Ready: NFL Playoffs

I'm usually not one for putting up cutesy, silly youtube clips that serve no real purpose. But I'm willing to make an exception for this one:

Probably the only funny thing that's been on Saturday Night Live in the last 7 years.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

That 70's Economic Policy

In Washington we are unfortunately seeing the return of a demand-side economic philosophy. Democrats (and some Republicans) are calling for an "economic stimulus package" to soften the blow from a possible recession this year. Such a package would include new spending projects and temporary tax breaks to "get the economy moving again" by putting money into consumers' hands.

Recall from Coach Yeckley's class that demand-side (also known as "Keynesian") economics is a philosophy that basically says if the economy isn't doing well, it must be because the government isn't doing enough to put money in people's pockets. Thus, Washington must spend more to "prime the pump" in order to keep things afloat. More and more dollars must be "injected" and allowed to circulate to ensure growth. This philosophy dominated American economic policy following the Great Depression all the way up until the Carter Administration, and remains one of the most fallacious concepts ever developed.

The first fallacy is the assumption that the source of economic growth is consumer spending. This is false because without investment, you won't get any goods or services produced to buy in the first place. The second is the notion that money can just "come out of nowhere" and be placed into consumer hands through federal spending. Clearly this is false because there's no such thing as a free lunch: the money that would otherwise be spent in the private sector is being "crowded out" as it is sucked out and redistributed by politicians.

All of this may sound a little complex to some of you (Ryan), so to simplify things, let's illustrate these fallacies by using an easy real life example. Let's say you own a bar in downtown Athens. One night, Felton the frat guy is at your bar. After 7 jager shots, he is loaded and feeling no pain. He sees a Florida fan approaching the bar from a distance, and throws his Miller Chill bottle toward him at break-neck speed. Unfortunately, it misses the UF fan and smashes through the window directly behind him, breaking it. You and all the surrounding bar patrons are of course angry at Felton for doing this.

But the Keynesians would argue that Felton should be praised because he's actually done everyone a favor by "stimulating demand" for a service that previously did not exist. Think about it: you must now hire a window glazier to come fix the broken window, thus providing him employment. And the glazier will in turn spend this new money he wouldn't otherwise have on other things, where it will circulate throughout the entire economy. Had the window not been broken, the glazier would be out of work with less money to spend, but thanks to Felton, unemployment is reduced and dollars are circulating. Heck, maybe Felton should walk down Broad Street and break all the windows in every building he passes. Then we'd really have an economic boom, right?

The problem with this way of thinking is that it completely ignores the concept of opportunity cost: had the window not been broken, you the bar owner could and would have spent the money on something more productive: Maybe help to save up for a new plasma screen for bar patrons to watch Georgia games in high-def. Maybe to provide cleaner bathrooms. Maybe to hire an additional worker. Who knows. The point is, that money can't be spent on these additional luxuries now because the window must first be repaired. What originally looked like a $500 gain for the economy was actually a $500 loss.

Despite its flaws, Keynesian views were dominant for so long because they were hugely popular with politicians. It allowed them to see the economy much like a car engine that could be accelerated or slowed by providing the correct amount of inputs. The idea that the economy was a machine that could be fine tuned by the State's technocrats was very attractive to presidents like FDR, JFK, LBJ, and even Richard Nixon.

But the truth is the economy is not at all like a car engine; it is instead far more complex and organic: think of it like a large ecosystem where millions of organisms interact on a day-to-day basis. In this view the environment for growth, not the amount of "oil you put in the engine," is what matters. Low taxes, light regulation, sound rule of law, and open trade are all you need to have an environment where the economy is productive and prosperous.

Instead of pandering to economic ignorance, policymakers should reduce spending, keep taxes low, and focus on reforming what caused the recession in the first place: the Federal Reserve's ability to artificially cheapen credit.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Why LSU Will Not Win

You can analyse statistics, home-field advantage and strength of schedule all you want but the bottom line is you cannot win a national championship with a white tailback. It's scientific fact.

New Orleans in the Spotlight

With the BCS National Championship Game kicking off in New Orleans tonight, I read some articles on covering the event. One particular article on the Katrina recovery was pretty good, but this excerpt near the end really said something: Today, the help continues. There is no more hopeful sight in New Orleans than the large boxes covered by pink tarps that now dot the moonscape of the Lower Ninth Ward. Each represents a house that will be built on that spot, thanks to the philanthropy of actor Brad Pitt and the Make It Right Foundation.
The group has raised millions of dollars, with a goal of building 150 houses. Pitt and his family now live in New Orleans, and Meeks said he has been a regular presence at the site.
Not far away is Musician's Village, an area funded by Habitat For Humanity to provide affordable housing for musicians and artists -- a demographic that is part of New Orleans' lifeblood. Dozens of brightly colored houses have sprung up there.
In both cases, the private sector is moving much more quickly than the public sector. Individuals and charitable groups are accomplishing what the bureaucracy is not.
"The people have clearly led the recovery over the government," Meeks said.

I think this first-hand knowledge of the situation down there really says something. Maybe the government should get out of there altogether if the private sector is actually going to get things done.
And on a side note, is anybody else disgusted with FOX's horrible coverage of the BCS games?

Friday, January 04, 2008


As I've already explained, we've reached a moment in American politics where both the left and right are equally calling for bigger government and more personal and economic intrusion into people's lives. The constituency for a small government, market-liberal philosophy based on individual liberty continues to shrink, as it has throughout Bush's presidency, ripping apart the Reagan coalition and throwing the GOP's November chances into complete disarray.

Thursday night's results in Iowa demonstrated this: Mike Huckabee, AKA John Edwards with a bible, won in a landslide victory over the "Reagan" candidate Mitt Romney. Polls show that only something like 10-20% of voters are actually concerned that the federal government is too big. The rest are simply looking for handouts, funny one-liners, and bible quotes.

Again, to be clear, I don't mean to denigrate the social conservatives that have played a crucial role in the GOP coalition of the last 30 years. Evangelicals have helped spread a message that faith in God, not government, is the answer, and this has been key in pushing the message that our rights come not from Washington, but instead from a higher power. Preservation of the family and traditional values is key to maintaining an electorate that guards itself from an ever-expanding welfare state: single parents and unmarried couples are overwhelmingly more likely than any part of the electorate to vote for big government. The notion that families, churches, and civic organizations are better at solving society's ills than politicians and bureaucrats in D.C. has also been central to the Republican message.

But things are starting to change: we now see evangelicals willing to elect leaders who will embrace big government instead of attacking it. In the past, social conservatives, like libertarians, advocated a "leave us alone" philosophy: stop telling us we can't pray in school, stop teaching my second-grader about lesbian sex, stop funding programs that allow my 14-year old daughter to terminate an unborn life without my permission, etc. Today, by contrast, these same folks support federal amendments to the constitution banning certain things, new regulations preventing CEO's from making "too much," wealth redistribution to "preserve the middle class," bans on smoking, trans fats, and other "dangerous" activities. This is very frightening because it means evangelicals are now just as bad collectivists as our liberals opponents.

It it vital for Republicans to remember that the hugely successful Reagan coalition of the 1980's was built on three pillars: a strong and free economy (economic conservatives), a strong military (foreign policy conservatives), and strong families (social conservatives). The current debacle is tearing apart this coalition: Huckabee clings to the social part but ridicules the economic and military aspects. Giuliani stands for a strong military and a free economy but ignores the culture of life issues. McCain is a foreign policy hawk and a social conservative but has never read an economics book and thinks taxes are too low. The GOP simply cannot be successful unless all three legs of the stool are firmly attached and embraced, something that Romney has done over the last 2 years but not convincingly enough. Something that Thompson has done his whole life but it fails to make any noise because he never wanted the job in the first place.

In the meantime, it should be interesting to see how New Hampshire plays out. The folks there seem to have a little more sense than Iowans do.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2007 MOTY Winner: Michael A. Reardon II

The results have been in for over a day now: the people have chosen Michael Reardon as 2007's Man of the Year. If there's anything we've learned over the last 3 weeks it's that Mike is one hell of a salesman. From day one he was working the bars and phone lines convincing potential voters of his credentials. Heck he may have even cold-called random people to come on here and vote, we aren't really sure. This was fair though considering it looks like Hagan's people tried to do the same thing.

Congratulations to Mike for winning this prestigious award, and to Snuffy for his second straight successful nomination.

And finally, how about Georgia last night? Even though we have an impossible schedule next year (Arizona State and LSU away) I think '08 will be our year, which is perfect considering I've been in Athens waiting for this for 7 straight years now. Three degrees and tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt later, I am now forced to come home and watch the dogs make their national title run from Coach's Corner.

The 2008 Sugar Bowl in One Word