The Locker Room

April 26, 2010

Making the moral case for markets

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:29 PM

Critics of the free-market perspective often argue that people who support markets over government action favor greedy businessmen and profits over the public interest.

Dwight Lee, professor of global markets and freedom at Southern Methodist University, offered a different perspective during today's presentation to the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society. Lee focused on the importance of making the admittedly difficult moral case for markets.

In the video clip below, Lee explains how market forces would work far better than charity in helping Haitian earthquake victims.

Watch the entire 55:42 presentation by clicking play below.

You'll find other John Locke Foundation video presentations here.

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Cap and Trade is Alive and Well

Posted by Daren Bakst at 2:25 PM

Today, Senators Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman were expected to release their cap and trade bill.  However, immigration reform put a damper on that.  However, this is a bill that definitely should be on the radar screen.

When (if) the bill is introduced, there will be lots of fanfare about how oil companies and utility companies support the bill (or at least aren’t opposing it).

However, there’s a reason for this support.  They are being bought-off.

Don't be fooled by the fanfare.  While the environmental extremists and utility and oil companies benefit, the public will get harmed by a massive energy tax that will cut jobs, reduce personal income, and have a disproportionate impact on the poor.

From a political perspective: Why would Republicans want to support this energy tax and thereby undermine any momentum they have as a result of opposing the health care bill?

Read my more detailed post on this issue at CEI's Globalwarming.org

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Latest dispatches from the campaign trail

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:50 AM


  • Badge brawl erupts in the Republican Party's 7th congressional district primary.

  • Republican Jamie Earp withdraws from the House-34 primary due to prior drunk drinking incident.

  • No candidate has emerged as a favorite in the 8th congressional district Republican primary, reports the Fayetteville Observer.

  • State Rep. Wil Neumann, a candidate in the Republican's Senate-43 primary, is sponsoring a bill to opt N.C. out of the federal health care law.

  • Republican challenging Howard Coble in the primary hopes his financial experience will give him an edge.

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Meet the TSA's worst enemy

Posted by George Leef at 08:36 AM

Becky Akers has written many articles on the foolishness, nastiness, and vindictiveness of the Transportation Security Administration over the years and her latest one is going to make your blood boil.

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The forgotten regulator: fear of failure

Posted by George Leef at 07:56 AM

James Grant, America's best financial writer in my view, has an excellent Washington Post article in which he argues that the trouble with the banks is that they've gotten used to the "heads we win, tails you lose" approach. He writes, "The substitution of collective responsibility for individual responsibility is the fatal story line of modern American finance."

Right on target.

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Replacing bias with ... more blatant bias

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:48 AM

TIME’s James Poniewozik offers CNN some unsolicited advice for boosting its ratings: Embrace its status as a mainstream institution with expertise:
The answer for CNN is not to abdicate its authority but to use it more aggressively. Today, with technology making raw news a commodity, the challenge for consumers is sorting out politicized counterclaims on everything from health care to meteorology to security. Viewers want someone to cut through the kicked-up partisan dust. They want to hear, flat out, when someone is full of it. CNN too often gives both sides, then shrugs. A CNN anchor interviewing two party hacks and leaving us to decide who we should believe doesn't cut it.

Here’s the problem with Poniewozik's prescription: CNN already has chosen sides in the left-versus-right debate. Rather than feign either objectivity or institutional authority, the network might want to follow Poniewozik’s lead in admitting its left-of-center bias. Then CNN could duke it out with MSNBC for the audience that wants that spin. Of course, that's basically what's happening now.

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Good advice straight from the source (of jobs)

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:45 AM

Duke University researcher Vivek Wadhwa went to Boulder, Colo., to learn why that community has become an entrepreneurial hub. The last paragraph of his resulting article for Bloomberg Business Week is worth noting:
When I ask longtime players about local government, they shrug. When I ask them about state government, the common refrain is that the best thing it can do is invest in education and otherwise stay out of the way. The lesson here is that it doesn't take billions in government spending to create a thriving industry cluster. Instead, with a little luck and lots of hard work by residents, local economies can be shaped from the bottom up.

Wadhwa doesn’t say it, but another lesson is that billions in government spending would be counterproductive, since the government spends that money only after taking it away from private-sector actors.

Roy Cordato discussed this problem in July 2009 when he analyzed the impact of federal stimulus spending on North Carolina’s double-digit unemployment numbers:

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I wonder if he said with a straight face

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:44 AM

Here’s an excerpt from Charlie Rose’s recent interview with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, as published in Bloomberg Business Week:
How would you describe President Obama's philosophy about the role of government? Well, he is a pragmatist. He has adopted ideas and policies from Republicans and Democrats. He is not wedded to a philosophy or ideology. He sees government mainly for setting rules and then letting the private sector operate within those rules.

Really? This is a credible assessment from the author of the “no good crisis should go to waste” comment? Perhaps Emanuel should review some of the following: the president’s support for massive government debt, his support for unprecedented federal government control of health-care decisions, and his misguided desire to tax the rich.

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The problem with promoting exports

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:42 AM

President Obama’s focus on boosting exports — through a government-run National Export Initiative, of course — draws scrutiny from Time International editor Michael Elliott in the latest issue of Fortune:

Politicians love talking about boosting exports; it sounds macho. But in the long run, it isn't exports that matter; it is trade, which is something different.

In 1817 the British political economist David Ricardo coined the theory of comparative advantage, explaining how encouraging economies to specialize in what they do best and trade for the rest raises total output and welfare. After nearly 200 years Ricardo's basic tenet still holds. More than that: When you think of what really contributes to human happiness, it is imports, not exports, that count.

The whole point of trade is that it lets you enjoy goods and services you wouldn't otherwise see. But you never catch a U.S. politician admitting what we all know: that imports make everyone's life better.

Obama hasn't so far. Nor has he said much at all about trade as a whole, beyond committing himself to "work toward" an agreement on the stalled Doha round of world trade talks, and to move forward with those free-trade agreements the U.S. has already negotiated with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia. (Don't hold your breath.)

Roy Cordato also has taken the president to task for his focus on exports:

Of course our exporting industries cannot sell anything that foreign consumers aren't willing to buy. So how do we insure that products made in the US are competitive in foreign markets? Well it appears that Obama's plan is to continue the Fed's inflationary weak dollar policy. … The weaker the dollar is against foreign currencies, the cheaper US goods are in foreign markets. It is in essence a subsidy to foreign consumers paid for with a tax on American consumers. This is because the weaker dollar makes imports, and therefore the American made products that compete with them, more expensive to Americans. It lowers the cost of living for foreigners and raises the cost of living for Americans.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:28 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Sara Burrows' report on the Republican primary in N.C. Senate District 50.

John Hood's Daily Journal examines the problems linked to sales-tax reform.

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