The Locker Room

January 8, 2007

The Money Men

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:08 PM

I just finished H.W. Brands' new book on early U.S. monetary history, The Money Men: Capitalism, Democracy, and the Hundred Years' War Over the American Dollar (Atlas/Norton, 2006).

Brands -- a University of Texas history professor -- presents a generally evenhanded account of some of the giants in American economic history: Alexander Hamilton, Nicholas Biddle, Jay Cooke, Jay Gould, and J.P. Morgan.

The Morgan story is especially interesting, including this account of the way in which the financial genius rescued the U.S. government's finances in 1895:

Morgan stated the matter as starkly as he could. He had learned that a single investor held a draft for $10 million against the Treasury's gold reserve, which currently hovered around $9 million. "If that $10 million draft is presented, you can't meet it," Morgan told [President Grover] Cleveland. "It will be all over before three o'clock."

Cleveland now understood. "What suggestions have you to make, Mr. Morgan?" he replied.

Morgan explained that a public bond offering, toward which some in the Treasury were leaning, would fail, as it would take too long. Something swifter was necessary. Morgan recommended a private sale, to a syndicate headed by himself, which would pay for the bonds in gold coin.

Cleveland didn't like Morgan, and didn't particularly like meeting with him. So he "pressed Morgan for assurance the bond sale would accomplish what it was supposed to."

Cleveland was asking a lot -- in essence, that Morgan stand against the world to defend the credit of the United States. Morgan didn't flinch. "Yes, sir," he said. "I will guarantee it during the life of the syndicate, and that means until the contract has been concluded and the goal has been reached."

It was a breathtaking promise, one only Morgan among American financiers could give with a straight face. 

Yes, reading has been a better option than watching my Buckeyes stink up the BCS championship game.

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Hamster Power

Posted by Daren Bakst at 4:49 PM

Despite claims to the contrary, renewable sources of energy not only are very costly but also aren't environment-friendly.  This doesn't matter to the state's Utilities Commission.  However, I think I may have an alternative to the evil low-cost and clean-burning coal option.  Don't get me started on nuclear power.

Hamsters really enjoy their exercise wheels.  I think NC should spend millions and buy as many hamsters as possible.  Each hamster would get his or her own wheel and this somehow will produce power for us (don't look to me for details).

I can't see any environmental problems and it probably would cost less than renewable sources of energy.

I know there will be criticism, so let me respond:

To animal rights advocates: The hamsters like the wheels and they will be given luxurious accommodations.  If for any reason a hamster decides he/she doesn't want to ride the wheel, they can choose any career path they desire.  Also, let me clarify: I did say NC should buy hamsters.  I meant NC should "hire" hamsters.

On the issue of health benefits: All hamsters would have full health coverage.  Preexisting conditions would not disqualify any of the hamsters from coverage.

Other benefits include: In-state tuition, 4 weeks vacation, and a skybox to Carolina Hurricanes games.    

This seems to be a win-win for hamsters and humans. 


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More Delays from the Education Establishment

Posted by Lindalyn Kakadelis at 4:00 PM

Back in November Terry Stoops listed a number of DELAYS from the Department of Public Instruction. Well, here is another one. Seems parents in Charlotte will not have 2006 state report cards on schools by the time decisions must be made for options. Again -  NO consequences for the government education establishment delaying important information.


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Update on the war on terror

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:11 PM

We’ll learn later this week details of President Bush’s new plan for the Iraq campaign.

A John Locke Foundation audience heard this afternoon some of the thoughts from a Tar Heel within the Bush Defense Department: Robert Wilkie, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs.

Wilkie shied away from releasing details of the president’s plan. But he offered some general comments about the need to win in Iraq. He drew a Cold War parallel (video):

The chattering classes jeered Ronald Reagan when he was asked by Helen Thomas for his strategy to defeat the Soviet Union. He said, “Well, Helen, American strategy is simple. It is: We win, and they lose.” And in that spirit, we have to stop talking about redeployment and exit strategies and focus on victory because as President Bush has said: The safety of the American people is at stake, but so to is the cause of human freedom.

Wilkie says we should expect to see more “retooling” of the Iraq campaign in the days ahead.

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No Child Left Behind’s Anniversary

Posted by Lindalyn Kakadelis at 2:53 PM

Today is the fifth anniversary of President Bush’s landmark “No Child Left Behind,” Elementary and Secondary Education Act. USA Today’s front-page story discusses the good, bad and ugly pieces of the law.

The Heritage Foundation also hosted an event on this 5th anniversary, with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). These Senators discussed possibilities of giving states more flexibility, yet holding them accountable for achievement. They discussed the "charter state" option:

"A charter state option would work in much the same way as a charter school contract. States choosing a charter status with the federal government would operate with greater freedom in exchange for results. Any state could choose the charter alternative by the decision of its legislative and executive branches. The state would specify which of its federal K-12 education programs would be part of the contract. The charter state would then be exempt from the program mandates, processes, and paperwork associated with the programs included in its contract, and the federal  government would provide the money for these programs to the state in a single funding stream." 

However, my experience tells me the “system” does not want flexibility, because it likes to use the "top-down" mandates as cover and protection for NOT performing.  However, over the past five years it seems NO one is pleased with the law.

Get ready, the Democrats controlling congress will go after "full funding" of NCLB instead of flexibility. Which would give millions more to the education establishment. The federal government’s contribution to K-12 education spending has risen 25 percent since the 2002 passing of NCLB. Also, watch congress for a bill establishing "National Standards" to be introduced soon! More federal mandates, more money, less flexibility, is a move in the wrong direction!

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Fighting terrorism one verse at a time

Posted by Paul Chesser at 12:03 AM

A new Camden County church plans to start a round-the-clock Bible-reading marathon today, which is expected to last three days:

The marathon has multiple purposes, First, to inspire local church members to better service and gratitude. Second, to resolve church divisions. And third, to soften the hearts of terrorists and turn them from hatred to love.

I wonder how the passages in Exodus about Pharaoh's heart hardening in response to the plagues will be received.

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OK, what's up?

Posted by Jon Ham at 11:06 AM

Middle Easterners try to sneak into the Port of Miami

A strong smell of natural gas covers lower Manhattan.

Dead birds are found in downtown Austin and officials are trying to determine if a gas of some kind killed them.

Are our defenses being probed? Officials in Miami were quick — too quick, if you ask me — to give a benign explanation:

Three Middle Eastern men in a cargo truck sparked a brief terrorism scare at the Port of Miami until officials determined their freight was harmless and the incident had stemmed from a simple misunderstanding.

The port's cargo area was shut down Sunday and a bomb squad moved the truck away from public areas to scan it for radioactive materials. Nothing unusual was found, officials said.

The men in the truck - two Iraqis and one Lebanese national - were in local police custody, but authorities said no federal charges were expected. Officials initially said the men, all permanent U.S. residents, had been caught trying to slip past a checkpoint at the port's entrance.


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Re: Jerry Agar

Posted by Paul Chesser at 11:05 AM

By the way, both WLS and WABC have Internet streaming for their audio broadcasts.

And I can't look at Jerry's "Glamour Shot" photo without thinking of the late Robert "Addicted to Love" Palmer.

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Socialism as family planning

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:16 AM

George Mason University economist Richard E. Wagner offers an interesting analogy in his American Conservatism encyclopedia entry on "socialism":

Socialism treats the national economy as an extended family and approaches economic organization from the perspective of household management. The sentiment "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs," does surely characterize well-working family relationships. The members of a family generally do contribute to the family economy according to their abilities, both in dealing with the outside world and in handling household tasks.

But while "[s]ocialism takes the ethical and organizational principles of a family and seeks to apply them to a national economy," Wagner notes problems with the model.

Within a well-working household, decisions concerning resource allocation are based on intimacy and love. Family members possess detailed, concrete knowledge of each other's abilities and needs, and they are bound together by love. But no matter how desirable an extension of the family model to a nation might sound, it is an utterly impossible extension to make. Socialism cannot resolve the problem of economic calculation, so it cannot achieve the social cooperation that is its pronounced objective. It is in no one's capacity to organize the economic activities of a complex society. Household management may be possible, but national economic management is not. 

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Re: Our exported wackster

Posted by Chad Adams at 09:57 AM

John, regarding your post on Gene Nichol, I must ask: did he replace the chapel cross with another image more to his liking — such as John Edwards, for example? (Not a golden calf per se, but definitely brazen bull.)

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Excellent essay by Anthony de Jasay

Posted by George Leef at 09:49 AM

Does "social justice" require that governments try to iron out the good and bad fortune of luck? In this splendid essay Anthony de Jasay argues against that idea.

Well worth reading!

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A modestly shocking proposal

Posted by Hal Young at 09:27 AM

University of Georgia professor Dwight Lee suggests that some of our people can't capitalize on their birthright:

... When people are free to buy and sell, markets do an impressive job directing assets to those who will make the most valuable use of them.

The suggested policy is straightforward. Simply give Americans the right to sell their citizenships to non-Americans, with the sellers having to leave the country and the buyers allowed to move in with all the rights and opportunities of any other U.S. citizen.

Definitely, RTWT, though.

HT: Division of Labour

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Re: Another Wacky College President

Posted by John Hood at 08:41 AM

The wackster in question, who had the cross removed from the chapel at William and Mary, is none other than our old friend Gene Nichol, dean of the UNC law school for a number of years before accepting the W&M job last year. His regular columns in the News & Observer on various matters political revealed his ideological leanings, as did his public pronouncements and involvement. However, I recall conservative law students telling me that they thought he genuinely sought to be fair with them, and when I worked with him on the N.C. Coalition for Lobbying Reform, I enjoyed the experience.

He took the cross from the chapel? Geesh.

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George Reisman v. NYT's environmentalism

Posted by George Leef at 08:24 AM

Professor George Reisman regularly takes on leftist Luddism and in this column, he does battle with the New York Times and its persistent advocacy of "green" policy notions. His target here is high-cost energy that would supposedly be so wonderful. He sees it as a retreat to primitive times.

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Another wacky college president

Posted by Jon Ham at 07:53 AM

The President of the College of William and Mary has acted to end centuries of intolerance and insensitivity by ordering a cross be taken out of the college's chapel. No kidding. Do these guys get together on weekends to think up incredibly idiotic things to do, or does it just come naturally?

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Liberal white guilt suffers a setback in Mexico

Posted by Jon Sanders at 00:11 AM

New research suggests colonization might not have been the reason for the deadly epidemics in Mexico in 1545 and 1576:

... The revisionists draw support from one of the only authoritative firsthand accounts of the epidemics, a text lost for hundreds of years until it was found, misfiled, in a Spanish archive.

Dr. Francisco Hernandez, a physician to the Spanish king who witnessed the epidemic of 1576 and conducted autopsies, describes a fever that caused heavy bleeding, similar to the hemorrhagic Ebola virus. It raced through the Indian population, killing four out of five people infected, often within a day or two.

"Blood flowed from the ears and in many cases blood truly gushed from the nose," he wrote. "Of those with recurring disease, almost none was saved."

Harvard-trained epidemiologist Dr. Rodolfo Acuna-Soto, a microbiology professor at Mexico's National Autonomous University, had Hernandez' work translated from the original Latin in 2000. He followed up with research into outbreaks in Mexico's isolated central highlands, where indigenous rats may have spread the disease through urine and droppings.

Acuna-Soto's theory — which has been published in several scientific journals, including Emerging Infectious Diseases and the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene — runs counter to the belief that most of Mexico's Indian population died of Spanish-imported diseases such as smallpox, to which their bodies had no immunity.

"This wasn't smallpox," Acuna-Soto says. "The pathology just does not fit."

He says some historians in Mexico are offended by his theory.

"Much of the reason why these epidemics were left unstudied was that it was politically and institutionally easier to blame the Spaniards for all of the horrible things that might have happened," he said. "It was the official version of history." ...

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