Saturday, May 24, 2008

Live-Blogging the Debate

Some thoughts:

1. The moderator, James Pinkerton, was roundly BOOED by audience when they mentioned that he had Republican ties and that he worked for Fox News. Very roundly. Nice.

2. The good Mr. Pinkerton, perhaps flustered, announced the rules. Opening statements, then questions. He immediately SKIPPED the opening statement, and asked Bob Barr, "Who is your favorite philosopher?" Barr said, Ayn Rand. Crowd clapped, a little stunned. Seemed that Bob had avoided being a Randian for all those Republican years. But, I have to admit, Bob also said this same thing, Ayn Rand favorite philosopher, fifteen months ago the first time I heard him speak.

Anyway, Mr. Pinkerton shut things down, went back to opening statements. I actually thought Barr got a little advantage from not panicking, and answering the question so succinctly. It stayed in people's minds better than if he had done what *I* would have done: "What? No opening statements?"

3. The candidates all agree on almost everything. And there were fewer attempts than I expected from other candidates to attack Barr's "Road to Atlanta" conversion.

Upstaged by some guy dressed like Popeye

A reader sends this link.

“Terrific. I spend all afternoon picking out the clothes to wear for a night out on the town with the ladies, and I get upstaged by some guy dressed like Popeye,” a Manhattan man who only identified himself as Austin grumbled as he surveyed the servicemen crowded into a neighborhood bar. “I can’t believe how white their uniforms are. The Navy must spend billions on Woolite.”

...With Fleet Week now in full swing, many neglected men around the city are anxiously waiting for things to settle down for the summer. “Things are going to be great next weekend,” local reveler Mike Munger beamed. “This place will be crawling with depressed woman who forgot that Fleet Week was over, and I’ll be there to buy them drinks and watch their purses while they go to the jukebox. It’s going to be a kickass summer!”


No, that's not me.

Still, reminds me of the DiVinyls' song, updated:

I don't want anybody else.
When I think about you I google myself.

Tucker Carlson: Tease, or Victim?

Okay, so now ABC and the NYTimes are getting a little snarky with me.

Here's what happened, in a nutshell:

I got a phone call, polling delegates, described here. NOTICE: I was skeptical. Didn't seem right to me.

SO, I did the blog equivalent of double-sourcing, by GOOGLING. I found this,
that seemed like confirmation enough to me, and so I wrote it. NOTICE: The time stamp on Lew's piece is earlier than my first blog post on this....

Then, I got another call.

It is possible, and I admit this appeals to my narcissistic soul, that Lew Rockwell and two anonymous callers cooked this just to spoof ME. But that seems unlikely. It appears that SOMEONE wanted to know something, for some reason.

Another one of those stories we'll never know the end of. Was Tucker C teasing us, or was he a victim of some quirky sense of humor out there?

Bob Barr Reception

Last night at the LP Nat Conv, the reception for Prez candidate Bob Barr was, to say the least, well-attended.

I had dinner with some people I consider to be "in the know," at least compared to me (not that difficult). Their list of "top-tier" Prez candidates, in terms of having a chance to take it (listed alphabetically):

Bob Barr, Mike Gravel, George Phillies, Wayne Allyn Root, Mary Ruwart

Like I said, they know more than I. But I don't see any chance for Gravel or Phillies.

So, "barring" a first ballot disaster, and substantial movement after MANY ballots, I think the nominee will be Barr, Root, or Ruwart. And, of those, I would put Root last, though not out of the running. Barr and Ruwart are different, each has strong backing of an identifiable contingent in the party, and frankly either of them would be a good candidate for us.

Friday, May 23, 2008

LP Prez Nominating Procedure

So, the LP has an interesting way of rationing the extremely scarce time for televised debate, and for nominating speeches.

These are "tokens," given out to each credentialed delegate.

In particular:

1. In order to get time in the CSPAN-televised debate on Saturday, a candidate/campaign has to receive something like 70 tokens.

2. In the past, and according to our by-laws, in order to get time for nominating speeches on Sunday, one had to get 30 tokens. But there has been a last-minute change PROPOSED for the by-laws, which would raise that to 82, or in effect 10% of the delegates at the 2004 LP Nat Conv.

There has been a bit of hootin' and hollerin' in the hallways about this rather abrupt change. It is only necessary, of course, since we are not allowed by the state-sponsored parties to have PRIMARIES. A rather extreme proposal, to give you an idea of the sort of things being talked about in the corridors.

Finally, a flame-out.

That would be about John Finan.

Lots of news.

Keynote Address

The Keynote for the Lib Nat Conv was split between me, at 2 pm, and Richard Viguerie, at 2:30 pm.

We got a little bit of a late start. Here is the first three minutes' worth of my talk, as a teaser:

Friends, it’s great to be here, today. I know a lot of you already, and I hope to get a chance to talk with the rest of you soon. I look around this room, and I see a lot of friendly faces, a real sense of shared purpose. It’s exciting.

Unfortunately, the reason that so many of us feel that spark of purpose is that we’re having hard times. This administration in Washington is a really great recruiter for our party. Everywhere I go, people are disgusted.

They glance around, to make sure no one is listening, and then tell me, “You know, I never considered voting Libertarian before. But when I see the Patriot Act, when I see the casualties in the war in Iraq and the war on drugs, then I start to think Libertarian.”

The government is not providing the basic services that our more optimistic fellow citizens have come to expect. When I talk to people in the cities, Latinos and African-Americans, people who send their children to schools that look like war zones, schools that may be the single most disastrous examples of the failure of statist social engineering, I hear it: “I’m starting to think Libertarian.”
Of course, some folks also ask me, “Why don’t Libertarians care about real people? The Democrats and Republicans are interested in real people.”

I answer, yes, Democrats and Republicans are interested in real people. And fleas are interested in real dogs. We don’t elect them dog-catcher, though.

Why would you think that if I care about you, I should want to run your life? Or, if I don’t want to run you life, why would you think I don’t care?

As I said, this year is a great opportunity for Libertarians, for an alternative. The humorist PJ O’Rourke was researching farm subsidies, a remarkably expensive program with essentially no real benefits. While O’Rourke was doing research, he visited a farmer, who was going to artificially inseminate a cow. While the farmer was doing what he needed to do to inseminate the cow, at the cow’s hind end, he asked PJ to hold the cow’s head. The farmer, of course, was manipulating a two-foot-long plastic turkey baster, in the part of the cow where it needed to go. PJ, holding the head, said that he would never forget the look on that cow’s face.

But that look was familiar. And then PJ recognized it, and you recognize it, too. Millions of taxpayers have the same expression that cow had, every April 15th. And for the SAME REASON!

That same reason, for taxes, for f]ailures in foreign policy, and for disastrous corruption at every level of government, is the reason that people are starting to think Libertarian.


Some notes:
1. It appears CSPAN is not going to televise my speech. It is going to televise my wooden introduction of Richard Viguerie's speech, and Richard Viguerie's very fine speech, at 2:30 a.m. (that's **AM*) on Saturday.
2. My speech was well-received. A good audience. It was an honor to be asked to do this.
3. I think that I will be able to get a copy of my speech, and will find a way to make it available, either on YouTube or somehow. Since CSPAN didn't televise it, that simplifies things.
4. Richard V did a very fine job. A real pro, and made some good points. A real crowd pleaser. You might want to DVR the speech on CSPAN. Again, 2:30 am (or so) early Saturday. That's 2:30 am EDT, of course.
5. No protests. It all went smoothly. Goodonya, Bill Redpath!

Weigel Chilipunks Me

So, I had this great blog post title: "Things to do in Denver When You're Libertarian."
From a relatively obscure Warren Zevon song title; lyrics at bottom.

But that son-of-a-biscuit-eater Weigel scooped me. Fair and square, I never used it, assuming my personal genius puts me ahead of everyone else.

Anyway, I'll just steal Weigel's photo, as payback.
Prez candidate Bob Barr talking to a delegate. This was not posed, and it is pretty typical of the diversity of this gathering, in terms of....styles. (Photo Credit: David Weigel, RH&R Blog)

Warren Zevon: Things to do in Denver When You're Dead

Written By LeRoy P. Marinell, Waddy Wachtel and Warren Zevon
c. 1991 Zevon Music administered by
Warner-Tamerlane Publishing corp
LeadsheetlandBMI/Tiny Tunes ASCAP

I called up my friend LeRoy on the phone
I said, Buddy, I'm afraid to be alone
'Cause I got some weird ideas in my head
About things to do in Denver when you're dead

I was working on a steak the other day
And I saw Waddy in the Rattlesnake Cafe
Dressed in black, tossing back a shot of rye
Finding things to do in Denver when you die

You won't need a cab to find a priest
Maybe you should find a place to stay
Some place where they never change the sheets
And you just roll around Denver all day

LeRoy says there's something you should know
Not everybody has a place to go
And home is just a place to hang your head
And dream of things to do in Denver when you're dead

You won't need a cab to find a priest
Maybe you should find a place to stay
Some place where they never change the sheets
And you just roll around Denver all day
You just roll around Denver all day

Some Men Really ARE Islands

Went to a "Premium Breakfast" this morning, with W. Earl Allen, on China and developments there. Very nice talk, good breakfast.

But....you notice things. I got into the elevator, and it was pretty full. Now, I admit, this was 6:50 am local time, and people were groggy. But I, seeing that everyone on the elevator had a LP name tag, gave a hearty, "Good Morning! How is everyone?"

Response: Everyone looks at their shoes. One person says, "Abbaddah." Or something like that. Look, these are delegates to a political convention. Yay for the team, let's go get 'em. All that. Nothing.

Then, at the breakfast, very large room. Apparently more demand than they expected, so they moved to a larger room.

Except that this meant that one was not obliged to sit at a table with other people. There were at least eight (I stopped counting) tables with either one, or two, people. Each table had chairs for eight. And the tables with two had guys at the ten o'clock-two o'clock optimal driving position, not sitting together. Only one table was full, and that was the speaker's table. The median was probably 4 people at a table.

Jeez, people, at a convention, you are supposed to convene. Who would pay $35 to sit at a breakfast table by themselves at a political convention?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

We're BAAAAAACK!

And I hope this gets something more than the tepid "and they're checking it twice!" ink we got when we turned in the signatures.

Look, North Carolina media, it is NEWS that there is a third choice now for registration. You don't get to decide if it is interesting or not to register Libertarian. The voters will do that.

Let them know, will you?

Press Release:

LIBERTARIANS BACK ON BALLOT

RALEIGH (May 22) -- The Libertarian Party is back on the ballot in
North Carolina. The State Board of Elections formally certified the
party today North Carolina voters who so choose can now register
Libertarian.

"This was our eighth ballot access drive. Without a doubt, it was the
most nerve-racking and exhausting one we've conducted," said Barbara
Howe, state chair. "We are now back on the ballot, but we are out of
funds, so we have no money to support candidates."

Nevertheless, the Libertarians will field a slate of candidates in
November, she said. At their 2008 convention in Burlington held in
April, the party nominated Dr. Michael Munger, chair of the Duke
University political science department, for governor. They also
nominated candidates for the General Assembly, U.S. Congress, and the
Guilford County Commission.

Libertarians have until July 1 to submit a complete list of candidates
to the SBOE, Howe noted. "We expect now that we are officially on the
ballot, we will have more people come forward who want to spread the
message of liberty."

North Carolina ballot laws are the most restrictive in the nation.
"They're designed by the Democrats and Republicans to keep independent
candidates and third parties off the ballot," said Dr. Munger. The
LPNC spent an estimated $134,000 and logged 2,200 volunteer hours to
collect the nearly 70,000 valid signatures needed.

"This also costs the taxpayer, stifles democracy, and, worst of all,
kills trees," Dr. Munger quipped. "County BOE clerks spend 4,000 hours
verifying the more than 108,000 signatures we submitted." That's based
on an estimate of two minutes to verify each signature. In some cases,
it takes 5 to 10 minutes, Dr. Munger said.

"And we used more than 20 reams of paper, 400 pounds," Dr. Munger
said. "And after all this time, effort and expense, we essentially
arrive at the starting line breathless."

"Since the process keeps most parties out completely, the real cost to
taxpayers is democracy." Dr. Munger said. "No choices, no new ideas,
and no competition in a system that could surely use it.

"Nearly half of the seats in the General Assembly will be unopposed
again this year because we have had to spend all our resources on this
bizarre exercise instead of recruiting candidates and campaigning."

Meanwhile, Libertarian delegates have departed/will depart for the
2008 Libertarian National Convention in Denver May 22 to 26. The
Convention will nominate a candidate for president, who will be on the
ballot in 48 states. A debate featuring the Libertarian candidates
seeking the presidential nomination will be aired live on CSPAN
Saturday, May 24 from 7 to 9 p.m. (MST).

"Unlike the Democratic and Republican national conventions, ours is
not subsidized by taxpayer money," Howe noted.

I am here....in Denver....at the LP Nat Conv

I was expecting a bunch of politicians, the sort of people who shake hands with everyone, a little more eye contact than you are really looking for.

Nope. These folks are serious. Not really talkers. We'll see if they are doers.

Rough flight from Raleigh. All the way the paper bag was on me knee. Stormy. Then, the crack Colorado HP had CLOSED Interstate 70 for a horrific accident. Took us an hour to travel 23 miles.

Yes, there was a tornado through here this morning. Missed us, though.

Interesting system for choosing candidates who get time for nomination speeches: you have to collect at least 30 "tokens," signed cards that attest, by name, to the support of delegate for your candidacy. Candidates CAN be nominated without getting any tokens, but they get no time for speeches of support or endorsement.

The token turn-in deadline is 3:45 tomorrow.

Interesting strategic problem: If you like (say) three candidates, should you give your token to the candidate you like best? Or, if you are pretty sure that that person will already get 30 tokens, should you give it to your second or third choices, who will value it more? And, of course, how important is it simply to be able to say "Candidate Wuffmurf received 124 tokens!" as a show of strength?

We also get five "plank tokens," and can use them as a weighted voting tool. If we hate one plank, we can put all five tokens against that plank. Any planks that receve 20% or more of the outstanding tokens will be put to an up-or-down vote; others will simply be adopted. The platform committee report.

I report, without comment, the following controversy.

Then, there's this. I, apparently, am "chopped liver." One could certainly say, "Munger is no David Nolan," and be right. But David Nolan is going to speak from 9 pm - 11 pm TONIGHT, Thursday, in a much more prominent position. We'll see if he mentions it. That would be delightful. NOT.

And this little tidbit, in the Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Car, A Fish, and Thou Cheating Heart

An ad from Auto Trader (gone by the time I went to link it):

I got this car in Dec 2005 for my new wife 19 and she never got a drivers lic and divorced me in 2007. I never one time drove the car it was damaged and has a rebuilt title. It still needs work because we never complete fixed it. It needs airbags and seatbelts, ( about $500 used ) and the rear battery is not charging due to sitting. If you drive the car it might start charging or you can have a new battery placed in it. I have an extra battery a man sold me. I have an extra engine with 50,000 miles on it I will sell for $300 if u take the car $500 without the car I gave $900 for it. The car needs some paint on doghouse. It has very low mileage and would go 200,000 if fixed more. I got the car to take my cheater wife on trips, but her last trip was with another man so I just drive my new dodge truck & have no need for any car. You can drive the car without the battery working and it might then take charge if the engine forces the charge or the dealer has 144 Volt chargers to try charge it. It gets 61 MPG on the dash reader. It starts and runs good but I never drove it so you might want to tow it home. I am firm on the price. I am 60 years old and have a new wife 20 whos a nurse so she is away doing hospital work and we go no place. She is wife #6 not the one I got the car for. I am going to sell my farm an everything I do not need this car. I have $8000 invested in the car now and need $5000 as I still owe that on the car. No lien on title I got it on credit cards at 30 % interest is why I am selling to cut my interest down. Location is 17 miles west of Bloomington Indiana. Leave a message it will answer LIVE FISH OF INDIANA on the phone.

The guy is 60. His 5th wife was 19. His 6th wife is 20. His voice mail answers "Live Fish of Indiana." My prediction: he had trouble getting the $5,000. Or maybe not, if the 61 mpg (!) estimate is correct.

(Nod to Bayou Jack)

Interview on line

An on-line "interview," with my main man Senor Alvarez Galloso.

Tucker C, Part Deux



So, last night I got ANOTHER call, like the first one. I had never thought of the idea of conducting polling by sampling WITH REPLACEMENT. If you call back people who have already answered, that just has to increase your response rate. In fact, it could be well over 100%. Genius.

Anyway, having just answered the same poll that afternoon, I was ready. The young woman asked if I was a delegate to the Lib Nat Conv. I said yes.

She asked if I had a preference among "the candidates": Mary Ruart, Wayne Allen Root, Bob Barr, Tucker Carlson, and Mike Gravel. (Note, there are several other candidates, so this is an odd list).

I said, after considering ponderously, "I am undecided."

She paused.

I go on..."And in response to your second question, I am STILL undecided. I have not decided in the intervening seven seconds."

She makes a sound, not really words.

Then, I say: "And, ALL of those candidates have excellent Libertarian core values....ESPECIALLY Tucker Carlson."

Poll-taker: "Have you answered these questions before?" (As noted, I knew there were three questions. Who is your first choice for Prez? Who is your second choice for Prez? Which of these candidates just mentioned have solid Libertarian values?)

Me: "Um...no ma'am. I have the gift of farsight. In fact, I can tell you right now that there is a spider on your shirt collar."

Poll-taker: (Long pause) "Thanks for answering my questions, and have a nice day."

Apparently, les jeux son fait.

Crime Control Theater: Let's Do SOMETHING, Even If It's Stupid

Child Abduction, AMBER Alert, and Crime Control Theater

Timothy Griffin & Monica Miller
Criminal Justice Review, June 2008, Pages 159-176

Abstract:
Intense interest in disturbing child abductions by the mass media, public safety organizations, and the public has helped sustain a socially constructed mythology and sporadic "moral panic" about the presumed pervasiveness of this threat to children. The result has often been reactionary "memorial" legislation enacted in response to sensational cases. A recent example is the America's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) Alert system, which is designed to interrupt serious child kidnappings in progress by soliciting citizen tips to help officials quickly rescue victims. Drawing on available empirical evidence and theoretical considerations, the authors contend that AMBER Alert has not achieved and probably cannot achieve the ambitious goals that inspired its creation. In fact, AMBER Alert is arguably an example of what could be called crime control theater. It is a socially constructed "solution" to a socially constructed problem, enabling public officials to symbolically address an essentially intractable threat. Despite laudable intentions, AMBER Alert exemplifies how crime control theater can create unintended problems, such as public backlash when the theatrical policy fails and a distorted public discourse about the nature of crime. Considerations for the future of AMBER Alert in particular, and the concept of crime control theater in general, are discussed.


Along those lines, a story in my local paper: a crime control theater hoax.

They even put this up.

Vintage Baseball

Watch the video....


As the Mayor said.

"Pick One, So Ah Know Who Ah'm Votin' Aginst"

video

(Nod to JP, and thanks!)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Money Discriminates Against the Blind

Federal appeals court: Paper money discriminates against blind people.

So do street lights. Should we turn them all off?

(Nod to KH, who is a Libertarian in deep cover. Or dark color. Or something like that.)

Happy Anniversary to Me

At least it will be in the next week or so and I'll be out of pocket, recharging the old brain on vacation so here goes now.

I've been blogging with Mungo for just about a year and want to say thanks to him for having me, to y'all for reading me, and that I'm looking forward to another fun year when I get back.

While I am gone, Mike has promised to (a) post at least three times a day, (b) use labels, and (c) be nice to John McCain.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tucker Carlson, Libertarian President Candidate? Really?

Just got a call from a polling firm.

Checking on Lib Prez candidates. Made sure I was a delegate to the national convention.

Guy asks, "Which of the following candidates do you support for Lib Pres nomination?"
(Reads list, including Barr, Gravel, Ruart, and Root. Also includes Tucker Carlson. I figure that Carlson is just a spoiler; he has never said he's a Libertarian, and isn't running for Prez.)

I answer "Undecided," which is true.

Guy asks, "After that first choice, what is your SECOND choice?"

Stunned for a moment, I pause and say, "Still....undecided."

Guy says, "Final question: Which of those candidates would you say has true Libertarian values?"

I'm a big tent guy, so I say: "All of them....EXCEPT Tucker Carlson."

Guy rings off. I am smug, thinking I caught them on their spoiler question.

Except that, Tucker Carlson has apparently decided to think about it. And Carlson may be funding the polling of Lib Nat Conv delegates.

Interesting. All the end of this week, I'll be live-blogging the LP Nat Conv, so stay tuned. It sounds pretty exciting.

UPDATE: Clearly, from comments, I was unclear. Far be it for me to check someone's papers on whether s/he is "really" a libertarian. If Tucker wants in, he's in. More power to him. I was making a mistake more fundamental than that. I thought I was answering based on a spoiler question, the sort of thing that people use to discredit a group. "Look, all these delegates, people who should know better, said that Tucker Carlson was running! What idiots!" I was wrong to do that, because Tucker is in fact considering running. BR points out Tuckers has been saying he's a Libertarian for some time. I just didn't know. In any case, the point is that I was answering a survey in what I thought, wrongly (as usual!), was a clever way. On the merits, sure, Tucker Carlson is a libertarian, and welcome!

Q&A

The question is good.

The answers, as you'll see, are better.

(Nod to Jo, who could manipulate anyone, but she's got scruples)

It's official....and, a new web site!

Dear Friends:

This is a big night for me.

Because I can announce that, really really, for sure....I am the Libertarian Keynote Speaker for the Libertarian National Convention.

I am splitting the keynote hour with Richard Viguerie, a noted conservative speaker who nearly single-handedly invented direct mail as a political tool. And we are lucky to have Richard there. It will be interesting, and I look forward to hearing him speak.

But....I get to go first!

The title of my speech, which starts at about 2 pm on Friday, is taken from one of my main concerns about Libertarian progress: "What are we for?"

Too often, outsiders perceive us as only being AGAINST things. Well, what are we FOR?

My shot at answering that question. Should be available as a podcast, at least, next week.

Also, a new campaign website. It is still being built. But it looks great, thanks to new campaign webmaster John S.

The Glass Ceiling, and Trying Harder

Queens of the hill: Creative destruction and the emergence of executive
leadership of women

Stacie Furst & Martha Reeves
The Leadership Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite penetrating the middle management ranks of many U.S. businesses, women continue to lag far behind men in their appointments to top leadership positions. Many explanations exist for why the glass ceiling exists, but few theories offer suggestions for how women break through this ceiling. In this paper we propose that the concept of 'creative destruction' can help us understand why some women ascend to leadership positions. Using empirical research and anecdotal evidence from the experiences of several high-profile female executives, we argue that women may rise to leadership positions in turbulent environments that are receptive to new talent and open to innovative, bold ideas. Further, we propose that under these conditions women may be seen as especially attractive candidates to guide organizations because they are perceived to utilize a leadership style that promotes openness and inclusion, and facilitates change.

--------------------------

Gender Differences in Seeking Challenges
: The Role of Institutions

Muriel Niederle & Alexandra Yestrumskas
NBER Working Paper, April 2008

Abstract:
We examine whether women and men of the same ability differ in their decisions to seek challenges. In the laboratory, we create an environment in which we can measure a participants performance level (high or low), where a high performance level participant has on average higher earnings from solving a hard rather than an easy task, and vice versa. After we identify each participant's performance level, they choose the difficulty level (easy or hard) for the next two tasks (only one of which will be chosen for payment). Although there are no gender differences in performance, or beliefs about relative performance, men choose the hard task about 50 percent more frequently than women, independent of performance level. Gender differences in preferences for characteristics of the tasks cannot account for this gender gap. When we allow for a flexible choice, high performing women choose the hard task significantly more often, at a rate now similar to the decision of men. Such a flexible choice makes challenging choices easier when participants are either risk averse, or uncertain about their ability. Our results highlight the role of institution design in affecting choices of women and men, and the resulting gender differences in representation in challenging tasks.

(Nod to KL)

Scraper Bike

Didn't know what a "scraper bike" was.

Now, I do.



Of course, you hyphy fans knew all along. I'm always the last to hear things.

My Kingdom for a Counterfactual!

While reading a post on Dani Rodrik’s blog, I was struck by a phrase he wrote that didn’t really have anything to do with the argument in his post. The phrase that caught my attention was “the phenomenal success of the Bretton Woods Regime”. While 1947-1972 was a successful era for some countries, I wonder how much of any such success can actually be attributed to the Bretton Woods Institutions that "ran" the regime? These institutions are the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Trade Organization (ITO). Let’s review, shall we?

(1) WB chartered as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development in 1945 was woefully inadequate for postwar reconstruction. The US initiated the Marshall plan to get done what the WB was supposed to get done. Then, throughout the cold war era, the WB was to a large extent a tool of US foreign policy, propping up authoritarian regimes throughout the developing world. The IDA was created more or less to give concessional loans to countries the IBRD wouldn’t loan to that the US feared would come under Communist sway. Then, post Bretton Woods, there was the sad, sad saga of structural adjustment and the pure comedy gold of every year’s new magic development bullet unveiled in the World Development report. Make no mistake my friends, the WB = epic fail.

(2) IMF- also initiated in 1945 could have only been designed by a committee of international bureaucrats featuring as it did the “adjustable peg”. Countries adjustably pegged to the US dollar which was pegged to gold and convertible into gold. But the system didn’t actually work as planned. The US allowed discrimination against its imports via the European Payments Union until 1958. It wasn’t until 1961 that enough countries finally allowed free convertibility of their currencies for trade purposes for the IMF to certify compliance with Article VIII of its charter. Two years later, the amount of dollars held by foreign monetary authorities became larger than the amount of gold held by the US (i.e. the Triffin Paradox started to bind) and with capital flows starting to roll, the handwriting was on the wall. After the spectacular collapse of the system it was entrusted to manage, the IMF got into the development business and the financial rescue business with equally good results. A suggested slogan for the IMF: “We make the WB look good”.

(3) The ITO. Never came into being. Stillborn. Clearly the least unsuccessful of the Bretton Woods Institutions.

Flat out-all out serious here, people. These attempts at central planning on a global scale were spectacular failures and the vestigial ghosts of them that remain today should be abolished.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The second funniest stuff I read today

Comes from the website of the hotel ( The Palissandre) where we are spending our first night in Madagascar before heading out into the countryside:

From its terrace overlooking the Madagascar capital, the restaurant "La Table des Hautes Terres" makes it a point to honour the tasty local specialties as well as fine French cook. You can choose from a menu or individual dishes. The Bar "the Amphora" invites you to taste delicious cocktails in a felted decoration.

I *can't* wait!!

Hobo Has Operation; Mr. 2T Sad


Old fat Hobo, wonderdog of the Munger house, had to have a rather serious operation. It did not go well, but he should recover enough to become once again the terror of dry dog food.

Mr. 2T, on hearing the news, was understandably bereft. Mr. 2T is nothing if not loyal.

Say What?? -- Bob Shiller plunges into the deep end of the pool

In his Sunday's NY Times op-ed, "The Scars of Losing a Home", we find the following passage:

Homeownership is fundamental part of a sense of belonging to a country. The psychologist William James wrote in 1890 that “a man’s Self is the sum total of all that he CAN call his, not only his body and his psychic powers, but his clothes and his house, his wife and children, his ancestors and friends, his reputation and works, his lands and horses, and yacht and bank account.”

Homeownership is thus an extension of self; if one owns a part of a country, one tends to feel at one with that country. Policy makers around the world have long known that, and hence have supported the growth of homeownership.

What? Holy Crap, people, "belonging to a country"? Homeownership is about political indoctrination?

And man, where did that quote come from? we are making an argument based on one sentence of opinion by some dude from the 1890s?

Even granting the premise "homeownership is an extension of self" (whatever that may mean), it in no way implies, proves or relates to what's cooking up in the second clause of that sentence.

If I could summarize, the argument appears to be this: some guy 118 years ago said your home is part of your self and that proves that owning a home gives you solidarity with your country, so we should bail out the foreclosees before they become unpatriotic.