Category Archives: politics

American politics in two sentences

From an article in today’s NYT:

But many older residents in Chisago say this problem belongs to younger generations. They paid what they were told; they want to collect what they were promised.

Contra Ann Coulter on marriage

Ann Coulter, the notorious right-wing radical hack, takes on “libertarian” stances on gay marriage and drug legalization today over at Human Events. Particularly, she asks (in response to Rep. Ron Paul’s political stances on gay marriage) the following:

If state governments stop officially registering marriages, then who gets to adopt? How are child support and child custody issues determined if the government doesn’t recognize marriage? How about a private company’s health care plans — whom will those cover? Who has legal authority to issue “do not resuscitate” orders to doctors? (Of course, under Obamacare we won’t be resuscitating anyone.)

Who inherits in the absence of a will? Who is entitled to a person’s Social Security and Medicare benefits? How do you know if you’re divorced and able to remarry? Where would liberals get their phony statistics about most marriages ending in divorce?

Ann Coulter here shows her inability to conceptualize of solutions to marriage issues that exist outside the box (or cave) that she slums in.

If state governments stop registering marriage, that does not mean that adoption agencies should not appropriately vet potential foster parents (nor that adoption agencies should not face some kind of regulation or state control). Moreover, Coulter assumes that the only way that we can vet foster parents is through marriage registries, which I read to say that Coulter does not believe that single parents or widowers should be allowed to adopt. I propose to you that the only relevant questions that we could use to vet foster parents are A) are you willing and B) are you capable of raising this child? To restrict the pool of potential foster parents further is unnecessary and leaves many children without stable home environments.

We might further posit that child support and child custody issues might be resolved by paternity tests, and the existing body of law regarding the responsibilities parents have toward their children. Ann Coulter does not seem to understand that there is a wide, deep, and ancient body of common law that has grown to mediate these issues, nor does she seem to understand that these issues can be mediated without the state taking an active role in registering the actual marriage contract.

And this argument is broadly applicable against the entire scope of Coulter’s argument. Free people…Americans…have wrestled with these issues, and have been able to develop institutions (both public and private) to manage the intersection and interaction of things like marriage, and parenting, and legal succession.

Rather than listening to Ann Coulter, Americans would be well advised to live freely, and take advantage of the world’s most advanced legal system to mediate their lives. Governments do not need to intrude so far as the bedroom, or the domicile, for Americans to realize the full potential of their freedoms and liberties.

Tagged ,

“No child left unmedicated?”

I borrow the title of this post, and the link, from the indomitable Tyler Cowen. The reference is to this study by Bokhari and Schneider in the Journal of Health Economics titled “School accountability laws and the consumption of psychostimulants“.

Here is the abstract, written in that cool academic chill (emphasis mine):

Over the past decade, several states introduced varying degrees of accountability systems for schools, which became federal law with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The intent of these accountability laws was to improve academic performance and to make school quality more observable. Nonetheless, schools have reacted to these pressures in several different ways, some of which were not intended. We make use of the variation across states and over time in specific provisions of these accountability laws and find that accountability pressures effect medical diagnoses and subsequent treatment options of school aged children. Specifically, children in states with more stringent accountability laws are more likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and consequently prescribed psychostimulant drugs for controlling the symptoms. However, conditional on diagnosis, accountability laws do not further change the probability of receiving medication therapy.

Foucault is relevant here. The state’s biopolitical power to regulate and control life itself is brutally manifested in the overmedication of children, driven by bureaucratic and federal incentives. This is a powerful argument against the acceptance of federal dollars or incentives to regulate America’s education system.
My generation grew up in a world where medication became, transparently, a mechanism for social control. It will be interesting how our politics shape the future.
Tagged , , ,

Thoughts on jury nullification, Part 1

This past week I had the fortune to attend a discussion on nullification hosted by the Show-Me Institute with my friend Mitch Richards (a representative of the Fully Informed Jury Association, or FIJA). I should note that nullification issues have been in vogue for the last few years; if I recall correctly, there was a jury nullification topic selected for high school debaters nationwide a year or two ago, and with increasing federal presence in all arenas of economic and political life there is increasing grassroots interest in the topic.

It is not my intention here to discuss the history or legitimacy of nullification issues. Such issues are more fully discussed elsewhere by others. However, I wish to discuss why I find jury nullification strategies valuable but unsatisfying.

Why jury nullification is valuable: It can be used to protect individuals from prosecution under unjust laws, by unjust governments. Note that I say “can” here; despite the functional reality of the existence and the popularity of nullification strategies, it is not certain that they can even be used in many real-life contexts. Moreover, there is no reason to think that juries will only attempt nullification of unjust laws; juries can act in unjust ways. However, as an additional recourse for citizens being unjustly prosecuted by their government, the nullification option is valuable at an important margin.

But the popular focus on jury nullification strategies is very unsatisfying to me. It ignores the pragmatic reality of criminal justice system operation and legislative lawmaking. In particular the nullification discourse completely ignores the agency incentives that determine how laws are actually interpreted and applied by government agents. It is this incentive structure we must understand and seek to change; otherwise nullification efforts will always be stop-gap, low-level efforts against specific laws. Nullification strategies are like using your hands to swat mosquitoes; you might kill individual mosquitoes but that’s of little comfort when you’re in a swamp.

It would be of more practical use to try to pursue other strategies if we are really interested in constraining the justice system to minimize the number of unjust outcomes.

There are two ways in which I see this can be done. First, reformulate the incentive structures facing prosecutors. Second, make it harder for government officials to use official or qualified immunity as a shield from liability. I will be exploring these two policy prescriptions at length in further posts, so stay tuned.


Mitch Richards on warrantless administrative searches

My friend Mitch Richards is running for the First Ward seat in the city council elections this April 5th in Columbia, Missouri. I thought I would share this clip of him discussing warrantless administrative searches and other property rights issues at a candidate forum earlier today.  You can check out his website here:

Bonus: Mitch quotes from both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution without being cliche.

Tagged , , , ,

My testimony to the Citizens Police Review Board in Columbia, Missouri, 2-9-2011

My name is Eapen Thampy. I am the executive director of Americans for Forfeiture Reform, a nonprofit that works on issues of asset forfeiture, an issue implicated deeply with the emergence of paramilitary policing in America. We have been endorsed by groups on every part of the political spectrum. Some of these groups include the Missouri Libertarian party, Ed Rosenthal’s Green Aid Marijuana Legal Defense Fund, and the conservative Right on Crime initiative, a project of Newt Gingrich, Grover Norquist, Ed Meese, and Pat Nolan.

Last May I was one of the many people at city council speaking in protest of the Kinloch raid; today I return to this chamber to ask again that we pursue a more sensible approach to policing in Columbia. Over the last year, as light has been shone on paramilitary policing practices in Columbia and around the nation, many thousands of people have contacted us, asking us to speak on their behalf, and bear witness to the harms that uncontrollable police agencies can do to their communities.

At the outset, it is important to note what we want. We want a strong and effective police presence, we want a fair and impartial justice system, and we want every man, woman, and child in America to be able to enjoy their freedoms in this brave land. We do not oppose the rule of law; rather, we wish to see it flourish. We honor and respect the sacrifices of all who serve to protect us, but we will not compromise on the high ideal we must hold our public servants to.

Nor do we intrinsically oppose the existence of SWAT teams. They exist for specific reasons: hostage crises, gun rampages in schools and public areas, to combat the threat of organized violent crime. Situations where a SWAT team might be required are by definition extraordinary.

But the emergence of SWAT policing in America and in Columbia indicate that these real needs have been corrupted by the perverse incentives provided by the War on Drugs and Columbia’s own dysfunctional police force.

SWAT policing, as I noted, is a far cry from routine policework. Most small jurisdictions do not need their own SWAT team. However, over the last twenty years, almost every medium to small police department or sheriff has managed to obtain their own SWAT teams, often without citizen approval or request. Moreover, the weapons and armor available to a SWAT team are fairly heavy duty and very expensive to operate and maintain.

A SWAT team is an expensive proposition. To simply get the APV out of the garage and back is a minimum of $2,000. Some of the raids Columbia SWAT have been involved in were on holidays; that means triple hazard, overtime, and holiday pay.

The most perverse part of SWAT policing may be the funding mechanisms that allow it to happen. Federal law allows Columbia police to seize property without proving a crime or obtaining a conviction; moreover, federal law allows Columbia police to keep this money directly, in violation of Missouri constitutional law and Missouri Supreme Court precedents that delegate seizure money to Missouri’s schools. The name of the program is Equitable Sharing, and over the last several years Columbia Police have received hundreds of thousands of dollars with essentially no oversight.

During the last year I have investigated the 106 SWAT warrants Columbia narcotics police served between January 2007-May 2011. You may view the map of these raids at

Here is Brennan David from the Columbia Tribune (

Columbia’s SWAT team served 106 narcotics search warrants between Jan. 1, 2007, and May 11, 2010. The Tribune, through an open records request, received 99 of those search warrants; the others were considered closed records for various reasons.

Of the 99 SWAT narcotics search warrants granted by the Boone County Circuit Court to Columbia police, officers executed 43 percent of them within hours of being issued. Of those, 65 percent resulted in one felony arrest, and 18 percent resulted in misdemeanor arrests.

But the percentage of warrants producing a felony arrest dropped drastically to 37.5 percent when investigators waited one day before serving the search warrant. In those cases, 50 percent produced misdemeanor arrests.

I would also direct the CPRB to the video of another Columbia SWAT raid in 2008 ( In this raid, a family is at home when the SWAT team visits; you can see Columbia’s finest holding women and children at gunpoint. There is even a moment of pure incredulity at 7:30, where an officer handcuffs the elderly woman sitting in the bathroom, telling her that she is not under arrest and not in any trouble.

In this raid, 3-4 crack rocks were found, along with some minor paraphernalia. No weapons or evidence of trafficking were found, and despite the prior record of the men who were the target of the warrant, no indications of violence are provided that might justify a SWAT raid on this house in this manner. The woman who was not “arrested” ended up being charged with a paraphernalia possession charge; initially, she pleads not guilty until the court appoints a public defender for her, who negotiates a plea deal with the prosecutor instead of defending her in a court of law. Justice is no longer weighed by a judge in a court of law; it is held at gunpoint before being negotiated in the prosecutor’s office.

No government official here had any incentive to check the wrongdoing, misconduct, or negligence of other government officials.

Other Columbia SWAT raids bear similarly striking details. I have interviewed victims of at least 10 of these raids, who have asked me to bring you parts of their stories. Many of them are fearful that they will find themselves being retaliated against, and none are willing to give me permission to use their names. I have heard and verified tales of SWAT raids being used as retaliation for petty offenses or to put competitors out of business both legal and illegal.

This kind of enforcement is incompatible with the principles of Justice, or of her sister, Mercy.

It is important to note a contrast that I hope illustrates more clearly the problem we face. Boone County Sheriff’s Department does not generate the kind of lawsuits and publicity that Columbia Police Department does. There are a couple structural factors at work here: Columbia Police Department has had an incoherent series of transitions from one police chief to another over the past decade, leaving CPD with dysfunctional leadership and command structures that never had time to build or find the values that law enforcement must have to perform effectively. BSCD, by contrast, has a smaller, more stable force, with much more organizational integrity and continuity of leadership.

We have a few recommendations for the CPRB:

  • First, recommend that the use of SWAT raids for non-violent offences be strictly prohibited.
  • Second, recommend that any SWAT action be fully videotaped. This will allow the city to limit its liability from future civil lawsuits by demonstrating that the city has fulfilled its duty to ensure that any use of force has been accompanied by sufficient checks on its use.
  • Third, recommend that all seizures related to criminal activity be documented, strictly accounted for, and deposited into the School Building Revolving Fund as per RsMO 166.131.
  • Fourth, recommend that the city council refuse any federal funds deriving from seizure or forfeiture funds. Federal funding may be important for emergencies, but seizure money comes to our police free of civilian oversight or legislative control. This undermines our ability to influence policy at the police department. Moreover, un-appropriated funding undermines our ability to control the city budget, particularly when it is used to purchase weapons and equipment that must then be maintained with city funds over time.
  • Fifth, recommend that the city council establish the protocols for enforcement of Columbia’s ordinance regarding cannabis offenses, with particular regard for the rights and safety of chronically ill or incapacitated patients. We understand that the implementation of this ordinance poses problems from a law enforcement perspective, which is why it is important that these directives come from civilian leadership. In this way our police can avoid the criticism of how their enforcement protocols may sometime provide conflicting imperatives.

Finally, please consider the words of Missouri Supreme Court Justice William Ray Price in his address to the Missouri Legislature today (emphasis mine, available here:

From the 1980s, in Missouri and across the nation, we attempted to incarcerate our way out of crime and illegal drug use. We thought just putting people in prison would make them better or scare them straight. We spent billions of dollars and it did not work. We were tough on crime, but we were not smart on crime. Consider these numbers.

In 1982, 612,000 people were behind bars in state prisons across the country. By 2008, that number had risen almost fourfold to 2.3 million people. In 2010, the United States incarcerated a higher share of its population than any other country in the world. The cost has been staggering. State correctional spending across our country increased from $11.7 billion, in 1988, to $47.3 billion in 2008. (One in 31 The Long Reach of American Corrections, The Pew Center on the States,; The High Budgetary Cost of Incarceration, Center for Economic and Policy Research, June 2010,

There is a broader debate here over how we approach crime of any nature. I ask you to dare to be smart on crime and engage the broader issues of Drug War reform and incentive-compatible policing in your evaluation of these issues of police conduct and misconduct.

I furthermore recommend the following experts on 4th Amendment law and paramilitary policing:

Radley Balko, former Cato Institute scholar and senior editor of Reason Magazine; expert on SWAT raids and paramilitary policing (

Orin Kerr, Professor of Law at George Washington University; expert on criminal law, asset forfeiture, and Fourth Amendment law (

John Payne and Audrey Spalding, policy analysts at the Show-Me Institute; asset forfeiture and SWAT raids (,

David Roland, lead litigator at the Freedom Center of Missouri; expert on Missouri and US constitutional law (

John Chasnoff, Eastern Missouri ACLU; expert on SWAT policing and Fourth Amendment law (

Peter Kraska, Eastern Kentucky University, expert on SWAT policing (

Please contact me for any clarification or if you have questions.

I am respectfully yours,

Eapen Thampy
Executive Director, Americans for Forfeiture Reform
3630 Holmes St., Kansas City, MO, 64109
Phone: 573-673-5351
Email: or
Web: and

Tagged , , ,

What happens in New Haven…

This was posted on bulletin boards at Yale this fall semester after a couple episodes of police tasing students. The police in New Haven have also been using SWAT raids to enforce compliance with the underage drinking laws.

Think about that.

Tagged , ,

Against the King of Great Britain

Please leave a comment.

From the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776:

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Tagged , ,

Faulkner on Khrushchev on the police state

Mr. Khrushchev says that Communism, the police state, will bury the free ones. He is a smart gentleman, he knows that this is nonsense since freedom, man’s dim concept of and belief in the human spirit is the cause of all his troubles in his own country. But if he means that Communism will bury capitalism, he is correct. That funeral will occur about ten minutes after the police bury gambling. Because simple man, the human race, will bury both of them. That will be when we have expended the last grain, dram, and iota of our natural resources. But man himself will not be in that grave. The last sound on the worthless earth will be two human beings trying to launch a homemade spaceship and already quarreling about where they are going next.

-William Faulkner in a speech to the UNESCO Commission, as quoted in The New York Times (3 October 1959)

Tagged , , , , ,

My Complaint to the Columbia Citizens Police Review Board

Dear Citizens Police Review Board,

During my remarks to the CPRB on August 11th, 2010, as an appellant to the Viets complaint filed in the Kinloch affair, I asked CPRB member Susan Smith a series of questions, to wit:

1)      Were any of the officers implicated in the complaint former students of yours?

2)      How many current Columbia Police officers were formerly students of yours?

3)      Do you think that this represents a potential conflict of interest?

To my questions, Ms. Smith replied, and I paraphrase 1) I don’t know, 2) I don’t know, and 3) I refuse to answer the question. Additionally, I note that in her answers to 1 & 2, Ms. Smith noted that it was impossible for her to know, since she teaches classes of 400 people and cannot be expected to remember all of her students. You may watch video of this interaction here (

The direction of my questions is clear; I think that the true answers to these questions might indicate a conflict of interest. However, I wish to begin by arguing that whether or not Mrs. Smith might face a conflict of interest in these proceedings, she is in clear violation of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) Code of Ethics, which is the binding legal code governing her participation on this board. Specifically, Mrs. Smith’s lack of clarity and refusal to answer implicates the standards NACOLE has created for Personal Integrity (emphasis mine):

Demonstrate the highest standards of personal integrity, commitment, truthfulness, and fortitude in order to inspire trust among your stakeholders, and to set an example for others. Avoid conflicts of interest. Conduct yourself in a fair and impartial manner and recuse yourself or personnel within your agency when a significant conflict of interest arises…

I should also highlight the NACOLE stipulation for Transparency & Confidentiality:

Conduct oversight activities openly and transparently providing regular reports and analysis of your activities, and explanations of your procedures and practices to as wide an audience as possible…

And additionally, the clause titled Outreach and Relationships with Stakeholders:

Disseminate information and conduct outreach activity in the communities that you serve. Pursue open, candid, and non-defensive dialog with your stakeholders…

I argue that Ms. Smith’s answers during the board meeting fail at meeting any of these ethical codes. It is clear that her answers do not meet the highest standards of personal integrity or truthfulness, and it is not clear that Ms. Smith has been forthright in avoiding the conflicts posed by her dual roles as an educator for law enforcement and an adjudicator for complaints made against law enforcement. Finally, it is abundantly clear that Ms. Smith has engaged me and other members of the public in a defensive and obfuscatory manner.

Specifically, Ms. Smith is a criminal justice instructor at Columbia College, and hence, an educator for students who may later be employed by the Columbia Police Department. A conflict of interest may not necessarily exist between a teacher and a former student, but the existence of any such relationships should be forthrightly declared to meet the NACOLE ethical standards. Moreover, even without the existence of any relationship that may compromise Ms. Smith’s ability to serve as a board member, Ms. Smith does have significant investment in her reputation as a criminal justice educator that may compromise her decisions on this board, especially if she is facing a decision that implicates her current, former, or future students with public disciplinary action.

Let me also note it is implausible that Ms. Smith should not be able to answer 1 & 2 in the affirmative; though she may teach large lecture classes, I do not find it plausible that she only teaches large lecture classes, or that she has never developed relationships with students. I ask that the board clarify Ms. Smith’s response to these points and discern if her answer during the board meeting is factually representative of the whole truth (that she only teaches large lecture classes, and that she does not know if former students currently serve on the police agency she sits in judgment on). I am also including an email (following page) from a former student of Ms. Smith indicating that she does teach smaller classes and does remember students as far as 3 years back as a further indicator that I do not believe Ms. Smith’s statements were plausible or in line with  NACOLE disclosure standards.

Most importantly, it is clear to me that Ms. Smith has done very little to engage citizens and build trust. The NACOLE ethical code is designed with that highest aspiration in mind and it is my judgment that Ms. Smith does not meet this standard.

For these reasons, I ask the Citizens Police Review Board to evaluate the fitness of Mrs. Smith to serve as a voting member of the board and to consider her removal under Ord. (Ord. No. 20331, § 1, 7-20-09), particularly:

(e)    The board may recommend to the city council that a board member be removed from the board if the member persistently fails to perform the duties of office.

Eapen Thampy

Policy Analyst
Americans for Forfeiture Reform

from CoMo Citizens <>
to Eapen <>
date Thu, Aug 12, 2010 at 1:39 PM
subject RE: Request for Susan Smith’s removal from the CPRB
hide details 1:39 PM (27 minutes ago)

I think that this letter is great, and if you have not sent it out please sign CoMoCitizens to it as well. I know for a fact that she does not teach large classes of 400. The classes at Columbia College only allow for 25 to 30, maybe a few more, students in a class at one time.  As a recent graduate of Columbia College, I have experienced the small class sizes that Columbia College has to offer, and it is almost impossible to not get to know your instructor.  As a matter of fact, Susan Smith remembered my wife who she had met 3 years ago only once.  I think that it would be in the best interest of all Columbia citizens if we did not have such a biased individual on the CITIZENS Police Review Board.  She has clearly shown her biases in previous Police Review Board meetings.


Tagged , , , , , ,

Underrated books in political science or economics

I had occasion to reflect on this topic today as I was packing my books in preparation for a move. There are two that come immediately to mind, and I think they are must-reads for not just the specific audience of political science or economics readers, but also to the general public.

The True Believer, by Eric Hoffer. This book taxonomizes and characterizes mass movements brilliantly and with extremely elegant, sophisticated analysis. I think you should read this book with Hayek because Hayek, as smart as he is, has limits, and does not engage much beyond an analysis of why markets are good. Reality of course is more complex than markets, and markets should be understood in context of the cultural, institutional, and historical dynamics it exists in.

The Once and Future King, T.H. White. No, you shouldn’t read the book  because it got plugged in X-Men. You should read the book because it really is a brilliant piece of work and there are many individual passages that are superb explications of political and economic systems. As a work of literature it is sublime.

I’ll add to this later when I think of something.

Tagged ,

The optimal number of political parties?

Eric Lefevre: The two party system marginalizes the influence of extremist groups.

Tagged , ,

Regulatory arbitrage, earmarks edition

Today’s NYT:

Just one day after leaders of the House of Representatives announced a ban on earmarks to profit-making companies, Victoria Kurtz, the vice president for marketing of a small Ohio defense contracting firm, hit on a creative way around it.

To keep the taxpayer money flowing, Ms. Kurtz incorporated what she called the Great Lakes Research Center, a nonprofit organization that just happened to specialize in the same kind of work performed by her own company — and at the same address.

One day!

Tagged , ,

Holy shit, Governor Christie

This is perhaps the most impressive gubernatorial performance I have seen this year. New Jersey Governor Christopher Christie slams teachers unions for gutting education reforms in the state legislature and state legislators for capitulating to a public sector union that is more interested in enriching themselves than educating children. It is an impressively angry performance, and is a must-watch. The video of his speech is here. Here is the NYT covering Gov. Christie in April, and I excerpt:

It’s fair to say that no governor in memory in any state has pushed back as hard at public employee unions — mostly teachers but police officers, too — as Mr. Christie. That’s made him an instant Republican hero, hailed by the conservative columnist George Will as “the nation’s most interesting governor.”

So the question is whether this is about Mr. Christie and New Jersey, or about the rest of us as well. And the answer is yes.

It’s a New Jersey story, of course, because that’s where government bloat and dysfunction have become an art form. And it has a particular New Jersey cast because the governor’s office is so powerful that the governor can assert himself statewide while others can only posture and threaten.

HT: Jack “Attack” Soltysik.

Addendum: the link to the video appears to be broken, but the google cached video is here.

Tagged , , , , ,

Sentences that are rarely used

Romer’s prescription is not merely neo-medieval, in other words. It is also neo-colonial.

That’s from a great article in the Atlantic about Paul Romer and charter cities. H/T Greg Young.

Tagged ,