Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Daily Dozen

  1. Yes, we're in a depression? Apparently, Richard Posner thinks so. Here are some myths about the Great Depression.
  2. The looting of America's coffers. Sixteen years ago, an academic paper predicted the behavior of banks in relying on government to absorb their losses.
  3. 33 best small space design tips.
  4. Pete Boettke gives a great description of the academic work going on at GMU.
  5. Are Republicans healthier than Democrats? "The data appear to say yes, but more work needs to be done to make sense of it all."
  6. Stop paying attention and you will learn better? I dunno. This doesn't seem to work for me.
  7. Apple's control scheme for the iPod Shuffle looks like Morse Code. Like I said yesterday, I'm not impressed with this set-up.
  8. Arbitration is fair for consumers after all.
  9. Some of Obama's potential court nominees.
  10. Has the average IQ of lawyers declined over the past 12 years?
  11. 7 color-changing wonders of the animal kingdom.
  12. How to make the Amazon Kindle much, much better.


Zac said...

Brian, the link to myths about the Great Depression, while pointing out 3 genuine myths, perpetuates the worst myth about the Great Depression of all:

"The Great Depression lasted over a decade and was only cured by World War II."

The Great Depression was only cured after the war, by widespread return to productivity (for men, who were returning from war, and women, who were now working), increased global cooperation, increasing population, and technological advancement related to consumer well-being (not tanks and bombs).

It is the ultimate broken window fallacy to believe that a long, global total war is what pulled us out of the depression. Give me the New Deal any day over the worst war in the history of mankind.

thinking said...

In the article on looting, I like this idea:
"The biggest Wall Street paydays should be held in escrow until it’s clear they weren’t based on fictional profits."

This is also interesting from the article on potential Obama judicial nominees:
"At least so far, the candidates being considered by the Obama White House for early nomination do not appear to have especially ideological profiles."

However, w/ the supposed myths about the great depression, again, I would argue that while the New Deal didn't cure the great depression, it did make things better. From international equity strategist Marshall Auerbackan:
The New Deal reduced unemployment from 25 per cent in 1933 to 9 per cent in 1936, up to 13 per cent in 1938 (due largely to a reversal of the fiscal activism which had characterized FDR's first term in office), back to less than 10 per cent at the end of 1940, to less than 1 per cent a year later when the U.S. was plunged into the Second World War at the end of 1941.

The New Deal also built or renovated 2,500 hospitals, 45,000 schools, 13,000 parks and playgrounds, 7,800 bridges, 700,000 miles of roads, and a thousand airfields. And it employed 50,000 teachers, rebuilt the country's entire rural school system, and hired 3,000 writers, musicians, sculptors and painters, including Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock.
--end quotes

The New Deal gave us the SEC, the FDIC, and Social Security. Think for a moment how much worse off we'd be in the current crisis without the SEC, the FDIC, and Soc Sec.

The New Deal was far from perfect, but as the Economist wrote in 1937:
"If it be compared with either the performance or the promise of its rivals, it comes out well. If its achievements be compared with the situation which confronted it in March, 1933, it is a striking success."

Zac said...

thinking, you need to read "That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen" by Bastiat. The New Deal was an unmitigated disaster, considered as such by all but the most ardent leftists.

One way we can reach full employment: employ the entire nation in the building of large pyramids in which the bodies of gods (like your Obama) can be sheltered after their death.