I was taken aback when I first heard White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs used this phrase to describe the administration's attitude about the petroleum giant (then again, Gibbs graduated from State ...).
But when Tony Blankley noted that the phrase was uttered first by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, well, that really got my attention. Having covered Salazar for his final two-plus years in the Senate and his first few months at Interior, I'll just say that's out of character. I always found him to be an exemplar of civility in his public appearances and statements.
Then again, when Salazar left the Senate, he swapped the Stetson and bolo tie he routinely wore for a traditional necktie. And no hat.
If someone tells me Salazar (whose family has been in the cattle ranching business since the 1850s) has stopped wearing cowboy boots, I'll know for sure he's been abducted by aliens.
“The very name for-profit bothers some people,” says Jane S. Shaw, president of the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. “There’s quite a bit of competition between the community colleges and the for-profits, and Barack Obama, because of his commitment to government ownership, tends to want to see a lot more students going to community colleges and a lot fewer going to for-profits, but there’s no reason to favor one over the other. I think it’s a power grab, just like a lot of other power grabs we’ve seen over the last year.”
These schools, such as Strayer University and the University of Phoenix are the fastest growing segment of higher education institutions. Mark Schneider of the American Enterprise Institute laments their low graduation rates, but I question whether that is the right measure of their success. Surely a portion of the students transfer to non-profit or government-run schools to complete their degrees and others leave when they acquire the skills they need, like Bill Gates left Harvard.
In response to Jenna's post regarding UNC-Chapel Hill's plan to end all coal use by 2020:
1) They are doing this so they can use a cleaner form of energy--their new energy source: biomass, and specifically wood waste. Um, biomass isn't cleaner folks, even according to the state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources. In fact, compared to coal, wood is a lot worse in the emissions of every major pollutant except for sulfur dioxide (SO2). It is even worse when it comes to emitting "evil" carbon dioxide.
2) This will cost a lot more money. If UNC-Chapel Hill wants to do this, fine, go ahead, but the legislature should make it perfectly clear that the extra costs will need to be offset elsewhere. I'd recommend higher tuition. After all, since the students are so interested in this, shouldn't they be the ones that pay for making the campus "greener" as opposed to taxpayers, most of whom realize the absurdity of the idea.
From Chris Edwards at the Cato Institute, we learn that two of Canada's top tax scholars have prepared a bulletin (pdf link here) with calculations of marginal effective corporate tax rates for 80 nations:
Duanjie Chen and Jack Mintz find that the U.S. effective corporate tax rate was the highest in the OECD in 2009, and it was almost twice as high as the 80-nation average. That means that when U.S. companies buy new machines or build new factories, they are at a large tax disadvantage.
The authors conclude that such a high rate “harms the economy and encourages companies to shift investment and profits abroad to lower-tax jurisdictions.” They also conclude that lowering the U.S. corporate tax rate to 25 percent or so would probably not lose the government any revenue.
In today's Pope Center Clarion Call Jay Schalin writes about the "Economic and Social Justice" minor offered at Chapel Hill.
Students don't have to learn anything about economics and won't encounter F.A. Hayek's devastating attack on the very concept of "social justice" in his book The Mirage of Social Justice. In one of the courses students may take, however, they at least get a taste of Robert Nozick's criticism of the mega-state.
Most of the material students read is heavy on leftist opinion, light on serious analysis.
"It's too bad things aren't a whole lot worse in America. Then people would be more eager to allow government to make massive changes."
Read Jon Meacham's latest editor's column in Newsweek, and I think you'll find that the quote I invented above would provide a pretty good summary:
On the New Deal, FDR had massive unemployment and the Bonus Army
disaster, and on civil rights, JFK and LBJ had Bull Connor. In trying to
come up with contrary examples to my thesis that we undertake
fundamental reform only in hours of dramatic, widely felt crisis, I
began to think about Johnson's passage of Medicare and the other
elements of the Great Society. The 1964–65 period was not like the
1930s, and John Lewis and Hosea Williams were not marching from Selma to
Montgomery for Medicare.
... I called my old boss
Charles Peters, who worked in the Peace Corps in the 1960s and has just
finished a new biography of LBJ. He reminded me that, actually, there had been an enveloping sense of crisis in those two years. "No historian
can overestimate the level of the emotion of the Kennedy factor after
the assassination," Peters said. "People wanted to enact the reform
program that they thought JFK was for, even if he may not have in fact
been as passionate about these issues as Johnson was." Even Medicare,
then, was at least partly the result of an extraordinary period of pain
in the country.
Meacham's next sentence asserts "it should not take such convulsions for us to do the right thing," and he concludes his piece by saying "in staving off disaster we also make it more difficult to do big things."
And that's the real source of the problem with this piece. Meacham conflates "big things" with "the right thing." He never questions the counterproductive unintended consequences associated with the government's "big things," which rarely turn out to be "the right thing."
Since this isn't the first time Meacham has proved ignorant of the problems associated with "big things" like the New Deal, I'll offer him the same advice I've offered his colleague Jonathan Alter: please read Amity Shlaes' The Forgotten Man:
Kokai: You don’t paint him as a villain,
but you do point to some of the things that he did that just built upon
other mistakes. You get the sense in reading this book that if he had
just stopped at some point and let his various “reforms” stand, we would
have been better off.
Shlaes: Politicians have their reasons, that they like reform for
the sake of reform. But as we know here in the marketplace or when we
are citizens that reform for the sake of reform is very costly in terms
of uncertainty. If your child’s school is reformed six times from first
grade to sixth grade, you know he doesn’t have a pleasant experience in
that school and a lot of us know that, right? So we know No Child Left
behind. We know stuff that changes sounds good, but change itself can be
And that was the New Deal. Roosevelt would do a reform. One day he loved
big business. The next day he is suing them. Then he loves them again,
breathing spell, then he is back at them. And even Keynes, the famous
U.K. economist who was so important in that period, didn’t like it. He
said to Roosevelt about utilities: either nationalize them or leave them
alone. What’s the use of chasing them around the lot every other week?
That’s the politician, and that’s what Roosevelt did. It’s the dark side
of his famous phrase “bold, persistent experimentation.” People don’t
like bold, persistent experimentation too much because they can’t get
their bearings, and that’s a little bit of what happened in the ’30s —
especially the latter half.
Eve Conant of Newsweek delivers a pleasant surprise this week when she minimizes the Hitler references and other hyperbole in discussing the new law.
Conant admits she's no fan of the change, but 20 years of experience with family in Arizona offer her a perspective that's a bit different from those who moan about "Nazis" and a new "apartheid state."
[S]pend some time in Arizona, and you may come to see why so many Arizonans want this.
It's terrifying to live next door to homes filled with human traffickers, drug smugglers, AK-47s, pit bulls, and desperate laborers stuffed 30 to a room, shoes removed to hinder escape. During a month's reporting with police and other law-enforcement agents in Arizona last year, I met many scared people. One man who lived next to a "drop house" for Mexican workers slept with two guns under his bed, his children not allowed to play in the backyard. The sound of gunshots was not uncommon. "Four years ago this neighborhood was poodles and old ladies," he said, too frightened to give his name. "Now it's absolutely insane."
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich titles his latest Human Eventscolumn "Failure-in-Chief":
The controversies over the Arizona immigration plan and the Obama Administration’s response to the oil spill in the Gulf may not seem related, but they have a key common characteristic: both originate in the failure of Washington.
In both cases, President Obama faces a real danger of a political backlash from which he will be unable to recover.
More importantly, they are both part of a rapidly evolving pattern of big government failure that will be a fundamental challenge to our country over the next quarter century.