DOJ’s Zero Tolerance Of Zero Tolerance

A Justice Department report critical of the Baltimore police missed the point. So did those who praised and faulted it. [Credit: NY Post]

A Justice Department report critical of the Baltimore police missed the point. So did those who praised and faulted it. [Credit: NY Post]

The Department of Justice report on Baltimore police practices has prompted predictable reactions from Left and Right.

The report confirmed suspicions on the Left that police unconstitutionally harassed African-American males. From the Right came reflexive defenses of the police.

Both have a point.  And both miss the point.  As does the report itself. Continue reading

Are Penis Thieves Real?

Seinfeld's George Costanza fretted about "shrinkage." But are penis thieves really a bigger problem? [Credit: businessinsider.com]

Seinfeld’s George Costanza fretted about “shrinkage.” But could penis thieves pose a bigger problem? [Credit: businessinsider.com]

“One of the problems,” author Frank Bures said in a recent Atlantic interview, “is this whole distinction between real and not real.”

Bures is the author of The Geography of Madness: Penis Thieves, Voodoo Death, and the Search for the Meaning of the World’s Strangest Syndromes.  His book examines conditions that the DSM-V, a manual used to diagnose and classify mental disorders, terms “culture-bound syndromes.” Continue reading

Inequality: What We Earn vs. What We Consume

Is inequality better measured by what we earn or what we spend? The difference is surprising. [Credit: Politic.org]

Is inequality better measured by what we earn or what we spend? The difference is surprising. [Credit: Politic.org]

Is your standard of living better measured by what you earn or by what you buy?

The question may seem an odd one, but it is critical to understanding the problem of rising inequality. Continue reading

Paul Krugman and the Inequality Deniers

Recent criticism of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Centruy has drawn the ire of the splenetic Paul Krugman. [Credit: National Review]

Recent criticism of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century has drawn the ire of the splenetic Paul Krugman. [Credit: National Review]

There is growing concern among people on the Right and Left about income inequality. But you wouldn’t know that from reading Paul Krugman’s latest screed.

What stirred Krugman’s bile this week was criticism of economist Thomas Piketty’s book, Capital in the 21st Century, a work that has attained canonical status among the Left on both sides of the Atlantic. Continue reading

Maximum Wage: Solution to Inequality?

The Swiss campaign to limit executive pay fell short, but are there good solutions to the problem of income inequality?

The Swiss campaign to limit executive pay fell short, but are there good solutions to the problem of income inequality?

We know that people’s frustrations run deeper than these most recent political battles. … They experience in a very personal way the relentless, decades-long trend. … And that is a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle-class America’s basic bargain — that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead. .I believe this is the defining challenge of our time: making sure our economy works for every working American. It’s why I ran for President. It was at the center of last year’s campaign. It drives everything I do in this office.President Obama

Economic inequality is a politically potent issue.  Vanderbilt University professor Larry Bartels believes that it was a critical one in the 2012 Presidential race, adding 2 to 3 percentage points to President Obama’s share of the vote and 1 percent in battleground states.  The President’s advantage on this issue, Bartels says, was largely symbolic, having more to do with the perception that his opponent’s great wealth had detached him from the concerns of ordinary voters. People motivated to vote for the President because of this issue did so more because of who they believed Mitt Romney was than because of what the President proposed to do. Continue reading

The Good News Pope Francis Missed

Pope Francis's inaugural encyclical celebrated the gospel and excoriated markets.  But did he overlook some very good news?  [Credit: Telegraph]

Pope Francis’s inaugural encyclical celebrated the gospel and excoriated markets. But did he overlook some very good news? [Credit: Telegraph]

In writing about the joy of the gospel, Pope Francis overlooked some very good news – about markets, about compassion, about poverty.

His first encyclical (Evangelii Gaudium, “The Joy of The Gospel”) has drawn attention less for its focus on missions than for its economic pronouncements. President Obama favorably cited the document in his recent remarks on economic mobility, while some conservative commentators have offered up harsh criticisms. Continue reading

Could A Wealth Tax Solve the Problem of Government Debt?

A recent IMF report suggests that this man's enormous wealth might help resolve the government's debt problem. [Credit: NY Post]

A recent IMF report suggests that this man’s enormous wealth might help resolve the government’s debt problem. [Credit: NY Post]

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently reported that European governments could reduce their debt back to pre-Great Recession levels by confiscating 10 percent of the wealth held by their richest citizens. IMF isn’t recommending that, of course.

They’re just sayin’. Continue reading

Jon Corzine: Poster Boy for Crony Capitalism?

President Obama unsuccessfully campaigned for Jon Corzine.  Since then, nearly $1 billion in client money disappeared into the ether in a firm Corzine steered into bankruptcy.

President Obama unsuccessfully campaigned for Jon Corzine in 2009. Since then, nearly $1 billion in client money disappeared into the ether from a firm Corzine steered into bankruptcy, but the Obama Administration concluded that Corzine committed no crime.

Jon Corzine is not a crook. No, really.

The Justice Department’s investigation of the former Wall Street titan, New Jersey Governor and U.S. Senator concluded last summer that he’d done nothing wrong. Or at least nothing criminal. Continue reading

Fed Up: Judge Strikes Down Federal Reserve on Swipe Fees

The Fed holds all the cards when it sets a policy.  Nobody bothered telling that to a federal judge, who last week struck down a Fed regulation on debit card swipe fees.

The Fed holds all the cards when it sets policy. Nobody bothered telling that to a federal judge, who last week struck down a Fed regulation on debit card swipe fees.

When it comes to bailouts, monetary policy, and banking regulation, the Federal Reserve has the last word. No one – not the President, not Congress, not anyone – stops the Fed from doing what it has determined to do. Until last week. Continue reading

Economic Inequality Not Obama’s Fault

 

The "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations are a distant memory, but the economic disparities they decried still persist.  [Credit: ABC News]

The “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations are a distant memory, but the economic disparities they decried still persist. [Credit: ABC News]

President Obama has a new plan to revitalize the middle class.  It almost certainly won’t work, but that almost certainly isn’t his fault.  Continue reading