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Archive for November 16th, 2010

I’ve never watched Keith Olbermann’s show (not being snarky, I rarely watch TV and don’t even have cable), so I’m not quite sure how his “worst person in the world” feature operates. But I want to nominate someone who hopefully is despicable to people on both the right and left.

A local politician in New Castle, New York, ratted out a couple of kids who were having a bake sale in a local park. Their sin (prepare to gasp in horror) was failing to get appropriate licenses and approval from government. There’s a blurb from a news report reprinted below. My only thought is that Councilman Wolfensohn is probably a kindred spirit to the petty thugs who man the ranks of Cuba’s secret police. If he doesn’t get defeated in the next election, I will lose all faith in the American people (or at least the people of New Castle, NY).

When Andrew DeMarchis and Kevin Graff, two 13-year-olds from Chappaqua’s Seven Bridges Middle School, set up shop at Gedney Park on a fall weekend last month, they were expecting a tidy profit. Instead, the two wannabe entrepreneurs selling cupcakes, cookies, brownies and Rice Krispie treats baked by them for $1 apiece got a taste of cold, hard bureaucracy. New Castle Councilman Michael Wolfensohn came upon the sale and called the cops on the kids for operating without a license. …”I am shocked and sad for the boys. It was such a great idea, and they worked hard at it,” said Laura Graff, Kevin’s mother. “But then some Town Board member decided to get on his high horse and wreck their dreams.” …”All vendors selling on town property have to have a license, whether it’s boys selling baked goods or a hot dog vendor,” said Wolfensohn, who was elected to the board in 2007… a New Castle parks use permit requires a $1 million certificate of insurance and a fee ranging from $150 to $350 per two hours.

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I’m utterly envious at how this video has gone viral, but I have to admit that it is quite clever. I don’t think my flat tax videos, for instance, have quite the same flair. In any event, one imagines “the Ben Bernank” is probably not happy about  this production.

If you really want to understand the Federal Reserve’s shortcomings, however, you should read this new Cato Institute working paper. Here’s the abstract.

As the one-hundredth anniversary of the 1913 Federal Reserve Act approaches, we assess whether the nation‘s experiment with the Federal Reserve has been a success or a failure. Drawing on a wide range of recent empirical research, we find the following: (1) The Fed‘s full history (1914 to present) has been characterized by more rather than fewer symptoms of monetary and macroeconomic instability than the decades leading to the Fed‘s establishment. (2) While the Fed‘s performance has undoubtedly improved since World War II, even its postwar performance has not clearly surpassed that of its undoubtedly flawed predecessor, the National Banking system, before World War I. (3) Some proposed alternative arrangements might plausibly do better than the Fed as presently constituted. We conclude that the need for a systematic exploration of alternatives to the established monetary system is as pressing today as it was a century ago.

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The late-night talk show hosts are fairly good indicators of whether a politician is winning or losing the public image battle. The Bush-is-dumb theme in American culture almost surely was at least partly a result of relentless (and often genuinely funny) jokes from David Letterman and others.

If this Jay Leno joke is any indication, Obama should be worried. As they say, if you’ve lost Leno, you’ve lost middle America.

President Obama’s overseas trip has been such a disaster that people in Kenya now claim that he has an American birth certificate.

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