The Financial Crisis on Trial, North Korea Given An Opportunity, & Ebenezer Scrooge Did More Good as a Grump
Scrooge: The First 1 Percenter
Jim Lacey contends that Scrooge, before he became "enlightened," was already doing more to help his fellow man than any of the other main characters we meet in A Christmas Carol. Moreover, by giving away a substantial portion of his accumulated fortune, he drastically reduced his ability to do even more good in the world. Read more here at National Review.
The FDA vs. Commercial Speech
The ability of physicians to prescribe approved medicines for purposes not sanctioned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is one of the most important elements of medical care in the United States. These "off-label" uses are perfectly legal, and doctors rely on them extensively. But the agency views off-label prescribing as an attempt to circumvent its control over the nation's pharmaceutical supply, so a number of regulations make it difficult for doctors to learn about and prescribe drugs off-label. Read more here from Gregory Conko and Henry Miller at Reason.
The Financial Crisis On Trial
The Securities and Exchange Commission's lawsuits against six top executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, announced last week, are a seminal event. For the first time in a government report, the complaint has made it clear that the two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) played a major role in creating the demand for low-quality mortgages before the 2008 financial crisis. More importantly, the SEC is saying that Fannie and Freddie-the largest buyers and securitizers of subprime and other low-quality mortgages-hid the size of their purchases from the market. Through these alleged acts of securities fraud, they did not just mislead investors; they deprived analysts, risk managers, rating agencies and even financial regulators of vital data about market risks that could have prevented the crisis. Read more from Peter J. Wallison here at the Wall Street Journal.
Want Growth? Try Stable Tax Policy
The two-month payroll tax cut being debated in Washington reduces to the absurd the recent revival of short-term Keynesian stimulus programs. That such a temporary cut would stimulate the recovery and get employment growing defies common sense. But the policies are worse than doing nothing at all. Rather than stimulate the economy, they hold the economy back by creating policy unpredictability and by distracting Washington from crucial long-term reforms that are key to restoring economic growth and creating jobs. Read more here from John B. Taylor at the Wall Street Journal.
A Democrat Reaches Across The Aisle
It's highly unusual in a presidential debate for two Republican candidates - the two leading in current national polls - to heap praise on a liberal Democratic senator. But in the Fox News debate in Sioux City, Iowa, both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney had very good words to say for Oregon Democratic senator Ron Wyden. The subject was the Medicare-reform plan put forward in a Wall Street Journal opinion article that morning by Wyden and House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan. Politicians' praise is sometimes bestowed overlavishly, but in this case it was well merited. Ryan-Wyden represents a major step forward in public policy and gives hope that the Medicare entitlement can be rendered sustainable. Read more here from Michael Barone at National Review.
The World's Most Repressive State
A few minutes after the news of the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il flashed across computer screens on Sunday night-Monday morning on the Korean Peninsula- Melanie Kirkpatrick received an email from a North Korean defector. The man, who is now living in Seoul and is a Christian, was exultant: "God blesses all of us," he wrote. The defector's sentiments will be shared by many, especially his long-suffering countrymen. The late dictator leaves a legacy of presiding over the world's most repressive modern state. Kim Jong Il's name belongs on the list of the most evil tyrants of our time. Read more from Melanie Kirkpatrick here at the Wall Street Journal.
Feds Face Challenges In Launching U.S. Health Exchange
With many states unwilling or unable to get insurance exchanges operational by the health law deadline of Jan. 1, 2014, pressure is growing on the federal government to do the job for them. But health care experts are starting to ask whether the fallback federal exchange called for in the 2010 health law will be operational by the deadline in states that will not have their own exchanges ready. Read more about the challenges here by Julie Appleby at Kaiser Health News.
The right to travel enables the free exercise of the other rights we most cherish. We should not have to check our constitutional freedoms at the curb simply because we decide to leave the house. Sadly, freedom of movement has been one of the most disparaged rights throughout human history, and our country is no exception. If we are ever to be truly free, then we must possess an absolute, uninhibited right to travel throughout America and the world free from interference by government. Read more from Judge Andrew Napolitano here at Reason.
Remembering Kim Jong-Il's Victims
The pictures accompanying the news of the leadership change in North Korea are those of the dead dictator, Kim Jong-Il, and his son and heir apparent, Kim Jong-Un. But there are some other Koreans whose names and photos, though absent from the front pages, tell the real story. Here's hoping that America and other powers with influence in the region seize the opportunity. The alternative is who-knows-how-many-more horribly grim tales from the North Korean gulag. Read the real story by Ira Stoll here at Reason.
Why Failure Doesn't Discredit Keynes
The story of Keynes's rise as the scholar shaping economic policy from "within" is more than just the tale of one man's meteoric career. It also heralded the surge of an army of activist-intellectuals into the ranks of governments before, during, and after World War II. The revolution in economics pioneered by Keynes effectively accompanied and rationalized an upheaval in the composition and activities of governments. In short, Keynes helped make possible the Jeffrey Sachs, Robert Reichs, Joseph Stiglitz's, and Timothy Geithners of this world. Read more here from Tim Cavanaugh at Reason.