It’s become a familiar question: Where are the Muslim voices of protest against the violence and misogyny of Middle Eastern culture?
Archives for September 2017
Many people, particularly on the left, argue that the modern economy is increasing inequality. But, as I have discussed before, important trends in innovation increase equality. One example of these equalizers is the sharing economy. The ideas of a law and economics theorist of the developing world show how this new economy generates a greater return on the assets that people of modest means are most likely to own.
Economist Hernando De Soto recognized that much of the capital in developing nations was locked up. For instance, squatters lacked property rights in their houses even after decades of living there and improving the land. But legal reforms providing capital can greatly enliven previously dead capital in those nations. When a squatter becomes a property owner, he can mortgage his property and use the proceeds to start a small business.
The advantages of these legal reforms go almost entirely to people of modest means. Not only did the rich generally always have formal title to their real property, even more importantly real property is a much smaller proportion of their total assets, which are mostly financial securities.
Similarly, the sharing economy enlivens important capital assets in the developed world. As Daniel Rothschild suggests, this unlocking creates prosperity. But it also boosts equality because the assets it enlivens are those which make up most of the wealth of people of modest means.
I love Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, as a coach and as a personality. One of the two or three greatest coaches of all time, Popovich’s teams play smart basketball and the colorfulness of his personality adds greatly to the game. He is even fun to make fun of – see here at 1 minute, 58 seconds. Unfortunately, Popovich has been speaking out on politics recently. Here is an excerpt from a speech: "Obviously, race is the elephant in the room, and we all understand that, but unless it is talked about constantly, it is not going to…
State attorneys general from 41 of the 50 states are investigating the opioid industry. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he is committed to “using every tool at our disposal” to pursue the $500 billion Big Pharma industry, and has unleashed Martin Act subpoenas upon numerous opioid manufacturers and distributors. The press release put out by the Attorney General of Connecticut, George Jepsen, urges haste:
We recognize that time is our enemy and that we should pursue all means to ease this crisis as quickly as possible. For that reason, we have encouraged and will continue to encourage the pharmaceutical industry – both manufacturers and distributors – to engage constructively with the attorneys general towards meaningful agreements that may be achievable sooner than full-scale investigations and litigation may permit. As we have shown in other contexts, broad coalitions of attorneys general can effectively impact national problems through litigation or settlements, often more effectively than they can when acting alone. Our collective efforts are particularly important at a time when many Americans despair about the capacity of government to function effectively in the face of challenges. (Emphasis added)
Connecticut AG Jepson’s announcement of the meteoric rise in the number of states joining in the investigations, his jab at legislative passivity while flexing that most unlawful of state powers—namely, regulation by litigation—and the anything-but-subtle suggestion of a fast settlement bodes ill for the rule of law.
Newspapers are a dying communications medium yet the Wall Street Journal, which first saw print in 1889, is still going strong.
A lot of what occurs in academia these days is quite distressing. And it is enough to drive one further towards the tribal view of the other side being bad guys. Thus, it is important to try to find ways of avoiding this fall into the abyss. One of those ways is a commitment to academic ideals.
The American Association of Law Schools (AALS) is a professional guild. It never misses a chance to proclaim that it is working in the public interest, while nevertheless focusing on its own interests—expanding the perquisites and number of its members. The latest newsletter makes this combination even more visible than usual. It devoted its opening essay to Access to Justice-which it claims to favor. Simultaneously, it announced its opposition to a proposal of the American Bar Association, now operating under the watchful eye of Antitrust Division, which could decrease the cost of going to law school—one of the principal barriers to access. The problem is that the proposal might well over time reduce the number of tenured professors, who, of course, run the AALS.
The ABA proposes that after the first year of law, accredited law schools could permit part-time teachers to teach any or all second and third year courses. The first year would remain mainly the province of a full-time faculty. The rationale of the AALS’s opposition is that “full time faculty are essential to providing quality education.” It provides no empirical support for this claim. There are more than a million practicing lawyers in this country. And the best are extremely articulate and expert in their chosen fields. It would be surprising if some conscientious law school, particularly one in large metropolitan area, could not find superb teachers among them.
Ganesh Sitarman raises the issue of U.S. constitutionalism and economic inequality in a recent New York Times op-ed piece. The piece, in turn, summarizes the main theme of his book, The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic. While focusing on economic inequality, Sitarman’s argument fits into a broader current of discussion: what social, economic, and/or political prerequisites, characterizing the people themselves as well as their institutions, does republican government require to work tolerably well.
Former Prime Ministers of the Duchy of Luxembourg did not usually bestride the world like colossi, at least not until the advent of the European Union. This, indeed, is one of the great advantages of that Union, at least to members of its political class: that it provides them with the means and opportunity to become more important in retirement than ever they were when they held directly-elected political office. It is a kind of insurance policy against electoral defeat or other political disaster.