A few people sent this NYT article on physicist and jack-of-all-trades Freeman Dyson, but it was the enigmatic von Pepe’s email that pushed me over the top.
It is really amazing. This is one interesting guy.
The article focuses on the climate change stuff, but I find it more interesting that the government (?) would fund the Institute for Advanced Study so well. I mean check out the big guns that hung out there. So isn’t it amazing that the government got this one thing right? Isn’t it odd that you and the government agree on talent, in this one area but in no others?
A clue might come from the role of “Jason”:
In the 1970s, Dyson participated in other climate studies conducted by Jason, a small government-financed group of the country’s finest scientists, whose members gather each summer near San Diego to work on (often) classified (usually) scientific dilemmas of (frequently) military interest to the government. Dyson has, as he admits, a restless nature, and by the time many scientists were thinking about climate, Dyson was on to other problems. Often on his mind were proposals submitted by the government to Jason. “Mainly we kill stupid projects,” he says.
But now the followup: What kind of a guy says with a straight face, “My important job is to make sure government projects aren’t stupid”?!?! That’s like saying, “Mainly we kill low-brow beer commercials.”
I didn’t catch this when it ran, but it is now in my archives at Townhall and there are a dozen comments, so it must have… Anyway here is my take on the AIG bonus stuff. An excerpt:
The public was right to be outraged. But the real problem was the bailout in the first place. No matter what AIG does, it will now be with taxpayer money. Obviously, even a company that the government seizes is still going to pay its employees, pay its heating and electric bills, and buy raw materials. If citizens don’t object when their government starts nationalizing companies like they do in South America, then the citizens shouldn’t be shocked when their tax dollars get spent by the government’s handpicked CEO.
Robert Wenzel linked to this; it is really sweet. What diction!
Yesterday I got a box of 10 copies of my new book. Longtime readers know that I am nothing if not modest, but I have to say that this book is sweet. In all seriousness, it used to terrify me when people suggested I give a talk at a bookstore for my first PIG book, since I couldn’t imagine passersby getting drawn in by my discussion of cartels.
However, when it comes to cartels created by the New Deal, now you’re talking. I can truthfully say that there is some powerful stuff in this new book that is sadly lacking from the current political buzz.
Here’s the deal: In order to maximize the chance of getting onto bestseller lists, the publisher wants to hold fire until launch day (April 20). But, it also helps if–when people hear me on the radio and check out Amazon–they see a bunch of favorable reviews from people who have clearly read the book.
So, for any of you who were planning on buying it from Amazon, it’s probably most strategic if you pre-order the book and get it as soon as possible, and then write a favorable review on Amazon. (If you hate the book, just remember what your mom said about not having anything nice to say.)
But to be clear, don’t buy 15 copies for your liberal relatives just yet. The mass buying should be postponed until the week of April 20.
Good luck, comrades. May the force be with us.
Since I’m speculating on motives, let’s turn to the Fed chairman. Let’s drop the super conspiracy theory and assume for the sake of argument that Bernanke really does call the shots. (In reality, I think it is entirely possible that Bernanke knows he can’t do such-and-such or else he might accidentally take too many sleeping pills.)
Now we know that presidents have always tried to expand the power of the Executive Branch. It’s no “conspiracy theory” to say that, it is simple Public Choice economic analysis.
OK so you run the Federal Reserve, and here you have this prime opportunity to write checks for trillions of dollars while the CPI actually falls. (!!!) You’ve got a pretty good gig going, because no political leader can really challenge you, since a vote of no confidence in the Fed chairman would literally ruin the world economy.
So your one worry is that you won’t be reappointed when your present term expires (in 2010). What do you do? Why, I think getting the biggest corporations in the world–not to mention other central banks–utterly dependent on your handouts is a pretty shrewd move. If Obama starts floating trial balloons about canning you, you can float trial balloons about “preventing inflation expectations from becoming unmoored” which would require you to raise interest rates to 30%. I think the president might back off after Goldman Sachs or the British government called him up and had a little chat.
Kids kids kids. Many of you doubt my conviction that Barack Obama will be re-elected. But don’t you realize that that is what preoccupies him and all his advisors every day?
All of these moves are not out of some devotion to Karl Marx, they are instead expertly calculated to deliver the Democrats campaign contributions and votes in upcoming elections. Do you think major corporations are going to donate vigorously to only Republicans when the Obama Administration can declare them a “systemic risk” and nationalize them?
What about the labor unions in Detroit? You think a bunch of their members are going to rally for Newt Gingrich to make another go of it?
The elusive von Pepe emails me with his theory that the ultimate reason was to keep GM out of Chapter 11, where a court might overturn union contracts.
Take a guess before looking. Thanks to Tim Swanson who is smarter than most of us because he moved to China.