05 Sep 2009


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* The SEC’s inspector general has released its report as to why the SEC missed the ball on Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, even though private citizens were warning them for years that he was cooking the books. And it turns out–phew!–that the government wasn’t corrupt, it just made an honest mistake (or twelve). Robert Wenzel notes that the IG released this report after 5pm EST on the Friday before Labor Day weekend. (I guess the IG’s office wanted to knock it out and not have the final editing hanging over their heads while they went boating; I like to wrap up big projects before a 3-day weekend too.)

* Talk about regulatory arbitrage!!

* Will Wilkinson gives a very Kinsellian answer (in terms of his “Against Intellectual Property” article) to a thought experiment raised by Amartya Sen.

* This is a very provocative blog post in which Lew Rockwell calls the bankers’ bluff and says that if there’s going to be a Fed, Congress should have oversight. Somebody else noted on the LRC blog the strange inconsistency in the elites’ position on this. After all, if we can’t trust Congress with our money, why should we trust Congress with health care? Now some people here aren’t being inconsistent; for example, my old classmate Mike Feroli (who works for JP Morgan and is quoted a lot in the WSJ) has publicly said that the Fed needs its independence, and I would be willing to bet a kidney that he is also against ObamaCare. But even so, it would be great if journalists asked Ben Bernanke or Timmy Geithner if doctors should be able to maintain their independence from Congress too, lest medical decisions become politicized. What could they say? Barney Frank knows about open heart surgery, but not open market operations?

* A reader has asked me to shred this NYT article, but unfortunately that one about the Civil War is going to take precedence. All I’ll say is that this shows the danger of minarchism. This writer plausibly says:

In truth, despite the deeply ingrained American conviction that government is bumbling when it is not evil, government intervention has been a step up in some areas from the private sector.

Until the mid-19th century, firefighting was left mostly to a mishmash of volunteer crews and private fire insurance companies. In New York City, according to accounts in The New York Times in the 1850s and 1860s, firefighting often descended into chaos, with drunkenness and looting.

So almost every country moved to what today’s health insurance lobbyists might label “socialized firefighting.” In effect, we have a single-payer system of public fire departments.

We have the same for policing. If the security guard business were as powerful as the health insurance industry, then it would be denouncing “government takeovers” and “socialized police work.”

What do you say, minarchists? This guy’s challenge poses no threat to me. I can say, “Yep, just like socialized medicine leads to death panels, socialized policing leads to widespread tasing and prison rape. Mar-kets! Mar-kets!”

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