Wednesday, November 26, 2008

2009 looks bleak, 2010 a bit better

As the following embedded map of the OECD Economic Outlook shows, 2009 looks like a pretty stagnant year for the western world. Flipping the year to 2010 shows a happier scenario, with a lot less blue and a lot more orange.

One comment about the map's usability: it would be nice to be able to toggle the year without having to move the mouse all the way down to the dropdown box for the year. One potential solution would be to add all the years (2008, 2009, and 2010) to the little bubble that pops up when you hover over a country so that you could click a different year without losing focus ona country. As the map is currently designed, the user has to break their focus on a country (and any other countries their comparing the country of focus to) to change the year, which seems a bit clunky.

Via OECD Factblog.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Meta-analysis of Free Market Critiques

After reading this post by Tim Lee:

It sounds to me like what Ezra is saying here, in an extremely back-handed fashion, is that libertarians aren’t corporate stooges at all. When the interests of corporations happen to align with what we regard as good public policy, then corporate interests tend to be our allies. Otherwise, they tend not to be. Which, as far as I can tell, is exactly how it should be.


But it is a little bit frustrating that when libertarians take a firm stance against the interests of large corporations, we don’t get praised for our independence so much as getting attacked for our ideological rigidity. These charges can’t both be right: we can’t both be solicitous corporate shills and inflexible ideologues. If people are going to question our motives, I wish they’d at least get their story straight on exactly which kind of intellectual dishonesty they think we’re engaging in.

I was reminded of this video (via Will Wilkinson) on how ones morals can affect what should be an objective, rational judgment.

What Ezra seems to be guilty of is allowing his moral values (opposition to oil drilling, support for a progressive tax system, support for government-managed Social Security) to cloud his characterization of the motives of libertarians.

True For Many Things

Via Andrew Sullivan, this ridiculously simple chart shows how gay marriage would affect society:

A similar chart could be made for many libertarian positions, the most obvious of which (to me, at least) is drug legalization.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wikipedia Curiosity of the Day

Can you believe that the guillotine was used by the French government as recently as 1977?!? From Wikipedia:
The last public guillotining [in France] was of Eugène Weidmann, who was convicted of six murders. He was beheaded on June 17, 1939, outside the prison Saint-Pierre rue Georges Clémenceau 5 at Versailles, which is now the Palais de Justice...The guillotine remained the official method of execution in France until France abolished the death penalty in 1981. The last guillotining in France was that of torture-murderer Hamida Djandoubi on September 10, 1977.

Via curiosity about the guillotine courtesy of this Boing Boing post.

Monday, November 10, 2008


This Daily Show clip reminds the viewer of the benefits of choice:

Why doesn't the same liberal appreciation of reproductive choice also apply to parents being able to choose where their kids go to school? As Nick Gillespie and Neal McCluskey have pointed out, when it comes to school choice, rich people (like Barack Obama) effectively have a choice; poor people effectively don't.

I've never understood how some people can so passionately defend a woman's right to choose her reproductive outcomes but then not defend that same woman's right to choose where her child (once born) will go to school.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mixed Feelings on the Election

First, the good news. Barack Obama will be the next president. Aside from his victory's historic importance and its potential implications for race relations in America, Obama was just clearly the superior candidate, especially on foreign policy. So good news there.

But as encouraging as Obama's victory is, the passage of Proposition 8 in California is almost equally discouraging. Voters in California voted to amend that state's constitution to take away a previously constitutionally-protected right from a minority of its citizens. This is classic tyranny of the majority, and it's a reminder that liberty is never 100% guaranteed and requires eternal vigilance to maintain.

The one ideal that Obama has associated himself with more than any other ideal is "hope." It is with hope that supporters of liberty and equality can move forward from the disappointment of Proposition 8's passage, encouraged at the prospect that a message of hope can indeed succeed, even in the face of ignorance and intolerance.

Image from here.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Who I'm Voting For

Finally, the election is upon us. After looking up the relevant sample ballot here, I compiled the following summary of who I'll be voting for. If you're looking for a good summary of the candidates local races in your area, the Star Tribune has a nice "MyVote" tool here.

OfficeCandidate (party)
PresidentBob Barr (L)
SenatorDean Barkley (I)
U.S. RepresentativeChristopher Monnier (write-in, i)
State RepresentativeJerry Pitzrick (D)
County CommissionerRandy Johnson (NP)
Soil Commissioner, District 1Eric Hupperts (write-in, NP)
Soil Commissioner, District 3James Wisker (NP)
Soil Commissioner, District 5Karl Hanson (NP)
Eden Prairie City Council (choose two)Brad Aho, Jeffery Meyerhofer (NP)
Minnesota Constitutional AmendmentNo
Minnesota Supreme Court, Justice 3Paul Anderson (NP)
Minnesota Supreme Court, Justice 4Deborah Hedlund (NP)
Minnesota Court of Appeals, Judge 16Terri J. Stoneburner (NP)
4th District, Judge 9Philip D. Bush (NP)
4th District, Judge 53Jane Ranum (NP)
4th District, Judge 58James T. Swenson (NP)


  • (L) = Libertarian Party
  • (D) = Democratic Party (technically Democrat Farmer-Laborer in Minnesota)
  • (I) = Independence Party
  • (i) = indpendent
  • (NP) = non-partisan position