Daily Archives: June 17, 2010

This is what Princeton is turning out these days? Good God.

Newsweek Intern Attempts to Describe Hayek’s Road to Serfdom: Massive FAIL

Posted on | June 17, 2010 | 1 Comment

Thanks to Kathy Shaidle for calling attention to this sophomoric effort byPrinceton senior Isia Jasiewicz:

On June 8, Beck devoted an entire episode of his talk show on Fox News to The Road to Serfdom, a work of political theory written in the immediate aftermath of World War II by Friedrich von Hayek, an Austrian émigré to the U.K. and the 1974 recipient of the Nobel Prize in economics . . .
The Road to Serfdom is a treatise on libertarianism, well-known only in academic circles or among political theory wonks stalwart enough to wade through the 60-page introduction and chapters on “Planning and the Rule of Law” and “The Prospects of International Order.”


Just a few points:

  • The term “libertarian” in its present meaning was not commonly used until the 1970s.
  • Far from being known only to “wonks,” The Road to Serfdom was a best-seller in 1944 and ‘45, going through multiple printings and was originally popularized through a condensed version published by Reader’s Digest.
  • It was not “a work of political theory,” but an attempt to explain the rise of Nazism and fascism — 1944? hint, hint — as one consequence of the prevalence of socialist ideas. It was a very practical book, warning leaders in England and America that the tendency toward the “planned economy” could produce similar results even in Western democracies.
  • The book obviously wasn’t written in “aftermath of World War II,” but during the war.
  • As to being “stalwart enough to wade through the 60-page introduction,” my own copy (50th anniversary edition, 1994) includes an 11-page introduction by Milton Friedman and a couple of prefaces to previous editions. The most interesting chapters, to my mind, are Chapter 8 (“Who, Whom?”), Chapter 10 (“Why the Worst Get on Top”) and especially Chapter 12 (“The Socialist Roots of Nazism”), which has never ceased to provoke howls from the Left, who refuse to admit that National Socialism was socialism at all.

Next assignment for Isia Jasiewicz? “The Bible, a theological treatise well-known only in religious circles or among clergy stalwart enough to wade through several pages of ’begats’ and the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy.”

ADDENDUM: Whatever happened to young journalists learning their craft as reporters before trying their hand at punditry or criticicsm? I suppose it would be slumming for a Princeton grad to take a job as a staff writer for a newspaper, covering school-board meetings and such. But am I the only reader who resents be lectured to by 22-year-olds? I don’t care what your SAT score was, sweetheart. You’re not that precocious.

Just to add another kick to the ass of this idiot young lady, I managed to discover, and read Road to Serfdom all by myself when I was a freshman at a less regarded college than Princeton. This fatuous idiot was presumably too busy studying feminist tracts to discover von Hayek, which is her loss – but to then skim the book and dismiss it reveals her to be an uneducated fool – I wonder whether her parents can demand a refund?


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Okay, this is almost funny

Feds shut down oil-sucking barges while they ensure there are life jackets on board.

Against Governor Jindal’s wishes the federal government blocked oil-sucking barges today because needed to confirm that there were fire extinguishers and life vests on board and were having trouble contacting the owners.

ABC News reported:

Eight days ago, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal ordered barges to begin vacuuming crude oil out of his state’s oil-soaked waters. Today, against the governor’s wishes, those barges sat idle, even as more oil flowed toward the Louisiana shore.

“It’s the most frustrating thing,” the Republican governor said today in Buras, La. “Literally, yesterday morning we found out that they were halting all of these barges.”

Sixteen barges sat stationary today, although they were sucking up thousands of gallons of BP’s oil as recently as Tuesday. Workers in hazmat suits and gas masks pumped the oil out of the Louisiana waters and into steel tanks. It was a homegrown idea that seemed to be effective at collecting the thick gunk.

“These barges work. You’ve seen them work. You’ve seen them suck oil out of the water,” said Jindal.

So why stop now?

“The Coast Guard came and shut them down,” Jindal said. “You got men on the barges in the oil, and they have been told by the Coast Guard, ‘Cease and desist. Stop sucking up that oil.’”


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Who lives in these places?

Twister kills elderly Minnesota couple in a town of twenty (!) The storm continued on, destroying farms in neighboring towns. I mean, I’m grateful that someone still lives in the Mid-West to grow our food stuffs, buy why are they still there?

The storm that crashed into Wadena tore up about a 10-block residential area, ripping up old oak and elm trees, tearing off roofs and damaging buildings. “It’s a whole different horizon now,” said Randy Mohs, who drove through town after the storm.

The building that housed Leaf River Ag Service is pretty well leveled and an old two-story house that boarded students who attend the nearby vocational community college was destroyed, he said.

“It’s cork-screwed across the street. It’s twisted like a candy wrapper,” Mohs said. “There are a lot of sirens, ambulances, police. There are helicopters flying. … It’s a mess.”

Nearby in the Deer Creek area, several farms were suffered major damage, said Deer Creek resident Kathy Hill.

“My brother’s farm is pretty much gone,” she said. “The barns are gone. The house is damaged.”

Hill and her husband tried to reach her brother’s farm but roads were blocked. Then she tried to check on her sister in Wadena, but entrances to the town were blocked.

“The roads are filled with debris — 2-by-4s, metal from buildings, power lines,” she said. “We have no electricity. No telephone service. It was bad. It will be a while before recovery happens.”


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Like most of his type, I can’t say I’ll miss him

Ronnie Lee Gardner will be shot tonight. I’m more in favor of a life sentence without parole, but reading this guy’s history, it’s likely that the world will go on just fine without him.

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I sure hope the Republicans did engineer this

South Carolina Democrats uphold primary win of Alvin Greene. Someone had to stake him for his $10,400 application fee and I’d think better of the Republicans if they did it.

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First Weicker, now Krugman?

Krugman says we’re applying austerity budgets at exactly the wrong time, and I think he might just be right.


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I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with Lowell Weicker before but …

Years out of office, he’s finally making sense.

CROMWELL – As blunt and as feisty as ever, former Gov. Lowell P. Weicker ripped the state Thursday for failing to tackle the state’s fiscal problems by spending and borrowing too much money.

Weicker decried the practice – passed this year by Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the Democratic-controlled legislature – of borrowing money for operating expenses, which prompted a Wall Street agency to recently downgrade the state’s bond rating. The legislature took the extremely rare step of borrowing money even before the fiscal year began, and the state would have had a projected deficit of about $1 billion for the year that starts July 1 if there had been no borrowing.

“All of this is insane fiscal practice,” Weicker said Thursday. “If various elements of the Connecticut government are afraid to say so for one reason or another, I’m not. It should be said, and that’s my purpose of being here today. … Really where we are is there are no more easy alternatives. The trust funds have been run dry. The rainy day funds have been depleted. The bond ratings – my gosh – when I saw those reports from Fitch and others and the lowering of our rating. Do you understand what that costs the state of Connecticut? People moan and groan about taxes. That’s a tax. Every step we go down means we have to pay more to borrow that money.”

In a rare public appearance, Weicker spoke to more than 100 mayors and first selectmen in front of the annual meeting of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities at a Cromwell hotel. About a dozen protestors greeted him outside the hotel, but he said that was far fewer than more than 40,000 citizens who stormed the Capitol lawn to protest the creation of the state income tax in 1991.

A former U.S. Senator for 18 years, Weicker is probably best known for creating the income tax soon after he became governor in 1991. He was both praised and trashed for that position, and his poll ratings plummeted as the recession continued in Connecticut in the early 1990s.


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Well, I can sleep well tonight

Connecticut lawyers arrested for mortgage fraud. T’wernt me. As a lawyer, I had any number of shady deals put on my desk, and I always declined, but in a way, I sympathize; it seems like such easy money, until you have to pay the price. I was no prince of an adolescent, but the few morals instilled in me by my father have kept me from, if not temptation, then at least acting on those greedy impulses. And I’m grateful.

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Dodd gives Mohegan Sun $54 million of our money

Cry me a river

The casino made $1.3  billion last year, Dodd found them $54 million more in “stimulus” funds. Then the NYT hires earnest liberals to figure out why Tea Party types of so angry.


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If he were from Cos Cob, I’d have a lot of ‘splaining to do

Riverside resident Christian Geske earns scholarship, early graduation. And more seriously, we do have some astonishingly brilliant kids in this town, even in Cos Cob!
June 17, 2010 at 11:09 am by colingustafson
Greenwich High School junior Christian Geske is starting college a year early.
The Riverside resident was one of just 28 students nationwide chosen to participate in an
early-entrance honors program at University of Southern California, USC, in Los Angeles.
He’ll be doing some heavy academic lifting at USC. In addition to majoring in math in the university’s College of Letters, Arts & Sciences, Christian will be enrolled in the “Thematic Option Program,” a nationally-recognized interdisciplinary honors program.
Christian has also been awarded a “Deans Scholarship.”
At GHS, Christian has been named a Clark House Scholar every semester for his outstanding grades, according to a USC official. He’s also received awards for his achievements in math, creative writing, German, and music, and was captain of his freshmen tennis team.

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Thank heavens, this was NOT Franklin Bloomer

Franklin Bloomer inspecting Llama pen

Scooter rider tasered after running tractor trailer off road. Franklin, it turns out, was safely  at home, working on new FAR regulations. What  a relief.

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Hmm – some big contracts

36 Walsh Lane

36 Walsh Lane, Belle Haven, on the market since 2008 at $13,250,  is under contract.

80 Meadow Wood

As is 80 Meadow Wood, another Belle Haven home, asking $8.675. Great house.

252 Milbank

Even the downtown is seeing action, with this Milbank Avenue property, asking $5.9 million, going to contract.

And further down the food chain, Gerry Isaacson’s house on Willow Road in Riverside (next to the fountain) is under contract, too. I think he was asking around $1.6.


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Make salsa while the sun shines

Credit: WSJ

There’s a tomato glut and prices are down for the next month or so.

Jeff Dolan’s tomatoes in San Joaquin Valley are ripening and ready to pick this week. But that puts him in a pickle.

In California, harvest time is arriving just as tomato growers in other parts of the U.S. are reeling from a sudden supply glut that is pushing the price for fresh tomatoes sharply lower. Florida farmers who fetched more than $30 a few months ago for a 25-pound box of round, fresh field-grown tomatoes, also known as slicer tomatoes, are now getting $5 or less.

The abundant crop is rooted in last winter’s cold weather in Florida, which delayed the development of tomato plants. The overdue harvest hit the market in May just as DiMare Co., where Mr. Dolan oversees California field operations, was picking tomatoes near Palm Springs.

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This seems right

High end mortgages  are tanking Business Insider:

Look at unit sales over $1 million in Sarasota County Florida and all appears well. Twelve-month sales equaled 128 units at March 1 versus 151 units the previous year. The 15 percent fall in sales is real, but it isn’t scary. If you want to sell your home there, you may not like the rest of the math as much.

Talk to Hannerle Moore, an agent at Michael Saunders & Co. She suggests a sobering strategy. Reduce prices at least 40 percent from 2005 highs.

“I tell them, ‘You could be the lady who has had her home on the market for 936 days, or you could sell,’” Moore told the Sarasota Herald Tribune (Are High-End Properties Going Down? 4/26/10).

In putting together this story, I was unable to get all the data I was after on high-end inventory. I am firing shotgun to lead to something worth knowing. My review runs near and far in six posts starting today and includes most importantly data on the mortgage performance of jumbo mortgages. My hypothesis is that mortgage performance serves as a leading indicator of both future inventory and price trends. The worse the payment performance, the more prices will fall. Signs of serious distress on many other measures have been in open evidence for expensive properties and we will see it most clearly in jumbo mortgage performance.

Consider the statement of National Association of Realtors’ chief economist Lawrence Yun. Almost exactly a year ago he said the supply of existing homes for sale over $750,000 had reached a forty-month supply (High-End Foreclosures Are Next, 5/27/09, CNBC). Translate that into something you understand: Inventory was SIX TIMES higher than it should be.


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Governor Crist eyes Florida oil spill

Or something.


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I’m tempted to make a snide comment about a $220,000 boat

But I’ve always had good experiences with our Greenwich Marine Force. They’re fellow boaters and seem more inclined to help people than harass them. I’m glad they’re out on our waters, even in an expensive boat. (In fact, I’m just jealous – it looks cool).


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Bobby Fischer is still dead

But his body is being exhumed.

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