Interesting Posts 10/9/08

The article is old, but I missed it before. Why did the Great Depression Last so Long?

Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

After scrutinizing Roosevelt’s record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years.

“Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump,” said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA’s Department of Economics. “We found that a relapse isn’t likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies.”

h/t: Jonah Goldberg.

Stanley Kurtz, Planting Seeds of Disaster: ACORN, Barack Obama, and the Democratic party.

‘You’ve got only a couple thousand bucks in the bank. Your job pays you dog-food wages. Your credit history has been bent, stapled, and mutilated. You declared bankruptcy in 1989. Don’t despair: You can still buy a house.” So began an April 1995 article in the Chicago Sun-Times that went on to direct prospective home-buyers fitting this profile to a group of far-left “community organizers” called ACORN, for assistance. In retrospect, of course, encouraging customers like this to buy homes seems little short of madness.

Robert Weissberg, The Noble Lies Of PC

“..the one aspect of American culture and society most in need of improvement and investment–education–has been greeted by deafening silence on the part of all candidates.”

Leon Botstein, president of Bard College in his “charge” to the Class of 2008. Leon forgets to mention that all of today’s presidential candidates, including also-rans, offer detailed prescriptions for fixing education and US spending on education has for decades out-paced inflation and even government health care spending. In other words, class of 2008, when it comes to saving the world, just make it up. Why bother with inconvenient truths.

Universities, it would seem, are committed to uncovering truth. Exceptions occasionally occur, and a small contingent insists that there is no such thing as objective truth, but for the most part, professors who make up data or plagiarize are usually caught and punished. Recall that Ward Churchill was fired for research misconduct and fraud, not his loathsome views, and even fellow travelers could not justify deception. Professors may exaggerate a bit, disregard awkward findings or even tilt research towards pre-conceived outcomes, but it would be professional suicide to insist that 2+2=5.

Unfortunately, a major exception exists, and this might be called the “Grand Noble Lie” whose purpose is not to deceive (the usual aim of a lie) but to reassure listeners so as to advance a career. Whereas conventional liars seek to cover their tracks (e.g., what is “is”), the effectiveness of the Grand Noble Lie depends on its blatant, plain-to-see falseness. It is insufficient to claim that 2+2=5 or for the timid 2=2=4.01; rather 2+2=100. This is an incredibly upside down world whereby those saying 2+2=100 may go on to glory while Professor Joe Average dreads being humiliated for citing a book he never read. That Grand Liars are more likely to be distinguished university presidents, or at least Deans, not under-the-gun junior faculty concocting data to get published, only makes the phenomena even more remarkable.

What are these Grand Noble Lies? They have undoubtedly existed forever (recall Plato’s Golden Lies) but today they overwhelmingly concern university policy regarding race or, more generally, diversity.

Investor’s Business Daily, Obama’s Real Problem With Ayers

Election ’08: At an education forum in Venezuela, Bill Ayers showed the real issue is not his terrorist past. It’s the socialist revolutionary agenda that he and Barack Obama want to impose on the nation’s schools.

Still more evidence of how the media are in the tank for Obama was evident in Tom Brokaw’s description of Ayers on Sunday’s “Meet The Press.”

“School reformer” is how Brokaw identified the co-founder of the Weather Underground, the radical organization that, among other activities, bombed government buildings, banks, police departments and military bases in the early 1970s.

Yeah, right: Ayers is a school reformer in the same sense, as City Journal’s Sol Stern put it, as Joe Stalin was an agricultural reformer.

Douglas Johnson, Unholy Messaging: Obama’s faith-based try vs. his positions

Americans are learning that the real Barack Obama is firmly committed to an agenda of sweeping pro-abortion policy changes that, if implemented, could be expected to drastically increase the numbers of abortions performed.

One component of the Obama abortion agenda, the so-called “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA, S. 1173), is coming under increased scrutiny from many quarters. The FOCA is the most sweeping piece of pro-abortion legislation ever proposed in Congress. It is a bill that would establish a federal “abortion right” broader than Roe v. Wade and, in the words of the National Organization for Women, “sweep away hundreds of anti-abortion laws [and] policies.”

In mid-September, every congressional office received a pointedly worded two-page letter on the FOCA from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), signed by Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-life Activities. Rigali notes, in his opening paragraph, “Pro-abortion groups and some of the bill’s congressional sponsors have said they want this legislation enacted soon.”

Personally, I am aware of only one congressional sponsor of the “Freedom of Choice Act” who has said anything publicly, in the past year or so, to indicate that he would like to see the bill enacted soon. That sponsor is the Democratic nominee for president of the United States, Senator Barack Obama.

Obama is not “merely” a cosponsor of the bill, but someone who has declared enactment of the FOCA to be a top priority. In his too-little-noted speech to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund on July 17, 2007, Obama said, “The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do.”

Rigali’s letter, and an accompanying six-page memorandum from the USCCB’s legal office, explain with great clarity the sweeping power of the language contained in the FOCA. Both the letter and the memorandum deserve a wide reading. Here, I will quote only briefly from Rigali’s letter: “First it [the FOCA] creates a ‘fundamental right’ to abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy, including a right to abort a fully developed child in the final weeks for undefined ‘health’ reasons. No government body at any level would be able to ‘deny or interfere with’ this newly created federal right. Second, it forbids government at all levels to ‘discriminate’ against the exercise of this right ‘in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information.’ For the first time, abortion on demand would be a national entitlement that government must condone and promote in all public programs affecting pregnant women.”

Rigali also wrote: “However, there is one thing absolutely everyone should be able to agree on: We can’t reduce abortions by promoting abortion. . . . We cannot reduce abortions by insisting that every program supporting women in childbirth and child care must also support abortion. No one who sponsors or supports legislation like FOCA can credibly claim to be part of a good-faith discussion on how to reduce abortions.”

Peter Ferrara, Prepare for the Worst

Just two weeks ago, a book on economic policy was released that will be a classic for the ages. Entitled The End of Prosperity, by Art Laffer, Steve Moore, and Peter J. Tanous, the book explains in full detail the economic disaster that will befall America if it takes a sharp left turn to neo-socialism under the leadership of the far left President Barack Obama, the ultraleft Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid with 60 liberal Democrat Senators, and their pal the ultraliberal Howard Dean heading the Democrat party.

Indeed, one of the insights of the book is that a major factor already tanking the stock market and leading foreign capital to flee America is the threat of the economic policies promised by Obama.

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