Stop Blaming Russia, China for US Disarmament Failures

On June 22 and 23, Russian and American diplomats met in Vienna to discuss New START, a nuclear arms reduction treaty which expires next year. The treaty provides for an optional five-year extension. Alternatively, the parties could negotiate a new agreement as has happened several times in the past. A third possibility involves one or both parties playing silly games like insisting that China be brought into the negotiations despite Beijing’s complete lack of interest in participating. Which is exactly what happened.

Whither the Precautionary Principle?

Over the last half century or so, regulators and activists have regularly invoked the precautionary principle versus industrial and commercial concerns: Will this new car wash ruin the nesting grounds of the Great Purple-Crested Bandersnatch? Could construction of that pipeline conceivably pollute a river? Might the noise from a proposed refinery disturb the sleep of some nearby Mrs. Nimby? Then came COVID-19.

Paul Krugman, COVID-19, and Broken Windows

The jury is still out on which of two things — COVID-19 or the panic over COVID-19 — will cost more lives and do more damage to the global economy. My money’s still on the latter. In the meantime, I’ve developed a surefire, Groundhog Day type test for whether the emergency is over: Watch for Nobel laureate economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman to start trying to convince us it was, all in all, actually a GOOD thing.

If the Only Way You Can Get Your Great Idea Implemented…

Economics textbooks are full of clever-and-appealing policy proposals.  Proposals like: “Let’s redistribute money to the desperately poor” and “Let’s tax goods with negative externalities.”  They’re so clever and so appealing that it’s hard to understand how any smart, well-meaning person could demur. When you look at the real world, though, you see something strange: Almost no one actually pushes for the textbooks’ clever-and-appealing policy proposals.

Trump versus Iran: Power Doesn’t Just Corrupt, it Deludes

The claim of such absolute power has been the tacit US doctrine of foreign relations since at least as far back as the end of World War Two. America emerged from that war as the world’s sole nuclear power and, unlike other combatant countries, with its wealth virtually unscathed and its industrial capacity increased rather than demolished. Its rulers saw themselves as able, and entitled, to dictate terms to almost everyone, on almost everything.