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Cowboys Stadium as Stimulus Package for the Entire Planet? Just Beautiful.

[ 0 ] July 18, 2009 |

While I happily voted for Safeco Field back in the day (1995 I think), I have always believed that public subsidies for sports stadia is a dodgy pursuit at best.  The common argument forwarded by proponents, that the stadium itself serves as an economic motor for the neighborhood, city, region, and even state, has rarely found support in the literature.  

Then I read this.  Somewhat admirably, the public contribution from the city of Arlington is a mere $325 million out of an entire budget of a mind-boggling $1.12 billion.  But that’s still $325 million at a time when neighborhoods, cities, regions, even entire states are enjoying a bit of a budgetary disaster.  The best line is from Jerry Jones, owner of “America’s Team”, in defense of the municipal subsidy: 
“Jones says Cowboys Stadium will be its own stimulus package that will help “the country and this world” dig out of the recession.”

The entire world!  Imagine what the 2012 London Olympics can do, dig the entire solar system out of the recession?  Excellent.
I recognize that public subsidies of sports stadia constitute a soft target, and it’s not just sports that are subsidized.  When Boeing elected to assemble the 787 (out of large chunks made elsewhere) in Everett, Washington, both the city of Everett and the state of Washington afforded Boeing large subsidies, because Boeing may have, what, outsourced the 787’s manufacturing to Wichita?  Mexico?  India?  This is a direct function of a rich and nuanced federal system.  So long as jurisdictions are allowed to vary their tax rates and exceptions to the same, venue shopping such as this is a rational response on the part of any business, sports included — and explains my vote for Safeco back in 1995.  And note, compared to unitary systems, I tend to support federal systems.
This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t suck, however, and here I have a strong preference for the British model, where the club (usually) owns the stadium.


[ 0 ] July 18, 2009 |

Roy with a tribute and a summary of the reaction, classy and otherwise.

Left and Gone Away…

[ 0 ] July 18, 2009 |

Bye, Hilzoy. Thank you. And thanks for this, as well.

B-Day Addendum

[ 0 ] July 17, 2009 |

So, as some of you knew and others surmised, today was supposed to be the day in which the wife and I enjoyed a Blessed Event, and introduced spawn into our happy home. For a variety of reasons too complicated to go into, we and our doctors had agreed four months ago to schedule a C-section for this morning at 7am. Thus, when I started my “D-8” series, I was aware of the possibility that the spawn might arrive early, but had psychologically excluded the possibility of a late arrival.

So…. it turns out this morning that, in the midst of preparation to engage in the aforementioned C-section (IV was in), our doctors noticed that the procedure ran afoul of a previously unknown hospital policy. Bureaucrats arrayed themselves for battle, and in the end it was determined that the birth would be delayed for an additional six days. Spawn remain healthy, but still trapped in the wife. Wife remains uncomfortable, grouchy, irritable, and litigation-prone. I have seen July 17, 2009 change from Momentous Life Changing Moment Day to Day that Something Remarkably Irritating Happens, which doesn’t really distinguish it from any other day.

DJW has the last word:

With an evil, government bureaucrat-run health care system like they have in Europe, you’d just be put on a waiting list and they probably wouldn’t be born until November.

The Resilient "Conservatives Believe In Judicial Restraint" Myth

[ 2 ] July 17, 2009 |

I wasn’t sure if it was worth linking to Tom Schaller’s analysis (using the great data collected by Tom Keck), as I assume it’s well-known that the idea that conservative judges are more “restrained” is false. Most recent attempts to charge that liberal judges are more “activist” at least rely on tautology — i.e. “it doesn’t count as activism if I agree with a decision on the merits” — as opposed to advancing empirically indefensible claims that conservative judges are more deferential to elected officials.

But then a law professor actually gives us the old school, transparently false version:

John Roberts said essentially the same sort of things about judging, but the humble judge pose is perhaps less strained coming from a conservative. Now, I do think Sotomayor and her advisers did study the John Roberts confirmation performance. This — I think they decided — is the ideal. So be like that. But it is more absurd coming from a judge who, we think, is going to do more expansive things with the clauses of the Constitution.

Now there’s some world-class rube-running! To state the obvious, as Keck has demonstrated conservative judges are plainly not more deferential to public officials or more humble in their constitutional ambitions. There are many constable issues — affirmative action, the commerce clause, the Second Amendment, the Eleventh Amendment “not so much for what [the 11th Amendment] says, but for the presupposition . . . which it confirms,” the takings clause, campaign finance, substantive due process where punitive damage are concerned, etc. etc. where conservatives like Roberts favor a much more expansive readings of ambiguous constitutional provisions than liberal judges. (This doesn’t mean that these readings are necessarily wrong, just that they’re obviously not more “humble”.)

As I think any serious student of the court will recognize, conservative judges are no more deferential to the political branches — the only difference are the constituencies they protect and the levels of government whose actions they’re more likely to nullify. And Althouse’s howlers are especially egregious when you consider that the main lines of attack against Sotomayor — affirmative action and gun rights — involve cases where conservatives believe that Sotomayor will be excessively deferential to electorally accountable officials.


[ 0 ] July 17, 2009 |

Glenn Reynolds et al. are very, very serious people.

…and as a commenter notes, the she also beat me to the even more egregious hackwork of Reynolds and his colleagues with respect to the health care bill (and I would say that he doesn’t deserve much credit for his update given that it’s a “shape of the earth, views differ” update as opposed to a “my exceptionally implausible claim that Congress was trying to ban private health insurance was completely false” update.)


[ 0 ] July 17, 2009 |

Goldberg on HRW

[ 0 ] July 17, 2009 |

Matt Duss has a nice post on Jeffrey Goldberg’s recent silliness regarding Human Rights Watch. Yesterday Goldberg, following up on a WSJ editorial, gave the impression that by talking about their work regarding Israeli human rights abuses while in the anti-Semitic world of Saudi Arabia, they were guilty of some grave but unspecified wrong. This prompts a reader to ask “Are you suggesting in your criticism of Human Rights Watch that its officials shouldn’t talk to Arab audiences about Israel?”, which as Matt notes would seem to be a plausible inference. Goldberg’s response is that he didn’t mean HRW shouldn’t talk about Israel in Arab countries, but rather than they shouldn’t fund-raise in them (at least not while mentioning Israel). Perhaps to fend off further objections, he gestures towards universalizing his new ad-hoc principle of ethical fundraising by suggesting that “Human Rights Watch shouldn’t raise funds in Israel, either” because if they were talking about human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia while in Tel Aviv, that might upset people in the Arab world.

Duss says most of what needs to be said, but I’ll simply add that one position he seems to be arguing is that HRW should not engage in any fund-raising activity in countries which meet the following two conditions A)human rights are not universally well-respected, and B) they have less than cordial relations with other countries with human rights abuses. If the Goldberg principle of ethical fundraising were applied, HRW would rather obviously be somewhat severely restricted, presumably to the detriment of the cause of human rights. Two further comments:

1) Organizations like HRW should be at least a little concerned about the appearance of bias, as their reputation to some extent depends on being perceived as being against and opposed to human rights abuses wherever they may occur. However, at the end of the day this is simply a lost cause in the world we live in–the reputation they seek is going to be unattainable in the eyes of a great many people, whose own views on who violates human rights, and which violations of human rights are worthy of condemnation are driven by a variety of political allegiences and commitments. If everyone thinks HRW is wonderfully even-handed and unbiased, they’re doing it wrong.

2) An additional problem here is what might be called the methodological nationalism of Goldberg’s principle. Governments that commit human rights violations are tainted in a way that their citizens are not. Cultivating connections and commitments to the human rights movement in countries with poor human rights records should be welcomed.

Update: edited to make non-sensical sentences less so.

The war at home

[ 0 ] July 16, 2009 |

This story summarizes an investigation into why 14 soldiers from one army base in Colorado have been convicted of or charged with 11 murders and two attempted murders over a three-year period. Almost all were Iraq veterans, and several claim to have witnessed war crimes. A number had pre-existing psychological problems that normally would have kept them out of the service.

This kind of thing is in all likelihood the tip of the iceberg. It’s hard to ignore dead bodies, at least if they’re those of American civilians, but one can well imagine the amount of domestic abuse, reported and especially unreported, that represents just some of the collateral damage of war.

The GDP Defense Defense

[ 0 ] July 16, 2009 |

Although he resists saying so directly, I think that the upshot of Travis Sharp’s Parameters article on GDP and the defense budget would run something like this: People who want to lock in the defense budget as a percentage of GDP are liars, morons, or both. Read the whole thing, but focus in particular on the suggestion that the United States won the Cold War because, rather than in spite of, the fact that it devoted far less of its economy to defense than the Soviet Union.

But then Parameters is just a left wing rag, so no need to pay attention to it anyway…

F-22 Death Agony (Hopefully…)

[ 0 ] July 16, 2009 |

Spencer has been following the F-22 debate closer than I; it appears that Carl Levin lacks the votes to outright kill the F-22, and thus that the potential for a confrontation between Congress and the administration over the survival of the plane remains high. Spencer points to some skepticism within the Air Force over the utility of the plane, although it’s telling that the essay is written by a Captain rather than someone with any significant influence. Matt Duss makes the point, however, that the real issue here isn’t the utility of the F-22 against some Russian fighter that has yet to move off the drawing board, or even the 95000 [sic] poor souls who’ll be thrown on the street if the plane is canceled. Rather, the question is about how effective the massive industry lobbying effort will be, and how effective the production strategy (48 states producing some component) will be in winning the political fight.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Air Force is now flying Mi-35s. History, odd sense of humor, etc.

The Idiocy of Beltway "Centrism"

[ 0 ] July 16, 2009 |


In other words, [red-state Blue Dog Democrats are] concerned that the bill (a) costs too much overall and (b) will increase the deficit. And their proposed solutions to this are to (a) increase the cost of the bill by neutering the public plan and (b) decrease the quantity of revenue by fiddling with the employer mandate. Under the circumstances, it’s no wonder that Ross didn’t want to go into detail with CNN about how he’d propose changing the bill. Maybe Harry Potter knows a spell that could untie this mess of contradictions.

I think it’s time for another Michael Lind column about how urban liberals are preventing the Democrats from supporting economically progressive policies…