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Trust

Reading Craig and Russ:

Some top notch economists insist we have a crisis of trust. True enough. Yet it seems to me that the market is trying to fire quite a number of the poor-judging risk-takers in the financial sector -- basically, those that we cannot trust. However, Mr. Obama and Mr. Geithner appear to be doing a damn fine job keeping them there, I think partly because of successful lobbying, but also because they cannot envision the market and political orders that would ensue should AIG, Citi, BoA, and a host of other international conglomerates suddenly disappear.

Will Obama Take Your Guns Away?

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My going assumption was that Obama would wind up guiding most facets of federal government policy slightly -- not severely -- to the left, meaning more taxes, more spending, more restrictions on employment, guns, and incomes. But his campaign's ceaseless advertising about his vision of change has made me look up his plan.

So how seriously does Obama take your second amendment rights? Well, Obama's website discusses guns under Urban Policy, not Civil Rights.

Address Gun Violence in Cities: As president, Barack Obama would repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, which restricts the ability of local law enforcement to access important gun trace information, and give police officers across the nation the tools they need to solve gun crimes and fight the illegal arms trade. Obama and Biden also favor commonsense measures that respect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, while keeping guns away from children and from criminals who shouldn't have them. They support closing the gun show loophole and making guns in this country childproof. They also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent, as such weapons belong on foreign battlefields and not on our streets.

In general, I prefer well-thought-out constraints to civil rights, not just what politicians believe to be "commonsense" restrictions. So Obama MAY take your guns away if you or they run afoul of to-be-determined "commonsense measures".

But does it sound to you like Obama and Biden are perfectly OK with keeping already-manufactured assault weapons on the street? It appears to me that Obama MAY take your guns away, if he pushes to ban not just the sale of assault weapons to civilians, but also their possession by civilians.

And I leave it to you whether he'll take your guns away if they cannot be made "childproof"... Who knows?

Regarding this open letter trying to shame ABC.

We're at a crucial moment in our country's history, facing war, a terrorism threat, recession, and a range of big domestic challenges. Large majorities of our fellow Americans tell pollsters they're deeply worried about the country's direction. In such a context, journalists moderating a debate--who are, after all, entrusted with free public airwaves--have a particular responsibility to push and engage the candidates in serious debate about these matters. Tough, probing questions on these issues clearly serve the public interest. Demands that candidates make pledges about a future no one can predict or excessive emphasis on tangential "character" issues do not. This applies to candidates of both parties.

Ah, politics... We're always at a crucial point in history, aren't we? The authors say ABC moderators should push candidates on policy, not character. I find this utterly pointless. Might be better to ask them to talk about their favorite cartoon characters. At least we'd learn something new.

Frankly, at this point in the election cycle, we should know exactly where the candidates stand on the most serious policy issues. A candidate that respects the intelligence of the American academic voter would have his staff write honest domestic and international policy proposals, to as detailed a level as is actionable.

And while we know their soundbites and general operating principles, we don't know specifically what Presidential candidates want to do, because even their detailed proposals on issues that are not subject to the vicissitudes of war (like paying for medical care), are simply extensive marketing strategy documents.

I mean, take a good, hard look at Sen. Clinton's "American Health Choices Plan" and Sen. Obama's "Plan for a Healthy America". I have. At best, they are not executable as designed, rely on a hodgepodge of studies of sundry qualities, and assume almost laughably low levels of implementation risk. These are rough guidelines about how these candidates would act, made up to impress. They do not.

Do our letter authors think 50 minutes more of serious debate is going to clarify the differences in immigration policy or healthcare policy between Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama? Really?

While a debate presents an additional opportunity for candidates to be powerful, forthright, and rhetorically brilliant, I remain completely unconvinced that any publicly televised debate between candidates generates any information about character or public policy that is not easily available elsewhere.

So I don't value televised debate highly. I think our letter-writers need to step back a minute from their morality campaign against ABC. They should ask themselves whether the high personal and political values they expected from the Sen. Clinton-Sen. Obama debate had any chance of being realized with 50 more minutes of policy discussion.

Would any televised debate be so bountiful? Isn't it more truthful to say that debates, to the academic-oriented, provide zero marginal product?

Stupid reasons why parliamentary system is bad

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The tiny nation of Maldives is going to have a referendum this month on whether to have a parliamentary or presidential system of government. Their president, Asia’s longest serving ruler, and who has been the world’s longest serving central bank governor and defense minister, wants a presidential system for the country. This is how one of his appointees in the parliament justified why the country cannot afford a parliamentary system;

“Out of the five hundred members in [the Indian] parliament, twenty nine members have physically abused their wives. Seven have been detained for bribery. One hundred are seventeen are accused of rape, murder or theft. Seventy one are now denied loans from banks, because they have not made repayments. Twenty one have ongoing court cases. Eighty four have been fined for various offences.”

“This is the nature of the people who will lead us in a parliamentary system of government.”

The Information Minister Mohamed Nasheed went to on to say, Indian MPs “are not able to deal with any issues,” because of “walkouts, peoples’ clothes being ripped off, [and] a woman’s sari being taken off.”


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