Daily Archives: 05/04/2011

Killing Bin Laden: Being a Candidate versus Being a Leader

Let me just start by saying, if you haven’t noticed, that on this blog I often post items that take different views on a question or issues.  That is I post, and like to post on both side of issues, especially if I find the argument at least thought provoking if you quite convincing.

This post by Russ Roberts seem to skate very close to saying maybe we shouldn’t have hunted down Osama.

It’s an unusual point of view and posted it as an interesting contrarian thought, but to remove doubt:  I don’t agree.

Given that he ordered the murder of 3,000 US citizens in act of aggression comparable to Pearl Harbor, I think we had no choice to but to hunt down and kill him.  Hats off to President Obama for doing so.   President Bush also is to be applauded to the extent he helped set this up to be successful.

Go back to the campaign of 2008, McCain (remember him?) and Obama. Suppose in the middle of the campaign, someone returned from the future and told you that by 2011, the President of the United States will have kept Guantanamo Bay open, launched a war against Libya, and crossed covertly into an ally’s territory to assassinate Bin Laden. Who would you think that would be? McCain or Obama?

Couldn’t be Obama. The man who was repulsed by American exceptionalism, who pledged to close Guantanamo Bay, the man who said the way to deal with bad guys is to talk to them, not attack them.

What happened?

Three possibilities come to mind. The first is that politicians on the campaign trail lie and dissemble. They need to motivate their base, craft an image, and so on.

The second possibility comes from a CIA economist who told me in the middle of the 2008 campaign that when Obama becomes President, he’ll know what Bush knows (meaning horrific and frightening classified information) and he’ll do the same thing as Bush.

The third possibility is that when you get into power, you change. It’s fun to play video games with real lives. You can’t help yourself. It’s easy to convince yourself (given that classified information) that you have no choice.

I think it’s a mix of two and three. I think Obama the candidate really thought he would be different. President Obama is not so different.

What we’ve learned about Obama (and power)
Russ Roberts
Wed, 04 May 2011 13:20:05 GMT


Keynes vs. Hayek, Now With More Boxing…

You may have seen this already as its been on a lot of blogs, but this has a little twist in that Econogirl (the author of this repost) is actually in the video.

Not a bad rap.

You may recall from earlier that I went down to New Jersey a couple of weekends ago to attend the taping of the second installment of the Keynes/Hayek rap video. (You can see some background and commentary on the first video here.) You probably don’t recall that I had a bit of a Twitter spat with John Papola, the director of the series of videos:

me: John Papola: “This is not an unbiased production. When Hayek speaks, you’re like ‘yes.’ When Keynes speaks, you’re like ‘no.’” Sigh.
John: I’m proud to be honest about my position instead of put forward some pretense of “objectivity” that is clearly impossible.
John: reserve judgment on the treatment of Keynes until you see the final video. On-set direction is not the same thing as editing.

Fair enough, and John’s not wrong. Most of the words are, in fact, accurate- the only thing that really caught my attention was the statement that Keynes didn’t care where government spending goes. I would like to think that reasonable Keynesians would agree that it’s strictly better to spend on useful things than on stupid things. That said, I am not sure what Keynes himself had to sat on the matter. I also think it’s appropriate that I watched this immediately after going to a talk by Greg Mankiw about how there is a “case for humility” in macroeconomics, since there is still a lot that we don’t know about trying to regulate business cycles. He likened the economist/economy relationship to a doctor/patient relationship in which the doctor hasn’t seen enough patients like the current one in order to do a proper clinical trial. If the medicine that the doctor gives initially doesn’t work, is it because the doctor prescribed the wrong medicine or is it because the patient was sicker than the doctor realized and the dose wasn’t high enough? It’s a difficult problem, and it kind of makes me want to see Dr. House as an economist.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the new video:

Yep, that’s my name in the credits. Did you see me? Yeah, me neither. :) I’ll give you a hint- I’m in the crowd in the boxing scene, and I’m wearing the same dress as in the picture on my Facebook page. I had asked if I could be one of the congresspeople and was told that I could be an intern or a girlfriend. I guess that’s a compliment in a weird way, but I would like to reiterate that I am in fact old enough to be a member of congress.

I would also like to point out that, given that I saw what John had to work with in terms of number of extras and such, the video is very, very well done. The main actors (Billy and Adam) are super nice, and apparently they make the rap thing a habit. I think the best part was watching the boxing coach teaching Billy and Adam how to fake box, since, despite not being “real”, it looked completely exhausting. Oh, and I got to give out stickers:

I’m not sure how I feel about that combination of stickers, but I guess I’ll take it.

Keynes vs. Hayek, Now With More Boxing…
Sat, 30 Apr 2011 17:18:44 GMT