We recently noted that February would be a relatively inactive month for us. However that doesn't mean that we aren't still thinking about the news items that are shaping the world on a daily basis.
That said, it would seem that there would be no better time than the present for the latest edition of Snippets, our semi-regular attempt at covering a lot of topics in a little time. Some would call this lazy; economists prefer the term 'efficient.'
As the items in this particular edition reach back to the last time we posted, some of the blurbs are more or less timely than others. However, we hope you will find that bons mots don't need to be contemporaneous to be effective...
- Let's start off this edition with a question. Is Barack Obama the best president of the past 50 years? One of my former professors seems to think so, though the phrase damning with faint praise comes to mind...
- Speaking of Mr. Obama, we once wrote about Beltway speculation that he would rather be a one-term president who could look back on a number of transformative accomplishments than be a bad two-term president. He recently proved me wrong when, in one of history's great examples of political flip-flopping, he gave the go-ahead to supporters who want to use super-PACs to back his reelection bid. While current supporters can rightly claim that if you can't beat 'em you should join 'em, this has to be a disappointing development for many of his supporters from 2008, not mention a small source of guilty pleasure for a few members of the Supreme Court.
- For anyone who didn't take the time to visit that last link, it verified a not-so-subtle reference to Citizens United, a.k.a. the decision that some believe made super-PACs possible in the first place. The irony makes me giddy.
- Lets step back from the world of political intrigue for a moment to ask a simple question: Could a world without friday night lights, Super Bowls, Super Bowl commercials, even the very sport of football itself, be in our future? Economists Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier seem to think it is a distinct possibility.
- If that were to happen, Blawgconomics believes that one beneficiary would be the sport the rest of the world calls football. Particularly if Americans remain secure in their right to drink beers during matches...
- Okay, back to politics. Does Republican hopeful Newt Gingrich want execute drug smugglers? Find out for yourself.
- In this edition of Snippets, we have already covered a few sports stories and a few political stories. With that backdrop, it would seem to be appropriate to note two recent sports stories with political undertones. The first is Clint Eastwood's commercial about the auto-bailouts (or not) which has turned into a bit of an, ahem, political football. At least for him. On the other hand, Saturday Night Live seems to be doing just fine with the situation.
- The second sports cum political story we would like to mention is Visit-Gate. For non-hockey fans, this was Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas's refusal to go the White House for the traditional champions meet and greet after the B's won the Stanley Cup last season. The statement he released in the wake of the snub suggests that he stayed home due to a hodgepodge of Tea Party talking points, though he maintains it wasn't a political move. While Thomas is correct that it is his right to not meet the president, the team is 1-5 since the snub. Not that he has become a distraction or anything...
- Though the factors leading to the Great Recession were myriad and complex, some folks think that a very simple lack of education about finance and economics at least contributed to the malaise. Many such individuals believe that educating Americans about everyday financial topics could help to avoid similar situations in the future, while some, apparently, do not. Freakonomics has the point-counterpoint here.
- Speaking of recessions, it seems that everyone with the ability to form even non-coherent thoughts has an opinion on how to fix things. In an example of the joys of macro, at least one notable commentator believes that raising interest rates might be the key while according to at least one other, that might not be the case.
- While we are on economic topics, the ABA recently released some data on law school applications which renews my faith in the good old forces of supply and demand.
- Okay folks enough for today, but you can expect a follow-up in the near future. In the meantime, and as as mentioned in our recent Notice, the Twitter feed is a great place to get updates on stories, opinions and general thoughts until we are able to post more regularly again.