The Spectacle Blog

If You Have No Good Intellectual Arguments, Accuse Your Opponents of Being Shills

By on 4.19.16 | 3:45PM

The stupidest, lamest, and couldn’t-be-more-mistaken charge often leveled at those who find great merits in free markets (such as me and my colleagues at GMU Economics and the Mercatus Center, and my dear friends at institutions such as the Cato Institute and the Hoover Institution) is that we’re “bought off by” or are “paid shills for” rich business people.

Impeachment in Brazil: Myths and Facts

By on 4.19.16 | 12:36PM

On Sunday night, Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies voted overwhelmingly (367-137) to open impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff. The Senate will now vote on whether to take the case and try her, which is all but guaranteed. As a matter of fact, barring some unforeseen event, Dilma’s days as president are numbered.

These are Brazil’s most turbulent months since the return to democracy in 1985. Not only is the president about to be removed from office, but the country is also mired in its worst economic recession since the 1930s. It is not coincidence that Dilma’s popularity (10%) stands at a similar level to Brazil’s fiscal deficit (10.75%), the unemployment rate (9.5%), and the inflation rate (9.4%). The economic and political crises are feeding off of one another.

Here are some facts and myths regarding this impeachment process:

“It’s a coup!”

Doris Roberts, R.I.P.

By on 4.18.16 | 9:53PM

Actress Doris Roberts passed away on Sunday at the age of 90.

Roberts is best known for playing Marie Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond starring Ray Romano from 1996 to 2005. She would win four Emmy Awards for this role.

Before being cast on Everybody Loves Raymond, Roberts' already had a career that had spanned 45 years dating back to the early 1950's. Her TV credits include roles on Ben Casey, Naked City, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Barney Miller (which I saw the other night). Roberts would become a series regular on Angie and Remington Steele and also appear in movies likeThe Heartbreak Kid, The Rose and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. 

Above is a video of Roberts accepting one of her Emmy Awards back in 2002.


Why I’m Not Impressed With Justin Trudeau’s Answer on Quantum Computing

By on 4.17.16 | 2:59AM

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is still getting the Obama treatment. 

During a speech in Waterloo, Ontario on Friday in which he was discussing his Liberal government's first budget, a reporter asked Trudeau about his government's strategy on ISIS, the reporter prefaced the question by stating, "I was going to ask you about quantum computing but...."

And Trudeau, ever the show off, answered the question about quantam computing much to the delight of an audience of theoretical physicists

However, Trudeau was a lot less forthcoming when it came to answering the reporter's question about ISIS. 

It's all well and good that Trudeau knows about quantam computers. Unfortunately, it does nothing to defeat ISIS. 

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper probably couldn't tell you about binary systems, but I bet he has a much better idea about how to defeat ISIS than Justin Trudeau does.



Where One Boston Day Falls Short

By on 4.15.16 | 11:10PM

Today marks the third anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombings.

As per Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, April 15th will be known as One Boston Day in which “random acts of kindness and spreading goodwill" is encouraged.

While getting a hug from the Boston Ballet Nutcracker Bear and free admission into the Museum of Fine Arts is all well and good, kindness and goodwill are empty gestures without remembering there was an act of evil committed in this city and the religious ideology that inspired that evil is alive, well and not going away no matter how much we want to pretend it isn't there.

Water Is Not a Public Good

By on 4.15.16 | 12:45PM

Last night in my seminar on Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations my students and I covered Smith’s chapters on public goods. During the course of the discussion one of my superb students, Chris Kuiper, mentioned in passing that Paul Krugman, in a recent New York Times column, mistakenly described safe drinking water as a public good. Here’s that column. Mr. Krugman emphasizes that safe drinking water is a public good according to “Econ 101.”

(Please excuse me for a moment while I take a sip of water from my bottle of Aquafina…. Ok — my thirst is now well and truly and safely quenched. Back to this blog post…)

Overcriminalization at the Airport

By on 4.15.16 | 12:39PM

People who fly a lot will invariably have a bad experience at the airport, sooner or later. Delays, cancellations, huge lines, and overbooked flights can wear on people, and sometimes individuals take their frustrations out on an airline employee. And, once in a while, the person goes too far and crosses the line into assaulting that employee.

In no airport in America is assaulting an airline employee legal under state law. The laws against simple assault — that is, unwanted physical contact, often without injury — apply just as much at the terminal gate as they do at your local bar or walking down the street. But, as with seemingly every bad thing that happens, someone wants to make a federal case out of it. Literally.

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced an amendment to a bill before the Senate to make the simple assault of an airline employee punishable up to ten years in federal prison. This is a problem for a bunch of reasons, but here are two that stick out.

Are The Golden State Warriors The Greatest Team in NBA History?

By on 4.14.16 | 1:57PM

The Golden State Warriors made NBA history with a 125-104 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in the final game of the regular season. The Warriors finished the 2015-2016 season 73-9 besting the 72-10 mark set by the Chicago Bulls 20 years ago. Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr was a member of that Bulls team. Of course, Kerr was sidelined for more than half the season recovering from back surgery. It was under Lukes Walton began the season 24-0 and winning 39 of its first 43 games before Kerr took back the reins.


But where would this team have been without Stephen Curry? He sank his 400th 3-pointer last night shattering his own record of 286 a year ago. A second consecutive NBA MVP is on the order paper for Curry.


How good were the Warriors? The 5-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs were 67-15. Normally that would have been the the league's best record. Instead the Spurs finished 6 games back of the Warriors.


If Only The Trump Campaign Had Apologized to Michelle Fields

By on 4.13.16 | 11:00PM

Politico is reporting that the Palm Beach County DA will not prosecute Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski for assaulting former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields.

Once this is announced we can expect Trump to send out some juvenile tweets calling Fields' character into question and calling upon her to be prosecuted either for assault or for filing a false police report.

But as I argued nearly five weeks ago the Trump campaign left Fields with no other choice after they refused to apologize to her for the incident let alone acknowledge it happened. Of course, when video emerged that Lewandowski had in fact grabbed Fields their spin was that he had rescued Trump from a would be assassin

Thoughts on The Jackie Robinson PBS Mini-Series

By on 4.13.16 | 7:49PM

On Monday & Tuesday night, I watched both parts of Ken Burns' Jackie Robinson mini-series on PBS.

I was already familiar with most of Robinson's biography, but was fascinated with the light shed on his post-playing career particularly his political involvement with the Republican Party.

Of course, I knew Robinson supported Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election, but did not realize the contempt in which he held John F. Kennedy. Robinson was even less impressed after meeting with JFK who told him he hadn't met with many black people by virtue of being from Massachusetts. An angry Robinson told JFK it was his job as a Senator to meet with all Americans. Robinson was also appalled at JFK's selection of Lyndon Johnson as his running mate. During his time as Senate Majority Leader, LBJ had shown little interest in civil rights which was typical of Southern Democrats of that era.