Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lincoln was Wrong, and Other Thoughts

Lincoln was wrong. You can no longer fool even some of the people all the time. The people have wised up to the pronouncements of politicians, especially on matters of money.

Nor can you indefinitely borrow your way to prosperity. At some point debt becomes a millstone, an albatross, around a country’s debt. The centuries are replete with coin clipping, sweating, bleaching, and excessive borrowing, resulting in financial panics, recessions, depressions, and revolutions.

Lying to Congress in the conduct of its official business is a crime under U.S.C. §1001: US Code - Section 1001: Statements or entries generally. Since Members of Congress are representatives of the people, elected to do the business of the people, then Members of Congress who lie to the American people in the conduct of their business should be subject to the same penalty, fined and/or imprisoned for not more than five years. The law should be amended to insure symmetry of treatment.

Is there a think tank bubble? In August 2007 there were 5,035 think tanks in 169 countries. Of the total, 1,776 are in the U.S., of which nearly three-fifths were established in the past 25 years.

Policy research constitutes the majority of the output of U.S. think tanks. Leading subjects include social policy, domestic economy, regional studies, international studies, environment, education, and national security. Output consists largely of books and policy briefs, with web postings playing a growing role.

Sticking to U.S. think tanks, there aren’t 1,776 thoughts for think tanks to think. This means massive redundancy and varying points of view on any given thought. It also means increasing competition for a less rapidly growing supply of private funding for think tanks outside public universities. If think tanks were subject to market competition, one would expect to see substantial mergers and acquisition. Rather, proliferation continues, although at a slower rate in the past decade. The explosive growth in think tanks makes it increasingly difficult to disseminate good ideas, to broadcast a strong signal through an atmosphere of static.

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