Give prosperity a chance

Will we learn from or repeat history?

The hero of Waterloo was the Duke of Wellington, but the hero of the peace that followed was a Whig member of Parliament, Henry Brougham, who led the charge in 1815 for abolition of the income tax. Don’t do it, said the conventionally wise; we have a 915-million-pound debt to pay off.

But Brougham (say “Broom”) and his allies did it anyway. Business got its stimulus, and the tax revenues poured in, reducing the debt considerably and starting a 60-year bull market for the empire. It’s “the way the world works,” as in the title of Jude Wanniski’s 1978 book. (Berwyn library has it, FYI.)

You don’t always generate more tax revenues with higher tax rates. If you think you do, Wanniski has an extended economic and historical argument to help you get over it, including chapter and verse on this British case.

There’s more on the low-tax-high-prosperity theme at my column for the month at Wednesday Journal of Oak Park & River Forest

Tale of two studies

The problem, newly discovered (!) is that black boys kill each other in alarming numbers. The answer, from a Northeastern U. academic, is clear:

Seizing on President-elect Barack Obama‘s incoming administration as an opportunity for more funding, Fox added: “There is an urgency for reinvestment in children and families. In essence, we need a bailout for kids at risk.”

And if you were wondering whom to blame, that’s easy:

The study partly blamed Bush administration grant cuts to local police and juvenile crime prevention programs for the surge in crimes by young black men and teens. Incoming Vice President Joe Biden has promised funding to put 50,000 new police officers on the street to help bring violent crime rates back to a decade-long annual decline that began in the mid-1990s, after then-President Bill Clinton provided local officials with money to hire 100,000 new cops.

Thank you, AP.  Wall St. Jnl, on the other hand, has an ameliorating quote:

James Alan Fox, co-author of the study, attributed the numbers to a variety of issues, including cuts in funding for local law-enforcement programs that were credited with lowering the nation’s record murder rates in the 1990s. “It’s hard to pin down cause and effect,” Mr. Fox said.

He adds, judiciously:

Mr. Fox said the cuts in law-enforcement programs and activities geared toward youth disproportionately affect African-Americans because they are more likely than their white counterparts to come from communities where there is inadequate adult supervision, high rates of single-parent homes, inferior schools and widespread gang activity.

“Cuts in support for youth have a much greater impact on black families who don’t have alternatives,” Mr. Fox said.

Mr. Fox, we hardly knew ye from the AP account, which operates somewhat sloppily out of its own preferred “narrative,” as rhetoricians would have it.  It’s why one can do better at Wall St. Jnl, every day in almost every way.

It’s over for now

Here’s a grabber:

Easily one of the most important stories of 2008 has been all the evidence suggesting that this may be looked back on as the year when there was a turning point in the great worldwide panic over man-made global warming. Just when politicians in Europe and America have been adopting the most costly and damaging measures politicians have ever proposed, to combat this supposed menace, the tide has turned in three significant respects.

Temps are dropping like flies.  What’s more,

the poles remain defiantly icebound and those polar bears fail to drown. All those hysterical predictions that we are seeing more droughts and hurricanes than ever before have infuriatingly failed to materialise.

The end of the world has been delayed.

Appointment made in heaven

Taking our mind off Blago:

A federal grand jury is investigating how a company that advised Jefferson County, Alabama, on bond deals that threaten to cause the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, did similar work in New Mexico after making contributions to Governor Bill Richardson’s political action committees.

How about Bill R. for Commerce?

Fitzgerald speaking out of turn

Former Justice Dept. official Victoria Toensing lays into Prosecutor Fitzgerald for editorializing about his and the FBI’s findings in l’affair Blagojevich.

In the Dec. 9 press conference regarding the federal corruption charges against Gov. Blagojevich and his chief of staff, Mr. Fitzgerald violated the ethical requirement of the Justice Department guidelines that prior to trial a “prosecutor shall refrain from making extrajudicial comments that pose a serious and imminent threat of heightening public condemnation of the accused.”

His “political corruption crime spree” and other vivid depictions of Blago’s behavior took him over the line in violation of his duty  to “inform the public of the nature and extent” of charges without “ to “inform the public of the nature and extent” without “making extrajudicial comments that pose a serious and imminent threat of heightening public condemnation of the accused.”

She recalls similar Fitzgerald violations in the Scotter Libby announcement in October, 2005, when he likened himself to an umpire who “gets sand thrown in his eyes” by obstruction of justice — acting as if he did not already know who had leaked the Valerie Plame name.  (He did, from the start of his investigation.)

Blago engaged in “base, sordid conduct,” she said.  “But those thoughts and words are for the rest of us to express before the trial. It is unethical for those who are government prosecutors to do so.”

In other words, he was a reporter in this case, not a columnist or editorial writer.

Lisa’s clown act

U Wis-Madison law prof Ann Althouse takes Illinois Atty. Genl Lisa’s argument to remove Blagojevich from office apart piece by piece, in the process dismantling Madigan as someone to be taken seriously in this latest Illinois tragi-comedy of errors.

Madigan is relying on Article V, Section 6 of the Illinois constitution: “If the Governor is unable to serve because of death, conviction on impeachment, failure to qualify, resignation or other disability, the office of Governor shall be filled by the officer next in line of succession for the remainder of the term or until the disability is removed.” So she needs to argue that Blagojevich is disabled within the meaning of that text.

Asked by an Illinois Supreme Court justice if this article “was meant for a political or legal crisis like this or simply for some kind of, you know, medical or emotional issue,” she says “we,” she and her office, presumably,

would look to the fact that the term disability legally is very broad, that it is not simply isolated to a physical or mental disability. And you can read all about that in our pleadings.

“Yes,” said the questioner, letting it go at that.

Would removing the governor for this reason “set a dangerous precedent,” she was asked, but did not understand the question.

Q. Are there enough protections in place to stop someone from doing what you’re doing in the future?

Q For political ends.

Q From abusing the —

. . . Q (Off mike) — abusing the AG authority.

“One of the protections,” she answered, finally getting it, is that the state supreme court “has total discretion” in the matter and “serves as a check on the executive branch in the circumstance.”

To which Althouse:

So the safeguard against the AG’s abuse of power is that the court will have the role of deciding? How can it be the court‘s role to make the final call about things that belong in the realm of impeachment? Why do constitutions put impeachment trials in legislatures? Because courts are ill-suited to such decision-making.

Althouse was just getting warmed up.  The rest is here.  Vanderbilt U. law prof Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) calls it “embarrassing,” says, “Illinois state government is looking like one big clown show.”

And Ms. Madigan is looking like a hack  She’s been the strong, silent type in Chi newspapers, etc., with nothing to say, apparently.


The court is on to her, to judge from this exchange:

At the end of the oral argument, the court flat-out confronts Madigan about her own political ambitions and conflict of interest:

Q I know you say that you haven’t been thinking about politics at all, but there have obviously been a lot of questions about politics, and there wouldn’t be questions about politics unless your political future was considered very bright and in play here. Given the fact of your possible interest in being governor, given the fact that you’ve been mentioned as a possible Senate replacement for Barack Obama, was any consideration given to your removing yourself from this issue because of a possible perception, if not reality, of conflict of interest?

MS. MADIGAN: No. And let me make two further statements. One is I never expressed any interest in even being considered for the U.S. Senate vacancy. I never contacted or talked to any — the governor or anybody in the governor’s office about that.

In addition, I am supporting putting the lieutenant governor in to serve as at governor of the state of Illinois. I think that is in the best interests of the people of this state. And I am happy to serve as the attorney general of this state. And I will continue in that role to do what is best for the people of this state.

Well, the answer is meaningless. The question says it all [comments Althouse].

I’d say so.