For a long time I've wondered how libel laws can still exist in a country where people can accuse President Bush of engineering the WTC collapse and not get thrown into jail. Prove to me those laws still exist.
Update: Volokh conspirator Ilya Somin has some thoughts. Like the Volokhs, Somin emigrated from the Soviet Union - according to this Amazon book review he was born in then-Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1973, the year Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to the Cold War.
Congress has been operating without a budget since Obama took office, racked up over $1 trillion in deficits in each of those years, and in the recent debt-ceiling agreement Obama, Boehner and Reid (oh my!) make only a pretense at controlling spending. America is thus a bigger credit risk, and Standard and Poors reflects that in its lowering of the US credit rating. (I think AA+ is optimistic, if you ask me.)
Stocks are plunging because big-time investors react to long-term structural changes in markets. The unbridled government borrowing is squeezing out private-sector borrowing and ultimately devaluing the dollar. They don't see Washington doing anything to reverse the trend, so for now they're bailing. A borrowed stimulus would just make matters worse, profiting only the special interests that get the stimulus money. Washington needs to drastically cut its budget, as soon as it goes back to the habit of operating on a budget.
The government also needs to eliminate government-created obstacles to economic growth. I believe that the regulatory agencies (including but not limited to Sarbanes-Oxley, which has been a huge financial burden to corporations) can be streamlined significantly. We need to remove obstacles to oil and natural gas exploration. The NLRB needs to stop telling corporations they can't open plants in certain states - bravo to Boeing for ignoring the NLRB. Taxes need to be simplified sufficiently to reduce the need for public-sector IRS agents and private-sector tax accountants, freeing resources for the kinds of jobs that actually produce something.
This reads like a really demented Swedish Chef skit (link via Rand):
Richard Handl told The Associated Press that he had the radioactive elements radium, americium and uranium in his apartment in southern Sweden when police showed up and arrested him on charges of unauthorized possession of nuclear material.
The 31-year-old Handl said he had tried for months to set up a nuclear reactor at home and kept a blog about his experiments, describing how he created a small meltdown on his stove.
Congress cut a deal, and Marc "Wormtongue: Thiessen declares victory for the hobbits. The proposed cuts are tiny relative to the annual deficits; in comments I called it "the equivalent of knocking off a couple of orc regiments and leaving Sauron, Sauman, and all the Ringwraiths intact."
It's easy to say that the budget needs to be cut by a trillion or so - not over a period of years, but annually. But how? A lot of people need to start working on that answer - NOW. We need a lot of plans for cutting out a lot of government programs.
At the same time we need to reduce the artificial costs imposed on businesses so the economy can recover.
The government machinery is so complex I can't do justice to the task here. One issue I'd like to see addressed is the regulatory realm. I believe that business regulation can be made more efficient. Take Sarbanes-Oxley, for example. SOX was passed to make it harder for corporations to engage in accounting fraud. But it's so costly that smaller firms can't afford to incorporate.
Allen Organ Company is one firm thatdeslisted from public trading because of SOX. "Steven Markowitz, president of the world's largest electronic organ manufacturer, said the move will save about $500,000 during the next two years, and another $250,000 to $400,000 annually after that."
Offer an X Prize for a less costly (to to both the regulators and the regulated) and less Rube Goldberg-ish alternative to SOX. Entrants must be required to watch the film Brazil.
Some necessary steps cannot be accomplished during an Obama presidency. The creation of the United States Department of Education did not lead to a drastic shrinkage in its 50 state counterparts. It is duplication of effort (at best) that must go. But Obama's in too deep with the educrats. It costs more to lobby 50 state capitals than one national capital - the bigger Washington's role in education, the less the lobbyists have to hit the state capitals.