From June, 2013

On the Efficacy of Cash Transfers to the Poor

Smart comments from Chris Blattman: First, the message can be misunderstood. It is not, “Cash transfers to the poor are a panacea.” More like, “They probably suck less than most of the other things we are doing.” This is not a high bar.Second, cash transfers work in some cases not others. If a poor person is enterprising, and their main problem is insufficient capital, terrific. If that’s not their problem, throwing cash will not do much to help. I recommend the paper for details. Apologies: It is even more boring that Das Kapital.Third, a cash transfer to help the poor build business is like…

The Supreme Court and Same-Sex Marriage

I support the policy outcomes in both of the same-sex marriage cases before the Supreme Court. I believe that the Defense of Marriage Act was bad law that treated people differently for no good reason whatsoever, and I am glad to have seen it overturned in the Court’s decision in Windsor. As law professor Randy Barnett, who wrote an amicus brief in the Windsor case, points out, . . . DOMA was unconstitutional because (a) Congress had no enumerated power to regulate or “defend” marriage by imposing its definition on the states, and (b) DOMA was not necessary and proper for carrying…

Edward Snowden: Hero of Transparency

Or, you know, not:  Since he publicly acknowledged being the source of bombshell leaks about the NSA two weeks ago, Ed Snowden has portrayed government secrecy as a threat to democracy, and his own leaks as acts of conscience. But chat logs uncovered by the tech news site Ars Technica suggest Snowden hasn’t always felt that way.“Those people should be shot in the balls,” Snowden apparently said of leakers in a January 2009 chat. Snowden had logged into an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) server associated with Ars Technica. While Ars itself didn’t log the conversations, multiple participants in the discussions…

Why Democrats Have Turned Away from President Obama

Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan discuss.  One reason they cite is the fact that the presidential election is over, and Democrats no longer feel as much of a need to rally around the president. But here are the other reasons: 2. No big second term accomplishments. President Obama devoted the most powerful moments of his 2013 State of the Union address to the necessity of Congress passing gun control legislation. That push became a touchstone for Democrats across the country. It failed. While immigration reform remains in process, there’s not much he can point to that excites his base at…

Shelby County v. Holder: Ilya Shapiro’s Take

Probably the most sane analysis of the Supreme Court’s holding that I have seen:  In striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, the U.S. Supreme Court has restored a measure of constitutional order. Based on 40-year-old voting data that doesn’t reflect current political conditions, this provision subjected a seemingly random assortment of states and localities to onerous burdens and unusual federal oversight.To be clear, neither minority voting rights nor the ability of the federal government to enforce those rights were at stake in Shelby County v. Holder. Both of those were, are and will be secure regardless of…