Thursday, January 21, 2010

If after 20 or 21 times you don't succeed, try again 

Last year on my old radio show on AM1280 I had on my sister-in-law, Deb Banaian, who is remarkably trying for her 19th time to get on as a contestant on Survivor. Her story is remarkable both for its perseverance and desire, and for overcoming disabilities. To see her story, watch this video posted on CBS.

Here's the Facebook page for her fans. We want people to vote for her to get CBS, after nine years, to finally get Deb onto the show. Thanks for watching the video and joining up.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

New radio adventure 

For those of you still wondering what's going on with the radio program, your wait is about over. As I just mentioned on KKMS Live with Jeff and Lee last hour, I will be on KYCR this Saturday, 9-11am, as we begin to roll out the new Business 1570 Talk Radio Saturday. As I'll discuss on Saturday, do NOT expect that this is just Final Word on another station. We're going to create something different, more focused on economics and finance than anything I've ever done on NARN. But you will still hear policy talk, as I've always done, with an eye towards what's happening in St. Paul and Washington that affects business leaders and entrepreneurs.

We don't have everything in place just yet to make this work, but part of my philosophy is to get out there quickly, find the problems with any new venture and work them out. So join in an audio beta-testing on Saturday, 9am, on Business 1570, Twin Cities Business Radio.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Media alerts 

  1. Due to a technical glitch, I am covering for Don again on the KNSI Morning Show, 6-8am tomorrow.
  2. If you are in St. Cloud, you have a great opportunity to hear an alumnus of my department who has made quite a name for himself. Jim Bullard, president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, will be speaking at Atwood Little Theater tomorrow at 1pm on the economy. There will be a brief Q&A at the end of the hour. Admission is free. Here are directions to Atwood.
  3. As to the status of Final Word, please check back tomorrow for news. I'm 98% sure of what happens next and need time to get the details. But it's going to be a different and I think an exciting opportunity.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

No radio tomorrow (UPDATED) 

We are in the middle of making some changes to the radio show, which will include the time of its broadcast. Suffice to say, my travel gave us little time to get all the changes made for this Saturday, so the best thing to do is to take another week off. I hope that in a week I can offer you a full update of where Final Word will be going next. The first four hours of NARN will be on the air as always and we don't anticipate changes to that part of the schedule.

I apologize for how sketchy this note is, but there are many details that are TBD at this point and probably will be for another five days or so.

If you're really desperate to hear me, besides needing to get your head examined you could hear me on KNSI next Thursday 6-8am on its Morning Show, filling in for Don Lyons.

UPDATE: Forgot it was first Saturday, so I'll take my usual turn on the David Strom Show at 10am.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Final Word last week 

We talked mostly about individual mandates for health care, and a bit about the vilification of the opposition, particularly by Speaker Pelosi. Hour headers are the links to the podcast, and for Tommy's Playlist below we'll go with Chevelle this week, which caught me by pleasant surprise. (I've also linked the video for Mr. Brightside so I can play it while away. I recently discovered the Killers and think they are awesome.)

We'll have surprise guest hosts for you this week on NARN. Follow Mitch and Ed, John and Brian for details. I'll be overseas for the rest of this week and most of next. More on this later.

1st hour

out: Sparklehorse, Sad And Beautiful World
in: U2, Elevation

out:Better Than Ezra, Pull
in: Chevelle, Sleep Apnea

out: Gomez, How we Operate
in: Coldplay, Voilet Hill

out: Radiohead, Paranoid Android

2nd hr

out: Foo Fighters, Long Road To Ruin
in: Muse, Super Massive Blackhole

out: Arctic Monkeys, Brainstorm
in: Audioslave, Cochise

out: Killers, Mr Brightside
in: Soundgarden, Spoonman

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Shows to a fair-thee-well 

I'm late thanking everyone -- and I mean everyone with this year's record attendance -- for stopping by the State Fair, particularly for Saturday's show. We had a blast with the buffalo meat kebab for my breaking the vegetarian fast (and it has gone well, with a little turkey eaten on Monday) and with seeing so many friends at the fair. My special thanks to our guests who stopped by and to Mitch and Ed for playing emergency backstop if the buffalo experiment had gone poorly. If you want to relive the experience, here are hour 1 and hour 2 of that show.

Tommy's playlist (as usual, with one video included):

Hour 1

out/in: Pink Floyd, Brick in the Wall

out: Motley Crue, Smokin in the boys room

in: Lupe Fiasco, Superstar

out: Chicago, Saturday in the Park

in: Green Jelly, Three Little Pigs

out: Better Than Ezra, Our Last Night

Hour 2

out: AC/DC, Big Gun

In: Yul Brenner, A Puzzlement (because the night before while with Mitch I said something about playing The King and I.)

out: Prodigy, Breathe

in: Meatloaf, I would do anything for love
out: Ted Nugent, Great White Buffalo

in: Bob Marley, Buffalo Soldier

From the week before, I had President Earl Potter and state Rep. Laura Brod on in Hour 1 from the State Fair, and then in hour 2 I had announced the fair meat contest and some general news items. Tommy's playlist for that week:

out: Counting Crows, Mrs Potters Lullaby

in: Kid Rock, All Summer Long
out: The Black Crows

In: AC/DC, Runaway Train
out: Foo Fighters, Learning to Fly

in: Coldplay, Politik
out: Gomez, How We Operate

2nd Hour:

out: Van Halen, You Really Got Me

in: Free, Alright Now
out: The Refreshments, Banditos

in: Radiohead, Just
out: Marvelous 3 (Butch Walker), Freak of the Week

in: Gorillaz, Feel Good Inc
out: ZZ Top, Tush (at which point I wondered where was my normal outro!)

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Tommy's playlist for 8/22 

We are starting a new category, on request of Final Word listeners. Tommy Huynh, my producer, makes a list of the songs he plays as bumper music for FW. (For the curious, our intro music is Doves, Words, and the outro for the last segment is always Cheap Trick, Who D'King, as proposed by Derek at Freedom Dogs.)

Our podcast always appears with the rest of NARN at Townhall. For the most recent Saturday, they normally don't go up before Monday night (and please don't ask why -- there's always some damn reason or another for slow posting even though we're the only live Salem/Townhall show going on a weekend and could kick some Monday morning butt.)

UPDATE: Well what do you know? Hour 1, Hour 2.

We'll use Final Word and Tommy's Playlists in the labels for those wanting to follow along, and I'll link to a YouTube each week of one song I like.

1st hr

out: Seether, Remedy

in: AC/DC, Runaway Train

out: Prodigy, Breathe

In: Counting Crows, Los Angeles

out: Len, Steal My Sunshine

in: Weezer, Hashpipe

out: Tom Petty, Mary Jane's Last Dance
2nd hr

out: Gomez, How We Operate (I showed him a Gomez CD in my car months ago, and he went to my favorite Gomez song without bidding.)

in: Coldplay, Yellow

out: Radiohead, Iron Lung

in: Better Than Ezra, Pull

out: Muse, Starlight

in: Greenday, Holiday

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Tommy's playlist for 8/15 

To catch up from two weekends ago, here's Tommy's playlist.

Out first break: Rock You Like a Hurricane, Scorpions

In: Black Hole Sun, Soundgarden

Out: Rain in the Summertime, The Alarm

In: Iron Lung, Radiohead

Out: Diesel Power, Prodigy

In: Viva La Vida, Coldplay

Out: I Wish it Would Rain, Phil Collins

2nd Hour

Out: Dust in the Wind, Kansas

In: Cold as Ice, Foreigner

Out: Earth Song, Micheal Jackson

In: Super massive Black Hole, Muse

Out: Turn, Turn, Turn, the Byrds

In: Holiday, Green Day

Be sure to hear Hour 1 with John Coleman and Hour 2 with Prof. Al Pekarek, both on climate change, which appears to be the most popular topic on this blog. Your choice, folks, not mine.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Clarification and interventionism 

I am actually pleased that I've gotten so much email -- most of it negative -- about my broadcast Saturday on what the term socialism means. I had wondered if I was wasting my time, that most people were wise enough to know that socialism and what is happening right now in America are sufficiently different so as to make it necessary to call the Obama Administration's current economic policy something different. I had settled on "interventionism" based on one of Mises' shorter works, because it illustrates something I had tried to explain.

There are only two systems of economic order: Planned systems (which we call "socialism") and spontaneous systems ("capitalism"). He says, in this classic reprinted by the Joint Economic Committee back in 1994,
Production can either be directed by the prices fixed on the market by the buying and by the abstention from buying on the part of the public. Or it can be directed by the government's central board of production management. There is no third solution available. There is no third social system feasible which would be neither market economy nor socialism. Government control of only a part of prices must result in a state of affairs which -- without any exception -- everybody considers as absurd and contrary to purpose. Its inevitable result is chaos and social unrest.
Mises argued that socialism takes two forms. Many of you who wrote to me after the show pointed out that socialism did not require direct bureaucratic control of the economy. That, as Mises argued, is one form. The other he characterizes by the German word Zwangswirtschaft, or "economic compulsion". While there are still private owners hiring workers, buying goods and making profits, they are directed by the state:
The government tells these seeming entrepreneurs what and how to produce, at what prices and from whom to buy, at what prices and to whom to sell. The government decrees at what wages laborers should work and to whom and under what terms the capitalists should entrust their funds. Market exchange is but a sham. As all prices, wages, and interest rates are fixed by the authority, they are prices, wages, and interest rates in appearance only; in fact they are merely quantitative terms in the authoritarian orders determining each citizen's income, consumption, and standard of living. The authority, not the consumers, directs production. The central board of production management is supreme; all citizens are nothing else but civil servants.
There is a fair amount of this beginning in the economy today, I agree. GM and Chrysler are but two examples. The directed lending from the Federal Reserve is another. What may happen in health care may be a third. (We don't know yet; they won't show their cards.)

But it is important to be taken seriously: We cannot argue for turning back this policy unless we properly identify it. And what we identify as socialism, in either the bureaucratic or compulsory forms, will demand proof that we don't yet have. And I don't think it helps to create a new term like "liberal fascism" or "fascism with a happy face" to do battle with those who we want to persuade. It's like comedy, as Johnny Carson used to say: Buy the premise, buy the bit. The word is value-laden and perjorative, putting people off before I can even start an argument. I need something different. So...
The interventionists emphasize that they plan to retain private ownership of the means of production, entrepreneurship and market exchange. But, they go on to say, it is peremptory to prevent these capitalist institutions from spreading havoc and unfairly exploiting the majority of people. It is the duty of government to restrain, by orders and prohibitions, the greed of the propertied classes lest their acquisitiveness harm the poorer classes. Unhampered or laissez-faire capitalism is an evil. But in order to eliminate its evils, there is no need to abolish capitalism entirely. It is possible to improve the capitalist system by government interference with the actions of the capitalists and entrepreneurs. Such government regulation and regimentation of business is the only method to keep off totalitarian socialism and to salvage those features of capitalism which are worth preserving.
There is an area in-between which is an unstable equilibrium. Its character is the black line between the two poles:
Many countries find themselves on the black line, including ours. But what do you call it? It's that area that Mises called "interventionism." It's worth noting that Mises did not think we would move inexorably towards Socialism; it's the lie that socialists use to defeat those who advocate market order to call their preference "progressive." Mises was not optimistic that the battle would be won, but he thought it could be.
Even in this country which owes to a century of "rugged individualism" the highest standard of living ever attained by any nation, public opinion condemns laissez-faire. In the last fifty years thousands of books have been published to indict capitalism and to advocate radical interventionism, the welfare state and socialism. The few books which tried to explain adequately the working of the free market economy were hardly noticed by the public. Their authors remained obscure, ... It is a well-known fact that the legitimate stage as well as the Hollywood industry are no less radically critical of free enterprise than are many novels. There are in this country many periodicals which in every issue furiously attack economic freedom. There is hardly any magazine of opinion that would plead for the system that [has made America better off].

...What we need is neither anti-socialism nor anti-communism but an open positive endorsement of that system to which we owe all the wealth that distinguishes our age from the comparatively straitened conditions of ages gone by.
I've used several times this almost offhand comment from Milton Friedman in 1975 as well:
"There's a strong argument to be made that a free society is a fundamentally unstable equilibrium, in the language of the natural sciences....There's a great deal of basis for believing that a free society is fundamentally unstable--we may regret this but we've got to face up to the facts....How often and for how long have we had free societies? For short periods of time. There was an essentially free society in 5th-century Greece. Was it able to survive? It disappeared. Every other time when there's been a free society, it has tended to disappear."
That period in the U.S. was 1789-1929, he later said. Nobody said an unstable equilibrium couldn't last for a long time. But its death began in earnest with FDR, and continues to this day. Once Republicans accepted that you could intervene even on a limited basis, the gravitational pull on my graphic above is all to the left.

It will not do, I argue, to just toss the label "socialist" towards Obama, Pelosi, et al. Et al. includes a LOT of people, not all of whom wear the scarlet D, if you confuse interventionism with socialism. It will do better to argue the positive position that ending intervention will result in a more prosperous and more free society. To do so will win you no friends, now and forever. Daniel Hannan, recalling Margaret Thatcher and the Left's hatred of her:
Anti-Thatcherites tell you that it's because she closed down the old industries. (She didn't, of course: she simply stopped obliging everyone else to support them.) Yet it must surely be obvious by now that nothing would have kept the dockyards and coalmines and steel mills open. A similar process of deindustrialisation has unfolded in every other Western European country [and the U.S. --kb], ...

No, what Lefties (with honourable exceptions) find so hard to forgive is the lady's very success: the fact that she rescued a country that they had dishonoured and impoverished; that she inherited a Britain that was sclerotic, indebted and declining and left it proud, wealthy and free; that she never lost an election to them. Their rage, in truth, can never be assuaged; for it is the rage of Caliban.
Will it do for supporters of free markets to battle rage with rage, epithet with epithet, or shall we instead build a better argument for why our world will be better than theirs? A free society may be unstable, but it isn't accidental.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

First Saturdays are two-for-one 

First Saturdays usually mean I will be on the David Strom Show at 10am CT to talk economics with David and Margaret. Streaming and podcasting information is available from here.

On the Final Word this week (beginning at 3pm) you will hear The Nihilist In Golf Pants, who has wanted for some time to get an hour to grill me on economics; he'll get to do the questioning and I will try to answer. Chime in via Twitter. Both shows are as always on AM 1280 the Patriot, and between those two times you'll get John and Brian, the First Team, and then Ed and Mitch, the Headliners. (NARN podcasts are always available here, usually posted 24-48 hours after the show. We also replay on Sunday nights on the Patriot beginning at 7pm.)

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Friday, March 06, 2009

In a sense, a record 

This graph, of which I've been doing a local version for about a year, has a new story to tell. Last summer I thought it said the recession was wimpy. It's not any more. The data is from the Minneapolis Fed, which has a really nice tool to create one of these graphs and data to download if you want more control (as I did.) "Median" is the median value of the 10 previous recessions. "Record" in the sense that we now have a postwar record almost; I've always viewed the 1948 recession as an abnormality created by demobilization from WW2. I'm not sure why I think that. I downloaded a paper on that recession, written before the 1957 recession, to read over the weekend. Maybe I'll write about this again, as I think this ties to some of the conclusions in Amity Shlaes work on the Great Depression and some of her interviews lately where she's talked about the postwar recovery.

I'll be on the David Strom Show tomorrow at 10am CT on the Patriot (in addition to my usual NARN turn at 3pm); since they always have me the first Saturday of the month, it's almost always the case that the employment numbers are the first thing we discuss. So keep this graph handy; I'll discuss it then.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Senate rules for press oligarchs 

On Saturday's Final Word we had KNSI program director and talk host Dan Ochsner, more often known around St. Cloud as simply The Ox. Dan had reported to me on Thursday last week that he had had his press credentials to the floor of the Minnesota State Senate revoked after holding them for many years. Here's a Google cache of the 2006 press booklet for the senate. It contains KNSI entries for Ox and for former news director Cory Kampschroer. The 2009 book, in contrast, has an entry for KNSI in its table of contents, but nobody from KNSI is listed. (I listed the Google cache just in case the other book is disappeared.) The new book was printed Feb. 5 according to the properties of the Adobe document, a month after the opening of the Senate. This was the same week, it appears, that Ox was denied access to the Senate. (Worth noting here: credentials are a hard plastic badge which are renewed. Ox reported sending in his request for renewal; no additional badge was expected.)

Dan has been an officer of professional radio organizations through the AP and held credentials for many years. His biography includes being past president, Minnesota Associated Press Broadcasters (2000-01) and a news or program director since 1999 in Detroit Lakes and St. Cloud.

It was not the Ox's first visit to St. Paul this year. He broadcast, it appears, from the Minnesota House on January 7. At that time nobody had informed him that his credentials to the senate were being pulled. He had, as usual gone to do a show at the opening of the legislature (as Gary reported) and had, among other things, discussed the amount of per diem money received by Senator Tarryl Clark.

Did this have anything to do with Ochsner's credentials being pulled? He reported on the air that he was told that the Senate had decided to focus their floor privileges to reporters who were more often at the capitol (Dan's show makes a monthly appearance, though he says he visits the capitol more often than that.) He was informed that this came from Clark and DFL Senate leader Larry Pogemiller. When Sen. Clark subsequently was interviewed on Ox's show, she was questioned about this. At one point she is reported to have said that she thought his listeners were not interested in this subject and that Ox should move on. Ox's response was that he knew his listeners, and that they were interested.

Readers are probably aware that in her successful special election campaign in December 2005, Senator Clark's opponent was none other than Ox. It's noteworthy that she continued to do his show even after the credential was pulled. The ostensible reason -- that there's too much traffic on the Senate floor, flies in the face of the evidence, insofar as a new organization that is not a radio, TV, or print outlet, The Uptake, holds five credentials. Is access for that group more important than for out-state news organizations? Does the Senate not respect the journalism of people who are outside the Twin Cities? (Notable silence from the one remaining St. Cloud journalist with full access.)

There is a particular issue, perhaps, between Ox and Clark. Perhaps; I'm not as interested in that. Later in the show Marty Owings, who probably agrees with nothing I blog here, called in to say his work as a journalist was equally hampered in the House. (Chris Stellar reports on this in MnIndy.) His story, that Rep. Tony Sertich had used a procedural trick to restrict access to online media, was the point where I decided this has to be discussed. (h/t on Marty goes to Mitch.) He appears in Hour 2 of the Final Word broadcast of 2/28.

The Society of Professional Journalists has spoken out in favor of online journalists, but not yet, as far as I can tell, for Ox.

If the Legislature is concerned about the conduct of individual reporters, existing rules and procedures can be utilized. If the problem is one of space, then the criteria for distributing media passes should be equitable for all journalists, not arbitrarily discriminatory based on an outlet�s medium.

The Minnesota Independent quotes House Rules Committee Chair Tony Sertich as saying a rule change to allow online media would open access to anybody. In fact, the change gives open access to everybody, which is the best and most credible means of government accountability in a democracy.

Indeed. Dear SPJ, let me take you to a page that I would say summarizes the problem here. This is the temporary rules of the Senate. Lines 10.8-10.16 state:
16.1 The Secretary shall provide space for news reporters on the Senate floor in limited numbers, and in the Senate gallery. Because of limited space on the floor, permanent space is limited to those news agencies that regularly cover the legislature, namely: The Associated Press, St. Paul Pioneer Press, St. Paul Legal Ledger, Star Tribune, Duluth News-Tribune, The Forum, Rochester Post-Bulletin, St. Cloud Times, WCCO radio, KSTP radio, Minnesota Public Radio, and Minnesota News Network. The Secretary shall provide an additional two spaces to other reporters if space is available. One person from each named agency and one person from the Senate Publications Office may be present at the press table on the Senate floor at any time. Other news media personnel may occupy seats provided in the Senate gallery.
The italics are mine. By what right does the Senate get to restrict access to this oligarchic structure of media? Why are certain groups privileged? (And indeed, why are these called "press privileges"? A freedom is not a privilege.) Where are the First Amendment advocates? Who decides which of these agencies are named and which are not? If you favor open access for everybody, dear SPJ, strike this list.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Whatcha gonna call it? 

I'm tempted to keep The Final Word name for the NARN Volume 3 show, but it seemed Michael thought the name would be retired with his departure. The Misanthropic Frat Boy at Nihilist in Golf Pants came up with a list of potential names, which included some commenters' suggestions as well. Sounds to me like a poll idea! So I've taken some that I liked, and are having them run against "Final Word." You can vote once a day, and we'll run the poll for a week. Have fun.

I know Mom will ask why not the King Banaian Show? Well, while for now it's a solo act, it may not be forever, and all the NARN shows have had some catchy subtitle, which an unspellable last name kind of inhibits. (If this was Mitch, I could see Ice Ice Bergie. Or not.)

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Media alert: Hot Talk 

I will be sitting in for Dan "The Ox" Ochsner on 1450 KNSI from 8 to 11 am tomorrow morning, joined by Mike Landy. For those of you who listen to me on Final Word, the format is pretty similar, but this Mike is not Michael. (More on him tomorrow, since Saturday is MDE's swan song from FW.)

There's streaming audio from the KNSI link; please listen in, and call 320-251-1990 to participate!

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Whatever will we do without Michael? 

Tis true, Michael Brodkorb will be broadcasting his last as a regular host on The Final Word next week. We'd like to make it a fitting sendoff, so we're taking suggestions for what tributes one might think Michael will have.

He won't go away entirely -- he will be filling in for me when I'm away at conferences if he's available. NARN is about to turn five (in March). I've been happy to make that drive each week I can to feed my radio jones, but some days it's harder than others. The 28 months we've been doing NARN 3: FW has been great fun but it's a grind.

For the time being, the format will be NARN's first solo show. (It's never really solo as I always have a producer; I anticipate Matt being across the glass.) Readers of this blog know my preference for economics to politics by and large, and I'll talk more of it in the show in its new form. But state politics will still be part of FW's coverage. More on this in the next two weeks as I prepare to fly the plane myself.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

To prove we don't know anything about this either 

A few listeners of the Final Word are getting together for the ESPN College Bowl Mania pool. We pick the 34 bowl games straight up and then assign the confidence we have in each pick. First bowl games are Saturday (the Eaglebank Bowl!), so if you want in, contact me at comments at (the name of this blog site) and I'll give you the name and password.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Radio atwittering 

For those of you following the Final Word today, you can use Twitter to follow the conversation. �I'll monitor the hashtag #finalword to track what you're saying about the show. �Streaming starts for NARN 2 in a minute, and Final Word begins at 3, all at

Michael is away today, so I am joined instead by our show friend Pat Shortridge. �A man who lists The Cocktail Hour as a hobby is a perfect fit for FW!

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Behind the weekend 

My thanks to bleak and Captain Capitalism for appearing on the Final Word this weekend. �You will want to listen to the podcast if you missed it, as the discussion of the housing crisis was as interesting as I hope my morning talk with David Strom and Margaret Martin was. �Different, though, as Aaron (CC) is certainly more opposed to the bailout bill than I and, it turned out, bleak were. � (I disagree with that last link, but I'll save that for another time.)

If you liked Aaron's radio appearance, do pick up a copy of his new book, Behind the Housing Crash. �The book blends anecdotes of his work in the financial industry with a very libertarian view of economics and finance. �Why did financial firms continue to lend money when their valuation methods told them the riskiness was high? �Because, quite simply, they stopped believing the models and believed that prices always go up. �Once you decide that, it is only a matter of time before new financial firms or new financial instruments pop up to provide fuel for the mania. �Aaron provides several stories from within the financial sector of how the mania spread, and for this the book is highly useful.

While giving thanks, you would perhaps also enjoy The First Team's handiwork in creating attack ads. �Credit goes to the Fraters, who did this for both the other two shows. �These are obviously having a very negative effect on my re-election chances for MOB mayor. �Just desserts will be served.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Other podcasting 

I think we should try this ourselves for FW: The David Strom Show's better half, Margaret Martin, has a show page for each broadcast in which they excerpt clips. She has two of me in last week's show.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

You know you've made it when... very good blogger is referred to by another very good blogger as the me of Mankato. Oddly, someone from Mankato was visiting our campus this very day for a workshop with department chairs. Such as lovely April Fridays sometimes spent (though a trip to two local watering holes with river views made up for that.) Phil Miller is indeed an excellent blogger; he, Doc Palmer and I had a couple of podcasts back in 2005 found at the bottom of John's podcast page.

Two of the three of us are on the Northern Alliance Radio Network tomorrow. I have an extra appearance in my usual first-of-the-month visit to the David Strom Show at 10am. John and the Fraters at 11-1 (guys, more hockey!); Mitch and Ed 1-3; and then the Final Word with Michael and me at 3-5pm. I believe we'll talk about the honesty of Larry Pogemiller, the bonding bill, and this curious article about malt liquor and murder.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

KNSI tomorrow and Friday 

Filling in for Don Lyons, 6-8 AM on Newstalk 1450 KNSI. (Don's calling the Huskies in the Final Five, including tomorrow night's game versus the Gophers.)

We'll be taking the week off on Final Word, and we'll instead replay the interview with Governor Pawlenty. You can get the podcast if you can't wait.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Saturday on AM 1280 

Tomorrow, Saturday the 23rd, I will join Michael Brodkorb for the Final Word of the Northern Alliance Radio Network program on AM 1280 the Patriot. We will be joined by Mary Liz Holberg, MN House Representative from Lakeville. Main topic - the irresponsible transit bill our legislature is in the process of trying to ram through before the actual budget numbers are released.

Please join us and share your thoughts.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Tomorrow on the Final Word... 

We will have two interesting, different guests with one message: Stop spending. At 3:15 House GOP leader Marty Seifert will be on to discuss the first week of the legislative session. Think he knows something about taxpayer protection pens? I'll ask him whether the House GOP would be willing to take a hike from any House business until the I-35W bridge money is released by TCAG.

At 4:15 we will be joined by Erick Kaardal, lawyer for , whose group Citizens for the Rule of Law (and also Neopopulism) are suing the legislature and various over the abuse of per diems. I'm shocked, shocked! to hear that we would have groups wishing to deny per diems to our state legislators. I mean, how are they supposed to live on less than $96 a day? Readers will recall that we provided several dining tips for state senators struggling to make ends meet. (Just take the March 2007 archive and search for "per diem".) I would like to find out from Kaardal how we could simply limit the number of days legislators get to take per diem, as done in New Hampshire. It might keep a certain farmer home more. Sarah Janacek suggested last fall that the per diem issue never seems to work for challenging incumbents in elections ... but a lawsuit might get their attention.

Don't forget that there are eight total hours of local programming Saturdays on AM 1280 the Patriot. The David Strom Show 9-11, then NARN's Opening Act of John Hinderaker, Chad the Elder and Brian Ward 11-1, and Mitch Berg and Captain Ed as the Headliners from 1-3.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Tomorrow on the Final Word... 

...Michael and I agreed to take up a conversation about John McCain's candidacy. Did his CPAC speech give you enough to overcome any qualms you had, or are you still wondering "quo vadis?" Why did Michael vote uncommitted (and did I ever commit?) Ben Golnik, Minnesota coordinator for the McCain campaign will return to field your questions.

Catch us 3-5pm tomorrow on AM 1280 the Patriot. Indeed, join the Patriot all day starting at 9am for the David Strom Show, then 11-1am will have me sitting in with Chad the Elder, followed by the Headliners Mitch and Ed at 1-3pm -- I want to hear Mitch give this idea the beating it deserves.

UPDATE: Derek from Freedom Dogs and True North has given us a meter to use to gauge your McCain support. I would have gone for McCainuum, but McCaintinuum it is:
Call us tomorrow, and tell us where you are on the scale.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Media alert 

Sticky for the day: I will be hosting an election returns show on AM 1280 the Patriot tonight beginning at 8pm. At some point Michael will arrive; we anticipate many local political figures calling in with their observations. Ed Morrissey is anticipated to stop by after his caucus (which I believe is his first experience ever with the MN system). THere's streaming audio available from the Patriot site if you are not in our broadcast range (which in the evening is quite possible.) We will have updates from other states as well on a night that could be decisive for John McCain but likely to be just another step in the danse macabre that has become the Democratic primary.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Tomorrow on the Final Word... 

... it's your final chance to hear from the NARN on the caucuses. We'll have Minnesota representatives from all four remaining GOP candidates and we want your questions and comments on who you are supporting and why. The last MPR/Humphrey poll has McCain well in front with Huckabee in second place (41-22, with Romney back another five.) Hillary Clinton is up seven on Barack Obama in that poll.

Is it possible to change minds still? Four spokespeople will try, and so will the callers. Join us please at 651-289-4488. Listen on the stream if you wish; the podcast will be available later.

Also, we plan a Tuesday night broadcast beginning at 8pm on the Patriot, with updates from party headquarters, call-ins from caucuses, national results, and expert analysis from as many people as will take a phone call from us. More details to appear on Monday, but we hope you go to the caucuses, then flip on AM 1280 the Patriot on your way home.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Tomorrow on the Final Word... 

... we have Peter Fritz, the Carleton student involved in a fracas with Al Franken who Janet discussed here, and Ron Carey of MnGOP on the Minnesota caucus process. And a few wolf tickets will be sold to Mrs. MDE after her Packers failed to deliver Favre to Glendale. Go Big Blue.

Listen in on AM1280 the Patriot live, or pick up the podcast later next week (we seem to be back to a good pattern with coverage there.)

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Radio Saturday: Not for the faint of heart 

While reading around on the Times, I ran across this comment on an editorial encouraging us to celebrate Martin Luther King.

Our view: Celebrate King, his principles in St. Cloud

King Baanian?

It is about time an economist was crowned for messing with our consumer confidence!

If you can take the pressure, I'll be messing with David Strom's confidence when I appear on the his show on AM 1280 the Patriot at 9am, to talk about recession, stimulus, Huckapessimism, etc. Should be a good hour.

The Final Word will appear as always 3-5pm on that same station. We are hoping to talk to people about the bonding bill, the NTSB report on the I-35W bridge collapse, and we'll talk after 4pm with David Bossie, recently author of President Hillary and producer of Hillary the Movie and, previously Border Wars. (A 2006 WaPo bio is here.) We'll have an eye on the upcoming Tsunami Tuesday caucuses, and if I know my co-host, he just might mention Al Franken or Mark Ritchie. Just a hunch, that.

Did you forget to read this until Monday? Get a podcast.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Tomorrow on the Final Word... 

We will look forward to visiting with Andy Cilek of the Minnesota Voters Alliance, which has filed suit against Minneapolis plans to institute instant runoff voting. Andy has been our guest before, and just below I will talk a little about IRV. We will also speak with Brian Davis, a candidate for U.S. Congress in the First Congressional District, looking for the opportunity to run against Rep. Tim Walz. Michael and I will visit with him in the last half hour.

As always, the Final Word is heard 3-5pm on AM1280 the Patriot (click that link and then the Listen Now in the upper lefthand corner) or later via podcast when the podcasts gods choose to post our shows. Like monetary policy, shows are posted with long and variable lags.

Back to IRV. Let me help people think about it by a couple of simple thoughts. Why would IRV be bad? After all, we had three viable candidates in the 1998 gubernatorial race won by Jesse Ventura over Norm Coleman and Skip Humphrey. Humphrey came in third. Suppose we had IRV in the state. How would Humphrey's vote been distributed? Would Coleman have gained enough of those votes to overcome Ventura's three percent plurality. At least in one study, the answer is no. So plurality voting -- the system we use most everywhere in the US -- gave us the same result. (My apologies if you can't read that study -- it's good to work at a university.)

We would say that Ventura was a Condorcet winner -- he would have won in a pairwise vote against either Coleman or Humphrey. And perhaps one reason why Ventura would have won is that he turned out people that would not have voted otherwise; 7% more voters participated in 1998 than 1994, and the study cited above indicates that the Ventura presence could account for just about that size effect. An exit poll taken that day indicates that of those who did vote, Ventura voters preferred Coleman over Humphrey, 56-44.

So IRV would not have made a difference there. Where would it? It could if you ended up with cycling, where in a pairwise contest between each of the three candidates you wouldn't find one that beats the other two in heads-up. And it would be perilous if we found instead that Coleman would beat Ventura and Humphrey would beat Ventura in pairwise voting, but Ventura wins in a three-way, plurality-voting contest. That would seem to be something we would want to avoid and could be a case for IRV. And yet, as we joke a bit about voting for bacon, there is a very serious question whether we might end up with a Condorcet loser in the primaries with some states using winner-take-all allocation of delegates. On the Democratic ticket, let's suppose Sen. Clinton is the plurality leader. She would be a Condorcet loser if she would lose a two-person race against either Sens. Obama or Edwards. (I make no claim that this is so.) I'll let others think about how that applies on the GOP side, but I think it fair to say IRV would make the GOP primary different.

I find it interesting that the claim made by MVA is that IRV is too complex. Indeed, the best case one can make for plurality voting is its simplicity. (Try reading the rules for the DFL's walking caucus sometime. They aren't easy.) There are other good reasons to oppose IRV, though they are a bit harder to explain, having to do with lack of single-peaked preferences and the number of parties in play. I've not worked on electoral theory for awhile so I am not going to try to say I understand every bit of this; I don't. Suffice to say, for example, that it can be shown that you can get different electoral outcomes by changing IRV rules only slightly to drop the candidate with the most last-place votes rather than the fewest first-place votes. This is known as the Coombs rule. You could argue Coombs is a better rule, but it would be no less confusing.

A last thought, and a question I'll ask Andy tomorrow: Suppose we could show empirically that IRV increased voter turnout, since one could vote his preference first and then between the two major party candidates later. Would increased turnout be a good thing, and wouldn't you want to support IRV then if so? I know they argue that it hasn't, but would finding enough counter-examples to theirs be persuasive?

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Radio daze 

A long weekend of radio for me:
All times Central. Hope you can listen in.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Your weekend quiz 

I'm scared to give this quiz to my students, so I give it to you instead. I missed three of the sixty questions, including one of the questions on the NAEP test.

There is no prize for beating me, except that you may feel quite superior. I was honestly stumped on two of the three, the other a mental error I should not have made.

See you Monday. There's a show tomorrow, but I'm still so Italy'd out I have no idea what we'll do yet. I hear Michael's angling to dump me because he found better help.

P.S. When you go to church Sunday, say a prayer for Zimbabwe. It's getting worse...

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Do we need a special session? 

After Michael got off the air on his view that we should not be afraid of a special session, The Lady Logician struck back.
First off, we are echoing the sentiments of our friends and neighbors who just watched this Legislature fritter away a $2.2 BILLION DOLLAR budget surplus on"optional" expendatures [sic] --none of which was scheduled to go toward bridges and roads. Money went to just about everything else.
OK, but that was then and this is now. Priorities respond to circumstances. I agree as well with Gary that the DFL looked at transportation issues and saw only gas-tax-increase; what I don't agree with is that this is a reason to do nothing now.

I have a roof on my house. I look at it in spring and say, "it appears OK, it should be fine for another year," and I don't call the roofing company. After the tornado passes through and my roof fails because I didn't replace it (assume it would have been fine if I had replaced it in spring), do I not get to collect on my insurance to pay for a new roof? Do I not get to change priorities?
Second - the money is already there for use not only for the bridge but for the flood zones. Drew Emmer at Wright County Republican has the breakdown of the emergency funding access that the Governor has.
He has the power to get the money now, certainly, but that doesn't mean there wouldn't be a tax called for to pay for it later. It is my preference to have a regular session later and have all spending and tax options available, and a little more information about the 2008-09 biennium. I would prefer to wait. But you can read the July budget forecast which says the outlook for the economy is slightly weakening, and then look at the subprime/credit crisis, and argue that at some point we might need the rainy day fund for general obligations of the budget. Yes, they may have spent too much in May, but that's a sunk cost now. The alternative, of course, is unallotment after the emergency spending; for both political and economic reasons, that's an unattractive alternative.
Lastly, as Representative Seifert stated after the bridge collapse, the latest budget forecast shows an even bigger surplus than we had previously expected. The final numbers are due in November.
Tell you what, LL, let's have a bet. You can take the side that we'll have a bigger surplus in November than projected in July. I'll take the under. If the Global Insights weighted forecast (which the state uses for budget forecasting) had 20% on the pessimistic scenario in July, you don't think it'll be less in November, now, do you?

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

On the Final Word today 

Remember first that the Final Word comes after four hours of excellent local talk radio on AM 1280 the Patriot's Northern Alliance Radio Network. Be sure to catch some combination of Brian and Chad and John from 11am to 1pm, and Mitch and Ed from 1-3pm.

Seeing that blogs at two newspapers are fretting over the loss of a congressional district, Michael and I will visit with the guy who started this thing. Tom Gillaspy is the state demographer, has done so for quite some time, and I'm happy to have been on a couple of panels with him at Winter Institutes here in the past. Half an hour with a demographer is a lot more fun than you'd think, and you should try it during the first hour.

Back by popular demand in the second hour is our good friend Drew Emmer, whose unique view from Wright County is not to be missed. I'll try to keep my giggling to a minimum.

So at least one of us is having fun tomorrow on the Final Word. Maybe you will too.

Did you take the weekend off and miss the frivolity? Podcasts available.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Appearances next week 

I am very pleased to be invited to do a mock radio show for the SD45 Republican BPOU next Tuesday at 6:30pm at Cooper HS in New Hope. Click the link for directions. Michael and I will "interview" Rep. Tom Emmer, a deputy Republican leader. Swansongate will be on the menu, along with Emmer's recollections of "the little minority that did."

Before that, on Monday afternoon people near Victoria should get behind solid barriers as I spray golf balls around Deer Run Golf Club for the 2nd annual Patriot Golf Open. Last I checked there were a few spots left, so if you want to watch the hilarity of me and Matt the producer trying to play golf (and earn our way into MilF), step up now. Ask them to start you as far away from our foursome as possible.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Book review: Freedomnomics 

I was very pleased on Saturday to interview (and catch up an old acquaintance) with John Lott, whose new book Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don't is now available. Be sure to hear the interview on podcast.

I mention this at the outset: I've know Lott for some time as someone like me interested in public choice economics, particularly as it applies to campaign contributions and elections. We share a belief that the political system actually works pretty well, in a Chicago School tradition and both ended publishing in that area. So fair to say that one part of this book on the folly of campaign finance reform is something I was predisposed to like.

There's little question that the book is intended as a counterpoint to Freakonomics, and you'd have to be living in a cave not to know the backstory. But that focus is appropriate in a larger sense: Perhaps the subtitle of the book should be "Why the Free Market Works Better than the Alternatives." As Lott states at the conclusion of the book,
The free market isn't perfect, but that isn't the right standard by which to judge it. The government is hardly perfect either. (p. 194)
The idea of Government Failure is a neglected concept in Levitt and Dubner, in my view. A chapter titled "Government as Nirvana?" drives home the point. But this is not to say Lott thinks government is corrupted. He says in the previous paragraph to the one above:
There will always be some duplicity in the free market. But there is also an ever-present incentive ingrained in the system for individuals and companies to behave honestly. If someone can make a buck by treating his customers better than someone else, eventually someone will try it. Political markets also have their own mechanisms to limit cheating, resulting in the election of politicians who, by and large, accurately represent their constituents. (p. 194)
Not only will you get the government you deserve, you'll get something close to the one you want! This will come to some readers, I suspect, as a bit of a shock. But he uses two full chapters -- one on the incentives created by reputations and what my teacher Tom Borcherding always called "the discipline of continuous dealings" -- my term, not Lott's, and borrowing from Gordon Tullock again. Repeated plays of a prisoners' dilemma game by two people creates much different incentives than if it's a one-shot game. He also looks at the growth of government more generally, and comes to the surprising conclusion that "Granting women suffrage explains at least a third of the expansion in the size of government." (p. 5)

There is a chapter devoted to the guns, crime and punishment debate that centers much of the public discussion of Lott's earlier work. I didn't find much new in there, but it creates a nice summary of the debate as it exists. I liked that chapter less than the others because I had already followed those arguments, and because they get into the weeds much more than the others. There's almost a change of voice there.

Freedomnomics is in the genre of books used to supplement introductions to economics, as well as a stand-alone book to show economic principles to reasonably intelligent individuals (not necessarily having ever had economics in college, or even going to college.) I have continued to use Steven Landsburg The Armchair Economist for this (I haven't finished More Sex Is Safer Sex yet, will when I get a chance) when I've needed a supplement for an intro course, and I think Freedomnomics will do as well for that purpose. I think if you were to use it that way you would need a guide to help, or to cut up the chapters into smaller pieces. But even without that, students of economics inside and outside classrooms will learn some great stories to explain that markets actually work rather well.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Forecasting decisions versus events 

I said something on the air Saturday that, based on a couple of phone calls after the show, appears to require some explanation. What I said was that there are two entirely different types of forecasting one is discussing in this budget inflation debate.

One type of forecasting is forecasting of an event. The revenues generated by the tax code are the result of an event -- what happens in the economy -- multiplied by a vector of tax rates that collect revenue based on a matrix of flows of income and stocks of wealth or assets in the hands of economic agents. The tax rates are constant; the movement in tax bases comes from the Global Insights forecast (as I mentioned earlier). Insert the numbers from that economic forecast in the matrix, plug and chug, and there you are, a revenue forecast.

What I said on the air was that you can't forecast decisions. That's not right exactly; there's a very good example of decision-forecasting in the Taylor Rule, which is a forecast of the Federal Funds rate target set by the Federal Reserve as the basis of its monetary policy. It is a description of how monetary policy was being set under the leadership of Chairman Greenspan. (Does it describe Chairman Bernanke? Look at the graph and decide for yourself. The Taylor Rule, properly understood, is not a mechanism that predicts an economic event but a heuristic used to try to understand how the FOMC is deciding policy at that point in time. The rule is not independent of the committee whose behavior it is forecasting.

Legislatures and executives do not automatically adjust spending to inflation. The budget forecast provided, as noted by the House Fiscal Analysis Department, is the budget's structural balance, i.e., "how much more is being collected than spent before any tax or spending decisions are made." (Emphasis added.) They may do so as an element of policy; the budget forecast provides information on what additional spending would occur if all non-indexed items were to be raised by inflation as measured by CPI. But is it appropriate for an arm of the executive branch to forecast a policy decision of the legislative branch? I think it is not.

There is, by the way, a very simple solution. The Federal government has both an Office of Management and Budget (reporting to the executive branch) and a Congressional Budget Office. If the DFL wants a forecasting arm that reports budget figures the way they would like to read them, have the Senate and House Fiscal Analysis Department provide you that information. What the DFL is doing instead is censoring the information the Finance Department can provide, but not allowing it to report spending without inflation. This is a bad policy.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Tomorrow on the Final Word... 

We are looking forward to a great show with a couple of special guests. Brian McClung, communications director for Governor Tim Pawlenty, will be joining us. The Word has it that McClung is responsible for my favorite line of the 2007 Legislative session, spoken by Governor Pawlenty. If so, praise be upon him. I believe he will be on in the first hour, exact time is still firming up.

We're also please to have at 4:15 Evan Coyne Maloney, whose movie Indoctrinate U will be opening next week in New York. I am going to try to persuade him that his movie would make a good headline for a double-bill with the Penn and Teller episode that featured what one fellow calls "the ground zero of political correctness."

Watch the trailer below, then come listen to Mr. Maloney.

The show will be on 3-5pm on AM1280 the Patriot. The archive afterward should be up here.

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