Slavery and the profits of abolition

Historians can’t quite make up their mind about abolition. Nobody wants slavery to return, and historians initially tended to praise abolitionists as moral visionaries. In England William Wilberforce is a hero for helping convince England to end slavery in 1833. In the US, Wilberforce was more recently  the inspiration for political-thug-turned-moral-crusader Chuck Colson’s crusade agains […]

3/5ths of a Biz Ad Professor

Historians are astonished at the essay written by James Wagner, President of Emory University. Writing in the Emory’s monthly magazine, Wagner extolled the virtue of compromise, and held up, as his shining example, the THREE FIFTHS COMPROMISE(!!!!) of the US Constitution. This is wrong on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to […]

Gay Money and Virginia Gold Coins

VA delegate Robert “Bob” Marshall, representing the crazy parts of Loudon and Prince William Counties, is trying to compel taxpayers to spend up to $22,560 dollars to study an alternative currency for Virginia. Marshall believes the dollar is on the verge of collapse, and that Virginia must stand ready to issue its own gold coins. […]

Not the Beltway

I’ve been doing occasional posts on things overlooked in the DC area–stuff you might miss if you were just in town for a short time, or things even local people don’t know anything about. This next one is pretty remarkable. The Billy Goat Trail runs along the Potomac river and the old C&O canal. It’s […]

the Platinum Coin

You’ve probably read about the platinum coin idea. I posted about it before, but it’s probably worth revisiting. If it seems like it doesn’t make sense that’s because it kind of doesn’t make sense. Here’s the problem. Congress makes the budget. The budget mandates a certain amount of spending. The spending congress mandates is in […]

Assigning your own book

Do you assign your own book in class? I typically don’t, but I’m thinking about doing it for next semester Arguments for the practice 1. It’s the best damn book on the subject! Nobody else has done this! There is no other book like it! It’s indispensable! 2. The chance to talk to the author […]

gun control

The latest and in this case particularly heart -rending mass killing has re-ignited the gun control debate. Though I own a shotgun and enjoy target shooting and the occasional hunting trip, we have to do something about a situation in which any madman with a gun can load up with thousands of bullets. Yes, guns […]

Time is Money

So recently the GAO addressed the question of replacing the dollar bill with a dollar coin to save money. The idea is that a bill wears out in, say, ten months while a coin lasts ten years. The government would save the cost of printing dollar bills. Also recently some economists have proposed that the […]

Spielberg’s Lincoln

I just now saw Lincoln. Spielberg is a masterful filmaker and it’s a very enjoyable movie, but I have to agree with Kate Masur’s assessment in the New York Times. The film manages not to be Birth of a Nation, which is a really good thing, and it was really fun for me to see […]

Imagining the future in 1880

He set out to design the modern office building, but instead he invented the shopping mall. Few people who visit this building understand just how well it combines the visionary and the preposterous. It used to be the headquarters of the Pension Bureau, which oversaw the benefits paid to Civil War veterans and their families. […]