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Articles filed under Will, George

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  • The vigorous virtues of Margaret Thatcher Apr 10, 2013 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: She left the British this ongoing challenge: “We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them reimposed at a European level.” As long as her brave heart beat, she knew there are no final victories.

     
  • In a rut on Voting Rights Act Mar 4, 2013 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: Each renewal of the 1965 act should have involved sifting the most recent voting results, but the most recent data used in 2006 was from 1972. By 2031, this data will be 59 years old. Unless the court now stops this pernicious silliness, in 2031 Section 5 will no doubt be renewed a fifth time.

     
  • The Fed’s not-so-golden rule Feb 27, 2013 11:17 AM
    A display case in the lobby of the Federal Reserve Bank here might express humility. The case holds a 99.9 percent pure gold bar weighing 401.75 troy ounces. Minted in 1952, when the price of gold was $35 an ounce, the bar was worth about $14,000. In 1978, when this bank acquired the bar, the average price of gold was $193.40 an ounce and the bar was worth about $78,000. Today, with gold selling for around $1,600 an ounce, it is worth about $642,800. If the Federal Reserve’s primary mission is to preserve the currency as a store of value, displaying the gold bar is an almost droll declaration: “Mission unaccomplished.” Today the Fed’s second mission is to maximize employment, and Chairman Ben Bernanke construes the dual mandate as a single capacious assignment — “promoting a healthy economy.” But the Fed’s hubris ignores the fact that it anticipated neither the Great Depression that began in 1929 nor the Great Recession that began five years ago. The Fed failed to cure the former, and today’s unprecedentedly anemic recovery — approximately 3 million fewer people are working than were five years ago — has failed to cure the latter: If the workforce participation rate were as high as it was when Barack Obama was first inaugurated, the unemployment rate would be 10.8 percent. Jeffrey M. Lacker has become the Fed’s resident dissenter. As a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, Lacker, president of the regional bank here, has cast one-third of the dissents recorded during Bernanke’s seven years as chairman. Lacker, who has dissented at more than half the policy meetings where he has been a voting member, has done so in the name of institutional humility. When he told The New York Times, “We’re at the limits of our understanding of how monetary policy affects the economy,” he was too polite. We are increasingly understanding the deleterious effects — political as well as economic — of very low interest rates for a very long time. While Lacker says “a vigorous monetary policy response can be necessary at times to prevent a contraction from becoming a deflationary spiral,” the Fed continues its vigorous pursuit of growth through cheap credit more than four years after the moment of crisis. Bernanke says “using monetary policy to try to influence the political debate on the budget would be highly inappropriate” and “it is important to keep politics out of monetary policy decisions.” But monetary decisions powerfully and predictably influence political debates. Will Rogers said, “Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.” Today we are not paying for all the government we are getting, and the political class benefiting from this practice should be thankful for the Fed’s low interest rate policy, which makes running deficits inexpensive. In addition to making big government cheap, this causes a flight of investors from interest-paying assets into equities — the rising stock market primarily benefits the wealthy — and commodities, rather than job-creating investments. Fed policy, which has failed so far, can also fail by succeeding. If strong economic growth begins, interest rates will rise substantially, and the cost of debt service will cause the deficit to explode. The Fed’s policy regarding the safety net it weaves beneath large — “systemically important” — financial institutions deemed too big to fail is called “constructive ambiguity.” Lacker believes the policy is not constructive because it is not really ambiguous. Although bailing out too-big-to-fail firms is discretionary, market participants “draw inferences for future policy from our past actions.” Ambiguity, he says, breeds expectations that the Fed will act as rescuer, and these expectations are incentives for risk-taking that can compel the Fed to act. “Constructive ambiguity,” says Lacker, “became increasingly hopeless in the face of accumulating instances of intervention.” The Fed, born in 1913, is now the largest buyer of 30-year Treasury securities. And it, not Congress, which supposedly controls the government’s purse strings, funds the $447.7 million Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is headed by a person not lawfully in office. (Richard Cordray was installed by Obama by a process that a court has recently ruled amounts to a spurious “recess” appointment made to vitiate the Senate’s power to advise and consent to presidential appointments.) So before blowing out the 100 candles on the Fed’s birthday cake, consider the perverse result of current Fed policy: Although money is promiscuously printed to keep interest rates low, credit is tight as money flows toward high-return assets. Such as gold. George Will’s email address is georgewill@washpost.com. © 2013, Washington Post Writers Group

     
  • The sequester: a manufactured crisis Feb 24, 2013 5:00 AM
    [No Paragraph Style]News Columist George Will: Even during this desultory economic recovery, one industry thrives — the manufacture of synthetic hysteria. It is, however, inaccurate to accuse the Hysteric in Chief of crying "Wolf!" about spending cuts under the sequester. He is actually crying "Hamster!"

     
  • Solitary confinement’s toll Feb 21, 2013 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: Noting that half of all prison suicides are committed by prisoners held in isolation, Illinois Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin, has prompted an independent assessment of solitary confinement in federal prisons. State prisons are equally vulnerable to Eighth Amendment challenges concerning whether inmates are subjected to "substantial risk of serious harm."

     
  • The brevity of Silent Cal Feb 15, 2013 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: Before Ronald Reagan traveled the 16 blocks to the White House after his first inaugural address, the White House curator had, at the new president’s instruction, hung in the Cabinet room a portrait of Calvin Coolidge. The Great Communicator knew that “Silent Cal” could use words powerfully — 15 of them made him a national figure — because he was economical in their use, as in all things.

     
  • A case for a balanced budget amendment Feb 8, 2013 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: The political class is incorrigible because it is composed of — let us say the worst — human beings. They respond to incentives of self-interest. Their acquisitiveness is not for money but for the currency of power, which they act to retain and enlarge. This class can be constrained, if at all, not by exhorting them to become disinterested but by binding them with a constitutional amendment.

     
  • The price of moral grandstanding Feb 3, 2013 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: For Rahm Emanuel to say gun makers "profit from gun violence" is as sensible as saying automobile manufacturers "profit from highway carnage." Emanuel, who is more intelligent than he sounds, must know that not one fewer gun will be made, sold or misused because Chicago is wagging its finger at banks.

     
  • Recipe for a conservative revival Jan 29, 2013 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: In the rhetorical cotton candy of his inaugural address — sugary, and mostly air — Obama spoke of "investing in" rising generations, and said: "America's possibilities are limitless." He ignores the encroaching limits imposed on the nation by his policies that are funded by debt that will burden those generations.

     
  • Sign code as a weapon Jan 25, 2013 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: A drearily familiar dialectic is on display in Norfolk, Va.: Government is behaving badly in order to silence protests of other bad behavior. It is violating the Constitution's First Amendment, stifling speech about its violation of the Fifth Amendment, as it was properly construed until 2005.

     
  • Health care act’s death star? Jan 22, 2013 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: Because the penalties are constitutionally limited by the reasoning whereby Roberts declared them taxes, he may have saved the ACA's constitutionality by sacrificing its feasibility. So as the president begins his second term, the signature achievement of his first term looks remarkably rickety.

     
  • A rallying cry to tame spending Jan 11, 2013 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: Republicans, whose divisions cause Democratic gloating, could use a balanced-budget amendment to divide Democrats who threw the remnants of their fiscal self-respect off the cliff.

     
  • Notre Dame and the sports-academia complex Jan 6, 2013 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: This year Notre Dame is the first school in the history of the Bowl Championship Series to rank first in football and first in the graduation rate (tied with Northwestern) of its football players. Notre Dame graduates 97 percent; Alabama 75 percent.

     
  • Disdain all around Dec 30, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: While accusing the Supreme Court's conservative justices of "disdain for democracy," Pamela S. Karlan proves herself talented at dispensing disdain. The Stanford law professor is, however, less talented at her chosen task of presenting a coherent understanding of judicial review.

     
  • The door-opener to America Dec 29, 2012 9:53 AM
    Columnist George Will: At the end of this year in which election results reinserted immigration into the political conversation, remember that 2012 is the 150th anniversary of "the first comprehensive immigration law."

     
  • The filibuster stalker Dec 23, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: The point of progressivism, say its adherents, is to progress up from the Founders' fetish with limiting government and restraining majorities. Hence progressives' animus against the filibuster, which protects minority rights by allowing for the measurement of intensity as well as mere numbers.

     
  • Michigan’s watershed moment Dec 18, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: If you seek a monument to Michigan's unions, look, if you can without wincing, at Detroit, where the amount of vacant land is approaching the size of Paris.

     
  • Why we’re near the cliff Dec 13, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: If you have worked hard for five decades, made pots of money and now want to squander it all in Las Vegas on wine, women and baccarat, go ahead. If, however, you harbor the anti-social desire to bequeath your wealth to your children, this would be an excellent month to die.

     
  • Campus correctness and the closing of the American mind Dec 5, 2012 5:40 PM
    Columnist George Will: Liberals are most concentrated and untrammeled on campuses, so look there for evidence of what, given the opportunity, they would do to America.

     
  • A cliff of their own choosing Nov 30, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: Given liberals' fixation with the affluent paying their "fair share," it might seem peculiar that they are so vehemently against Paul Ryan's "premium support" proposal for Medicare. Their recoil is, however, essential to the liberal project.

     
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