Dynamist Blog


Over at The Volokh Conspiracy, Jacob Levy calls the Senate's moronic proposal for a three-year moratorium on taxes on dividends paid to individuals "Worst. Tax. Cut. Ever." I'd need to do more research to agree with such a sweeping statement, but he's definitely on to something. When a tax "cut" is so temporary and targeted, the paperwork and computer-reprogramming alone constitute enormous hidden tax. The congressional process has taken a good idea for fundamental tax reform and turned it into short-term, wildly distortionary vote-buying with absolutely no economic rationale. It's just one more example of why anyone with a brain inevitably develops contempt for Congress.


Thanks to everyone who checked my NYT column archive and wrote in with your experience. Most people are getting only abstracts, although a few readers report that they can read full versions of the older columns. I've asked my editor at the Times for an explanation and, I hope, a policy change for my columns. Of course, the Times staff has more pressing concerns at the moment.

A couple of comments are worth passing on. Richard Gayle, who writes Corante's Living Code blog, writes:

I have been trying to figure out what has been happening with the NYT archives for some time. I used a lot of links to science articles for my Corante blog and noticed that I was getting abstracts instead of links when I examined old blog entries.

I think some of it depends on the browser. I use Safari on a Mac. If I go to one of your archive links in Safari, I get the abstract page. If I go to the same page using Internet Explorer, I get the article.

So, my guess is that the servers at the NYT are looking at what browser is being used and give the abstract or the article depending on which is used. I certainly do not think this is on purpose but it is very frustrating.

Anyway, that is what I have found. I am using much fewer links to NYT science articles because of this. Many articles in scientific journals require payment for immediate access but access is free for any article more than 6 months or a year old. Plus, if you read Science, Nature or PNAS a lot, simply getting a subscription gives you total access. As far as I can tell, having a subscription to the NYT does not get you free access to the archives. If it did, I would be recommending that everyone get a subscription!

Organizations, such as newspapers or scientific journals, that live by the dispersal of information are undergoing a lot of change right now and many are trying different approaches in response. It does make for interesting times.

The Times wouldn't even have to make access free to profit from a freer flow of information. WSJ subscribers can get the whole online edition for $29 a year; the Times seems to think its readers will pay that much to read just 10 of my columns. I'm afraid not.

Reader Scott Sendrow sends along a virtual clip from an ancient issue:

For what it's worth, I think the Times is more than fair in disseminating its body of work. Attached is an E-mail with a .pdf attachment of a Times article from way back when. This is a new feature that the New York Public Library has available to any person using a special electronic resources computer terminal in their microfilm reader room. The way it works is one browses the index, which works like Nexis (and it's easier than the Times' web archive feature, in my opinion), and a list of articles in reverse chronological order comes up (one can narrow down dates, too). These articles are viewable at the terminal in the library and there is an option available to E-mail the .pdf file directly to your E-mail account. In the attached instance, I was doing some research for work, and had this article sent to my account at work. I love it - it's how the article actually appeared in print and it's available for any article that has appeared through 1999 - that means from 1857 on! Of course, you have to go to the NYPL's main library at 42nd and Fifth, but I have to believe that it's just a matter of time before technology like this becomes available in many places.

Let's hope it spreads--and goes beyond the NYT to other periodicals.


David Frum translates the administration's seemingly dull communique and notices a big policy shift: from U.S. troops as hostages (and hence barriers to any use of force--or, for that matter, anything else that ticks off North Korea--against North Korea's nuclear blackmail) to U.S. troops as, well, troops. I personally wouldn't mind taking them out of South Korea altogether, but if they're going to be there, they ought to be more than hostages.


Glenn Reynolds is promulgating blogosphere conspiracy theories about the alleged new archiving policy of The New York Times. They supposedly make you pay for old articles, even when you have the URL.

If such a policy exists, I'm sure it's driven by profit-seeking, not paranoia. After all, most people seriously investigating the Times would have access to Nexis, which has NYT archives going back much longer than the Web. Mickey Kaus, for instance, routinely uses Nexis to check the NYT record. (D Magazine adopted a similar policy a while back, making all my links to old columns bad. Nobody is muck-raking about D. Since I own the rights, I've since moved the columns onto this site.)

I'm as baffled by these claims of new policies as I am concerned. (The Times owns electronic rights to my articles and all rights in the universe for all time. For that contract, we can thank the folks who sued it over Nexis rights.) When I check links in my column archives, they all go to full columns. But Glenn claims they go to abstracts. Readers?


As blog readers know, I've been known to comment--OK, complain--that the political-pundit establishment is largely, and rather tightly, controlled by Harvard Crimson alums. One of those Crimson outposts is currently featuring a name-dropping author-tour diary by a pundit who took the other path, and reveals it. Margaret Carlson writes:

Like Tim Russert, Chris [Matthews] and I got into political journalism by taking the road less traveled. We went the non-Harvard Crimson route, by way of Catholic school, sentence diagramming, and our parents' pride in JFK.

Protestants from public universities need not apply.


I'm a little closer to a wireless world, thanks to a visit yesterday from Mac consultant Mark Taylor. He not only got my printer to work happily with OS X.2 but also connected it to my wireless network. Steve and I can now send files to the printer from anywhere in the house. And I now have only two cables running into my computer, both optional at any given time: one from a USB hub for my speakers and PDA and one for electricity. There are still too many cords on my desk, but at least they're mostly wrapped up and shoved in one corner.


Greg Ransom, whose Hayek Center site is a one-stop online shop for information on the work of F.A. Hayek, now has a Hayek-oriented blog called PrestoPundit.com. It's well worth a visit.

Greg is wrong, however, that economics is not about individual behavior. Sometimes it is. Here's a somewhat trivial example. The broader point, which Paul Krugman makes in an article on evolution and economics analyzed by Jason Soon, is simply that economics is about individual human action, not impersonal forces--a concept as central to Austrian economists like Hayek as to neoclassical economists like Krugman.

The relation between evolutionary theory and economics is quite tricky. Joel Mokyr tells me he left out a whole book's worth on the subject when he published his terrific Gifts of Athena, which I wrote about here. I hope Joel eventually turns his careful thinking on the subject into another book.


You know America is back to pre-9/11 normality when the blogosphere is consumed with policing Bill Bennnett's vices and the NYT's management mistakes. Throw in true crime stories featuring mothers and/or children and you've got the mass media covered. War, what war? Oh, that one. Damn.


Bravo to Rich Lowry for his column on the "national shame" of prison rape. The U.S. justice system ought not contenance--much less tacitly approve--this routine torture.

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