- Margaret Thatcher's death leaves a void in the Western world. Deep down, I consider myself a Thatcherite -- maybe just as much as I think of myself as a small-government conservative (or small-L libertarian). I was born in the late 1970s, and I have a picture or two of Thatcher in my house (along with a Barry Goldwater bobblehead) to remind me of the world in which I was born. It was a time of domestic economic weakness, and there was a looming threat of nuclear war with our Soviet counterparts. We're engaged, unfortunately, in a perpetual intellectual war between those who are happy telling others what to do and those who would rather take the chance on human potential. Some people would like to let someone else make all of the tough decisions; maybe we should encourage them to find some co-ops or private businesses that would give them the option.
- The President's budget proposal released this week was almost spectacular in its fantastic assumptions. Growth rates we haven't seen in decades are a necessary assumption to achieve the kind of deficit reductions they propose. The US economy grew in the 4% range through the 1950s and 60s, fell to the 3% range in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, and then dropped to the 2% range between 2000 and 2010. So when the White House assumes after-inflation growth rates of 2.5% to 4% for the next five or six years ahead, we have to ask whether they're not deliberately drinking some funky Kool-Aid. I just had my annual meeting with my accountant. Based on my tax liability, I feel like there are a lot of people in a wagon, and I'm pulling it.
- The personal savings rate is back down to near-zero again. That's not good. The way we choose to treat capital right now -- socially and politically -- isn't the way to succeed in the long run. And we have to wonder whether the social and political environment isn't contributing to this frightening degree of under-saving.
- Newspapers have personalities, expressed mainly in the editorial pages, but also in the news they cover. So it'll be interesting to see who ends up owning the Chicago Tribune, which aside from the Wall Street Journal, is perhaps America's most prominent pro-business daily newspaper. The Koch brothers are reportedly looking into buying it.
- Wages in East Asia are on the rise.