Robert Heinlein – Time Enough for Love

Robert Heinlein – Time Enough for Love

Inspired by the Arabian Nights, Heinlein pieces together a number of stories starring Lazarus Long, a long-lived recurring character of Heinlein’s who is more than 2,000 years old at the time of this book. He is a bit of anti-hero, and more than a little entertaining. This is Heinlein’s longest book, but in practice it is more of a short story collection. They stories share a free, adventurous, can-do, earthy, but overly macho spirit that Heinlein readers will know well. One note of caution: the final story is disturbing, and I do not say this lightly. I do not want to know what was going through Heinlein’s head when he wrote it.

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$15 Minimum Wage Bill to Be Introduced Tomorrow

CEI has a press release. My comment:

“Advocates for a $15 minimum wage should look before they leap,” said Ryan Young, a CEI fellow. “A higher minimum wage has real world tradeoffs. It is not a free benefit. A higher wage will force employers to reduce non-wage pay such as insurance, breaks and personal time off, free meals or parking, and more. A hike in the federal minimum wage would also cause an estimated two million jobs to be lost and hit small businesses the hardest.”

The whole statement, also including comment from my colleague Trey Kovacs, is here.

Robert Heinlein – Friday

Robert Heinlein – Friday

The beginning is entirely too graphic for my taste, but once it settles down Heinlein builds a compelling title character with depth and nuance. He conveys a strong anti-racism message, along with all his usual anti-authoritarianism, creative family and social arrangements, celebration of subterfuge, and mockery of factional politics.

Stephen Hawking – A Brief History of Time

Stephen Hawking – A Brief History of Time

A much easier read than its reputation suggests, though it helps to have a little background knowledge first. Hawking’s intent for this book was to make theoretical physics accessible to everyone. Few have surpassed his efforts, or his sales figures.

Stephen Hawking – Black Holes

Stephen Hawking – Black Holes

This Kindle single is based on a pair of lectures Hawking gave on the BBC in 2016. Firmly aimed at a general reader, this makes a good introduction to some of the mind-bending concepts underlying black holes, and can be read in a single sitting.

Philip Hamburger – Is Administrative Law Unlawful?

Philip Hamburger – Is Administrative Law Unlawful?

Administrative law is essentially a fancy name for regulation. This is arguably the most important regulatory studies book of the last decade. Hamburger argues that in many cases, yes, administrative law is unlawful. Regulatory agencies, not legislatures, do most of today’s legislating. Many agencies even have their own courts and judges outside of the traditional judicial system, which are immune from its checks and balances from the other branches.

A partial list of the administrative state’s systemic rights violations include “separation of powers, the grants of legislative and judicial powers, the internal divisions of these powers, the unrepresentative character of administrative lawmaking, the nonjudicial character of administrative adjudication, the obstacles to subdelegation, the problems of federalism, the due process of law, and almost all the other rights limiting the judicial power.” (pp. 499-500)

Hamburger traces the intellectual roots of modern American administrative power abuses back to absolutist royal prerogative under King James I of England and his Star Chamber in the early 1600s, and the German Historical School of the late 19th century.

While the reaction against James I eventually begat the Glorious and American Revolutions, German historicism had the opposite effect. It was a major ideological influence for early progressivism and President Woodrow Wilson, who did as much as any politician to enable the modern administrative state to grow. Then again, German historicism’s dominance also inspired a rebellious F.A. Hayek to emphasize instead a bottom-up philosophy of emergent order, which continues to be an animating principle of today’s larger market liberal movement.

This is a landmark book for regulatory scholars, though drily written. The innumerable distinctions, divisions, subdivisions, and legal parsing inherent to the subject reminded me of my distaste for legal studies.

Many people treat legal structures as unquestionably sacred and eternal. But in the end, people just made them up over time. Disturbingly few people ever ask “why,” not just “what.”

Hamburger is better than most legal scholars about this, and spends plenty of time digging into why principles such as separation of powers and due process are good ideas, or why we have separate codes and court systems for criminal law and administrative law. But the accumulated legalistic minutiae are so overwhelming that even Hamburger gets lost in all the what.

Daniel Griswold – Mad About Trade: Why Main Street America should Embrace Globalization

Daniel Griswold – Mad About Trade: Why Main Street America should Embrace Globalization

Dan, a former colleague, takes a thorough, human-centered approach to trade that is also based on sound economics. One of the best single-volume “principles of” books in the trade literature. Highly recommended. I should have read this years ago, frankly.