Monthly Archives: August 2012

Brewers 4, Cubs 1

It wasn’t a historic drubbing like Monday’s 15-4 victory, where the Brewers homered back-to-back-to-back for the first time since 2007. Even without extra innings in that game, the Cubs blew through their entire bullpen and had to use a position player as a pitcher for the first time since 1999.

There was none of that, but a regular old 4-1 victory counts just as much in the standings. More importantly, it brings the Brewers’ Cub-beating magic number down to 23, with 34 games left to play.

The Brewers have now beaten the Cubs 6 times in a row, and won 7 of their last 8 overall. They’re still not going anywhere near the playoffs, but it is good to see them playing well.


Beat Those Cubs

The Brewers’ magic number to finish with a better record than the Cubs is down to 27. The two teams begin a four-game series tonight at Wrigley Field. It is the last time they play each other this year.

Each Brewer victory during the series will lower the magic number by two, so a sweep would bring the magic number to 19. If Cubs manage a sweep, it will remain unchanged.

CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

Just another week in the world of regulation:

  •  76 new final rules were published last week, up from 65 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every 2 hours and 13 minutes — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • All in all, 2,507 final rules have been published in the Federal Register this year.
  • If this keeps up, the total tally for 2012 will be 3,872 new rules.
  • 1,687 new pages were added to the 2012 Federal Register last week, for a total of 52,597 pages.
  • At its current pace, the 2012 Federal Register will run 78,178 pages.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. The 29 such rules published so far in 2012 have compliance costs of at least $16.5 billion. Two of the rules do not have cost estimates, and a third cost estimate does not give a total annual cost. We assume that rules lacking this basic transparency measure cost the bare minimum of $100 million per year. The true cost is almost certainly higher.
  • One economically significant rule was published last week.
  • So far, 250 final rules that meet the broader definition of “significant” have been published in 2012.
  • So far this year, 474 final rules affect small business. 64 of them are significant rules.

Highlights from final rules published last week:

  • Last week’s economically significant rule comes from the intimidatingly-named Safety and Environmental Enforcement Bureau. New oil and gas drilling regulations for the outer continental shelf will cost an estimated $131 million per year.
  • The state of New York wants to set its own odometer standards. They had to petition the federal government first.

For more data, go to

The Opportunity Costs of War

“War costs more than its expense,” a wise writer has said; “it costs everything it stops from being earned.”

-Benjamin Constant, Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments, p.281.

The wise writer in question is Jean-Baptiste Say, one the 19th century’s finest economists.

The Dark Ages Weren’t so Dark, and Neither Is Modernity

I’m currently reading Barbarians to Angels by Peter Wells, which is a mostly successful attempt to rehabilitate the Dark Ages’ dismal reputation. The written sources are mostly from the Roman perspective, so one understands their rampant pessimism. Wells, an archaeologist, prefers a different historiographical method: archaeology. There is more to history than mere texts.

Roman inventions such as concrete were lost, and though literacy did not disappear, it wasn’t anywhere near where it was in Roman times; there was decline. But civilization did not die. International trade stayed alive, and with it the swirling exchange of ideas, customs, religions, and inventions that accompany commerce. Artifacts from as far away as India, Sri Lanka, and China have been found in Dark Age sites in Sweden and Ireland.

The visual arts remained vibrant, even if the written arts didn’t. Of course, illuminated manuscripts such as the Book of Kells provided their own vibrancy, even if in their illustrations and not in their actual text.

All in all, Wells has not persuaded me that early medieval Europe was the technological and cultural equal of the Roman Empire. But he has certainly vanquished the myth that the Dark Ages were as dark as the popular imagination believes.

Much as I love history, the real reason for this post is to point out just how well we moderns have it. In chapter 12, Wells writes the following about one of the 8th century’s greatest scholars:

The most prominent scholar of this period was Bede, a man of Anglo-Saxon origins who was born in northern England about 672 and died in 735. At the age of seven he entered the monastery that was based at the neighboring sites of Wearmouth and Jarrow, in Northumbria, just at the time that this monastic complex was reaching its apex of cultural achievement. The library at the monastery contained some five hundred books, making it on of the most extensive in Europe at the time.

Let’s put this in context. My Kindle e-reader, which fits in my hand, can hold more books than the finest library in all of 8th-century Europe had to offer. Just imagine what a mind of Bede’s caliber could accomplish with today’s intellectual resources.

That’s not all. Now think about today’s 7-billion-strong global population, and compare it to the fewer than one billion people alive in Bede’s time. There are at least an order of magnitude more people alive today with Bede-level intellects. And most of them have access to university libraries and the Internet. What will they accomplish?

We truly live in amazing times.

Regulation Roundup

The latest goings-on in the world of regulation:

Friends-of-CEI Susan Dudley and Jerry Brito are authors of the new second edition of their book Regulation: A Primer. I finished it yesterday, and highly recommend it to anyone interested in the topic. The book covers the different types of regulation, the rationales for regulation, and most importantly for would-be reformers, the regulatory process. You can download an unpriced PDF copy at the link.

North Haven, Connecticut doesn’t allow livestock to live on properties smaller than 2 acres. That’s why one overzealous zoning official wants the Lidsky family to give up their pet rabbit.

Reason’s Mike Riggs with the 5 dumbest drug laws in America.

In Iceland, parents must pick their child’s name from a government-approved list. One condition is that another Icelander must have had the same name. You can view the list here.

An Arizona woman was told to stop handing out bottled water on a 112-degree day because she didn’t have a permit. The woman is thinking of suing.

Chattanooga does not like pedicabs. Eleven pages of new regulations cap their number at six, and institute strict equipment and licensing requirements. From the news story: “When asked what he’d tell another entrepreneur considering starting a business in Chattanooga, Thoreson replied, ‘Stay the hell away.’”

In the UK, you must have a liquor license to sell alcohol. One clever entrepreneur is giving it away for free in his “furniture store,” encouraging tipplers to browse his wares and buy £2.75 beer mats. By giving beer away, he isn’t technically selling any alcohol, so he argues that he doesn’t need a permit. Angry officials had no choice but to cede the point, but will likely amend the law.

CEI Podcast for August 23, 2012: Bailouts as Corruption

Have a listen here.

Senior Fellow Matt Patterson argues that when government is big and powerful enough to dispense favors like bailouts, special interests will flock to Washington to get a piece of the pie. Corruption is the inevitable result, as the GM/Delphi/UAW bailout showed. The only effective way to limit corruption, Patterson argues, is to limit government.