New Hampshire’s Lesson for America (William Ruger & Jason Sorens, December 11, 2023, AIER)

So what has New Hampshire been doing right?

First, the state has gradually and responsibly cut growth-impeding taxes, such as business taxes and the interest and dividends tax, which is being phased out. Since these tax cuts began in 2015, New Hampshire’s economic growth rate has powered ahead of its closely connected neighbor, Massachusetts.

Second, the state has mostly kept school funding local, which tends to make educational decisions more fiscally responsible. Property owners have more direct leverage and choice over their local property taxes than they do state taxes.

Third, the state is trying to solve its housing shortage, which it shares with most other Northeastern states. Local zoning has strangled housing construction, and the state has stepped in with a law requiring towns to allow “accessory dwelling units” (in-law apartments), expedited local permitting, and a housing appeals board to provide quick resolution of zoning disputes.

Fourth, the legislature has expanded personal freedom for its citizens, most notably with Education Freedom Accounts. The state’s per-student adequacy grant to local districts is now available for parents to cover educational expenses outside the public school system.

Finally, the state has been getting rid of cronyist regulations in order to increase competition and opportunities in the marketplace. Some small barriers to starting businesses have been repealed, and the governor signed universal licensing reciprocity this year.


Lessons from Argentina’s Dollarization Debate: The Challenge of the Commitment Device (Nicolás Cachanosky, December 11, 2023, AIER)

Unlike a fixed peg or a currency board, a government cannot easily abandon dollarization.

Argentina has frequently abandoned fixed pegs. It has also voided peso convertibility to the US dollar. These options are unavailable under dollarization. De-dollarizing would require the government to introduce an entirely new currency that the public does not want. Consider the challenge of currency in circulation. Would the government go into individual houses and compel owners to exchange their US dollars for a new currency they reject? A dictatorship might pull off such a move. But in a democracy such a move would likely see incumbents ousted.

The experience of Ecuador illustrates the point. Rafael Correa, who was president from 2007 – 2017, was an outspoken opponent of dollarization. But he never openly announced plans to de-dollarize Ecuador. His attempt to introduce the dinero electrónico was a total failure. As popular as Correa was, he couldn’t surpass the popularity of the US dollar.

As a monetary regime, dollarization is an institution independent of local politics. That would make a big difference in Argentina, where the average terms of the Ministry of Economics and the Central Bank president are only 1.4 and 1.5 years, respectively. Argentina cannot offer a predictable fiscal and monetary policy with key officials turning over so frequently. Since dollarization is difficult and politically costly to reverse, it establishes credibility in countries where other options are not viable.


Quantum: Computing’s Next Wave (Shane Tews, 12/11/23, AEIdeas)

Below are the highlights from my conversation with Alan Baratz, CEO of D-Wave, a commercial quantum company.

You mentioned autonomous vehicles and scheduling. Is that supply chain management scheduling that you’re talking about?

We have a customer that provides software to shipping ports to manage how cranes move cargo containers across the port from the ships onto the port, and then ultimately, on to the trucks. Our customer quantum-enabled their software to help compute the optimal movement of the cranes moving containers throughout the port. They found that using the schedules generated by the quantum computer, each crane could move up to 60 percent more containers in a day than the schedules the classical computers were developing. This has allowed them to increase the throughput through the port by about 12 percent. So this is a very concrete example, in the supply chain logistics arena of how quantum computers today can add value.

We keep hearing that quantum isn’t here yet, but you already have customers.

Yes, we have over 60 customers that we are working with to leverage our quantum computer today across a variety of different industries and use cases. For example, we’re working with MasterCard on improving customer loyalty rewards—basically optimizing which programs get offered to which card holders and on fraud detection. We’re working with Davidson technology, as a government contractor, on missile targeting as well as radar assignment. We’re working with grocery chain Patterson food group on employee scheduling, e-commerce, and grocery delivery.


Giuliani spread lies about Georgia election workers. A jury will decide what he owes them. (KYLE CHENEY, 12/10/2023, Politico)

U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell has already found him liable for defaming two Georgia election workers — Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss — who faced threats and harassment after Giuliani and Donald Trump falsely accused them of manipulating ballots after the 2020 election. Those lies fueled conspiracy theories that have festered to this day.

Now, a jury in Washington, D.C., will be asked to determine the amount of damages Giuliani must pay for defamation, infliction of emotional distress and other punitive costs. Freeman and Moss haven’t specified a precise amount but are instead preparing to introduce expert testimony to estimate the harm they have experienced.

The damages trial is the latest form of accountability for those who aided Trump’s bid to subvert the 2020 election.


What The Cluck! Trump Chickens Out Of Testifying At Fraud Trial (Lucian K. Truscott IV, December 11 | 2023, National Memo)

In Trump’s big day on the stand in his fraud trial, which all of a sudden is not going to happen, his freedom was not at stake and all that stands to happen when the trial is over and he loses is to be fined an amount he can appeal until he’s in the grave and let his kids take care of, and possibly lose his license to do business in New York State. So, the stakes are, shall we say, a tad large but not existential.

Even so, Trump skedaddled.

As well he should have. The New York Attorney General, whom Trump called “LETICIA ‘PEEKABOO’ JAMES” in his screed this afternoon, noted that Trump had already been found to have “committed years of financial fraud and unjustly enriched himself and his family.”

“No matter how much he tries to distract from reality, the facts don’t lie.”

Ooooof. There’s your answer for all those chicken feathers in the air at Mar-a-Lago tonight.


Hamas Changes the Trajectory of Global Diplomacy (JOHN BERTHELSEN, DEC 10, 2023, Asia Sentinel)

The events of October 7 look likely to have an enormous global impact. Not only do the Abraham Accords appear dead but Israel’s unrelenting destruction of Gaza, with more than 17,700 people reported killed, including more than 7,000 children, against 98 Israelis at the time of writing, demonstrates the US’s utter inability to control its client state while frantically trying to head off a wider war. As an indication of America’s alienation from the region, the White House was forced to cancel a stop in mid-October in Amman, to meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose organization anyway has been thoroughly discredited as corrupt and ineffective.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had been facing long-running corruption charges prior to the attack and was blamed for Israel’s unpreparedness, now appears to have survived at least momentarily while remaining implacable in his determination to make sure the Palestinian presence in Gaza is obliterated, a determination apparently deeply resonating at home if nowhere else. America’s longstanding pledge to defend democracy globally, revived by the Biden administration’s diplomatic triumph in coordinating western aid for Ukraine, has also been obliterated, joining the rubble of Gaza’s streets.

Betraying our own ideals for the sake of “stability” always backfires.



Solzhenitsyn and his wife considered Canada, but despite “proper winters,” it seemed “boring. . . Like a pillow.” Touring New England, they chose Cavendish for remoteness and its proximity to Dartmouth College where Solzhenitsyn might do research.

In September 1976, “happy to have hoodwinked the KGB,” Solzhenitsyn and his family slipped quietly into Cavendish. Within days, a media circus descended. Hundreds of reporters. Cameras. A helicopter flyover. Citizens of Vermont, suddenly drafted into the Cold War, fought with their best weapon — Yankee silence. Solzhenitsyn had asked for nothing more.

Speaking to town meeting, Solzhenitsyn praised Vermont’s “simple way of life, similar to that of our Russian peasants.” Forgive him, he said, for building a fence around his property. Understand, he begged, that “my life consists of work, and this work demands that it not be interrupted.”

Cavendish was impressed. “He’d always been a fairly enigmatic person,” said Town Manager Richard Svec, “and him making a public appearance to the local townspeople, that went a long way with the folks.”

The “dear neighbors” answered Solzhenitsyn’s plea — they left him alone. He settled in to work, writing long into the night.

On into the 1980s, Cavendish made Solzhenitsyn a secret all over town. At the general store, a sign read: “No Restrooms, No Bare Feet, No Directions to the Solzhenitsyns.” When asked, kids steered strangers on wayward paths. A neighbor drove Solzhenitsyn’s sons to school. The writer’s wife, Natalya, and her mother became Celtics fans. The local postmaster arranged with Boston authorities to screen his mail for bombs or more poison.

Beyond Cavendish, America besieged Solzhenitsyn with letters, telegrams, requests to speak. In 1978, he made a rare appearance, using hIs commencement address at Harvard to denounce Western culture. “The human soul longs for things higher, warmer, and purer than those offered by today’s mass living habits. . . by TV stupor and by intolerable music.”

Acerbic and irascible, Solzhenitsyn remained an exile. “Nothing seems the same in a foreign land; nothing seems yours. You feel a constant anguish in those conditions under which everyone else lives normally — and you are seen as a stranger.”

But in Cavendish, he found a home. For 18 years, until the Cold War ended, Solzhenitsyn lived what he considered the best days of his life. Just before his return to Russia, he strolled through Cavendish, enjoying an “enchanting parade.” Again he spoke to town meeting.

“Lately, while walking on the nearby roads, taking in the surroundings with a farewell glance, I have found every meeting with any neighbor to be warm and friendly. And so today, both to those of you who I have met over these years, and to those who I haven’t met, I say: Thank you and farewell. I wish all the best to Cavendish. God bless you all.”


Rick Rubin on taking communion with Johnny Cash and why goals can hurt creativity (Rachel Martin, 12/10/23, NPR: Enlighten Me with Rachel Martin)

Martin: Do you believe in God?

Rubin: Yes.

Martin: You do?

Rubin: Yes, yes, yes. Yes. I have a knowingness that there is a power greater than us that seems to animate everything. That’s how I would describe it. However this system works, this world that we’re in, this universe that we’re in, however it works, I don’t think it’s accidental.

I feel like there’s some creative energy behind it. We have help. When we’re making something beautiful, we have help. We’re not working alone.

Martin: I read that when you were producing Johnny Cash, near the end of his life, with his last albums, that you took communion with him. That was something that was important to him and you were enthusiastic about it.

Rubin: From the time he got sick, we did it every day. I said, “I’ve never done communion.” And he’s like, “Oh, it’s a beautiful practice. Let’s do it together.” And then we did it together in person the first time. And then I said, “Well, while you’re sick, should we just continue doing it every day?” And he’s like, “Great, let’s do it.”

So we started doing it every day. And then when we weren’t together, I would call him every day and he would say the words, and I would close my eyes. I didn’t have the wafer physically with me, but I visualized the whole thing. I listened to the words and I experienced it with him every day. And then, when he passed, I could still hear him doing it. And I continued doing it for another six months.

Martin: Wow. I think that would change a person. To do that. Because it’s not like saying a prayer with someone. I mean, it is a highly mystical Christian ritual whereby you imagine the wafer you’re eating is actually the body of Jesus Christ and the grape juice or the wine is the blood.

Rubin: Yes.

Martin: You’re not a Christian.

Rubin: No.

Matin: What effect did that have on you, sharing that with him?

Rubin: I’m a believer. And I got to share it with him, and he was a believer. And this was his way of believing. So I got to experience his way of believing with him. And it was beautiful and I truly believe it enriched my life. It’s not calculable how powerful it felt.