Monthly Archives: July 2006

Free to Choose, part 4

Homework for the weekend. Part 4 of Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose entitled “From Cradle to Grave”.

Kos v. Clintons

Kos likes to think that he and his friends are the future of progressivism. However, the Clintons appear to know what it takes to get elected. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports:

Moderate Democrats trying to get back into a debate now dominated by liberals offered yesterday what they hope is a centrist path back to the White House, showcasing potential presidential candidates and unveiling a Hillary Clinton-produced “American Dream Initiative” designed to appeal to the middle class.

The occasion was the annual meeting of the Democratic Leadership Council, a centrist group that propelled Bill Clinton to the presidency and has been long favored by the party’s officeholders from states that lean Republican.

[...]

To help the middle class, [Sen. Clinton] proposed programs to control college tuition costs, increase personal savings, cut corporate subsidies, reduce spending on government contracts and increase accountability on pension funds. Borrowing an idea from Britain, she proposed “baby bonds” – giving a $500 savings bond to each of the 4 million children born every year in the United States, with another $500 bond at age 10, in an effort to increase savings.

However, Kos was not impressed:

“Dead on arrival,” pronounced Markos Moulitsas, whose blog, Daily Kos, is wildly popular among progressives.

Personally, I like the “baby bonds” idea. I remember Rep. Harold Ford (D) of Tennessee — and others — offered a similar proposal a few years ago. I could think of worse uses of $2 billion than baby bonds.

The divide among Democrats is a welcome surprise. However, unfortunately for Kos, the Clintons know how to play the moderate card and understand the American public better than the leading liberal blogger.

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers (thanks for the link Glenn). Feel free to take a look around.

Free to Choose, part 3

Homework for the weekend. Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose, part 3.

The rise of the UFC

The mainstream sports media has been abuzz recently with the release of the pay-per-view statistics from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. This week Yahoo reported that the UFC was one of the top 5 searched items. An Associated Press article compared the results to the king of pay-per-view, professional wrestling.

The reaction from the sports media is one of surprise, but it shouldn’t be. To a sports economist, the rise in popularity is easy to explain.

When many think of the UFC, they think of the no-holds-barred slugfest of the old days. These views are not unfounded as the company was banned from holding events in nearly every state due to its lack of rules and regulation. Sen. John McCain also famously waged a war against the company and sought to ban it from operating in the United States.

However, in 2001, the company was bought by Zuffa LLC and changes began being made. The new company led by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta and current UFC president Dana White sought to regulate the competition and make it a recognized sport. Gone were the days of eye-gouging and kicking a downed opponent.

To the casual fan, these changes may not have seemed like much, but the changes were the beginning of the rise in the newly recognized sport’s popularity. They were also helped by the decline of a major rival.

For years, the number one combat sport in the world was boxing. The sport featured superstars like Joe Lewis, Mohammed Ali, “Sugar” Ray Robinson, and George Foreman. As the sport evolved and the fighters became older, there were always young, hungry fighters to take their place. Boxing, however, had its problems with shady promoters and troubled stars. Gradually the stars became fewer and the attendance did the same.

Enter the UFC.

In many ways, the UFC represents an evolution in the world of combat sports. Many of the sports stars have been trained in boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, or a combination of two or more of these. The mixed martial artists – as they are known to fans – are therefore more skilled and well-rounded fighters than boxers. This change presents the opportunity for much more entertaining fights.

Today, the UFC is creating its own stars. In addition to headliners such as “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz, Tim “the Maine-iac” Sylvia, and “The Iceman” Chuck Liddell, the company is creating new stars on its television show aptly titled “The Ultimate Fighter”. The show is designed to find the best mixed martial artists in the world and offer the winner of the show a contract to fight in the UFC. This show is perhaps the best business decision – next to the regulation of the sport – that Zuffa has made. The show has allowed fans to get to know the fighters and develop favorites, while also learning more about the sport.

While many sports reporters and casual fans may still perceive the UFC as a lawless bloodfest, the sports economist sees a sport that has evolved to attract mainstream appeal.

Mankiw v. Krugman

You have to love the way Greg Mankiw politely slams Paul Krugman’s liberal use of data and facts:

In today’s NY Times, Paul Krugman calls attention to the update of the Piketty-Saez data on income inequality, although Paul describes the data differently than I would.

Here is what I see: After rising substantially from 1986 to 2000, income inequality is essentially the same in 2004 (the most recent year of data) as it was in 2000.

Click on the data and see for yourself.

The subtle slam continues in this post as well.

Mankiw has truly mastered the diplomatic slam.

Free to Choose, part 2

Here is part two of the Milton Friedman PBS series, Free to Choose, entitled “The Tyranny of Control”. Take the time — a lot of time — to check it out.

Free to Choose

I got a lot of great feedback on the posting of the video yesterday. So here is one from Google Video. It is part of the PBS series “Free to Choose” by Milton Friedman. If you have some time today or over the weekend, you should definitely choose to watch this video.

Keep the feedback coming, whether through comments below or here.