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Taxation Without Representation Field at RFK Stadium
The Nationals are coming to town…
…but apparently, DC is having trouble finding a company to pay for the naming rights, and hadn’t even received a single offer in writing – until now. We have officially submitted the first written offer for a new name:
“Taxation Without Representation Field at RFK Stadium”
(you can read our actual submission by clicking here)
Think of it. Every time we enjoy the national pastime here in DC, we’ll remind America that we lack another national tradition — democracy. Help us now! Get off your astroturf, and use the form below to make your pledge (we’ll only ask you to pay if we can raise enough).

Filed under: Metro DC

Ten Lessons

Looking for a good book to give someone for Christmas?
Try this one…

Swim Lessons – Ten Lessons for Making Any Dream Come True – by Nick Irons
Swim the Mississippi? Why would anyone do that? Nick Irons did. He swam six hours a day, six days a week, for four months. Good thing. What he discovered along the way is the rock-solid plan the rest of us can use to make our biggest dreams come true.
Irons’ dream was to raise awareness and money to find a cure for multiple sclerosis, the disease his father and hundreds of thousands of other people live with every day. And he did. His historic 1,550-mile swim down the mighty Mississippi? from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana—makes him the second person in seventy years to swim the length of North America’s
longest waterway and the first to do it with the locks and dams of its “modern” form.
According to Irons, we all have at least one idea that just won’t let go. What’s your Mississippi? Have you always wanted to write that novel or take time off to travel with your kids? How would you like to live on a sail boat for a year, climb a mountain, or learn to ride a horse? Maybe you want to change careers. Whatever your dream, Swim Lessons is the ultimate guide to making it happen.
This is not your typical self-help book that takes an inspiring message and uses “success” stories to illustrate its various points. This is the real deal, someone who got out there, did what the rest of us dream of doing, then came back to show us the way. Irons is a first-rate storyteller, so Swim Lessons is loaded with irresistible details and drama that make the swim itself read like any good adventure. Each chapter then boils down a critical lesson, providing dozens of strategic ideas, activities, checklists, questions, and more to help readers launch their own adventure.
Far more than inspiration, Swim Lessons shows you how to take any idea? no matter how deeply personal, quirky, or outrageous? and make it happen. From getting started to hanging in there, you get fun, easy, step-by-step strategies and tips that will work for anybody. Perfect for dreamers of all ages.
Nick Irons and his story have been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, The Montel Williams Show as well as in magazines and newspapers nationwide, from The New York Times to the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, People, and many others. According to CNN National News Correspondent Gene Randall, “Nick Irons is a true American hero.”
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book is being donated to MS research.

Filed under: Metro DC

CEA: Bannished and Vacant

The Washington Post reported today that the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) is physically being booted off the White House grounds, and is being relocated to 18th and G streets (along with other heavy hitting departments such as the Office of Presidential Correspondence.)
In addition, two of the three CEA positions are vacant, and Mankiw has yet to be confirmed.
The Council of Economic Advisors has, for many years, and as long as I can remember, been seen as the part of the White House economic team that provides (relatively) unbiased and non-political economic advice and analysis to the president and other members of the administration. The most visible product of the council is the Economic Report of the President, but the council has, historically, produced other reports that make their way to the president’s desk.
Its chairman and three members (as well as supporting researchers) are usually drawn primarily (if not exclusively) from academia. The past and future chairs, Glenn Hubbard and Greg Mankiw, for example, are well respected economics professors from Columbia and Harvard. (Both of whom happen to go by their middle name… hmmm… just a coincidence? or is there something nefarious going on.) Paul Krugman, for example, served in the CEA under Ronald Reagan!
I hope the change in location does not indicate a reduced role for the CEA. Good economic policy must be based on honest, competent economic policy assessment; and the CEA under past administrations have strived to provide this kind of analysis, and strived to be largely independent of politics.
However, from what I hear, proximity is often an indication of influence in the inside-the-beltway political game. The decline in the influence of the CEA in the current administration is a potentially troubling turn of affairs.

‘CEA You Later,’ Bush Says (washingtonpost.com)
The Council of Economic Advisers is going into exile.
Beginning Wednesday, President Bush’s economists will pack up their files and move out of the White House complex, an eviction after more than 50 years, and enter new space a couple of blocks away at 1800 G St. NW.
The official line is that this is not a demotion for the CEA. “Absolutely not,” said White House spokeswoman Ashley Snee. “It’s a space-management issue.”
Bush aides are well aware, however, that few people in town are going to accept that explanation. In the White House, where proximity is power, an eviction from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building is the political equivalent of being sent to Elba. The CEA will be sharing space at 18th and G with such crucial functions as the Office of Presidential Correspondence.
Heightening suspicion is the state of upheaval at the CEA, where two of the three seats are vacant and the third is soon to be.
The organization is without a chairman; Greg Mankiw has not been confirmed to replace Glenn Hubbard, who announced his resignation Feb. 26. The seat vacated last fall by Mark McClellan is still empty (Bush plans to nominate Princeton’s Harvey Rosen). The only sitting member of the CEA, Randall S. Kroszner, is due back at the University of Chicago; unofficial word is he’ll be replaced by MIT’s Kristin Forbes. The office is also getting a new chief economist, the third in that job this year.

Filed under: Economics, Economists, Economy, Fiscal Policy, Metro DC, Policy, Politics

15 minutes of Fame

Did you watch the NewsHour tonight?
If so, you saw me at a meeting of DC area bloggers. You can check out the audio, or the video.
The segment is about 10 minutes long and is summarized as follows:

Weblogging
Web logs, or “blogs,” are personal, online journals – and one of the fastest growing trends on the Internet. Terence Smith explores the motivation behind blogging and whether blogs represent the future of journalism.

There goes 2 1/2 minutes of my fame….
Online NewsHour: Media Watch

Filed under: Economics, Metro DC, Website

RFF turns 50

Resources for the Future (RFF), a DC think tank that focuses on resource and environmental issues, turned 50 years old on the 15th. Happy birthday!
Jonathan Rauch takes a look at the history of RFF and how ideas can take a (long) while to make their way into policy. As one example, Rauch examines pollution: the idea was to use market mechanisms to address pollution reduction.
The idea did not come from RFF, but they have been arguing for reasonable policies for a long time. The economist A.C. Pigou is thought to have laid the major ground work, some 80 years ago, on how to think about correcting externalities, such as pollution, using taxes or subsidies.
If took a while, but in the 1980-1990s market based mechanisms of taxes or tradable permits began to be an important part of environmental regulation discussions.
Let’s hope that in the “information age” good ideas won’t take so long to impact policy.

Ideas Change the World—and One Think Tank Quietly Did
–snip–
In 1990, however, Congress decided to try an emissions-trading program for sulfur dioxide, a pollutant that causes acid rain. Instead of telling every company to reduce its SO2 to the same level using the same technology, the government set an overall cap and let companies buy and sell pollution allowances. The concept is closely related to Kneese’s pollution tax, and it worked for the reasons he outlined: By letting the market rather than the federal bureaucracy allocate reductions in SO2, the trading scheme has cut the cost of cleanup by more than half. Impressed, many mainstream environmentalists have come to look on market mechanisms as tools rather than traps.
“It’s one of those rare cases when history vindicated a maverick idea in the lifetimes of the people who advocated the maverick idea,” Easterbrook says. “In the long run, it will be RFF that will get most of the credit for this historic achievement. Many economists had toyed with these ideas. But RFF laid the hard groundwork as far back as the 1950s and ’60s, when environmentalism itself was considered a quirky cause.”
RFF? No demerits if the initials don’t ring a bell. They stand for Resources for the Future, a Washington think tank whose research staff included, until 1974, Allen Kneese. On October 15, RFF will celebrate its 50th anniversary, perhaps prompting a brief respite from its unchallenged status as the most important think tank you’ve never heard of.
–snip–

Filed under: Economics, Metro DC, Policy, , , ,

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