Politicians and Special Interests “Are Joined at the Hip”

(p. A15) In August 1979, when Paul Volcker began what would prove to be an eight-year stint as chairman of the Federal Reserve, inflation was running at a rate of more than 11% a year.
. . .
Before Jay Powell and Janet Yellen, before Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan, there was “tall Paul,” the thrifty, 6-foot-7 career civil servant who smoked cheap cigars and fished for trout with a fly rod. His policy, announced in an extraordinary Saturday press conference just two months after he took office, was the polar opposite of the radical “stimulus” imposed after the downfall of Lehman Brothers in 2008.
. . .
“Good government” and “sound” money are Mr. Volcker’s themes, in life as in print.
. . .
Washington in the early 1960s was a “comfortable, convenient medium-sized city,” he writes; its law firms were “entirely local and small, occupying maybe a floor or two in a K Street office building.” Today the capital is “a very different, unpleasant, place, dominated by wealth and lobbyists who are joined at the hip with the Congress and too many officials. I stay away.”
Humility is one of the charms of both the man and his book (written with Christine Harper, editor in chief of Bloomberg Markets). Though his kindergarten teacher, Miss Palmer, saw in young Paul a worrying lack of self-confidence, the grown man stuck to his anti-inflationary guns, let joblessness mount, bankruptcies climb and brickbats rain down. Refusing to flinch, he made the paper dollar, if not actually sound, then respectable. Tall Paul, indeed.

For the full review, see:
James Grant. “BOOKSHELF; The Last Monetary Hero; The Fed under Ben Bernanke opened the monetary spigots; the Fed under Paul Volcker shut them off–and ended an inflation crisis.” The Wall Street Journal (Monday, Nov. 26, 2018): A15.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date Nov. 25, 2018, and has the title “BOOKSHELF; ‘Keeping At It’ Review: The Last Monetary Hero; The Fed under Ben Bernanke opened the monetary spigots; the Fed under Paul Volcker shut them off–and ended an inflation crisis.”)

The book under review, is:
Volcker, Paul. Keeping at It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government. New York: PublicAffairs, 2018.

“The Key Is Freedom”

(p. A17) . . . Ronald Reagan, in the last year of his presidency, delivered one of his most magnificent speeches . . . before a packed auditorium of students at Moscow State University.
. . .
Reagan’s ultimate aim was to plant the seed of freedom in the newly receptive furrows of a cracking totalitarianism.
. . .
Reagan delivered his Moscow speech standing before a gigantic scowling bust of Lenin and a mural of the Russian Revolution. He incorporated them as props in his address. “Standing here before a mural of your revolution,” he said, “I want to talk about a very different revolution,” a technological and “information revolution” that was transforming the world. How much progress had already been realized! But progress was not foreordained. “The key,” Reagan said, “is freedom–freedom of thought, freedom of information, freedom of communication.”

For the full commentary, see:
Roger Kimball. “‘When Reagan Met Lenin.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, May 31, 2018): A17.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date May 30, 2018.)

Global Warming Allows “Visionary Entrepreneurs” to Grow More “Superb” Sparkling Wine

(p. D4) . . . England, now in its third decade as a sparkling wine producer, is demonstrating that its bubbly output can be superb.
. . .
The early pioneers of English sparkling wine were bold, though idiosyncratic in the way of visionary entrepreneurs.
. . .
The growth in English sparkling wine is apparent all over the south of England. From Kent in the east through East and West Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset and as far west as Cornwall, new vineyards for sparkling wine are being planted at a dizzying rate. Winemakers who once imagined they were bound for France or Australia are instead staying home in England to make sparkling wine.
. . .
Nobody would mistake an English vineyard for one in Champagne. Walking through Gusbourne’s Boot Hill Vineyard with the winemaker Charlie Holland on a blustery, misty fall day, I noted that the rows of vines were far wider than one would find in Champagne, and the vines trained higher on their trellises.
In order to achieve ripeness in the colder English climate, the vines need to be planted less densely than in France, Mr. Holland said, to minimize the competition. And the vines need to have a denser canopy of leaves to promote photosynthesis, so the rows have to be wider apart so the leaves in one row won’t shade the fruit in another.
“It’s not the same parameters as in Champagne, and not the same ripeness levels,” Mr. Holland said.
Indeed, the Champagne region was once considered a marginal climate, on the blurry edge of the line at which grapes could reliably ripen. Thirty years ago, it was a struggle. Now, with climate change, the issue is whether Champagne is getting too warm.
The edge has now moved up to the south of England, where everybody agrees that the 2018 vintage was the biggest and best ever for sparkling wine.
“It was a fantastic, happy year for English wine,” said Tamara Roberts, chief executive of Ridgeview Estate in Sussex, a family operation that planted its first vines in the South Downs in 1995. It was so good that many estates spent the harvest scrambling for vats and tanks to hold the unexpected volume of wine.

For the full commentary, see:
Eric Asimov. “THE POUR; Great Bubbly From England, Believe It or Not.” The New York Times (Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018): D4.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Dec. 20, 2018.”)

Richest Man in World in 1836 Died of an Infection that Modern Antibiotics Cure

(p. A2) Rising incomes alone cannot capture how much better life has gotten. “Nathan Rothschild was surely the richest man in the world when he died in 1836,” economists Max Roser and Esteban Ortiz-Ospina wrote in 2017. “But the cause of his death was an infection–a condition that can now be treated with antibiotics sold for less than a couple of cents. Today, only the very poorest people in the world would die in the way that the richest man of the 19th century died.”
Mr. Roser is the founder of Our World in Data, a website that tracks the evolution of human welfare over the last few centuries. Scroll through the charts, articles and data sets, and you will be stunned by how much better life has become in just the last few decades: Child mortality, illiteracy and deaths from violence have all plummeted, and life expectancy has gone up.

For the full commentary, see:
Greg Ip. “Stop Calling It ‘Vocational Training’; How we speak about education reflects class prejudice.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, January 3, 2019): A2.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Jan. 2, 2019, and has the title “CAPITAL ACCOUNT; The World Is Getting Quietly, Relentlessly Better.”)

The Roser and Oritz-Ospina piece mentioned above, is:
Max Roser and Esteban Ortiz-Ospina (2018) – “Global Extreme Poverty”. Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from: ‘https://ourworldindata.org/extreme-poverty’ [Online Resource]

Michael Barrier Offers Advance Praise for Openness to Creative Destruction

Walt Disney has been written about as an artist and an entrepreneur. The central virtue of Art Diamond’s book is that he not only writes about Disney in both roles, but he also explains how Disney’s success in each role strengthened his success in the other.

Michael Barrier, animation historian. Author of The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney, and other works

Barrier’s advance praise is for:
Diamond, Arthur M., Jr. Openness to Creative Destruction: Sustaining Innovative Dynamism. New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming June 2019.

Learning Skills Should Not Be Demeaned as “Training”

(p. A13) One of the few lessons that stuck with me from all the courses I took on the way to earning my Ed.D. came during a classroom discussion that sparked my passion for changing the way we talk about education. I’ll never forget how the professor responded to a student who used the word “training.” Training, the professor admonished, was for animals. Humans receive an education.
We can’t keep speaking of people as if they are animals. Whether an individual acquires a skill credential, a bachelor’s degree, a postgraduate degree or anything in between, it’s all education. We need to think about the words we use and why we use them if we are to break the stigma around all forms of education. If we don’t, we will never overcome the abiding sense of inequality and unfairness that so many Americans feel.

For the full commentary, see:
Virginia Foxx. “Stop Calling It ‘Vocational Training’; How we speak about education reflects class prejudice.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, January 2, 2019): A13.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Dec. 31, 2018.)

Many Believe Women Should Have Equal Work Opportunity, but Are Better Than Men at Child-Rearing

(p. B1) A new study, based on national survey data from 1977 to 2016, helps explain why the path to equality seems in some ways to have stalled — despite the significant increases in women’s educational and professional opportunities during that period.
Two-thirds of Americans and three-quarters of millennials say they believe that men and women should be equal in both the public sphere of work and the private sphere of home. Only a small share of people, young or old, still say that men and women should be unequal in both spheres — 5 percent of millennials and 7 percent of those born from 1946 to 1980.
But the study revealed that roughly a quarter of people’s views about gender equality are more complicated, and differ regarding work and home. Most of them say that while women should have the same opportunities as men to work or participate in politics, they should do more homemaking and child-rearing, found the study, which is set to be published in the journal Gender and Society.
“You can believe men and women have truly different natural tendencies and skills, that women are better nurturers and caretakers, and still believe women should have equal rights in the labor force,” said Barbara Risman, a sociology professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an author of the paper along with William Scarborough, a sociology doctoral candidate there and Ray Sin, a behavioral scientist at Morningstar.

For the full commentary, see:
Miller, Claire Cain. “THE UPSHORT; Equality Valued at Work, Not Necessarily at Home.” The New York Times (Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018): B1 & B5.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Dec. 3, 2018, and has the title “THE UPSHORT; Americans Value Equality at Work More Than Equality at Home.”)

The academic paper mentioned above, has been published online in advance of print publication:
Scarborough, William J., Ray Sin, and Barbara Risman. “Attitudes and the Stalled Gender Revolution: Egalitarianism, Traditionalism, and Ambivalence from 1977 through 2016.” Gender & Society (2018): https://doi.org/10.1177/0891243218809604