September 1st, 2005


September At Last

I keep forgetting to fill the kitty's back porch water dish. She has to come in the house to get a drink. She's going to be very annoyed with me. She'd be even more annoyed if she knew that, for the last couple of nights, another cat has been hanging around while she has napped indoors. It's a big orange cat who apparently has recently moved in up at the closed end of the block. This cat (male, I think) likes to sit in the middle of the street at night. A couple of nights ago I heard a noise across the street, and when I turned on the flashlight there was nothing to be seen there, but this orange cat was sitting in in the street in front of my house, looking at me. I turned the light back off, but I think the cat stayed there for a long time. About an hour later, I was outside again and the motion-sensing yard lights at a house up the block came on, and I saw that the orange cat had triggered them. He was strolling up the street on his way home. I had the feeling that he had been watching my house all that time. I saw him again, a short while ago, by early gray light, sitting in a different part of the street but still looking toward my house. I'm being kitty-stalked!

The sky was extraordinarily clear tonight, and the dense mass of late summer stars sparkled brilliantly. The clarity suggested to me that it may not be pollen of any sort which is causing my low-grade cold symptoms. That leaves as an explanation only an infection of some sort, or some allergen being at large in the house. Maybe I need to change the filter in the air conditioning system. I don't like feeling this crappy, especially when the nights are now so pleasant.

Pay No Attention To That Dead Man Behind the Curtain

Events sometimes get drowned out by other events, I guess, especially when the drowned events involve individuals who are not well known, however much influence they might have had on the world. Neo-classical economist Jude Wanniski died on August 29th. Even had it not been upstaged by the most costly natural disaster in American history, his death would probably not have gotten much press. Wanniski is the guy who coined the term "supply side economics" and was the prime mover behind the shift of official American economics away from Keynesianism.

An adviser to Ronald Reagan, he left many conservatives disgruntled when, in 2003, he opposed the Bush Administrations plans to invade Iraq. His fans on the right were even more distressed by his endorsement of John Kerry in last year's election, which he announced saying "Mr. Bush has become an imperialist — one whose decisions as commander-in-chief have made the world a more dangerous place."

Academic theorists seldom acquire wide public name recognition, and Wanniski was no exception. His passing has caused barely a ripple in the media, despite the fact that a great deal of what the world is today is the result of his influence on people in possession of great power. I never more than moderately impressed by his economic theories, and have seen little in the course of events since his influence became dominant in government policy that would change my opinion about them.

I feel that way about the theories of most economists. It is a profession whose practitioners, more often than not, give me the uncomfortable feeling that they're just blowing second-hand smoke up our asses (second hand because they've blow it up their own asses first.) Still, some of them do make things happen, for better or worse. Wanniski was one of those who made things happen. Many influential people still believe that the things he made happen were for the better. I remain doubtful. I suspect that much of what appears to have been his success can be attributed to very lucky timing, and to his having had his ideas adopted by the American President who had more sheer, dumb luck than any other in history. But it's likely that, by the time history decides, I'll be as dead as he is.

Jude (the Obscure) Wanniski