Towards A Good Samaritan World

Monday, July 25, 2005

LEAVING THE CATO INSTITUTE

Today was my last day working at the Cato Institute. It was vaguely sad, feeling as if there were opportunities missed somehow. I've already started working at the World Bank, on a five-month contract that runs till December. (Some commenters have complained that my blog lacked an "About Me" section." Well, here's a little bit...)

I've had a lot of exposure to libertarian ideas in the past year, then, which raises the question: Am I a libertarian? I'd say no, all in all. But of course, they've got a lot of things right: free markets and spontaneous order, limited government, the importance of civil liberties, a rejection of the idea of a social safety net. And anti-totalitarianism, except lately.

I've missed blogging some important events this week. A few comments:

1. John Roberts. Being no lawyer, and having no interest in reading up on all his cases, all I can do is comment on the commentary, which has been almost exclusively positive. However, what's rubbed off on me is not just a glowing opinion of John Roberts; I've come to have a much more positive image of the law itself. I guess what's remarkable is that it's possible for a jurist to be respected on both sides for his "high qualifications"-- apparently there really is some agreement about the merits of the law, and it's not just a pure political tug-of-war. If a man like John Roberts, whom even his opponents have good words about, can make the law his profession and stay honest, as well as funny and kind, maybe its a less depraved and sophistical endeavor than I thought.

2. The Chinese currency move. It seems hugely significant to me, because it's likely to lead to more appreciations and to convertibility. For all its growth, China's economy has a lot of knots it needs to untangle within, particularly in its financial system. I didn't expect them to revalue the yuan, because I thought they couldn't afford to float, couldn't afford to let the light of day into their financial system. If they do that, Chinese financial muscle will begin to reshape the world economy as Chinese industrialization has already largely done. Probably the cleverest people when it comes to foreign affairs are those who have already moved on from Iraq and the Global War on Terror to the transformative effects of the rise of China. And yes, the rise of China may sound like old news. But that's an illusion. Trends are harder to pay attention to than crises, but they matter more.

I'm going on vacation for the next couple of weeks. Please come back then. I don't want to lose loyal readers. :)

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