Of course, you already knew that Don Rumsfeld was an absolute disaster of a Secretary of Defense, but it’s still fun to see Fred Kaplan make the case so well in Slate.  It’s also not at all surprising to find that he is completely unwilling to address any of his failures or shortcomings in his recent memoir.

Unnecessary government

Ezra Klein has a nice post on the needlessness of many state licensure requirements (a theme Yglesias has been hitting hard for a long time).  It’s hard not to agree with him.  There’s a real difference here between what liberals actually believe and what many conservatives seem to think liberals believe.  I don’t know any liberals who want more government just for the sake of government.  Rather, we want government to solve problems that we think the market cannot, or at least more efficiently than the market can (i.e., health care, pollution).  Thus, insofar as stupid/unnecessary government policy doesn’t actually help anybody, it just undermines the case for liberalism, and liberals should be at the forefront of trying to eliminate such policies.  Anyway, here’s Ezra on regulating manicurists:

In some cases, we even have a bit of a data on how the highly regulated states compare to the loosely regulated states:

Alabama has perhaps the strictest licensing requirements in the nation: 750 hours of schooling and a written and practical exam. The state gets, on average, four public complaints a year about poor service, according to the Alabama Board of Cosmetology.

Connecticut, which doesn’t require manicurists to get licenses, has averaged just six complaints a year to the state over the past five years. Two-thirds of those complaints are about gift certificates that aren’t honored, according to data from the consumer protection division of the state attorney general’s office.

And the case for the defense?

In Kentucky, the Board of Hairdressers and Cosmetologists has eight full-time inspectors who spend much of their time responding to anonymous tips about unlicensed manicurists. The inspectors rarely catch the alleged offenders, says Charles Lykins, the board’s administrator, because “they take off running.”

Mr. Lykins says it’s in the public’s interest to insist manicurists are well-trained. “Have you ever had a nail fungus? It’s terrible,” he says. “That’s why we’re there.”

This sort of thing should particularly offend liberals, I think, as bad regulations undermine good regulations.

Indeed.  I think, to a degree, the problem is that even necessary bureaucracies and organizations are always looking for more to do, simply to justify their existence, even when more is most definitely less.  I’m sure the taxpayers of Kentucky can come up with a lot better uses for their money than a crusade against nail fungus.

Marital finances

Really interesting series by Jessica Grose in Slate on marital finances.   She discusses in turn three patterns of marital finance: common potters, sometimes sharers, and independent operators (I think those terms are clear enough that I’m not going to explain further).  I was pleased to learn that common potters are the most common and that people tend to migrate towards this over a marriage– especially when kids are involved.  I certainly understand the impulse behind the sometimes sharers in that some people don’t want to give up all sense of financial independence and personhood, but I’ve always been a huge advocate of the common potter approach.  The way I look at it when you are married, you are a team.  Money is “ours” not “mine, yours, and ours.”

When I taught at Texas Tech I was the sole earner in our marriage, but not for a second did I think that entitled me to anything more than Kim.  We had one income coming in and one child to raise between the two of us and that was all entirely a shared effort.  As for spending money on one’s own things, even if you have your own account, when you buy that big-screen TV without permission, that’s a big hit to the team’s finances, whether they are in separate accounts or not.  When Kim started her own business and money came rolling in, that didn’t change things one bit.  To me, it’s always about trust.  Kim has always trusted me not to spend significant amounts of money without discussing and I trusted her for the same.   All that’s changed–for the better, fortunately– in the course of our marriage is what “significant amounts of money” is.

The way I see it, having separate account is either a) an accounting gimmick, or b) an indication of genuine separation in a marriage and I’ve yet to be convinced otherwise.

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