Monday, 22 November 2004

Fox gets the BCS

An interesting development in college football today as Fox Sports has won the bidding for the next BCS contract for 2007–10, including three of the four “plus one” title games. ABC retains its contract through 2014 for the Rose Bowl games, including the national title game in 2010 (to be played in Pasadena).

Is this a sign that Fox is planning to get serious about college football more generally? To date, Fox’s involvement in the sport has been limited to a schedule of second-tier Big XII and Pac-10 matchups on its cable outlets (along with some Division I-AA matchups) and broadcast rights to the Cotton Bowl. It’s likely that at least one major conference, like the Pac-10, would be interested in a national Saturday afternoon slot to compete with the SEC-CBS contract—thus avoiding the limited 3:30 coverage associated with ABC’s programming. Plus, Fox would be hard-pressed to come up with an exclusive announce team that works four days a year, suggesting that regular season college football on Fox is coming sooner rather than later.

Reclaiming Liberalism

Throughout the anglosphere the word “liberal” has been used scornfully for the past few decades and, interestingly, it’s used the same way in Europe, though for a different reason. We all know that it’s used as a proxy term for socialist, panty-waist, etc. in the U.S. However, in the rest of the world the left uses it in its original meaning as a term of scorn; globalization (capitalism) is known as neoliberalism and has been known to spark riots from time to time.

The Economist ($) proposes that we reclaim the term to describe proponents of freedom. I concur:
“Liberal” is a term of contempt in much of Europe as well—even though, strangely enough, it usually denotes the opposite tendency. Rather than being keen on taxes and public spending, European liberals are often derided (notably in France) for seeking minimal government—in fact, for denying that government has any useful role at all, aside from pruning vital regulation and subverting the norms of decency that impede the poor from being ground down. Thus, in continental Europe, as in the United States, liberalism is also regarded as a perversion, a pathology: there is consistency in that respect, even though the sickness takes such different forms. And again, in its most extreme expression, it tests the boundaries of tolerance. Worse than ordinary liberals are Europe's neoliberals: market-worshipping, nihilistic sociopaths to a man. Many are said to believe that “there is no such thing as society.”

Yet there ought to be a word—not to mention, here and there, a political party—to stand for what liberalism used to mean. The idea, with its roots in English and Scottish political philosophy of the 18th century, speaks up for individual rights and freedoms, and challenges over-mighty government and other forms of power. In that sense, traditional English liberalism favoured small government—but, crucially, it viewed a government’s efforts to legislate religion and personal morality as sceptically as it regarded the attempt to regulate trade (the favoured economic intervention of the age). This, in our view, remains a very appealing, as well as internally consistent, kind of scepticism.

Indeed. The Europeans are using the word correctly and they despise it nonetheless(it makes sense, since they despise political, and especially, economic freedom). Since the U.S. is the current exemplar of capitalism and is despised anyway, we might as well get our terminology straight. Liberalism, anyone?

Moral hazard and negative liberty

Will Wilkinson has a great post on negative liberty and the welfare state that I largely agree with:

However, I think that among the best argument for robust negative or liberty rights, i.e., for institutionalized constraints on coercion, is that a reliable system of negative rights over time creates more abilities, opens more paths of feasible possibility for individual lives, than most alternative systems of rights. Like Friedman and Hayek, I’m in favor of a modest and well-designed social safety net. However, political systems built around positive rights tend toward sclerosis, thereby reducing rates of economic growth, and a high rate of economic growth, along with (negative) liberty and stability, is part of the trinity of primary political goods (says me). Furthermore, a system of positive rights, conceived as a system of guarantees, is often self-defeating, because it cannot overcome systemic moral hazard problems that, independently of growth problems, turn out foreclose many of the possibilities for life that the system of guarantees was meant to open.
Read the whole post, including the comments regarding moral hazard (when an agent takes on risk knowing that it will be covered by a principal other than himself); points that I agree with, though I wouldn’t endorse the notion of “positive freedom” as Will has done. We do have some responsibility for our fellows, though I don’t think it reaches the status of rights.

I’m now listeneing to AC/DC. Not exactly 80s, but still good.

Metablogging, Getting Back Into It, And So Forth

To begin with, thanks to Chris for inviting me along as a co-blogger. We share a lot of the same points of view, though I’m more of a statist than him, I suppose.

I’m still in school and time is scarce, but I’m going to try this group blog thing and see how it works. I think it’ll be fine and certainly beats maintaining a site of my own.

One of the things I’ve missed the most about blogging is seeing things of interest and not being able to tell people about it. Take, for instance, this post over at Volokh. I read that yesterday—follow the links, it’s a parody of a leftist / humanist denial of objective reality (it’s from academia, of course)—and was dying to blog about it.

Well, enough nostalgia. Thanks to Jeff for the early link and to James Joyner for the kind words of encouragement.

Speaking of Jeff Goldstein, I’m listening to Journey right now. How 80s am I? Ok, so I wasn’t done with the nostalgia…

Amend for that guy

Is amending the constitution to permit naturalized citizens to run for president gathering momentum? Both Kriston of Begging to Differ and Robert Tagorda take note of the group Amend for Arnold and Jen (referring to the governors of California and Michigan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jennifer Granholm, respectively), spotlighted in today’s New York Times by William Safire.

Interestingly, three proposed constitutional amendments have been introduced during the 108th Congress to do just that:

  • U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder of Arizona Arkansas (and 6 co-sponsors) introduced H.J.Res 59, which would provide that “[a] person who has been a citizen of the United States for at least 35 years and who has been a resident within the United States for at least 14 years shall be eligible to hold the office of President or Vice President.”
  • U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California introduced H.J.Res 104, which would provide that “[a] person who is a citizen of the United States, who has been a citizen of the United States for at least 20 years, and who is otherwise eligible to hold the Office of the President, is not ineligible to hold that Office by reason of not being a native born citizen of the United States.”
  • U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah introduced S.J. Res 15, which would provide that “[a] person who is a citizen of the United States, who has been for 20 years a citizen of the United States, and who is otherwise eligible to the Office of President, is not ineligible to that Office by reason of not being a native born citizen of the United States” and include a seven-year limit on the ratification period. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the proposed amendment last month.

As a matter of general principle (leaving aside the merits of Schwarzenegger and/or Granholm candidacies, which seem to me to be rather tangential) I think any of these proposed amendments would be sound, and I hope Congress will seriously consider passing such an amendment in the coming months.

Isn't that special

The more I read about the state legislature’s shenanigans, the more I am compelled to conclude that referring to extraordinary sessions of that body as “special” seems oddly appropriate.

The Cut deathwatch begins

Ole Miss AD Pete Boone isn’t even bothering with the fake “we’re 100% behind Coach Cutcliffe” spiel, according to Sunday’s Clarion-Ledger:

“Obviously, this season has been disappointing, but the important thing is for Coach Cutcliffe and I to get together soon after the final game and… not only to look at the season but also the program,” Boone said prior to Saturday’s Ole Miss-LSU game. “And then make whatever adjustments need to be made, whether it’s policy issues or procedure issues or human resource (staffing) issues.”

Mind you, I continue to believe, absent a large suitcase full of unmarked bills being delivered to Steve Spurrier from Dickie Scruggs, that Cutcliffe’s job is safe through next fall, simply because there’s nobody obviously better on the market who the Rebs have a shot at—while it’d be entertaining to see Mike Price get the job after his comeback at UTEP, the Rebel alumni are even less likely to be forgiving of Price’s alleged indiscretions than Bama’s were. Expect nothing more than some house-cleaning at the offensive and defensive coordinator slots and an “Independence Bowl or else” edict from Boone’s office.

The only color that matters is maroon

I’m pleased to announce that Robert Prather, formerly blogging at Insults Unpunished, has agreed to join Signifying Nothing as a co-blogger; I’ll leave any further introductions to him. Robert’s posts will be this color. Welcome aboard!