Mason in the News

Posted: May 16, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Following are highlights of national news coverage Mason recently received.

Sunday, May 11, Boston Globe

Everyone in Favor, Say Yargh!

“As a child, Peter Leeson was pirate-obsessed. He cherished the ruby-eyed skull ring he got at Disney World, after riding Pirates of the Caribbean. He took up a collection of coconut pirate heads. He lapped up the pirate themes in ‘Goonies.’ And when he grew up to be an economics professor, and started studying pirate society, he found a new excuse for admiration. Pirates, it turns out, were pioneers of democracy. Presidential candidates, take note: Long before they made their way into the workings of modern government, the democratic tenets we hold so dear were used to great effect on pirate ships. Checks and balances. Social insurance. Freedom of expression. So Leeson, an economics professor at George Mason University, will argue in his upcoming book, ‘The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates.’ Yes, those stereotypically lawless rum-chuggers turned out to be ardent democrats.”

Monday, May 12, Philadelphia Daily News

Let’s Enter Bloomberg in the Veep Sweepstakes

“Conventional wisdom says Obama’s veep needs loads of foreign-policy and/or federal-government expertise. So most suggestions are pretty predictable. Michael Fauntroy, assistant professor of public policy at George Mason University, says: ‘Well, even though it sort of flies in the face of his own campaign, he may decide to pick someone with national experience and credentials… I think [New Mexico Gov.] Bill Richardson has to be on the short list,’ along with former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. When I mention Bloomberg, Fauntroy laughs and asks, ‘If you’re a multibillionaire, do you really want to be vice president? And do you want to spend your summer attacking John McCain?’”

Monday, May 12, Washington Post

A Tech Stable, But Hardly a Staple

“The past decade has been one of unparalleled economic growth for the Washington, D.C., region, which remains the wealthiest and most stable metropolitan area in the country. But tech was hardly the driving force. A review of The Post’s Top 200 lists over the period confirms that there aren’t very many commercially oriented tech companies that have hit the big time. The region also lags behind in private-sector patent creation, company formation and venture capital funding. And as anyone who has spent time in places like Silicon Valley or Seattle will tell you, Washington just doesn’t have the same kind of entrepreneurial business culture found in the most dynamic tech clusters. ‘The tech boom was a bit of a mirage,’ said Stephen Fuller, a George Mason University professor who is the leading student of the Washington area economy. ‘The underpinnings of it were always the technology applications that government was buying, and that’s pretty much what we have left.’”

Tuesday, May 13, MSNBC

Can Anyone Fix the Air-Traffic System?

Two hundred eighty-one million hours.

“According to George Donohue, a professor at George Mason University, that number — equivalent to 32,477 years! — represents the cumulative time passengers lost last year due to delays, canceled flights, diverted planes and denied-boarding situations. And Donohue should know, considering he’s director of the school’s Center for Air Transportation Systems Research, as well as a former official with FAA and NASA. Furthermore, he’s the coauthor, with Russell Shaver III, of a new book, ‘Terminal Chaos: Why U.S. Air Travel is Broken and How to Fix It,’ due out next week. ‘If you look at Europe, they run about the same level of operations and number of passengers as the United States, but they have about one-tenth of the delays and a much more predictable system,’ Donohue said. ‘It’s the U.S. system that provides the worst predictability of air transportation in the industrialized world, and it’s due primarily to the regulatory framework of our system.’”

Tuesday, May 13, Washington Post

Investment Conflicts for High Court

“Supreme Court justices’ personal investments are making it more difficult for the court to do business. Recusals by the justices are becoming more common as the court’s docket includes an increasing number of business cases. While the reasons for recusals are never publicly disclosed, the justices’ decisions match up with publicly disclosed investment statements. Ronald D. Rotunda, a law professor at George Mason University and an expert on the issue, said ‘what judges ought to do is sell their stock and invest in mutual funds.’ Congress in 2006 passed a law that allows judges and others to defer capital gains taxes on stock sold to avoid conflicts of interest. But judges, who already complain that their salaries are lower than others in the legal field, have been reluctant to give up those sources of income. And recusals occur in just a tiny portion of the cases that come before the Supreme Court.”

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