Mason in the News

Posted: September 26, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Following are highlights of national news and international coverage Mason recently received.

Thursday, Sept. 18, NPR’s “All Things Considered”

Federal Moves Take Us Back to the New Deal?

“It’s come to this: One prominent economist now refers to the U.S. as ‘the United Socialist State Republic of America.’ And he refers to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson as ‘comrade.’ It’s hyperbole. But many economists aren’t happy with all the federal intervention that has been going on lately. Don Boudreaux, a professor at George Mason University in Virginia, says that the Federal Reserve’s $85 billion loan to AIG, which comes in exchange for a huge stake in the company, turns the rules of capitalism upside down. Tyler Cowen, a fellow economist at George Mason, says the last time the federal government intervened like this in the financial sector was during President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. And even then, not at this pace.”

Sunday, Sept. 21, Washington Business Journal

As Wall Street Slides, So Do Local Government Coffers

“The tumultuous ride on Wall Street — coupled with the financial crises involving Lehman Bros., AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — has local jurisdictions on edge, bracing for slowing revenue and coming shortfalls. With the residential market already in the doldrums, things could get worse if the commercial real estate base starts to erode. Sales tax collections are likely to slide regionwide, said Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. ‘The fear of consumers is growing because of this meltdown on Wall Street.’ Recordation and transfer taxes could fall if there is a stall in home sales, which have been picking up in recent months in some counties as prices drop. ‘Many people are thinking the time is right [to buy],’ Fuller said. ‘They may have changed their minds this week.’”

Monday, Sept. 22, Chicago Sun-Times

Obama/Lincoln Parallel Tough to Sell to Voters

“Illinois polls often seek refuge and inspiration in the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. Rail splitter. Rhetorician extraordinaire. Debater. Liberator. Lincoln’s story is the stuff of legend. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has consciously sought to cultivate and connect with this most hallowed Illinoisan. Richard Norton Smith, the distinguished American historian and founding director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, isn’t buying it. ‘I don’t sense any persistent effort to wrap Obama in the Lincoln mantle. It’s been tentative, aside from two events.’ That’s a ‘mistake,’ he added. Lincoln ‘redefined the presidency. There was humility, generosity, magnanimity about the man. That is missing from modern politics.’”

Monday, Sept. 22, USA Today

Democrats Have Sights on Va. as Battleground

“The presidential race is close, polls say. Republican John McCain’s lead of 50 percent-46 percent over Democrat Barack Obama in a CNN/Time/Opinion Research poll, conducted in Virginia after both parties held their conventions, was within the poll’s margin of error. Mark Rozell, a public policy professor based at George Mason University’s Arlington campus, says he had expected the growth of the Democrat-leaning north and an increase in minority groups (which tend to vote Democratic) around the state to eventually weaken the Republican grip. But the change ‘came about more suddenly and dramatically than I had ever imagined.’”

Tuesday, Sept. 23, Washington Post

Virginia Home Sales Rise, but Area Jobless Rate Also Grows

“Home sales in Fairfax County rose 10.7 percent last month, the county’s first double-digit increase in a year and a half, according to the most recent data from the company that tracks local real estate listings. Fairfax’s median sales price was $375,000 in August — meaning half the homes sold for more and half for less. That’s nearly a 22 percent drop since August 2007. The last time prices fell lower was in April 2004, said John McClain, a senior fellow at George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis. ‘Perhaps we’ve seen enough cut out of prices to see a return to normalcy,’ McClain said. ‘We’re seeing buyers move back in from the sidelines in the past few months.’”

Tuesday, Sept. 23, Washington Post

Expanded Powers to Search Travelers at Border Detailed

“Yasir Qadhi, a 33-year-old Houston native who is pursuing a doctorate in Islamic studies at Yale University, said he is questioned every time he reenters the United States. He said he is routinely asked which mosques he has prayed in, what charities he donates to, what lectures he has delivered, what the lectures are titled. Nathan A. Sales, former [Department of Homeland Security] deputy assistant secretary for policy development, said that ‘in some instances, you can imagine it would be appropriate to ask questions’ such as those asked of Qadhi. ‘But when you do, you’re playing with fire.’ Sales, a George Mason University law professor, said: ‘If you want to ask questions about a person’s churchgoing or charitable contributions, you need to take steps to ensure it doesn’t stray from legitimate questions to harassment. You need to have a clearly established policy that these sorts of questions are only asked in certain circumstances, and only when we have some indication to believe that a particular mosque or a particular charity might have some sort of terrorist tie.’”

Tuesday, Sept. 23, NPR’s “Talk of the Nation”

Human Greed Lies at Root of Economic Crisis

Russell Roberts, professor of economics, was interviewed on National Public Radio commenting on the characteristics of greed in a capitalistic society. “Well, greed if we define it in the spiritual way, is not good. The grasping of it isn’t good. But self-interest, the pursuit of all kinds of dreams to get ahead is part of not just what makes us human but what makes us great. And what makes our standard of living as high as it is, what supports the innovation and creativity, it makes our economy so successful. The challenge is to keep that self-interest from harming others. In a well-functioning system, which ours is most of the time, the way you get ahead, the way you make a lot of money is by providing goods and services to your fellows that they value… It breaks down when the natural feedback loops that restrain self-interest from turning into greed or destructive, and harming others, when those feedback loops are broken.”

Wednesday, Sept. 24, Argus Leader (South Dakota)

Researcher Testifies on Teacher Pay

“Teacher pay, class size, more money: None of those necessarily add up to better student achievement, a George Mason University researcher testified Tuesday in a lawsuit challenging South Dakota’s funding of education. David Armor, whose credits include the book ‘Maximizing Intelligence,’ said his research into South Dakota test scores and various school factors found no statistically significant increases in achievement would result from higher teacher pay, more total school spending, lower student-teacher ratios or greater teacher education levels. In one analysis, Armor said, he found that higher teacher pay had a statistically significant effect on lowering test scores in math, but he said he considered that finding an ‘artifact’ that wasn’t repeated in other studies he did. ‘I certainly don’t infer that if we pay teachers less, scores will go up,’ Armor testified as a state witness in the trial that challenges the constitutional adequacy of the state’s school-funding system. ‘On the other hand, there’s certainly no evidence from this data that if we pay teachers more, scores will go up, either.’”

Wednesday, Sept. 24, Los Angeles Times

The Bailout Runs Into a Populist Backlash

“Many people have come to grudgingly accept that a massive bailout of the financial sector is necessary to stave off greater calamity, such as a collapse of the global banking industry or a worldwide economic depression. But as the scope of the bailout takes shape, a populist backlash is emerging, with some people concluding that the only fair outcome would be for failed firms to fail. ‘To some extent, it’s economic Darwinism,’ said Todd Zywicki, a law professor at George Mason University who believes the bailout concocted by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson and Federal Reserve chief Ben S. Bernanke goes too far. ‘That’s the nature of a free economy.’ I have no problem with someone making a lot of money if they take risks and all goes well,’ he added. ‘The downside of that, however, is that they have to eat any losses.’”

Wednesday, Sept. 24, National Post (Canada)

Analysis: McCain’s Debate Ploy a Sign of Weakness

“Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s decision to pull out of Friday night’s presidential debate is a sign that he lacks leadership and is losing the national debate on the key issue of the economy, several observers said on Wednesday. Toni-Michelle Travis, professor of government at George Mason University in Washington, thinks that Mr. McCain will be perceived as ‘ducking and running’ from a fight. She also said that the recent bank bailouts and the ensuing market volatility has ‘changed the campaign… I think there’s something about our culture that when you back off for a potential fight that does not play well,’ said Prof. Travis. ‘I think he’s trying to find his way and he’s not showing leadership. It’s a shortcoming if you look like you’re ducking and running from the debate and I think it’s going to be perceived negatively. I think he’s trying to regroup.’”

Wednesday, Sept. 24, NBC’s “Today Show”

Presidential Race Hotly Contested in Loudoun County, Va.

Mark Rozell, professor of public policy, and Michael McDonald, associate professor of government and politics, provided commentary for a feature about political views in Loudoun County. “I think Loudoun is representative of a change that’s taking place in much of Virginia politics and that is that many of these outlying suburban or exurban communities have really started to turn purple,” Rozell said. “Right now, it’s a toss-up,” McDonald said. “In fact, I believe that this is going to be the decisive area of this state.”

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