Mason in the News

Posted: January 30, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Following are highlights of national news coverage Mason recently received.

Friday, Jan. 23,

Obama’s Week 1: Sales Pitch Begins

“Presidential speech experts say Obama tried to sell the public on his initiatives by outlining the severity of the economic situation and the desperate need to address it, much in the way that President Franklin Roosevelt did at his first inauguration. ‘Franklin Roosevelt is the closest parallel to the way Obama talked about the economy in his speech,’ said Jeremy Mayer, associate professor at the School of Public Policy at George Mason University. ‘He talked about greed, fairness and themes that mirror the New Deal.’”

Friday, Jan. 23, New York Times

Theater Economics: Why Are There So Few Sequels?

“When a film is a hit, it is virtually guaranteed to be followed by a sequel. Many theater producers and investors hoping to make money favor ‘safe’ productions, which, given evidence from Hollywood, should include sequels. Yet sequels to theatrical blockbusters (think ‘The Producers’) are almost unheard of. ‘There are way more sequels in theater than there used to be,’ argues Tyler Cowen, an economics professor at George Mason University who has written about the economics of the arts. ‘If the Brady Bunch makes it into a theatrical performance, I think of that as like a sequel. They’re building upon other media where people will want to see something they already know they’ll like.’”

Saturday, Jan. 24, Fox News

Will Jimmy Carter Meddle in Obama’s Foreign Affairs?

“At times, ever since he left the White House in defeat 28 years ago, Carter’s freewheeling, freelance diplomacy has put him squarely at odds with his successors. While other ex-presidents have rode off into the sunset to enjoy, for the most part, quiet retirements, Carter has stayed busy writing best-selling books, conducting his own foreign policy and winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his work. ‘I don’t see him as a pariah,’ said James Pfiffner, a professor of public policy at George Mason University. ‘He seems to stand out as somebody who did not go out to get rich and put personal time in things like Habitat for Humanity,’ he said. ‘So I think the contrast is most former presidents fly around the world and are hosted in lavish ways. And Carter is on the other end of the spectrum and wants to appear as doing good works.’”

Monday, Jan. 26, Chronicle of Higher Education

‘Social Bookmarking’ Site for Higher Education Makes Debut

“For the tech-savvy, social bookmarking is old hat: Log on to a web site like, save a few links, and share them with a network of friends. It’s a tool that some students and faculty members have used in the classroom for years. Tom Scheinfeldt, managing director of George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media, said social-bookmarking sites derive their power from the size of their networks. Whether users create collaborative lists of bookmarks or pool research with colleagues, having as many users as possible — whether or not they are interested in higher education — increases the amount of input a user gets, he said. ‘To artificially limit the size of the community, it artificially limits the use of the product,’ said Mr. Scheinfeldt, who is also a history professor at George Mason.”

Monday, Jan. 26, Reuters

One Term or Two? Economy Is Key, Experts Say

“Whether President Barack Obama enjoys one term or two in the White House will depend overwhelmingly on the state of U.S. pocketbooks…. ‘The truth is it’s rare for someone who runs for re-election to get defeated in the absence of economic turmoil,’ said Jeremy Mayer, professor of public policy at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. ‘There are tremendous advantages to incumbency. If things get a lot worse in ‘09 and ‘10, Democrats will take a hit in the midterms. But if we start to see a recovery in 2011, Obama will get the credit for that,’ said Mayer. ‘It’s when the pain comes and who’s to blame.’”

Monday, Jan. 26, Wall Street Journal

Bankruptcy Fears Grip Auto-Parts Suppliers

“The Bush administration injected capital into General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC to avert the potential chaos of bankruptcy filings. But that didn’t address broader industry concerns, such as overcapacity in the auto-parts industry. Now, Obama administration officials are calling for a more comprehensive aid package for Detroit that requires big changes across the industry. But not everyone agrees an expanded government bailout effort is the way to go. Donald J. Boudreaux, chairman of the economics department at George Mason University, says bankruptcy courts are best-suited to handle restructuring issues. ‘Bankruptcy court is designed to figure out which ones should be able to last over the long run once they get through the bankruptcy restructuring process.’”

Monday, Jan. 26, Washington Post

Obama Using His Personal Appeal to Put Change into Motion

“In his first week in office, Obama is giving clear signs that he is willing to trade on his own popularity, personal suasion and loose-limbed ease in the spotlight to help him lead the nation. ‘I think that Obama has learned from some of the mistakes in the past and has followed up on some of the successes in the past,’ said Stephen J. Farnsworth of George Mason University, author of ‘Spinner in Chief: How Presidents Sell Their Policies and Themselves.’ ‘What you see in big things and small things is a signal going out that the Bush administration perspective about many things is over,’ he said.”

Monday, Jan. 26, Washington Post

For Publisher of Literature, Printed Word Is His Reward

“For Roger Lathbury, a George Mason University professor, owning his own publishing house — which he operates out of his actual house in Old Town Alexandria — has yielded two major highs: He once published a book of satirical poems about the Barbie doll, called ‘Kinky,’ which sold a more than respectable 7,000 copies. Even as the publishing industry’s titans in Manhattan reel from layoffs and discouraging retail sales, Lathbury’s 25-year-old firm, Orchises Press, based in his home’s atticlike fourth floor, keeps ambling along, producing about three books a year, always on Jan. 27 in honor of his beloved aunt’s birthday. This week, Orchises — which Lathbury named after an orchid in a Robert Frost poem — will publish two poetry books, including one about terrorism and torture by George Witte, the editor in chief of St. Martin’s Press.”

Wednesday, Jan. 28, Boston Globe

An Overoptimistic Stimulus Plan

“In truth, there are compelling reasons not to buy the whole spending-equals-stimulus line of reasoning. Echoing Richard Nixon, Time magazine recently proclaimed ‘we all really do seem to be Keynesians now’ and that ‘just about every expert agrees that pumping $1 trillion into a moribund economy’ is the way to ‘rev up’ aggregate demand and stimulate economic activity. Time clearly didn’t check with George Mason University economist Russell Roberts, who wrote on Monday: ‘As far as I know, no prominent market-oriented economist has come out in favor of a trillion-dollar increase in government spending as a way to improve the economy.’”

Thursday, Jan, 29, Forbes

How to Get Profitable Again

“A stimulus will work if and when it serves to increase profits, because profits are at the core of a free market system. The economy will recover if and when profits recover. A study by the Congressional Budget Office recently pointed out that the infrastructure projects and other spending programs at the heart of the so-called stimulus package will take years to implement. Moreover, this spending will create only discrete projects, not ongoing businesses that generate jobs and profits. A genuine recovery needs the creation of new businesses earning profits. One excellent idea for stimulating profits, suggested by Bryan Caplan, a George Mason University economics professor, would be to cut the employer contribution to the payroll tax.”

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