The new BusinessWeek rankings of business schools are out. Thousands of future MBAs will pour over the statistically-insignificant differences between similarly ranked schools to decide which will receive their quarter million dollars.

Of course, we can disagree over the finer points of methodology. But first, BusinessWeek needs to show us that they are capable of basic math.

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This Thursday, Nashville votes whether to prohibit public business from being conducted in any language other than English.

In an impassioned speech, Councilman Eric Crafton contends that newcomers to foreign lands must learn the local language. Strangely, this sentiment was not expressed in Cherokee, Iroquois, or Choctaw! Exhibiting his penchant for irony, Crafton delivered the speech in a recently adulterated dialect of the imperialist powers that, for effect, I adopt in this blog post.

Crafton, fresh off a three year crusade affirming Jesus Christ legislatively, is still not content wasting his time in Metro Council on such mundane issues as schools or zoning.

But there’s a positive side to this bill if it passes. If English is to be mandated, every time Crafton begins a sentence with “If I was” he can be held in contempt, and required to attend a lecture on subjunctive mood.

Last weekend, Nashville ran out of gas. This was not because of significant shortages, but because of a belief that there were significant shortages. So, people rushed to get gas. And we ran out.

This is a demonstration of sunspot equilibria, one of the items on my still- incomplete list of the five useful things I learned in macroeconomics. What if people believed that sunspots cause the populace to turn into violent beasts who, behind their smiles, “good morning”s, and “bless your heart”s, secretly plot our demise; they appear to act normal in every way but wait for their chance to attack us. In what Charles Gibson incorrectly labeled the “Bush Doctrine,” we may all contemplate preemptive self-defense by attacking first. Then, of course, sunspots did cause the populace to turn violent.

A feature of these self-fulfilling prophecies is that there are multiple equilibria; usually one very good one where we expect calm and act calmly, and another very bad one where we expect the worst and, by our reaction to it, cause it.

One simple role of government is to help coordinate the populace on the better outcome. Neither our local Nashville government, nor our presidential candidates, seem to grasp that.

burning grape vines

Nashville Councilwoman Erica Gilmore has resurrected a bill banning single-bottle sales of beer in a misguided attempt to curb drinking and littering. To understand the unintended consequences of hair-trigger paternalism, we turn to the Soviets.

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A local recording studio is being confiscated by the city of Nashville to put it to a “higher valued use.” Apparently, the music emanating from Music Row in Music City sounds sweeter from a high-tax-rate high-rise than from an historic, independent label. Joy Ford was unwilling to sell her business of thirty years to the Lionstone Development Group, the Houston-based buyer of “underdeveloped real estate assets.” In response, City officials slipped under the covers with the developer to transfer the property from one private interest (its owner) to another—a Robin Hood in reverse.

I blame Karl Dean. I blame Phil Ryan. And yes, I blame (despite this being grounds for revocation of my UVA diploma) Thomas Jefferson. He should have foreseen the impact of his aspirational turning of the phrase. Sandra Day O’Connor did, but she was outvoted.

Let’s review…

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