Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Lonely, Yet Busy Summer

Helsinki Finland Temple

Lance is in Utah for six weeks as he takes a CA bar review course. I have successfully survived two nights alone! Only 31 more nights to go. (Lance will come home over the 4th of July to visit)

Because Lance is out of school and I have lots of vacation to use up at work before I quit on July 24th, we will be taking many trips. Some are coming up soon, some are later in the summer. Here they are:

  • Four day stay in Southern CA - Lance will be taking the bar and I will be looking for housing...I am sure I will take advantage of the beach and other amenities as well
  • Three day trip to Nauvoo - Even though they released me from working with the Young Women at church, they still want me to help chaperone the ward (congregation) trip to Nauvoo, IL. I have never been there before so this should be fun!
  • Girls Camp - I will be attending Girls Camp with the young women from church. Camp this year is a region gathering. Lots of fun...and "roughing it" is not required.
  • Ohio/West Virginia - Off to see my uncle, my brother and my sister-in-law. We plan on spending time in Northern Ohio, Amish Country, some state parks in Ohio, and of course, West Virginie. Vicki's niece, 3 yr. old Katie, can't wait for us to come visit. I am her "friend."
  • Branson, MO - This will be a family affair! My dad, brother Luke, Lance's sister Lea, her family and hopefully Lance's dad will all be down in Branson later this summer. I think this is Lance's favorite vacation spot since we have been there every year we have been married. I can't wait to see the new Titanic Museum.

I wish Finland was in this list but alas, we can't find a plane ticket that is in our price range. Lance promises we can return to Finland soon. He has mentioned that we could go for Christmas 2006. I can't wait...especially since the temple opens soon.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The history of industrial policy in America

Industrial policy has been practiced by the government of the United States to a greater or lesser extent since its inception. Tariffs, subsidies, intellectual property protection, industry regulation, labor regulation, and safeguards have all impacted the development and growth of industry. In fact, industrial policy may be politically inevitable because many people want the government to "do something" to improve the economy. Perhaps because of the lack of a nationwide discussion of the attributes of an effective policy, the government has failed to articulate a coherent framework within which its industrial policy choices should fit and a standard against which its industrial policies may be measured. Thus, industrial policy in the United States has included a mix of sectoral, general, and other approaches that have met with varying success.

As early as 1791, Alexander Hamilton advocated a form of infant industry protection and price distortions in order to encourage the development of a favored industry—manufacturing—in the United States. Since that time, the government has used price controls, trade restrictions, tariffs and taxes, and industry regulation to provide special advantages to certain firms in favored industries. These controls provide direct incentives to private firms in the form of increased profits. Advocates of such policies hope that these private firms enhance the welfare of the nation by investing the profits in research, development, and infrastructure that provide benefits to many individuals and firms outside the company. These approaches have been criticized because they involve “picking winners” and because the information and administrative costs associated with the government’s effective implementation and monitoring programs may outweigh the benefits from the policies. Another concern is that the effectiveness of the programs eventually becomes diminished by entrenched interests. For example, the benefited firms might keep the excess profits without reinvesting them or use the rents to create an effective political apparatus whose purpose is simply to perpetuate the policies advantageous to those firms.

In 1993, Steve Charnovitz published a paper that criticized sector approaches to industrial policy and advocated a “general” approach. He suggested that the focus of any policy should be at the national level rather than at the firm level. Providing subsidies for institutional infrastructure, such as public education, job training programs, and financial markets, may improve the welfare of the nation by correcting market failures. In other words, Charnovitz believed that, in some cases, social returns from certain investments were higher than private returns, and that the government could compensate for this by making appropriate investments and eliminating many impediments to private sector growth. Some ways in which a general industrial policy approach could be implemented are reducing the burden of regulation, developing better labor markets with unemployment insurance and information services, and developing venture capital funds for which small businesses must compete. One drawback to general approaches is that the effectiveness of the approaches may be very difficult to measure. Moreover, the effect of a general approach may be too long term to allow a rapid development cycle for the approach.

One effective and interesting industrial policy approach is illustrated in the U.S. Government's loan guarantees given to Chrysler Corporation in 1980. The agreement between the automaker and the government provided an opportunity for the private firm to continue operation, but the assistance was contingent on management and workers agreeing on several concessions. In effect, Chrysler and the government attempted to identify the causes of the problems that were plaguing the firm. Once the bottlenecks were identified, the government and the firm worked together to eliminate them by undoing several constraints to which management and workers had previously agreed. This example may suggest a third approach to industrial policy—one in which government incentives are conditioned on certain benchmarks set by the government. One difficulty of this model is that it is difficult to evaluate whether the continued existence of Chrysler was actually beneficial to the nation. Thus, the measurement difficulties presented by the general approach may also be present in this strategic approach to industrial policy.

I believe that law should seek to facilitate the identification and adoption or, alternatively, the rejection of an industrial policy based on the policy’s effectiveness at achieving benchmarks that are agreed to before the industrial policy is created. In this manner, the government can create more turnover and variety in its approaches, and academics can then develop better theories to describe what approaches work best using the new data. What the country needs are better independent institutions to measure and report progress that polices make towards their agreed-upon goals.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Lance D. Smemoe, J.D. (or is it Esquire?)

Here are a few pictures from Lance's graduation from Law School. It was so cold that day (May 13th) The temp was around 40 degrees.

What makes a blog successful?

Kristi is very good at blogging. She writes about interesting topics and is very skilled at sharing details from her life in a way that provides a hook for her readers. She has successfully blogged about her life without making her posts boring to others.

One of the hangups I have about blogging is that I can't think of ways to make the things I do interesting to others. It seems to me that the most successful blogs have a relatively tight focus on a subject that its readers find interesting. Thus, I would like to try making a blog that provides in-depth coverage of a few topics.

As an experiment, for the next while, I will concentrate on posting my thoughts about three subjects: industrial policy, intellectual property law and policy, and education policy. Of course, Kristi will continue to tell you what is new with the Smemoes in this space. I hope that you enjoy reading this material, and I encourage you to post your thoughts or questions so that we can generate a discussion.

And thank you for visiting our new blog!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Four Years

It will be Lance and my anniversary on Sunday. Four years...can you believe it? We have been happily married four years AND we survived law school. Yeah for us!

In LDS terms, I always feel like we are far behind where we are supposed to be. Four years and no kids. :-( Most people we know who were married the same time we were already have one child if not two. All in the Lord's timing. It will happen...I have faith. To the rest of the world, we aren't behind at all. Four years is nothing. My boss Amy likes to keep reminding me that. Maybe one day I will believe her....

I am in charge of planning our celebration this year. Hmmmm....So far we will be eating at Biaggi's, a nice Italian restaurant. The rest is a secret. I am helping my niece by watching her baby during the day so she can move. We will most likely visit the gym in the morning and drop a bunch of boxes off at Goodwill. Gotta streamline our lives now that we will be moving. Giving away lots of things and furniture.

Pic of us....

I am sure you all want to see a recent picture of us. I will post one as soon as we get some. For now, you will have to settle for this :-) This was taken three years ago. We pretty much look the same.

First Entry

My friends, the Patomos, have created a blog to let everyone know in their families how they are doing. I thought I would do the same, especially since we are moving away from family and will be many miles away in a few months. Maybe I can get Lance to use the blog as well. We will see.