Jim Grant

“If forty economists tell you it’s Thursday,” Jim Grant, the fiat money doomsdayer, warned, “you’d better check the calendar.” As I proceeded to do just that (Thursday, yep), the audience of conservatives at the CPAC panel “The Need For a 21st Center Gold Standard” continued nodding along.

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You've probably already heard the grim news: The economy shed another 190,000 jobs last month, driving the unemployment rate up to 10.2 percent (though the job-loss total wasn't so far out of line with what economists expected). But here's the number I'm seizing on: 5.594 million. That's the number of people who've been unemployed for 27 weeks or more, a horrifically large number of people to be struggling through such oppressive circumstances.

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The Quality of Mercy: Cambodia, Holocaust, and Modern Conscience by William Shawcross (Simon and Schuster, 464 pp, $19.95) Great human disasters, natural or manmade, put bureaucrats to a test not only as public officials but as human beings. Normally insulated from the consequences of their actions by layers of government, and accustomed to the abstractions of statecraft, they suddenly are forced to deal with a problem in which every action (or inaction) can have an immediate effect on whether people will live or die.

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