Friday, August 29, 2008

Introducing Your 2008 New England Patiots

I'll have what is hopefully a more comprehensive preview next week, but I had so much fun with the football blogging last season, that I can't help but get excited about starting again. After 18 consecutive wins, the Patriots have now lost 5 straight. And sure, maybe 4 of those have been exhibition games that Tom Brady didn't even play in, but come on, we should be worried, right?

Not really. The 2008 version of the Pats may have some wholes, but they still should be the class of the AFC and they still should be one of the top contenders for the Lombardi trophy come January, just as they have been every year for the past 5 years. For now, just a super quick glance at these new Pats.


1- The offensive line, which played horribly in the Super Bowl and now has right guard Stephen Neal on the PUP list to start the season. They were outplayed in the Super Bowl and the line has looked awful in the preseason. Yeah it's preseason, but it's enough to have me concerned. Are they going to be terrible? Of course not, but even a slight drop off hurts a passing game predicated on timing.

2- Brady's foot. I'm 100% certain he's healthy enough to suit up and play week 1. My concern is that this could be the type of injury that lingers all year and hurts his already limited mobility in the pocket.

3- The Wide Receivers. You heard me. I question whether Chad Jackson is any good and I question whether Jabar Gafney can be a solid #2/#3 all season long. If anyone gets hurt, where's the depth?

4- The cornerbacks. I'm not worried about safety, where Meriwether and John Lynch are on the bench. I'm worried about the corners, where one spot will seemingly be Fernando Bryant's and the other will be Ellis "I give up huge plays" Hobbs.

Not Concerns:

1- RB, where Lamont Jordan seems to have been a solid acquisition. That gives us Maroney, Sammy Morris, Jordan, the always versatile Kevin Faulk and Belichick favorite Heath Evans. And in case I'm not being clear, yes I think they'll keep all 5.

2- LB, where the rookies seem to be ready to shine. I still worry about Bruschi having lost a step- or two, but if I can't trust Belichick to not play sentimental favorites, then I can't trust anything at all. He wouldn't leave Bruschi out there if he really had a better option.

3- Rodney Harrison, however old he is. He can still play and will contribute as long as he can stay healthy.

4- Super Bowl hangover. This isn't going to be a Super Bowl loser that just falls apart. Belichick and Brady won't let it happen. They hated- hated- hated how the year ended and know they have to make up for it this year. This is a team that consistently plays to better it's historical legacy and the players and coaches know they're not done yet.


Anonymous rose said...

As a Pats hater and niners fan, I am so jealous of your linebacker additions via the draft.

Mayo and Crable are both studs that filled needs, will contribute right away and will contribute for years to come. Two big, physically gifted monsters to compliment a solid, but aging and physically limited linebacking corps.


2:51 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Did anybody else see Lynch putting his less than athletic late hits on every tackle when he was in the game against the Giants? It was like deju vu from an Eagles game with Brian Dawkins (except I think Dawkins does it because hes nuts and Lynch was doing it because hes been slow his whole career and now hes just unuseable).

You honestly aren't worried about a safety corps that could see Harrison and Lynch on the field at the same time? Harrison single handedly allowed David Tyree to make that absurd catch in the Superbowl. With a less than stellar CB unit how is the Pat's secondary not a major concern?

3:55 PM  
Anonymous rose said...

Yeah, I'd have to agree the DBs are a huge concern and the wide outs are not in the slightest bit.

First to the wide outs. This team got by for years with Troy Brown, Deion Branch, Givens and an array of mediocre to above average guys as starters. You now have Randy Moss and Wes Welker, with a proven third in Gaffney and a fourth spot be competed for by Washington, Slater and Jackson. This position is more stacked than it was for any of their superbowl teams and its not even close.

DBs. Your superbowls were won with Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Samuel, even Eugene Wilson.

Today you've got who? Hobbs, Sanders, an ever aging Harrison and Bryant?

Bro, your offense is gonna move the ball through the air and on the ground. You've got studs on the outside with Moss and in the slot with welker, a few solid tight ends and backs that catch the ball. Gaffney as a 3 is not a concern. Every single one of your dbacks is a concern and you guys could be very vulnerable through the air. Maybe this is the year where Pats fans finally realize how good Asante Samuel really was.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous rose said...

Here's a great piece to put Obama's government "job creation" agenda in context. Sure you're already aware of all the material, its nothing new, but might provide a talking point for you.

Jerry L. Jordan

Before the Great Depression of the 1930s, the notion that government ought to be responsible for creating jobs would have seemed absurd. Today, however, we commonly hear aspiring politicians declare that their number-one economic objective would be to increase employment.

The intellectual justification for gearing government budgetary and monetary policies toward fine-tuning the economy (and, in particular, toward generating more employment) was provided by John Maynard Keynes (1936) in The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. This landmark book laid the cornerstone for the economic doctrine that dominated macroeconomic policies for several decades following World War II. Indeed, since the mid-1930s, the dominant view of economic policymakers has been that a competitive marketplace will fail to generate adequate employment opportunities. This view underlies the advocacy of government programs to "create jobs."

I am reminded of a story that a businessman told me a few years ago. While touring China, he came upon a team of nearly 100 workers building an earthen dam with shovels. The businessman commented to a local official that, with an earth-moving machine, a single worker could create the dam in an afternoon. The official's curious response was, "Yes, but think of all the unemployment that would create." "Oh," said the businessman, "I thought you were building a dam. If it's jobs you want to create, then take away their shovels and give them spoons!"

In the final decade of this century, the Depression-era way of thinking about the role of government is fading. In the 21st century, creating work for people will not be viewed as a primary objective of government policy; fostering an environment for wealth creation will be.

Creating Work versus Creating Wealth

Work is the necessary means of achieving wealth: in order to be consumers, we must also be producers. Whatever good intentions are presumed, when the government focuses away from creating wealth and onto creating jobs, it inevitably engenders a lower average standard of living. A successful, wealth-augmenting government policy should simultaneously reduce the work burdens of the labor force. That does not mean people will need to share jobs, take low-paying jobs, or become unemployed. Wealth creation occurs as the "muscle" component of employment diminishes and the "brainware" component increases.

The work record of industrialized countries in the past century is clear. In the United States, for example, the average workweek has fallen by more than 40 percent in the last 100 years. Among the benefits of wealth accumulation is the increase in leisure that it affords. Very poor nations are typically characterized by people who work most of their waking hours. To do otherwise would be disastrous. Where one finds impoverished nations with high rates of joblessness, one also finds political-economic systems that have large disincentives to create and accumulate wealth.

The distinction between creating wealth and creating "work" can be illustrated by an economy that has experienced a catastrophic natural disaster. A well-known feature of market economies is that in the wake of a disaster, such as a hurricane or earthquake,

employment and production tend to rise. One conclusion might be that market economies routinely hoard unused labor services—workers who are gratefully called into service by the new demands of rebuilding houses, roads, and all of the other investments that were damaged or destroyed. But clearly, society is not better off because people are working long, hard hours. A more reasoned conclusion is that these natural disasters are destroyers of wealth-—and creators of work in the sense that households and firms must now toil harder to help recover from their losses. I doubt that this is the sort of "jobs creation" program voters have in mind when they cast their ballots, although I suspect that many government "jobs" programs operate much like a post-disaster cleanup program.

Government and Jobs Preservation

Given the importance politicians generally assign to the task of creating employment for people, it is surprising how little they know about the nature of jobs creation in market economies. Studies of the U.S. record show no identifiable, systematic factors related to industry, region, wages, employer size, capital and energy intensity, or foreign competition that would account for a significant share of the types or number of jobs created or destroyed in the economy.

Because policymakers have no clear foresight of where entrepreneurial energies will be directed in the future, it is impossible for them to predict where jobs creation should occur. For example, two or three years ago, who could have predicted, let alone planned, that a rapidly growing occupation for people would be designing Web sites? It is not surprising, then, that government policies which seek to direct the flow of entrepreneurial talents in an effort to promote "good" jobs, and presumably to discourage "bad" jobs, will have uncertain and potentially negative effects on economic prosperity.

Government-targeted employment policies breed special interest groups that inevitably reduce the efficiency of markets in allocating scarce resources. These policies tend to persist beyond the point of any economic desirability and inhibit a necessary antecedent

to jobs creation: jobs destruction. In the United States, sectors and industries that claim the highest rates of jobs created are generally those that have the greatest rates of jobs destroyed. Similarly, nations with high rates of jobs creation also tend to have high rates of jobs destruction (Davis, Haltiwanger, and Schuh 1996: Table 3.1).

In modern economies, can we conceive of any jobs creation that is not preceded by the destruction of some less efficient, and therefore less prosperous, jobs? Indeed, can we conceive of any major advance that does not make obsolete some less efficient way of producing things?

I am of the generation that can still operate a slide rule-—for what purpose I can only scarcely remember. But this technology must necessarily have been supplanted by the invention of electronic calculators, and already, miniature personal computers are making calculators obsolete. This is the nature of progress--to make obsolete old technology. Innovation is the process of "creatively destroying" the pre-existing order. [1]

Because of their imperfect vision, government jobs programs are almost everywhere jobs protection policies, which by extension tend to inhibit the creation of new, wealth-enhancing technology. Europe's stagnant labor markets are a direct result of labor laws and regulations designed to protect existing jobs, even at the social cost of discouraging new capital formation and, therefore, wealth creation.

Borders, Prosperity, and Capital Freedom

The two sides of a political border illustrate what government can and cannot accomplish. Why economic prosperity varies greatly along a seemingly arbitrary boundary poses perhaps the critical question for an economic policymaker. What is the economic importance of borders that separate prosperity on one side and poverty on the other?

In the simplest terms, there can be only two reasons for divergent levels of per capita income: (1) different levels of resources or (2) differences in the allocation of resources, which may be either how the resources are employed or how many of the resources are employed. Moreover, these two sources of economic prosperity are interdependent: how a nation decides to allocate its resources will ultimately determine how many resources it has to allocate.

Borders often mark varying degrees of capital fertility--the incentives that promote the propagation of new capital that allows rich regions to achieve and maintain higher standards of living. The resources of the industrialized world were not all endowed; most were created by entrepreneurial effort within a congenial political-economic system. Entrepreneurial effort is not manufactured by social engineers, but allowed to take root naturally in an economic soil untainted by deliberate policy intervention.

The Role of Government in the Economy

Government's role in the economy was laid out a decade ago in a wonderful essay, "The Poverty of Nations," by the late economist Karl Brunner (1985). A person in an economy can use resources in only one of four basic endeavors: he can produce, trade, influence the political process to redirect greater resources to his advantage, or protect himself against the wealth-redistributing efforts of others.

In the first two uses--production and trade--the total welfare generated by the economy increases. In the language of economists, these activities represent a positive-sum (win–win) gain. However, the latter two efforts--redirecting the flow of resources and protecting against the wealth-redistributing efforts of others--are zero-sum, or even negative-sum, games. They add no value, waste time and effort, and thus generate a lower standard of living for people as resources are directed away from production and trade. Government institutions--laws, rules, regulations, and the judicial system--influence private decisions to allocate resources among these uses.

The influence of government as a wealth-redistributing body is well known. Government wealth redistribution by way of explicit or implicit taxation lowers the incentive to create and accumulate wealth, thereby lowering the potential productive power of the economic system. But governments also promote production and trade, because they are assignors and protectors of property rights, and provide for the enforcement of private contracts. These are wealth-enhancing activities that help the productive capacity of an economy to blossom. Thus, governments have two necessarily contradictory and coexisting modes: "the protective mode" and "the redistributive mode."

These modes suggest why arbitrary borders along a political boundary generally signify regions of varying prosperity. They are the frontiers of a government's authority and, as such, they mark the varying degrees of both the protective and redistributive modes.

Both of these roles can negatively influence a nation's economic landscape: too little protective power, or too much redistributive effort, inhibits the creation and retention of wealth and retards equilibrating forces that attempt to provide a standard of living comparable to that in neighboring countries.

Now that the concrete and barbed-wire walls that separated the Eastern and Western European economies no longer exist, we can expect to see a narrowing in the wealth differentials between the two regions. However, until a legislative and judicial infrastructure has been built that enhances the protective mode of government in the former Communist bloc countries, the gap in economic well-being will not be closed.

A necessary precondition for the accumulation of capital is the protection of property rights. Those countries that make the most rapid progress in adopting Western legal, financial, and accounting practices will usher in a new era of prosperity for their economies. Similarly, until the redistributive modes of many Western European economies are substantially curtailed, the stagnation in their standards of living will surely persist.

The ability of governments to influence wealth creation has been documented in a recent study produced by a consortium of research institutes in Canada, Mexico, and the United States (Gwartney, Lawson, and Block 1996). The study attempted to gauge, in a methodical way, the degree of economic freedom in each of a broad cross-section of nations. The conclusion from examining more than 100 countries over a 20-year period was that governments with a strong commitment to economic liberty--including the freedom of exchange and the protection of private property--tended to be faster-growing and wealthier. No nation with a persistently high economic freedom rating failed to achieve a high level of income. Furthermore, the 17 countries with the most improved freedom ratings all had positive and generally strong growth rates, while the 15 countries where economic freedoms declined recorded real per capita wealth declines.

10:13 AM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

The Patriots cut Chad Jackson, meaning they now have only 3 WR's who have ever really contributed to an NFL team. Last year, they got lucky with the receiving corp staying healthy all season. This year, the lack of depth over the course of the season concerns me.

As to the secondary, yeah I'm worried, now that Lynch is gone and so is Fernando Bryant, who most of us assumed was going to be a starter. I'm not as worried about safety where there are 3 NFL quality players in Harrison, James Sanders, and Brandon Merriwether. I specifically mentioned cornerback but Ellis Hobbs makes every Patriots fan nervous and now we have rookie Terrance Wheatley starting- Oh and the Patriots just signed Deltha O'Neal.

And Peter, are you really going to get on Harrison for that ridiculous lucky Tyree Super Bowl catch? A guy makes a one in a lifetime circus catch in good coverage and you have to take Harrison to task? Come on.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous rose said...

On Harrison. I don't think pete sees that play alone as the reason why harrison isn't great, but rather that play as a continuation of what we've seen for a couple years now. Harrison lacks the ability to compete for balls in the air w/ out commiting penalties. Kind of important for a dback.

I'm a Merriweather fan and I think he's going to see the field as much as anyone other than Hobbs this year.

Side note: your boy obama endorsed more government involvement in storm insurance today...and mccain reiterated his opposition. keep thinking these two are both moderates though, just because neither fits into the libertarian cookie cutter image you want. that's good stuff.

9:25 AM  

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