Krugman at the Brink

Brink Lindsay has a good article inspired by his reading of Paul Krugman's latest book, The Conscience of a Liberal. Brink bemoans Krugman's downward progress from a once "immensely talented economist" to today's partisan hack. He does a masterly job debunking Krugman's "stick-figure morality play" that pits heroic/angelic left-liberals against the demons of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

That would be good enough, but Brink goes on to make a larger point about partisanship generally:

To be a partisan is, by definition, to see the world partially rather than objectively: to identify wholeheartedly with the perspectives of one particular group and, at the extreme, to discount all rival perspectives as symptoms of intellectual or moral corruption. And the perspective Krugman has chosen to identify with is the philosophically incoherent, historically contingent grab bag of intellectual, interest group, and regional perspectives known as postwar American liberalism.
Brink doesn't like partisanship much, and it's hard to disagree. It can get pretty tedious cheering for a team with many players that are only marginally less slimy than the opposition.

Brink leaves it at that, but I'll point out that Krugman is an obvious devotee of what Thomas Sowell called the vision of the anointed: the devout belief that

… it is not the innate limitations of human beings, or the inherent limitations of resources, which create unhappiness but the fact that social institutions and social policies are not as wisely crafted as the anointed would have crafted them.
In short, Krugman, and folks like Krugman, start out with the premise that the only thing holding us back from the bright and shiny future he can imagine is stupid and evil people on the other side. It's not surprising he's shrill and angry; his vision practically demands it.

Talkin' 'Bout My G-G-Generation

Pun Salad likes reading snarky articles about the Baby Boomers. And there's nobody snarkier than P. J. O'Rourke, so go check him out.

How can present Social Security allotments be expected to fund our sky-diving, bungee-jumping, hang gliding and white-water rafting, our skiing, golf and scuba excursions, our photo safaris to Africa, bike tours of Tuscany and sojourns at Indian ashrams, our tennis clinics, spa treatments, gym memberships and personal fitness training, our luxury cruises to the Galapagos and Antarctica, the vacation homes in Hilton Head and Vail, the lap pools, Jacuzzis, and clay courts being built thereat and the his and hers Harley Davidsons?
Yeah, baby. You heard him: "thereat." So cough it up, kids.

Congress Continues Its Expensive Train Hobby

The Boston Globe reports:

Ten years after Amtrak vowed to end its reliance on government subsidies and become self-sufficient and four years after it failed to meet that goal, the Senate voted yesterday to increase the beleaguered passenger railroad's government funding and release it from a mandate that it turn a profit.
Yes, after a record of dismal failure and broken promises, the punishment is: you get more taxpayer money, and we'll forget about those promises in the future. Lessons learned for other subsidees?

David Freddoso at NRO:

Ronald Utt of the Heritage Foundation notes that in 2006, Amtrak lost enough money per passenger on at least three of their long-distance routes — Orlando to L.A., ($436 per passenger), Seattle to L.A. ($227), and New York to Florida ($132) — hat they could have easily come out ahead by collecting passengers' fares and handing them round-trip airline tickets. As of August, Amtrak had lost approximately $845 million for the year.
David also points out: "Amtrak may be the only commercial enterprise on earth that actually loses money selling beer." Ouch!

The Senate vote is here. New Hampshire's senators, Sununu and Gregg, came out on the short end of a 70-22 vote. Senator Sununu offered an amendment that would shut down some of the more unprofitable routes; it, of course, failed.

Marlo Lewis at the CEI OpenMarket blog comments on the Senate vote, and compares it with another subsidy:

In the case of ethanol, we're told, government must mandate and subsidize biofuels because "next generation" technologies are not yet "mature" Well, Amtrak shows that maturity ain't got nothin' to do with it. Trains have been around longer than Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), the bill's chief sponsor. Corn may not always be King in Washington, D.C., but Pork will always wear the crown.
Senator Sununu is up for re-election; if he loses, it will be a huge signal to politicians that voters don't care too much about government profligacy. In which case, get ready to see a bigger fraction of your paycheck float off to DC. (It won't be taking the train, either.)

Last Modified 2017-12-05 10:40 AM EST