URLs du Jour

2017-03-21

■ What do you have for us today, Proverbs? What's that? 28:16?

A tyrannical ruler practices extortion, but one who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long reign.

Fine by me.

■ For some reason, I was irked by the reported comments of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) at the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on the Gorsuch nomination: Feinstein: Constitution A 'Living Document;' 'Originalism... Very Troubling'. Apparently an accurate quote:

I firmly believe the American Constitution is a living document intended to evolve as our country evolves.

I (on the other hand) firmly believe (like Jonah Goldberg) that the only good Constitution is a dead Constitution. But we know that argument, and we expect DiFi to be on the other side. What really irked me was what she said next:

In 1789, the population of the United States was under four million. Today, we're 325 million and growing. At the time of our founding, African-Americans were enslaved. It was not so long after women had been burned at the stake for witchcraft, and the idea of an automobile, let alone the internet, was unfathomable.

OK, we know about slavery. But burning women at the stake for witchcraft?

The last time that happened in America was… well, never.

And the last American executions for witchcraft were in 1692. To say, as DiFi does, that the Constitution was written "not so long after" this is roughly like saying "Donald Trump became President not so long after the Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees."

■ Megan McArdle asks and answers: Does the U.S. Overpay for Health Care? Not Really. And there's a Babe Ruth connection:

As with many political memes, its usefulness to policy wonks is inversely proportional to the weight that its casual proponents place on it. As stated, this meme is true enough: America does have higher health-care costs than anywhere else, and we do indeed have shorter life expectancies than some nations. But of course people are not introducing these facts as a fun bit of trivia, like “Babe Ruth used to wear a cabbage leaf under his baseball cap to keep cool.” What they are actually interested in communicating is the implication that America could switch to a single-payer health-care system and thereby enjoy longer life expectancies at lower cost. And that implication is considerably more dubious.

It's a good article to keep in your mental hip pocket when some tedious lefty trots out this tired meme.

■ Also offering a useful remedy to economic nonsense is (no surprise) Kevin D. Williamson at National Review: The Social Machine.

American factories are one of the wonders of the world, and, in spite of what President Donald Trump, Senator Bernie Sanders, and other lightly informed populists claim, they are humming. U.S. manufacturing output is about 68 percent higher today in real terms (meaning inflation-adjusted terms) than it was before NAFTA was enacted; manufacturing output is about double in real terms what it was in the 1980s and more than three times what it was in the 1950s. As our factories grow more efficient, output per man-hour has grown, too, which is what troubles the populists and demagogues: Our factories employ a much smaller share of the U.S. work force than they once did.

Also Star Trek and Pappy Van Winkle references. And one more quote: "The great sources of friction in our public life right now have to do mainly with a few areas in which abundance has not been allowed to emerge." You know what those are.

■ The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reports depressing but unsurprising news: In anti-intellectual email, Wellesley profs call engaging with controversial arguments an imposition on students.

While paying lip service to free speech, the email is remarkable in its contempt for free and open dialogue on campus. Asserting that controversial speakers “impose on the liberty of students, staff, and faculty at Wellesley,” the committee members lament the fact that such speakers negatively impact students by forcing them to “invest time and energy in rebutting the speakers’ arguments.”

This was apparently triggered by the appearance of Northwestern University Prof. Laura Kipnis who spoke at Wellesley for their (I am not making this up) "Censorship Awareness Week".

Prof Kipnis's reaction is quoted at the link. Priceless:

“I’m going to go further and say — as someone who’s been teaching for a long time, and wants to see my students able to function in the world post-graduation — that protecting students from the ‘distress’ of someone’s ideas isn’t education, it’s a $67,000 babysitting bill.”

■ Ann Althouse has your word for the day, and that word is "Opsimath". A state I aspire to.