■ Proverbs 26:2 continues the simile streak:
Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest.
We'll try to make all our curses deserved. Nothing peskier than a curse flying around.
■ The Washington Free Beacon has the gee-didn't-see-that-coming story of the day: IRS Tax Fraud Prevention Program Costs Taxpayers $18.2 Million, But Doesn’t Work. Among the misfeatures of the "modernization" begun in 2009:
"Despite the recognized need to get the [Return Review Program] in place in a timely manner, the program is still in development, and is now estimated to be completed in 2022," [Citizens Against Government Waste] explains. "The program is also ineffective."
Speaking as a onetime occasional software developer: working for the IRS sounds like paradise. No working code demanded! Or, I'd speculate, expected.
■ I've been reading a lot about how and why people fall into error and fallacy, so this report from Heat Street is not a shocker: Liberals Suffer From Confirmation Bias Even If They Pretend Otherwise.
I would quibble: people who fall prey to confirmation bias are not pretending. That's what bias is all about. Nevertheless, this factoid from the article stuck out:
As New Scientist points out, Seattle, a city that voted 87 percent for Hillary Clinton and stands as one of the most educated in the US, has a polio vaccination rate lower than that of Rwanda, a third-world country ravaged by poverty and lack of education. The city is—as writer Alex Berezow notes—not “terribly fond of biotechnology, rejecting GMOs, and even vaccines.”
The Seattle March for Science site has nothing I can see on such topics.
■ George F. Will sighs: Alas, the Mortgage-Interest Deduction Cannot Be Pried Away
The deductibility of mortgage-interest payments, by which the government will forgo collecting nearly $1 trillion in the next decade, is treated as a categorical imperative graven on the heart of humanity by the finger of God because it is a pleasure enjoyed primarily by the wealthy. About 75 percent of American earners pay more in payroll taxes than in income taxes, and only around 30 percent of taxpayers itemize their deductions. Ike Brannon, of the Cato Institute and Capital Policy Analytics in Washington, argues that, given America’s homeownership rate of about 62 percent, not even half of all homeowners use the deduction. Its principal beneficiaries are affluent (also attentive and argumentative) homeowners, and its benefits, as Brannon says, “scale up” regressively: The larger the mortgage and the higher the tax bracket, the more valuable the deduction is.
It has been many years since Pun Salad Manor threw off that tax break. I would have gladly traded it for a rate decrease.
■ I confess, I don't pay much attention to the Pope. (I'm the only non-Catholic in the family.) But some do, especially when the Holy Father decides to go full anti-libertarian. Which causes people to whom I do pay attention to demur, like David Henderson, reporting on Pope Francis's Distorted Vision. Noting this Papal quote:
"I cannot fail to speak of the grave risks associated with the invasion of the positions of libertarian individualism at high strata of culture and in school and university education," the Pope said in an message sent to members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences meeting in the Vatican and subsequently shared with Breitbart News.
Which universities is he referring to? Yale? Berkeley? Middlebury? I think the Pope and I are perceiving the world very differently. I don't mean our values are different, although that's probably true too. I mean that what we think is factually true is different. He perceives a university system in which libertarians are becoming important. I perceive one in which the left, with whom he seems often to agree, is dominant. At least one of us is wrong.
Agreed. And I know which way I'd bet.
I should note, as Henderson does, that the source is Breitbart, so it could be bullshit. Like Henderson, I've failed to find anything resembling an original source.
Stephanie Slade at Reason is also on the Papal chase: On the 'Invasion' of 'Libertarianism,' Pope Francis' Ignorance Is Showing. She invites him to self-educate:
He might, for instance, be taken aback to discover that many libertarians hold beliefs that transcend an Ayn Randian glorification of selfishness (and that Ayn Rand rejected us, too, by the way). Or that what Pope Francis calls an "antisocial" paradigm in which "all relationships that create ties must be eliminated" (Breitbart's words) is better known by another name: the liberty movement, a cooperative and sometimes even rather social endeavor among people who cherish peaceful, voluntary human interactions. Or that lots of us are deeply concerned with the tangible outcomes that policies have on vulnerable communities, and that libertarians' support for capitalism is very often rooted in its ability to make the world a better place. Or that some of us are even—hold on to your zucchetto—followers of Christ.