URLs du Jour

2017-06-28

Proverbs 24:19-20 advises us to chill out about bad guys:

19 Do not fret because of evildoers
    or be envious of the wicked,
20 for the evildoer has no future hope,
    and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.

I can't imagine a world where this advice was taken seriously by good guys. I'm not sure whether I'd like it or not.

■ My ears pricked up when I read this Heat Street article from Ian Miles Cheong: Ohio Town Proposes ‘Three Strikes’ for Heroin Addicts, With Treatment Denied to Some on Third Strike.

Middletown [Ohio]’s proposed policy would give heroin addicts two free chances to get Narcan (Naloxone) to treat their overdose. For each rescue, heroin abusers must then perform community service for the equivalent amount of money used on the medical treatment. On their third strike, the heroin users will not be given medical treatment if they have not completed the community service to pay for previous treatments.

Middletown played a starring role in J. D. Vance's best-selling book Hillbilly Elegy (which I highly recommend). It appears they're running out of (1) Other Peoples' Money, and maybe also (2) patience with addicts.

■ My guess is most readers are acquainted with the debate over the minimum wage. @kevinNR covers some of that, and goes on to make a deeper point about psychology in Magical Thinking about Minimum Wages.

But magical thinking is much easier, and much more amenable to the political cast of mind, than undertaking the very hard, thankless, and uncertain work of doing the things necessary to turn low-skilled, low-earning workers into more productive and prosperous workers. Magical thinking is how you get a major political party and its hothouse intellectuals seriously convinced that the way to make health care more affordable is to pass a law called the Affordable Care Act. It is how you get Republican budget proposals that involve jacking up spending on the military, keeping Social Security and Medicare on their current stratospheric trajectories, cutting taxes, and . . . balancing the budget in ten years. (“But we’ll cut foreign aid!”) It’s how you decide to fix the problem of illegal immigration with a wall on the southern border when most illegal immigrants do not enter by sneaking over the border. It is how you spend 60 years thinking your prissy little moral declarations about the necessity of good public education for every child will result in a good public education for every child, how you come to believe that shouting “Health care is a human right!” will somehow summon general practitioners from the vasty deep and exnihilate hospital beds into existence.

Yes, Kevin said "exnihilate". He went there. (Even the Google asks: "Did you mean: annihilate")

■ Megan McArdle breaks the bad news to the GOP: Senate's Obamacare Replacement Is a Suicide Mission.

Republicans want to kill you. Worse than that, they want to kill you so that they can give your money to rich people who don’t need it.

If you’ve been reading social media over the last week, that’s the main message you’d take away. It started when the Senate released its long-awaited health-care bill, the culmination of nearly a decade’s promises to repeal and replace Obamacare. This bill was not so much a repeal as an adjustment, and not so much an adjustment as a tweak. But it did propose to eliminate most of the taxes used to fund Obamacare, including the reviled individual mandate. And alter the funding structure of both Medicaid and the premium subsidies to make them somewhat less generous. So obviously: Republicans want to kill you. Their rich donors need your bodies to use as mulch on their diamond plantations.

No kidding. I made the mistake of watching the local news last night, and it was filled with tear-stained stories of how "Obamacare saved my life, and now I'm gonna die."

■ At the NR Corner, Andrew Stuttaford writes on Looting Google: When Mercantilists Turn to Theft. It's about the just-announced European Union fine of Google for €2.4 billion. That's a lot of money, even measured in American dollars. Stuttaford quotes Robert Atkinson of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF):

The decision in this case shows the fundamental problem with the EU’s approach to antitrust issues: It is willing to take heavy-handed actions to protect competitors, at the expense of consumers. This is evident in the Commission’s decision to levy a record €2.4 billion fine against Google in a case where consumers were helped, not hurt, by the development of a product-comparison tool that allowed users to shop online more effectively. The only real beneficiary of today’s ruling is the EU’s treasury.

Google has hardly been a principled cheerleader for free-market values, but maybe this will move them a bit more in that direction. If, as Irving Kristol quipped, a neoconservative is "a liberal who has been mugged by reality", perhaps a libertarian is a liberal who's been mugged by the state.

■ The Nancy MacLean case continues to fascinate, as more and more scholars notice the underlying shoddiness of her taxpayer-funded "research". Another example, from Phillip W. Magness: How Nancy MacLean went whistlin’ Dixie, which examines the charge that James Buchanan somehow considered himself to be "an intellectual heir to the [Confederacy-sympathizing, racist] Vanderbilt Agrarians of the 1930s." His conclusion:

MacLean’s book has already caught some flak for factual misrepresentations of her sources. In this case she appears to have simply made up an inflammatory association and tacked it onto Buchanan in an effort to paint him as a racist. When scrutinized though in her own sources, it becomes quickly apparent that she has no actual evidence to sustain her many detailed and specific claims. When one actually searches for the link and checks her sources, it quickly becomes apparent that there is none. In fact, one could legitimately note that there are more references to the pro-segregation Vanderbilt Agrarians on Nancy MacLean’s own CV than in the entire Collected Works of James M. Buchanan.

And then we have…

■ David Henderson notes Nancy MacLean's Distortion of James Buchanan's Statement in his essay "Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative" (whose title was inspired by Hayek's "Why I Am Not a Conservative"), a defense of classical liberalism. Buchanan noted two options in viewing mankind: either (1) "to be treated as natural equals, deserving of equal respect and individually responsible for their actions", or (2) "subordinate members of the species, akin to that accorded animals who are dependent."

Guess which option MacLean picked Buchanan as favoring?

In short, [MacLean] has taken the two options Buchanan laid out, in a passage in which, from context it is clear that he favors the first option--treating people as "natural equals"--and has rejected the second option--treating people as "subordinate members of the species"--and, without even mentioning the first option, she asserts that he favors the second option. This is either incredibly sloppy or incredibly dishonest. How likely is it that it's just sloppy?

I'll answer: not very likely.

And then we have…

■ Donald Boudreaux passing along his letter to the New Republic, who published an interview with MacLean, pointing out More MacLean Mistakes

In her interview with you, Democracy in Chains author Nancy MacLean says about my late Nobel-laureate colleague, James Buchanan, that his market-oriented worldview “does not recognize that private, economic power has a capacity to coerce” (“The Right’s War Against Liberal Democracy,” June 27).  For someone who is credited in some circles for having produced, in Democracy in Chains, an “intellectual biography” of Buchanan, it’s astonishing that Prof. MacLean missed Buchanan’s long support for active antitrust enforcement – that is, his support for a government policy that Buchanan believed was necessary to counter private, economic power with the capacity to coerce.

Prof B. goes on to further demolish MacLean's pretensions toward honest research.

And then we have…

■ Jason Brennan at Bleeding Heart Libertarians, who looks at a lot of the links we've published ourselves, and concludes:

She is either grossly incompetent or a straight up liar.

I left a comment there, which I'll share here:

Michael Bellesiles: : "Boy, I really screwed up. Nobody's going to make my mistakes again."
Nancy MacLean: "Hold my beer."