URLs du Jour

2017-09-29

Proverbs 20:13 has get-rich-quick advice.

13 Do not love sleep or you will grow poor;
    stay awake and you will have food to spare.

Or maybe it's don't-be-poor advice. Anyway, I doubt it's the whole story. Our Getty image du jour: a guy staying awake.


■ A good, if depressing, report from the Fraser Instutute: Economic Freedom of the World: 2017 Annual Report.

The index published in Economic Freedom of the World measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom. The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to enter markets and compete, and security of the person and privately owned property. Forty-two data points are used to construct a summary index and to measure the degree of economic freedom in five broad areas.

And the US of A is … drumroll … number 11! [sad trombone]


@JonahNRO's column is suitably geeky: The Blade Runner Curse and the Overestimation of Corporate Might. Hey, remember how 1982's Blade Runner demonstrated Big Corporations Taking Over Everything Dystopia with giant logos of actual corporations on buildings and blimps?

By my count, of the eight companies depicted in the movie, five either disappeared, were broken up, or were bought by other firms. Atari, which controlled 80 percent of the home video-game market, went belly-up, though the name has been bought and revived by another company. Koss and Cuisinart went bankrupt (though Conair bought the Cuisinart brand out of Chapter Eleven in 1989). Bell Telephone was split into a bunch of different companies. Coca-Cola survived, of course, but in 1985 it took it on the chin with the New Coke debacle.

Hollywood progressives keep pointing with alarm to that imminent corporatocracy, but it never seems to show up.


■ We take good news where we can find it, and the excellent news is that President Trump nominated Don Willett (currently on the Texas Supreme Court) to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. At NRO, Carrie Severino asks: Who is Justice Don Willett? Among other things:

Justice Willett is a Texas native and grew up in Kaufman County. He is the adopted son of parents who did not graduate from high school, and is the first college graduate in his family. Justice Willett is married and has three children. He is a former rodeo bull rider.

And I follow him on Twitter. Because of tweets like this:

This wouldn't have happened with President Hillary.


■ David Harsanyi's advice: Republicans Should Reject ‘Bipartisan’ Solution for Obamacare.

The latest iteration of Obamacare repeal has likely failed. Senate Republicans were unable to pass a watered-down repeal effort that offered states some meager level of federalism in the form of block grants. Now, we’re again going to hear a lot of noise about the need to embrace a “bipartisan” approach to fix health care.

“Since nearly every promise we made with Obamacare has failed, you now have a responsibility to save it”: To many, this might seem like a shamelessly counterintuitive thing to say, but it’s very popular among Democrats. The problem is that any effort that further entrenches a wholly partisan law is not, in any genuine way, “bipartisan.” And Republicans have zero reason to play along.

Republicans are the Stupid Party, so they probably won't heed Harsanyi's good advice.


■ The Trump Administration did another good thing in (finally) waiving the Jones Act, allowing all ships to bring aid to Puerto Rico. But it shouldn't just be "waived", it should be repealed. Read, at Cato, The Jones Act’s Bloody Cost.

Traditionally, Jones Act criticism has focused on its financial harm to American consumers. One recent estimate is the law results in higher prices totaling $1.8 billion a year, which is about $5.50 for each American man, woman, or child. But now there’s growing evidence that it also exacts a cost in human lives.

It's from 1920, back when "progressive" corporate welfare was the rage.


■ Matt Ridley, the Rational Optimist, doesn't sound that Optimistic about one recent trend: Is the Enlightenment dimming?

Mel Brooks said last week that comedy is becoming impossible in this censorious age and he never could have made his 1974 film Blazing Saddles today. A recent poll found that 38 per cent of Britons and 70 per cent of Germans think the government should be able to prevent speech that is offensive to minorities. If you give a commencement speech at a US university these days and don’t attract a shouty mob, you’re clearly a nobody. “There’s an almost religious quality to many of the protests,” says Jonathan Haidt of New York University, citing the denunciations.

Matt is pretty rough on early Christians, so if you think you might be offended by that… man up, and read it anyway, snowflake.


■ In the wake of the NFL Knee Kerfuffle, a lot of people have been pointing to a 2015 report from Senators Flake and McCain: Paid Patriotism, detailing how the Pentagon shovelled cash to the NFL/MLB/MLS/NHL/NBA/…

The report shows that contrary to the leagues’ assertions, 72 of the 122 contracts amounting to $6.8 million contained some form of paid patriotism. Certain contracts show that DOD paid for specific activities including on-field color guard performances, enlistment and re-enlistment ceremonies, performances of the national anthem, full-field flag details, and ceremonial first pitches and puck drops.

In a world where DOD cheerleaders are crying poverty, demanding more and more billions, that's a bad idea.

But it may have been stopped, due to the McCain/Flake report. And the NFL actually refunded $724K to the Feds. So I'm not sure of the relevance to the current situation.


■ But what about the memes? E.g., "NFL players did not stand for the national anthem until the Defense Dept. started paying the league to stage patriotic displays in 2009." Snopes examines that claim:

WHAT'S TRUE:

NFL players were not required to be on the sidelines during the playing of the U.S. national anthem for primetime games prior to 2009.

WHAT'S FALSE

Players always had the option of standing on the sidelines during the national anthem, and there is no evidence that "paid patriotism" initiatives begun in 2009 required them to do so.

Snopes can be biased, but they seem to have remained straight on this matter.