URLs du Jour

2017-11-23

■ We were kind of hoping for a Thanksgiving-relevant Proverb today, but no. We take them as they come. Proverbs 18:7 is another about the lips and mouths of fools. Just like yesterday. It's not as if the Proverbialist is obsessed about that, or anything:

7 The mouths of fools are their undoing,
    and their lips are a snare to their very lives.

One of the downsides of our chosen translation (New International Version, NIV) is its obtrusive adherence to non-sexist language. The KJV says it more powerfully: "A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul."


■ But we do have a Thanksgiving-relevant URL to share. Mark J. Perry at AEI is Giving thanks for kaleidoscopic market energy, the invisible hand of strangers (‘market benefactors’) and no turkey czars.

Like in previous years, most of you probably didn’t call your local supermarket ahead of time and order a Thanksgiving turkey this year. Why not? Because you automatically assumed that a turkey would be there when you showed up, and it probably was there when you appeared “unannounced” at your local grocery store and selected your Thanksgiving bird. Or it will be there today or tomorrow when you do your holiday grocery shopping, or when you “skip the trip” to the grocery store and get 2-hour delivery from Amazon Prime Now (fresh and frozen turkeys now available in some markets e.g., New York City, DC, Chicago, Seattle, and LA).

The reason your Thanksgiving turkey was waiting for you without an advance order? Because of the economic concepts of “spontaneous order,” “self-interest,” and the “invisible hand” of the free market. Turkeys appeared in your local grocery stores primarily because of the “self-interest” (maybe even greed in some cases) of thousands of turkey farmers, truck drivers, and supermarket owners and employees who are complete strangers to you and your family. But all of those strangers throughout the turkey supply chain co-operated on your behalf and were led by the “invisible hand” to make sure your family had a turkey on the table to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. The “invisible hand” that was responsible for your holiday turkey is just one of millions of everyday examples of the “miracle of the marketplace” where “individually selfish decisions must lead to a collectively efficient outcome,” as economist Steven E. Landsburg observed.

I'm currently reading a book about the friendship between David Hume and the guy that invented the "invisible hand" metaphor, Adam Smith. I've seen a lot of ridicule poured on that metaphor over the years, but—see the Proverb above—the fools that engage in said ridicule always seem to get their Thanksgiving dinner.


■ We noted a Reason article about our LFOD state yanking the medical licence of New London's Dr. Anna Konopka couple weeks back. Stat, an offshoot of the Boston Globe, reports on her case with more detail: A defiant country doctor fights for her license and a disappearing style of medicine. Some biographical detail:

When she was born, in 1933, her father was a judge in the small city of Rzeszow, about 60 miles from Ukraine in one direction and Slovakia in the other. But by the time she was graduating high school, her family had moved to Krakow, the country was aligned with the Soviet Union, and her family had lost almost everything except their reputation as members of the gentry.

“They wanted to recruit me for the Communist Party. I told them that I am not interested because my moral standards and their moral standards — they are two different standards,” she said. “Therefore they put me on the blacklist.”

She's a tough old bird.


■ If you've wondered: Do deficits still matter? @kevinNR has the answer: Yes, Deficits Still Matter.

It is becoming something of an unfortunate tradition in American politics that deficits matter only to the party out of power. Republicans wailed and moaned about the Obama-Pelosi-Reid deficits and, to their credit, reduced them when they came to power in Congress. But having whiffed on health-care reform and much else toward which they have turned their increasingly addled, muddled, and unample attention, they are desperate to pass some kind of tax-cut package, even though the government’s continued deficit spending means that there is effectively no such thing as a tax cut, only a tax deferral.

There are some things to like about the currently proposed tax legislation, but it should have been at least "revenue neutral".


■ Or, hey, maybe not. Larry Kudlow, Arthur Laffer, and Stephen Moore weigh in: The GOP tax bill is good, but Congress can make it better.

Repeal of the state income tax deduction will force states and cities to start spending more judiciously and help weed out waste in city hall and state capitals. New York and Connecticut spend almost twice per person on state and local government what New Hampshire spends, and yet services are better in the “live free or die” state. No longer will Uncle Sam underwrite one-third of municipal services. We hope this leads to more privatization of services and tax cuts all over the nation.

Yes, they got Pun Salad attention via an LFOD invocation. Good move, Larry, Art, and Steve!


■ We like to think that we're a little nuttier in the US than our stolid neighbor to the north. But they have their own problems with PC cops run amok: Graduate Instructor Who Showed Gendered-Pronoun Debate to Class Is Basically Hitler, Says School.

As Lindsey Shepherd was pleading her case before Wilfrid Laurier University faculty and staff, the 22-year-old Canadian grad student and teaching assistant seemed caught off guard by their demands. Her superiors weren't saying she couldn't show a televised debate over gender-neutral pronouns in the context of a classroom discussion on language—they just needed her to condemn one side of the debate first. To do otherwise, they said, was "like neutrally playing a speech by Hitler, or Milo Yiannopoulos."

Ms Shepherd was called before a tribunal, and she had the presence of mind to secretly record her interview, and a transcript is available at the National Post website. Here's a bit of the interaction between Shepherd and her supervising professor Nathan Rambukkana:

Shepherd: Like I said, it was in the spirit of debate.

Rambukkana: Okay, “in the spirit of the debate” is slightly different than ‘this is a problematic idea that we might want to unpack.’

Shepherd: But that’s taking sides.

Rambukkana: Yes.

Shepherd: It’s taking sides for me to be like “oh, look at this guy, like everything that comes out of his mouth is B.S. but we’re going to watch anyway.”

Rambukkana: I understand the position that you’re coming from and your positionality, but the reality is that it has created a toxic climate for some of the students, you know, it’s great —

Shepherd: How many? Who? How many? One?

Rambukkana: May I speak?

Shepherd: I have no concept of how many people complained, what their complaint was, you haven’t shown me the complaint.

Rambukkana: I understand that this is upsetting, but also confidentiality matters.

Shepherd: The number of people is confidential?

Rambukkana: Yes.

Kafka, Canadian style! It's difficult not to be amused by how quickly Rambukkana and the rest of the Canadian Inquisitors retreat behind the rhetorical fog of "toxic climate", "positionality", "unsafe learning environment", etc.

But, sorta good news, Shepherd's school has retreated somewhat from the idiocy. But, as we've noted a more than a few times before: the process is the punishment.

Anyway, the moral of the story:

She's not backing down. Good for her. Wish she were an American.