URLs du Jour

2017-11-30

■ A poignant Proverbs 18:14:

14 The human spirit can endure in sickness,
    but a crushed spirit who can bear?

Yeah, that sucks. (Metaphorical spirit-crushing in our pic du jour.) But it need not be permanent or fatal.

Which reminds me: today is my wedding anniversary. 32 years of mostly ups, some downs, but never a crushed spirit.


■ Is a "revenue trigger" the solution to fiscal responsibility? Well, according to Veronique de Rugy [at NRO], A ‘Revenue Trigger’ Isn’t the Solution to Fiscal Responsibility.

First, our debt problem is not a revenue problem: It’s a spending problem. To some important extent, it is also a growth problem. Tax increases and the uncertainty introduced by this trigger won’t address these problems. In fact, the trigger will hurt economic growth, and it will fail to address the explosive growth of spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Raising taxes, if it successfully raises revenue, will only scratch the surface of what is needed to fill the gap between spending and revenue in the next two decades. Raising taxes would also be counter-productive if the reason for the below-projection revenues is that the country is in a recession. Oh and by the way, the prospect of a potential automatic tax hikes in the future could hinder business investments and excitement today and accelerate the move toward a slowdown.

I've mused in the past on legislative suicide clauses, and kind of like the idea in general. But Veronique makes a good case that the resulting uncertainty wouldn't be good for economic decision making.


■ Add Mollie Hemingway [of the Federalist] to those disgusted with fact checkers: Calling Pence A Liar While Protecting Warren Is Why People Hate Media. She notes the disparate treatment afforded to the VP and a certain sitting Senator:

Okay, so if [Pence's] true statement gets three — almost four — Pinnochios, what does Warren’s unsubstantiated claim of being Native American get? Eleventy billion Pinocchios? Twenty gazillion? Just the maximum of four?

If you guessed that the media would run interference, obfuscate, and decline to judge the veracity of her unsubstantiated claim, congratulations, you’re one of the millions of Americans who has finally figured out how this game works.

Last year, during the height of Trump’s insult game against Warren, the Post “fact checker” ran a fact check on Trump, headlined “Why Donald Trump calls Elizabeth Warren ‘Pocahontas’.” The fact check admitted there is precisely “no documented proof of Warren’s self-proclaimed, partial Native American heritage” but then concluded the fact check with a refusal to fact check. “We will not rate Trump’s claim, but urge readers to look into it on their own and decide whether Trump’s attacks over Warren’s background have merit.”

Democracy dies in darkness, and the WaPo is happy to turn out whatever lights are necessary to avoid embarrassing a Democrat.


■ A recent research paper didn't get a lot of publicity, but it should have. ["These findings support the possibility that the [Obamacare-mandated] Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program has had the unintended consequence of increased mortality in patients hospitalized with heart failure."] Arnold Kling notes our Killer health care policy, thanks to David Cutler.

You think that high readmission rates are an indicator of inefficiency, so you tell hospitals to lower their readmission rates. They do so, and you get the “unintended consequence of increased mortality.” In your technocratic wisdom, you kill people.

It's reminiscent of the (possibly apocryphal) story of the Soviet nail factory: when "incentivized" to produce nails by quantity, it churned out piles of tiny, useless nails. When that was "corrected" to incentivize by weight, they produced huge, equally useless, nails.

Of course, that didn't kill anyone. (The Soviets used more direct measures to do that.)


■ Debra Heine of PJMedia reports: Former Intel Watchdog Says Hillary's Allies Threatened Him Over Email Probe.

A former government watchdog says Hillary Clinton's campaign threatened retribution against him and his loved ones when he raised concerns about classified info on Clinton's private email server while it was being investigated in 2016.

Unsurprising. We really dodged that Hillary bullet. Only to get hit by the Trump bullet, but what are you gonna do?


■ Bryan Caplan notes the troublesome trend to identify murderers, especially mass murderers, by their group identity: Why It Matters Whodunit.

On reflection, though, whodunit is tremendously important.  Why?  Because in our society, the routine reaction to mass murder is to try to punish millions of innocent people.  If the murderer is a Muslim, the public want to punish millions of peaceful Muslims by depriving them of the right to visit or live in the U.S. If the murderer is a non-Muslim who used a gun, the public want to punish millions of innocent gun-owners by making it harder for them to buy and sell firearms.  If the murderer is a Democrat, Republicans try to paint millions of innocent Democrats as sympathizers.  If the murderer is a Republican, Democrats try to paint millions of innocent Republicans as sympathizers.  Even if the murderer is apolitical and didn't use a gun, many want to punish innocent disturbed people by easing standards for involuntary psychiatric commitment.

I can't claim to be innocent of the reaction Bryan describes, and I'll try to be better in the future.


■ Aaron M. Renn asks at City Journal: Who’s Really Censoring the Web? The answer may surprise you! Especially if you're one of those well-meaning people who drone on about "net neutrality".

The basic idea of net neutrality makes sense. When I get a phone, the phone company can’t decide whom I can call, or how good the call quality should be depending on who is on the other end of the line. Similarly, when I pay for my cable modem, I should be able to use the bandwidth I paid for to surf any website, not get a better or worse connection depending on whether my cable company cut some side deal to make Netflix perform better than Hulu.

The problem for net neutrality advocates is that the ISPs aren’t actually doing any of this; they really are providing an open Internet, as promised. The same is not true of the companies pushing net neutrality, however. As Pai suggests, the real threat to an open Internet doesn’t come from your cable company but from Google/YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and others. All these firms have aggressively censored.

Good point, eh? As a good laissez-faire guy, I don't think the state should tell Google or Comcast how to arrange their business models.


Last Modified 2017-11-30 8:58 AM EST