URLs du Jour

2017-12-17

Proverbs 17:7 is all about the lips, again:

7 Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool—
    how much worse lying lips to a ruler!

But enough about President Trump…


■ It's Christmas season, and @kevinNR urges us to Just Say ‘Yes’ to Prosperity. RTWT, but I really like his bottom line:

Years ago, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, some newly liberated East Germans were discussing the changes that had taken place with the end of Communism. What stood out for them? Oranges. Suddenly, they could buy oranges whenever they wanted, because there were oranges in the stores to buy. Previously, they could get oranges only at Christmas. In that sense, it’s always Christmas for us, and it always has been. Whether it always will be is up to us.

I'm not a shopper, but find myself grinning like a fool when I go into stores these days. Not just at the oranges.


■ George F. Will wants to tell you a story about washing machines: Whirlpool has Washington in a spin cycle.

A household appliance will be the next stepping-stone on America’s path to restored greatness. The government is poised to punish many Americans, in the name of protecting a few of them, because, in the government’s opinion, too many of them are choosing to buy foreign-made washing machines for no better reason than that the buyers think they are better. If you are wondering why the government is squandering its dwindling prestige by having opinions about such things, you have not been paying attention to Whirlpool’s demonstration that it is more adept at manipulating Washington than it is at making washing machines.

In 2006, when Whirlpool was paying $1.7 billion to buy its largest competitor, Maytag, federal regulators fretted that this would give the company too much market power. Whirlpool said: Fear not, competition from foreign manufacturers such as South Korea’s Samsung and LG will keep us sharp and benefit American consumers. Now, however, Whirlpool, which is weary of competition, has persuaded the U.S. International Trade Commission to rule that Samsung and LG should be reproached for what, 11 years ago, Whirlpool said it welcomed: competition.

Factoid mentioned in Will's column, from the WSJ: in the past decade, Whirlpool's market share has remained relatively steady at 35%, But Samsung's has gone from nearly zero to 19%; LG has about 15%.

Mere words are inadequate to express my utter contempt for companies like Whirlpool.


Reason's Peter Suderman has a heavy-breathing-free description of the FCC's action on "Net Neutrality", if you're still interested: The FCC Just Voted to Roll Back Obama-Era Net Neutrality Rules.

The Obama-era rules focused the FCC's regulatory authority on ISPs over other types of internet companies. Although the net neutrality debate is often framed as one that pits consumers versus large internet providers, it can also be understood as a regulatory tug-of-war between two types of companies on the web. Many of the largest internet content companies — so called "edge providers" like Google, Facebook, and Netflix have supported net neutrality in recent years. Recently, however, Netflix, has backed away from its previous support for net neutrality, having made a number of private connection deals that make net neutrality less useful to its business model. "Where net neutrality is really important is the Netflix of 10 years ago," CEO Reed Hastings said in May. "It's not our primary battle at this point."

The shift in strategy is telling: Netflix favored net neutrality rules as a way to preserve a business advantage. As it has grown, it no longer needs that advantage. The debate over net neutrality was always, in part, a tug-of-war over regulatory advantage between tech industry giants. Today, the FCC took steps to stay out of the fight — and remain a neutral regulator over the net.

As a Netflix customer, I'm not happy that it ran to the Federal Government to get favorable regulation to implement its business model. But I am happy that they figured out how to make their service work without that.


■ Macroeconomist Scott Sumner describes Three big natural experiments contained in the tax reform package:

Experiment #1. Does the powerful real estate lobby have enough political power to prevent Congress from taking away the mortgage interest deduction from the vast majority of taxpayers? Most people previously assumed the answer was yes. But today we found out the answer is no. Under the new tax bill very few taxpayers will deduct mortgage interest.

Experiment #2. Does the mortgage interest deduction play a big role in supporting the price of residential real estate? I suspect the answer is no, but we'll know for sure within a few months.

Experiment #3. Do state income tax rate differentials play a big role in interstate migration? I've argued that state income taxes play a bigger role than many progressives assume, but the effect seems to be declining over time as the younger generation cares more about non-material amenities, rather than material goods like a big house and an expensive car.

He also has Good/Bad/Neutral lists about the various provisions.


■ And it's been a while since we had an embedded RamirezToon. Here's a good one:

Pies and Lies

Back story, if you need it, here.


Last Modified 2017-12-17 9:08 AM EST