■ It's time to start looking for (or imagining) Proverbial advice
for the upcoming new year. So let's check out Proverbs
19 Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin;
whoever builds a high gate invites destruction.
… so that would be a "no". Good all-weather advice for Donald Trump though.
Oh, wait. Do I love a quarrel? Probably more than I should.
Mea Culpa, Proverbialist!
■ @kevinNR looks at
discrimination laws, an upcoming Supreme Court decision, and makes
the call: Masterpiece
Cakeshop: The Slope Is, in Fact, Slippery. It's a good
history of how Government at all levels has slipped its regulatory
our privates the private sphere.
It is not the case that discrimination is discrimination is
discrimination. Telling a black man that he may not work in your
bank because he is black is in reality a very different thing from
telling a gay couple that you’d be happy to sell them cupcakes or
cookies or pecan pies but you do not bake cakes for same-sex
weddings — however much the principle of the thing may seem
superficially similar. If the public sphere is infinite, then the
private sphere does not exist, and neither does private life. Having
a bakery with doors open to the public does not make your business,
contra Justice Harlan, an agent of the state. A bakery is not the
Commerce Department or the local public high school.
Sure, bakery customers may travel there on public roads. But tell
me: Isn’t that EPA-regulated air you’re breathing?
The "Justice Harlan" reference is to
1883 Supreme Court decision striking down the 1876 Civil
Rights Act, Harlan dissenting.
■ Pun Salad fave Mitch Daniels writes in the WaPo: Avoiding
GMOs isn’t just anti-science. It’s immoral.
Of the several claims of “anti-science” that clutter our national
debates these days, none can be more flagrantly clear than the
campaign against modern agricultural technology, most specifically
the use of molecular techniques to create genetically modified
organisms (GMOs). Here, there are no credibly conflicting studies,
no arguments about the validity of computer models, no disruption of
an ecosystem nor any adverse human health or even digestive
problems, after 5
billion acres have been cultivated cumulatively and trillions of
And yet a concerted, deep-pockets campaign, as relentless as it is
baseless, has persuaded a high percentage of Americans and Europeans to
avoid GMO products, and to pay premium prices for “non-GMO” or
“organic” foods that may in some cases be less safe and less
nutritious. Thank goodness the toothpaste makers of the past weren’t
cowed so easily; the tubes would have said “No fluoride inside!” and
we’d all have many more cavities.
■ The link to Mitch's op-ed via Ron
Bailey at Reason who recalls his proposed
journal-essay debate with
anti-GMO statistician Nassim Taleb. Bailey submitted his initial
effort to the the journal, but…
After reading my essay Taleb withdrew from the debate and, for good measure, called me an "idiot."
Ouch. Well, you can read the essay, and Taleb's response, for
yourself. For my part: I read a
by Taleb back in 2005. But I wasn't motivated to read anything
else, and given what I judge to be dishonesty, bullying, and
fundamental cowardice, I won't be reading anything by him in the
■ I nearly always restrict myself to quoting only a few paragraphs
of linked articles, but I'm quoting the entirety of Greg Mankiw's
According to the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, before
the recent change in the tax law, taxpayers earning more than $1
million a year were scheduled to pay 19.3 percent of all federal
taxes in 2019. What impact does the new tax law have on this
(a) It falls to 17.8 percent.
(b) It falls to 18.7 percent.
(c) It stays the same.
(d) It rises to 19.8 percent.
Find the answer here
The answer may shock you! Or not.
■ Bryan Caplan deals with arguments that contain the phrase "Only
The government gives an excludable good away for free: roads, parks, education, medicine, whatever. Then some economist advocates privatization of one of these freebies. Technocrats may offer some technical objections to privatization. Normal people, however, will respond with a disgusted rhetorical question: "So only the rich should have roads/parks/education/medicine/whatever."
Caplan notes the honest counterargument involves details of costs,
benefits, probability, and the like. Are such sober arguments
effective against demagoguery? Not as often as we'd like.