URLs du Jour


I'm pretty sure today's URLs are a hodgepodge, with no overall theme. But if you discover one, let me know.

  • The Proverbialist shows his unexpected classical liberal leanings in Proverbs 15:23:

    23 A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
        and how good is a timely word!

    … as long as the timely words and apt replies don't descend into mockery. As we know, the Proverbialist despises mockers.

  • In the "Should Have Seen That Coming" Department, Ira Stoll [Reason] notes an upcoming counterproductive idiocy: Trump and Trial Lawyers Target Drug Companies Over Opioid Addiction

    The opioid addiction issue is headed for the next stop on what is now a well-worn path: from public health crisis, to subject for award-winning and heart-tugging journalism, to payday for trial lawyers.

    The lawyers are poised to do to prescription drug companies, pharmacy chains, and drug distributors what they did to tobacco companies and asbestos manufacturers—wring from them a multibillion dollar settlement, with a sizeable chunk going to the lawyers themselves.

    They may even do so with an assist from President Trump. "Hopefully we can do some litigation against the opioid companies," Trump said earlier this month at a White House "Opioids Summit." "I think it's very important because a lot of states are doing it, but I keep saying, if the states are doing it, why isn't the federal government doing it? So that will happen."

    There's a long and insightful article from Jacob Sullum on pain-pill opioids in the current dead-tree Reason; I'll link to it when it goes to free access in a few days.

  • In his Bloomberg column, Tyler Cowen offers A Radical Solution to the Overuse of Occupational Licensing. Problem (as you may know):

    Criticism of the proliferation of occupational licensing is now bipartisan. Occupations such as dog walkers, interior designers, auctioneers and barbers do not need state licenses, and those legal restrictions serve mainly to raise prices for consumers and restrict supply, eventually limiting innovation and job creation, too.

    But how to move forward? There are thousands of licenses, covering almost a third of U.S. workers, and licenses are proliferating at the city and county levels, too. Constitutional and antitrust and legal challenges to this trend are beneficial, but they bring only piecemeal victories and cannot undo the current morass of restrictions.

    Spoiler: Professor Cowen proposes a federal takeover of the licensing game. Upside: uniform rules across the nation, not the current patchwork. Criticism: eroding federalism. And he may be a tad optimistic about the benefits.

  • Philip Greenspun notes the irony: People who hate inequality want poor Americans to pay for a $30 billion Wall Streeter tunnel. At issue is a proposed Hudson River tunnel between Newark and Manhattan, which Trump doesn't want Federal cash to flow to, at least as long as Chuck Schumer keeps being a yutz. Mr. Greenspun observes:

    $30 billion for a short tunnel? The world’s longest and deepest tunnel, opened in 2016, cost roughly $10 billion (Wikipedia). I accepted the assumption that the president of a country that is $21 trillion in debt wouldn’t oppose this purely on the grounds of efficiency and a theory that, if $30 billion must be borrowed, it could be better spent elsewhere.

    A Facebook debate between Mr. Greenspun and pro-tunnellers is featured.

    But to make an observation I've made before: In the future—even the near future—is that region's economy going to depend on spending vast sums of money to shuttle ever-increasing numbers of people back and forth daily across/under the Hudson River? Really? Or is this another preparation for a future that's not gonna happen?

  • At NR, George Leef notes how higher-ed folks are Exaggerating the Economic Impact of a University.

    Governmental institutions like to exaggerate their benefits since that helps ward off questions about their efficacy. State universities are a good example. Taxpayers might wonder why we spend so much on them, given that lots of college grads seem to have learned little of use from their college years.

    Recently, one of the University of North Carolina campuses (Asheville), put out a study purporting to be an “economic impact statement” of the university. As with all such studies (we find the same thing with studies about convention centers, sports stadiums, and so on), the researchers came to the conclusion that the school has a huge impact on the local economy. So there, you nit-pickers!

    Mr. Leef notes that such "studies" routinely ignore opportunity costs. Or, as Bastiat memorably put it, emphasizing the "seen" over the "unseen".

    The University Near Here devotes an entire website section to essentially argue that the state give it more money. It relies heavily on the kind of "analysis" that Leef (and Bastiat) debunk.

    Not to toot my own horn… OK, to toot my own horn a little bit… I'm still a little proud of this Pun Salad essay from last year: The Seen and Unseen at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, covering similar ground.

  • At the Federalist, David Harsanyi calls 'em like they is: Jeff Flake’s ‘No Fly, No Buy’ Is A Stupid Anti-Constitutional Idea.

    This is what a real attack on American values looks like.

    One day Sen. Jeff Flake is warning America about rising Stalinism and the next he’s supporting a bill that strips the rights of citizens who’ve been arbitrarily placed on secret government lists without any probable cause or due process. Make no mistake, that’s exactly what the legislation a group of senators plan to re-introduce this week does.

    “Terrorists,” explains Flake, “shouldn’t have access to guns, and this legislation has the teeth to make sure they don’t.”

    Hey, forget the guns! Why aren’t Flake and the Democrats introducing legislation to immediately detain all these “terrorists?” If the watch lists are enough to convict a man, then it’s safe to assume that there are over a million violent extremists walking our streets with impunity. Because surely — surely — Flake, sainted martyr of real conservatism, a man who took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution,” isn’t arguing that we should circumvent the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments for those placed on extrajudicial lists by bureaucrats? Surely he’s not arguing that simply being suspected of potentially engaging in criminal activity is now enough to preemptively deprive people of their rights? That would be downright authoritarian.

    Um, exactly. Flake has earned plaudits for his libertarian-tinged conservatism, but he seems to be determined to undo that reputation on his way out the door.

  • Andrew Klavan makes an insightful post at his PJMedia perch: Two Op-Eds Draw a Stark Portrait of Left vs. Right.

    Last Friday, two op-eds, one in a leftist newspaper, one in a paper that leans right, drew the starkest possible portrait of the difference between our two political cultures.

    On the left was The New York Times, a former newspaper, which now reads like a cross between Pravda and a cluster of six-year-old girls who have just seen a mouse. On the op-ed page I like to call Knucklehead Row, David Brooks delivered himself of the opinion that the left is winning the culture war. How? By brute force.

    You should RTWT for the … well, the whole thing. But I just wanted to quote the bit I really enjoyed: "a cross between Pravda and a cluster of six-year-old girls who have just seen a mouse."

Last Modified 2018-03-07 3:51 AM EDT