URLs du Jour

2018-04-04

  • Proverbs 14:18 is back in compare-and-contrast mode:

    18 The simple inherit folly,
        but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.

    We last saw the simple/prudent dichotomy three verses ago.


  • At Reason, Nick Gillespie has a rebuttal to an article blogged yesterday: Kevin Williamson Declares the 'Passing of the Libertarian Moment.' Again. Let's look for some silver linings in the clouds:

    [Kevin's] emphasis on electoral politics is rhetorically powerful but ultimately misplaced. Williamson, a doctrinaire #NeverTrumper, ignores any possible positives coming out of the current moment, such as the deregulatory regime that is taking place at, among other agencies, the FCC. Trump is blustering about the media and surely has no scruples standing in the way of trying to use the FCC to stifle dissent, just as Nixon and LBJ did in the not-distant past. Good luck trying, though, because of both technological change and Ajit Pai, the head of that particular agency, whose commitment to free speech seems pretty damn strong. At places such as the FDA, the EPA, and the Department of Education, a similar if partial dismantling of the administrative state is under way. Despite his obscene increases in Pentagon budgets, Trump has been less bellicose in foreign policy than his two immediate predecessors; indeed, he's being attacked these days for planning to pull out of Syria, a country with whom we're not technically at war (but never mind). He has also managed to oversee the reduction and elimination of various tax expenditures (mortgage-interest and state-and-local tax deductions) and a thoroughgoing reform of the corporate tax system. During the 2016 campaign, Trump was clearly better on the drug war than Hillary Clinton, believing that pot laws should be dealt with at the state level. Despite his attorney general's recent assertions that he'd be going after legalized marijuana, there's no sign that's going to happen. I don't presume that Trump is following any set of principles other than self-aggrandizement, but as Wired's Louis Rossetto has argued, he is downsizing the stature and ultimately the power of presidency and the government more generally. Both Williamson and I respect the hell out of Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who told me recently, "I will say that there are some things President Trump has done that I like and there are some things I don't like. Obviously, I like those tax cuts. I think they're good for the economy and good for business. On the other hand, now we're doing tariffs on steel and aluminum."

    It's a mixed bag. It's always a mixed bag. At a certain point, you get used to defeat, and just have to be content with being right about everything, all the time.


  • There are hysterics about Scott Pruitt's EPA doing violence to the Corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. The (perhaps paywalled) WSJ is OK with it, though, because CAFE is The Fuel Economy Fraud.

    In 2012 the Obama EPA turned up the Cafe dial and mandated a fleetwide average of 54.5 miles a gallon by 2025 with a midpoint review in 2017. After President Trump won the election, Obama EPA chief Gina McCarthy blazed through the review and upheld the 2012 targets no matter the economic and technological obstacles.

    Passenger cars were about half of U.S. vehicle sales in 2012 when gas averaged $3.60 a gallon. But last year they made up only about a third of the fleet mix, and their share has been declining amid lower gas prices. This will make it nearly impossible to hit future targets even with cleaner technologies. By the Obama EPA’s own projections, fewer than 1% of gas-burning vehicles would meet its 2022 target.

    What would be nice, instead of top-down arbitrary diktat: treating consumers as adults, able to make their own calculations about the trade-off between fuel economy and other features.


  • At NR, Robert J. Rubin tells us about Elizabeth Warren’s Sad Sick Joke.

    Ironically, the once-secretive CFPB has been more transparent since Mulvaney throttled its External Affairs Division, the propaganda machine Warren created in 2010 while leading the agency’s yearlong start-up process as a presidential adviser. The division’s copious press releases have been replaced by more-informative leaks from the bureau’s overwhelmingly Democratic employees. Contrary to the stale narrative that liberals craft from the leaks, the acting director does not hate consumer protection; he just hates the CFPB’s structure, which he once described as “a joke . . . in a sad, sick way.” Warren’s obstinacy has only allowed him to validate the now-famous comment and delight in the bully’s comeuppance.

    See two items above: this may not be a "libertarian moment", but watching an intrusive, aloof government bureaucracy get strangled from within is kind of fun.


  • Cato's Michael F. Cannon makes a provocative point: People Who Have Never Experienced Back Pain Have No Business Making Opioid Policy.

    Economist Steven Horwitz writes in USA Today about President Trump’s proposal to reduce legal opioid prescriptions by one third. Such a drastic reduction would inevitably harm people like Horwitz, who relates his experience with excruciating back pain and how opioids were essential to relieving his agony and helping his body heal …

    Arguably, doctors and dentists shouldn't prescribe 30 days opioids for pain expected to last less than a week; that's apparently a thing. But arbitrary restrictions and targets—again, the top-down diktat—will cause more harm than good.


  • Sarah K. Hoyt hosts Frank J. Fleming at her blog, and Frank provides a how-to for aspiring writers: Woke-ify Your Fiction

    A good rule for writing science fiction and fantasy these days: If it’s not woke, it’s putting people to sleep. The key now is being socially conscious. Most people are regular conscious — reactive to basic stimuli like sight, sound, small rocks being thrown at them — but the more pertinent thing to be is socially conscious — reactive to microaggressions and the racism and bigotry that undercut all human activity. And if you want people to buy your fiction these days, it needs to reflect that social consciousness — as tedious as that all sounds.

    I know some are resistant to this idea. You’ve probably heard this quote: “Why do I have to worry about all this political stuff? Can’t I just write fun stories everyone will enjoy?” You know who said that? That’s right: Adolf Hitler.

    I'm on the fence about buying Frank's new book. Didn't much care for the last one.