URLs du Jour

2018-05-09

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 13:16 likes the prudent, dislikes fools:

    16 All who are prudent act with knowledge,
        but fools expose their folly.

    Well, sure. Almost by definition.


  • Are you a left-winger wondering what's obstructing your dreams? Judging by my Facebook friends, I'd say it's those Kochs! But Megan McArdle has a more realistic answer: What’s really obstructing left-wing dreams.

    Almost always, when I point out the difficulties of enacting some social program much desired by the left, I am met with some version of the following rejoinder: “Other countries have managed to do this. We passed Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security and most recently, Obamacare. It is obviously possible to do these sorts of things, even in America. The obstructionism of people like you is the only reason we can’t have nice things.”

    The obstruction of people like me is, obviously, one of the reasons that we can’t have “nice things.” (Though, just as obviously, we obstruct because we think the not-nice aspects would outweigh whatever benefits might ensue.) But the obstruction doesn’t only come from the right. The American left has developed a fantasy that a large expansion of the welfare state can be financed by taxing only the rich — a term that is ever more frequently defined to exclude urban professionals earning well into the six figures. In fact, European welfare states pay for themselves by taxing ordinary people very heavily. If the U.S. income tax were designed along Scandinavian lines, its top tax bracket would kick in at around $90,000 a year per household. We’d also have a heavy value-added tax — a highly efficient, but also regressive, kind of sales tax.

    In one word, the main obstacle to left-wing dreams is "math". Or, to paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, "you run out of other peoples' money".


  • I thought the Trump Administration was supposed to be deregulatory. Here's a contrary data point illuminated by Jacob Sullum at Reason: FDA Chief Distorts Data While Cheerleading for Mandatory Calorie Counts.

    The federal requirement that chain restaurants include calorie counts on their menus took effect yesterday, and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb was so excited that he got a bit carried away in describing the evidence that such mandates make people thinner. "We know that providing calorie information on menu labels actually inspires consumers to make smarter choices about overall consumption, when they want to," Gottlieb told The Washington Post. "It does reduce overall caloric intake. Studies show a reduction of anywhere from 30 to 50 calories a day, on average, for consumers who are eating out."

    That article links to a February 2018 analysis in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the conclusion of which is not nearly as confident. "Findings from a small body of low-quality evidence suggest that nutritional labelling comprising energy information on menus may reduce energy purchased in restaurants," the authors say. "Additional high-quality research in real-world settings is needed to enable more certain conclusions."

    You can blow away those imaginary "30 to 50 calories" with a single 78-calorie hard boiled egg. (Remove shell before eating, don't even think about mayo.)

    Just another reason why we should abolish the FDA.


  • You can imagine the question, but Charles C. W. Cooke has the answer in the NR Corner: It’s the Senate, Stupid.

    President Trump has signaled his intention to leave the Iran deal. I shall leave analysis of the merits and demerits of this decision to others. This is not my area, and I shall affect no expertise. But I do want to quickly note one thing — namely, that those who are worried about the effect this will have on America’s “standing” in the world should be extremely angry with President Obama today. Ben Rhodes, who admitted to lying to credulous journalists in his attempt to get the deal through, is scared that the reversal will be “devastating to U.S. credibility globally.” “Why,” he asks, “would anyone trust an international agreement that the U.S. negotiates?”

    The answer to this, traditionally, is “because the deal was ratified by the Senate.”

    Beyoncé could have told Obama: if you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it submitted it to the Senate for ratification.