URLs du Jour

2018-06-14

[Amazon Link]

  • A small note on our Amazon Product du Jour: the seller seems to think this is a pro gun control message. In which case we'll classify it as "unintended honesty".

  • Proverbs 12:25 isn't very profound:

    25 Anxiety weighs down the heart,
        but a kind word cheers it up.

    … a sweet fortune cookie, undeniably true.


  • At NRO, Joseph Siegel shares my distaste for the increasing invocation of "common sense" in national debates: Parkland and the Trouble with Appealing to ‘Common Sense’

    Since the shooting in Parkland, Fla., gun-control advocates have escalated the vitriol in an already polarized political climate. These activists publicly berated Marco Rubio at a good-faith debate and brandished $1.05 price-tag stickers: allegedly the value of a Florida student’s life in NRA contributions. Abetted by the media, they essentially claim that Republican legislators all know that we could eliminate school shootings, but choose to do nothing because the NRA is so deep in their pockets — or because they simply do not care enough about kids being shot in class.

    After Parkland, Barack Obama also shared his thoughts, once again calling for “common-sense gun safety laws” on Twitter. While Obama’s favored policies certainly lack sense, it is the rhetoric of his pet phrase, now widely assimilated into the gun debate, that has committed the greatest harm, toxifying our discourse to its current post-Parkland state.

    I speculate that usually "common sense" is used simply because it focus-groups well. And it only indicates that "common sense" advocates are happy to insult the intelligence of their listening audience. "You can be persuaded by meaningless feelgood question-begging phraseology."

    But Joseph is right that it implies the venality of your opponents: if you're not in favor of "common sense", you are obviously operating in bad faith and in the employ of the evildoers.


  • At Reason, Veronique de Rugy laments Trump’s Economic Ignorance on Tariffs. (I know: longest article ever written, amirite? But trust me, it's short.)

    Another week, another bumbling trade declaration from President Donald Trump. After a very confrontational G-7 meeting, he threatened to cut all member countries—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom—off from the U.S. market if they don't reduce their tariffs on American exports. He told the press, "It's going to stop, or we'll stop trading with them."

    As a reminder, this whole drama started when President Trump imposed stiff steel and aluminum tariffs on everyone, including our closest trading partners, friends, and security allies. Adding insult to injury, he argued that imports from these friendly countries are a security threat to the United States, even though the Department of Defense said they are not.

    Could we please have some small symbolic concessions that might persuade Trump to declare trade-war victory and bring the troops home restore (at least) the status quo ante?


  • But at International Liberty, Daniel J. Mitchell is encouraged by some Trumpian rhetoric, that the G-7 countries mutually remove all tariffs: Trump’s Zero-Tariff Proposal: Throwaway Line or Serious Offer?

    Let’s treat Trump’s statement as a serious offer. Or as something that could evolve into a serious offer.

    And I’ll start by observing that mutual disarmament on trade among G7 countries would be good for America, especially from a Trump-ish perspective. That’s because the U.S. currently is slightly better on trade according to the Fraser Institute’s measures of both tariff and non-tariff barriers, so other G7 countries would have to do more if we had complete trade liberalization.

    Dan has interesting numbers at the link.


  • Are you looking for some theory that might explain our country's mass psychosis? Aren't we all? Well, bunkie, Megan McArdle has tracked one down for you: The game theory that explains our country’s mass psychosis. For example, Robert De Niro's recent Tony awards outburst.

    When a successful man in his 70s is screaming profanities at another septuagenarian, to wild applause, it seems safe to say the whole country has lost its bloody mind.

    Two things about this bout of madness are striking. The first is that not just celebrities but ordinary adults as well have started to make public displays that would have horrified them a few years back — and yet they are still outraged when the other side throws a similar tantrum. The second is that everyone defends this behavior as having been made necessary by the appalling outbursts across the aisle.

    As far as game theory goes, Megan notes the strategy is pretty basic: "tit for tat". And quotes a game theorist: “One little slip up and the cooperation of tit-for-tat unravels.”

    And we get (for another example) a Texas city councilwoman screaming at a 14-year old for wearing a pro-Trump t-shirt in a cookie store.