URLs du Jour

2018-09-07

[Amazon Link]

  • At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson asks if we can't just all get along, at least as far as A Golf Truce?

    But presidents are never really off-duty, and though there is much I dislike about our increasingly imperial presidency, I cannot begrudge the holders of that office a little recreation, or a lot. For some people, a little diversion clears the head. Some of the least competent people I ever have worked with were workaholics, single-track mediocrities with no other interests in life. Eisenhower played a lot of golf, and the nation rarely has been bettered [sic] served by its chief executive.

    Also: In the same way that presidents are never really off-duty, many of the people around them are never really off-duty, either. For that reason, the dumb little games partisans play about presidential travel habits are, like criticizing their golf playing, silly and dishonest. “It cost us X million dollars for the president to take that trip!” Every damned week in the Obama years, and much the same in the Trump years. You think those people who are guarding, assisting, doctoring, and advising the president are all off the clock when he’s at the White House? Maintenance and upkeep on Air Force One is what it is — it’s not like they just mothball the thing when it’s not in use. Yes, it costs us a gazillion dollars a day when the president is abroad; it costs us a gazillion dollars a day to maintain the royal presidential household in Washington, too. Apparently, we have grown to like the pomp and circumstance. And so have the people in Washington.

    Good points. To take the extremely cheap shot: people should be thankful that Trump is on vacay or on the links, because that decreases the probability that he's doing something worse.

    With respect to "dumb little games", today's Amazon Product du Jour is one of the dumbest. From the same folks who make "Monopoly".


  • Veronique de Rugy asks, at Reason, Will the Export-Import Bank Rise Again? Geez, I hope not. Interesting fact, though:

    Stopping Ex-Im from making deals above $10 million—due to the lack of quorum—has had the effect of shifting some of the bank's activities toward small businesses. From 2015 through 2017, the portion of the bank's support directed to small businesses increased to 38 percent; the portion directed to minority-owned businesses increased to 6 percent; and the women-owned businesses' share grew to 3 percent. For the first time ever, the small-business allocations of funds are now bigger than Boeing's, which currently benefits from 25 percent as opposed to 40 percent of the bank's handouts. Incidentally, Boeing has still managed to prosper during the last few years despite this cut to its government largesse.

    You'd think Democrats would be delighted about the new small-business focus for the agency, but you'd be wrong. Some are expanding a great amount of energy lobbying for the restoration of GE's and Boeing's perks. Yet to do that, they need more than Reed's confirmation as bank president; they need the confirmation of other members to the board of directors.

    It's a weird time when Bernie Sanders, of all people, is making the most sense about Ex-Im among the Democrats.


  • Bryan Caplan is a master of contrarian wisdom. He notes, at EconLog, that we live in A World of Ingratitude.

    When I started working at George Mason University, Google, Facebook, and Twitter did not exist. Amazon was around, but I’d yet to purchase anything from them. The big news in the book industry was the sudden rise of Borders and Barnes & Noble superstores; if you’d claimed that Amazon was a viable competing book outlet, most people would have just furrowed their brows at your naivete.

    Now the IT giants are household names.  They haven’t just transformed their own industries; they’ve transformed life itself.  When I crave knowledge, I Google.  When I seek consumer products, I Amazon.  When I socialize, I Facebook.  When I market my ideas, I Twitter.  Hundreds of millions of customers around the world can say the same. If you’d described my future back in 1993, I would have laughed at your optimism… and I’m a confirmed optimist!

    Mrs. Salad and I are old enough to just occasionally not take these things for granted. She recently mused about how much easier her doctoral research would be today: word processing instead of typewriters; Google instead of trips to libraries in Boston, Bethesda, and Beltsville.


  • Yes, Google's free and invaluable. And, of course:

    Yeah, there's that.