URLs du Jour

2018-09-26

[Amazon Link]

  • The latest report on the Economic Freedom of the World is available at Cato. And the big news is (emphasis added)…

    Hong Kong and Singapore retain the top two positions with a score of 8.97 and 8.84 out of 10, respectively. The rest of this year’s top scores are New Zealand, Switzerland, Ireland, United States, Georgia, Mauritius, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.

    It is worth noting that the United States returned to the top 10 in 2016 after an absence of several years. The rankings of other large economies in this year’s index are Germany (20th), Japan (41st), Italy (54th), France (57th), Mexico (82nd), Russia (87th), India (96th), China (108th), and Brazil (144th). The 10 lowest-rated countries are: Sudan, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Syria, Algeria, Argentina, Libya, and lastly Venezuela.

    Before you start cheering, note that (1) the data is from 2016; (2) one of the things they look at is "Freedom to Trade Internationally". So be prepared for the next few years of bad news.


  • Which seques into our Tweet du Jour (unfortunately clipped in Twitter's embed, hope you can get the gist, click through if not):

  • Jim Geraghty of National Review writes on Another Day, Another Unidentified Source. Which is the Kavanaugh stuff, but I found this bit at the end to be perceptive:

    The more time I spend covering politics, the more I’m convinced that a significant chunk of grassroots political activists aren’t really arguing about politics at all. These folks are actually grappling with personal psychological issues and projecting it onto the world of politics. Every problem they had with a parent is projected onto authority figures. Every religious person who ever scolded them or made them feel guilty becomes the embodiment of organized religion and demonstrates its menace. Because they’ve had a bad experience with a member of a minority group, that experience reveals something sinister about every member of that minority group. The cop who wrote them a ticket instead of giving them a warning demonstrates the danger and corruption of law enforcement, the boss who fired them for shoddy work exemplifies the inherent cruelty of the capitalist system, and every frustrating experience they had with an ex-girlfriend demonstrates some defect in all women.

    This is why things get so personal with them so quickly. They cannot distinguish their worldview from themselves, and so if you contradict that worldview, they believe that you have attacked them personally. In their minds, expressing doubt about an accusation of sexual assault means you support rape; scoffing at the need for higher taxes means you’re greedy and want them to endure more financial difficulties; and as a Yale freshman puts it in The Atlantic article linked above, “You can’t devalue a woman’s right to choose and respect women.” Only 31 percent of women believe abortion should be legal in all circumstances — meaning, in the mindset of the student, 69 percent of women do not respect women.

    This is, of course, something that's a lot easier to detect in others than it is to find in ourselves.


  • It won't be any secret to diligent readers that Nick Gillespie (of Reason) and Jonah Goldberg (mostly of National Review) are on my short USP list (Unusually Sagacious Pundits). Nick's interview with Jonah was in a recent issue of Reason, and it's now available on the web: The Tribe of Liberty

    Reason: In Suicide of the West, you talk about "the miracle." Describe what you mean by that.

    Goldberg: When something hugely providential and wonderful happens that you can't explain, we call it a miracle. For 250,000 years, the average human being, everywhere in the world, lived on about $3 a day or less. Then, once and only once in all of human history, it starts to change. There's unbelievable consensus about this from the hard left to the hard right. Everyone sort of agrees on those numbers to one extent or another. When it comes to the question of why it happened, all consensus breaks down.

    But it only happened once, at least in a sustained way. And I think what causes the miracle isn't some specific public policy or anything like that. It's words. It's language. It's the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. This is sort of the Deirdre McCloskey thesis: For thousands of years in Western Europe, innovation was considered a sin, the sin of questioning the established order. Then all of a sudden [you get] this Lockean idea that the fruits of our labors belong to us, that if you can build a better mousetrap, you should reap the rewards of that. And it has this explosive effect that spreads out across the world. It's unnatural.

    If it were natural, if this were how human beings just automatically self-organize into prosperous communities of rule of law and individual autonomy, it would have occurred a little earlier in the evolutionary record than 250,000 years after we split off from Neanderthals.

    Clickbait: Nick asks Jonah, "Are you going to come out as a libertarian right now?"


  • The Google LFOD news alert rang for New Hampshire magazine's article on local preppers. Who are Prepared for Anything. A topic interesting in itself, but the finish from the author, Anders Morley, is kind of unusual for a mainstream "respectable" publication.

    It’s hard to put a finger on what makes New Hampshire distinctive. I once met a Westerner who said it and Maine were the only eastern states he felt comfortable in. Later, I had a summer job that sometimes involved crossing into Massachusetts. As soon as we’d hit the “Live Free or Die” sign at the border coming home, my boss would reflexively release his seatbelt and heave a sigh, as though he’d just sloughed his shackles. These two anecdotes go as far as anything in explaining New Hampshire’s uniqueness.

    Live free or die” began as a revolutionary rallying cry, but on our license plates it sounds like an ultimatum, compelling a question: What are you supposed to do, in a country where freedom is taken for granted, when you’re commanded to “live free?” Clearly, you can’t just bask in it. You have to exercise your freedom. Unbuckling a seatbelt becomes a private declaration of independence. Discharging explosives in a National Forest is another. Could upping the ante on everyday life, raising it to survival, be a third?

    Horace Greeley, who was born in New Hampshire, famously encouraged Americans to “go West and grow up with the country.” But there have always been those who have preferred to stay put and grow up however they damn well please. For such people, there is New Hampshire. “Live free or die” did not become the state motto until 1945. At the time, it was only one among several suggestions. Another was “Pioneers, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.”

    This New England Today article lists the other 1945 candidates for the NH motto:

    • “Strong and Steadfast as Our Granite Hills”
    • "Strong as Our Hills and Firm as Our Granite”

    Yeesh. The best motto won. Either of these last two would have been embarrassing when the Old Man fell down.