URLs du Jour


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  • Dan Mitchell has a good compilation of thoughts on state-run lotteries: Government Gambling vs Poor People. Summary:

    I don’t like when politicians mistreat rich people, but I get far more upset when they do things that impose disproportionate costs on poor people. This is one of the reasons I don’t like government flood insurance, Social Security, the Export-Import Bank, the mortgage interest deduction, or the National Endowment for the Arts.

    And lotteries definitely belong on that list as well.

    Indeed they do.

    You won't find a more ardent anti-tax person than me. But I would vastly prefer that the great state of New Hampshire have the guts to get rid of its gambling "games", and make up for it with an income or sales tax, if necessary.

    Maybe someone should buy me the Amazon Product du Jour.

  • At the Library of Economics and Liberty, Thomas Firey gets fired up at Facts, Opinions, and the Pew Research Center’s Pseudoscience.

    Do you remember those grade school exercises where you had to divide a bunch of statements into facts and opinions? The trick to getting an ‘A’ was easy: if a statement could be looked up in a reference book or checked by simple observation—e.g., “Topeka is in Kansas,” “An isosceles triangle has two sides of equal length,” “My sneakers are white,”—you labeled it a fact (even if it was false!); otherwise it was an opinion.

    At the time, I gave the exercises little thought, but they should have bothered me. I certainly considered “Hitler was evil,” “Catherine Bach is beautiful,” “Johnny Carson is funny,” and “The food in the school cafeteria is lousy” to all be facts, though none of them could be checked in reference books. On the other hand, “Elvis is alive and working at a Denny’s in Tucson” could be checked, but that didn’t seem like a fact to me.

    Those grade school exercises never made it to the midwest in the late 50s/early 60s, I guess, or if they did, I don't remember them. But Thomas argues, convincingly, that the fact/opinion dichotomy used back in the day was garbage.

    And (worse) the confusion continues in "research" performed by the Pew (Pew! Pew!) Center, and reported in the Atlantic.

    The article explains that the Pew Research Center’s Journalism & Media unit has been administering its own version of the fact/opinion exercises to adults, then issuing hand-wringing reports on the inability of many test-takers to “correctly” separate the statements.

    I guess it's pointless to take (or write) such tests unless you've had at least an undergraduate course in epistemology.

  • At NR, Pradheep J. Shanker eulogizes Apu Nahasapeemapetilon: PC Kills an Indian Star.

    The PC attack on Apu, the most famous immigrant on The Simpsons, came to a conclusion this week as producers finally admitted that the character was being permanently shelved.

    As I wrote earlier this year in pieces for both National Review and Ricochet, this conclusion was inevitable. We have seen time and again that once political correctness is injected into such an issue, the only solution is to ban the controversial item from the social consciousness altogether. When the Left attacked Brandon Eich, former CEO of tech company Mozilla, for his anti-gay-marriage stances, did they simply want him to tone his opinions down? Or did they want him fired? When a high-schooler last year wore a Chinese-themed dress to prom, did they want a thoughtful discussion about the cultural issues involved, or did they want to shame the girl into oblivion, and to prevent any other white teenage girls from following suit and wearing such ethnically inspired clothing?

    Apu might have been one of the most admirable characters on The Simpsons; his only crime being the nutritionally-dangerous stuff he sold at the Kwikee Mart.

    Is Bumblebee Man next? Doc Hibbard?

    I assume all the white-guy stereotypical characters (piggy Chief Wiggum, Jewish Krusty, evil capitalist Mr. Burns,…) will stick around.

  • At NHInsider, Michael Graham noted something funny about a local campaign website: NH Dem Candidate Wants Granite State Voters To Send Him To…Maryland?.

    Mason Donovan, the Laconia Democrat running for NH Senate District 7, wants you to send him to the state capitol in… Annapolis?

    The scenic background photo on the candidate's front page was easily identified as Not Here. I think it has since been fixed, though.

  • At the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), Brittany Hunter writes on John Taylor Gatto (1935-2018): Remembering America's Most Courageous Teacher.

    After three decades in the classroom, Gatto realized that the public school system was squashing individualism more than it was educating students and preparing them for the real world. To make matters worse, his later research would reveal that this dumbing down was not just by accident, but by design.

    Feeling the education system was beyond repair, Gatto could no longer in good conscience be an active participant. Rather than sending his letter of resignation to his superiors in his school district, he sent a copy of “I Quit, I Think” to the Wall Street Journal, where it was published as an op-ed on July 25, 1991.

    From the op-ed: "If you hear of a job where I don’t have to hurt kids to make a living, let me know."

    I have a couple of Gatto's books on my shelves. Maybe it's time to throw them on the to-be-reread pile.

  • And in a season-appropriate article at the website of the American Institute for Economic Research, Veronique de Rugy describes The Horrifying Cronyism of Sugar Production.

    When people think about Halloween, they think about candy, children in costumes, and scary decorations. I think about all these things too, obviously, but I find myself thinking also about sugar subsidies.

    Halloween is one of the biggest holidays for buying and consuming candy. Americans will spend about $2.7 billion on 600 million pounds of candy for eager trick-or-treaters. That’s $76 annually per American. This sum is much more than we would pay if legislators didn’t give the sugar lobby what it wants the most: federal programs designed to artificially enrich U.S. sugar growers.

    I should mention that my state's otherwise-dreadful Senator Jeanne Shaheen is actually on the side of the good guys in the war against sugar subsidies.

Last Modified 2018-10-31 5:41 AM EDT