URLs du Jour

2019-01-08

[Amazon Link]

  • Arnold Kling has Advice for the Republican Party. But he also has advice for fellow advice-giver Brink Lindsey:

    Brink has some nasty things to say about President Trump and some snide things to say about libertarians. That tells me who he’s prepared to subtract from the Republican Party, so that he can feel better about supporting it. But whatever this might achieve in terms of crawling out of the hole intellectually, I don’t see how it can do anything other than put Republicans deeper in the hole electorally.

    Brink's advice may be read here. Read that if you'd like, but I feel he's underestimating the difficulty of competing with Democrats by offering shiny free goodies to the citizenry. If you offer 16, the Democrats will counter with 32.


  • They're coming for your plastic bags, and this time it's personal. Michael Graham asks the question Will Facts Matter in Debate on Granite State Bag Ban? (Obvious answer: no, of course not, it's all about the feelz.) But this little vignette was telling:

    Rep. Judith Spang isn’t afraid to tell you what she thinks about all those terrible plastic shopping bags you’re using at the grocery store—even if you’re a total stranger.

    “I was walking out of the grocery store and I saw a woman with so many plastic bags in her cart it looked like it was about to take flight,” Rep. Spang told NHJournal. “She appeared to be an upscale person, so I approached her, held up my [reusable] bag and said ‘Hey—how about trying one of these?’”

    Yes, Judith Spang is the kind of person who wants to tell you how to run your life to her satisfaction. And to channel Monty Python: she's not only proud of that, she's downright smug about it.


  • And, in case you had any doubts whatsoever, Ilya Somin of the Volokh Conspiracy runs down Trump's Terrible Record on Property Rights.

    President Trump's recent threat to use "the military version of eminent domain" to seize property for his border wall highlights the ways in which building the wall would harm the property rights of Americans. Less widely recognized is the fact that the wall policy is just part of a larger pattern of administration policy initiatives and legal positions that threaten property rights on multiple fronts.

    Though federal law allows the federal government to use eminent domain for purposes of building military facilities, including "fortifications," there is no special "military version" of eminent domain, as such. But whether Trump tries to use this law or some other one to seize property for the wall, the fact remains that less than one third of the land he would need is currently owned by the federal government. The rest would have to be seized from private owners, Native American tribes, and state governments. That would require the forcible displacement of hundreds or even thousands of homes, businesses, and other private facilities. It would be the largest such use of eminent domain in many years. Moreover, the record of previous condemnations for border barriers shows that the Department of Homeland Security has a notorious history of violating procedural rights and shortchanging property owners on the compensation they are due under the Constitution. The same sorts of abuses are likely to recur on a larger scale if Trump gets the money to build his much more extensive wall.

    Immigration is one issue where my inner Schrödinger's Cat puts me more on the conservative side of the conservative/libertarian split. But the wall is stupid, and not just for its potential for eminent domain abuse..

    But RTWT for the story on other issues impacting property rights as well.


  • John Fund, at NR argues that Trump should drop the eminent domain issues, and simply use his C-in-C authority: Trump Should Order Pentagon to Start Building Border Wall.

    If President Trump begins to imitate Barack Obama in issuing dubious executive orders and trampling on private-property rights, he could find himself in trouble even with portions of his base.

    Changing tactics would be the best way for Trump to end the stalemate that has shut down one-fourth of the government for more than two weeks. He should brand Congress as irresponsible on the issue of border security and say he’s been forced to direct the Defense Department to use some of its unallocated funds for border construction projects.

    Doing it that way, the president would probably score points on the political argument and ensure that, come the 2020 election, he will have actually built something along the border rather than just talking about it.

    Also would have the desirable side effect of making Democrats sputter incoherently. Not that they are having trouble with that currently.


  • Investor's Business Daily has a puckish observation on the policy proposals of Congress's dancing fool: Ocasio-Cortez Accidentally Endorses Social Security Privatization, Killing The Minimum Wage, Corporate Tax Cuts.

    During an interview on "60 Minutes," Anderson Cooper put this question to Ocasio-Cortez: "When people hear the word socialism, they think Soviet Union, Cuba, Venezuela. Is that what you have in mind?"

    Her response: "Of course not. What we have in mind — and what of my — and my policies most closely resemble what we see in the U.K., in Norway, in Finland, in Sweden."

    IBD notes, yes, that many policies in those countries are actually more capitalist than the US's status quo. While the US ranks #6 on Cato's/Fraser's Economic Freedom of the World, the UK is number 9, Norway is 25, Finland 22, Sweden 43.


  • Something I'm a sucker for: state rankings! The United Health Foundation presents: Healthy State Rankings.

    Hawaii regains the title of healthiest state this year, after dropping to No. 2 in 2017. This is Hawaii’s ninth year in the No. 1 spot since 1990 when the health rankings were first published. The state has been No 1. four of the past five years. Massachusetts is No. 2, Connecticut No. 3, Vermont No. 4 and Utah No. 5. These same states ranked in the top five in 2017.

    … and New Hampshire makes the number 6 spot. Despite all the opioid overdosing. (But beware, the methodology used has a number of factors that at best only indirectly reflect actual health.)


  • And finally, a small sweet WSJ column (possibly paywalled) from Christopher J. Scalia brings back Memories of Music’s Prime Time.

    The man behind two of the most memorable American songs of the past half-century died last month. Norman Gimbel composed lyrics for “The Girl From Ipanema” and “Killing Me Softly.” But if you grew up in the 1970s and ’80s, you may be more familiar with his less prestigious songs: the themes to “Happy Days” and “Laverne & Shirley.”

    If you are of a Certain Age, Mr. Scalia will almost certainly jog some pleasant memories for you. For me it was Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams singing the Family Ties theme: "Show me that smile again…". Sigh.