URLs du Jour

2019-01-09

[Amazon Link]

  • In her column at The Week (or should that be the Week?), Shikha Dalmia urges us to Remember the Kurds.

    Americans are understandably war weary. Therefore, contrary to the claims of foreign policy hawks, President Trump's decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria wasn't too soon — but not soon enough.

    But that doesn't mean that America can simply walk away, leaving the Syrian Kurds, who aided our efforts against ISIS, more vulnerable than when it intervened. The best way of arranging their security is by letting all those who want to flee come to America.

    Shikha recounts the long sorry history of United States' (and, generally, the West's) foreign policy screwing over the Kurds, "the group most used and abused."


  • Will high tax rates work in today's economy? At Cato, Chris Edwards provides us the answer to that burning question: High Tax Rates Won’t Work in Today’s Economy.

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is making headlines calling for raising the top individual income tax rate to 70 percent to fund a Green New Deal. Sympathetic commentators are saying that such a high rate on the wealthy is no big deal because the top tax rate used to be 70 percent and above. Noah Smith at Bloomberg says the congresswomen’s plan would be “a return to the 20th century norm.”

    The problem is that globalization has dramatically changed the economy over recent decades. High tax rates were not a good idea back then, but they would be disastrous now.

    Advocates for high tax rates make a big deal about the marginal utility of income: an additional dollar is worth less to a millionaire than it is to a poorer person.

    But they never seem to apply that lesson at the other end. The WaPo's analysis of AOC's proposal estimates it would at most generate $72 billion of increased government revenue per year. The FY2019 estimate for total government revenue is $3422 billion. In other words: we're talking a 2% effect (again, at most). What's the marginal utility of that?

    But, as Chris Edwards points out, it wouldn't work even by the left wing's own standards.


  • The Competitive Enterprise Institute has a plan. Specifically: CEI Offers Plan for Congress to Reform Regulations, Help America Prosper.

    Today the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) offered a set of ambitious, achievable regulatory reform goals for the 116th Congress. The report, Free to Prosper, identifies ways for Congress to clear away federal regulations that needlessly interfere in American lives and livelihoods, making it harder for consumers to get the best products and services and harder for American businesses to succeed and compete in a global economy.

    There are a lot of them, and they deserve the serious consideration that they probably won't get. Example:

    Congress should:


    1. Repeal Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
    2. Repeal Sections 201 and 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

    Yes. Do that.


  • David Harsanyi's column helpfully pictures the map on the wall of new Congresscritter Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) with a post-it indicating where she thinks "Palestine" should be. (Somewhere around Cairo, apparently, but my guess is that she really wants it a few hundred miles ENE of there.) For the rest of us, David points out: Yes, Anti-Zionism Is The Same As Anti-Semitism.

    In a recent New York Times op-ed titled “Anti-Zionism isn’t the same as Anti-Semitism,” columnist Michelle Goldberg defended Ilhan Omar, a newly elected House representative who has claimed that Jews have hypnotized the world for their evil works. A person can oppose “Jewish ethno-nationalism without being a bigot,” Goldberg explained. “Indeed,” she went on, “it’s increasingly absurd to treat the Israeli state as a stand-in for Jews writ large, given the way the current Israeli government has aligned itself with far-right European movements that have anti-Semitic roots.”

    It’s true, of course, that anti-Zionism isn’t “the same” as common anti-Semitism. Anti-Zionism is the most significant and consequential form of anti-Semitism that exists in the world today. Anti-Zionism has done more to undermine Jewish safety than all the ugly tweets, dog whistles, and white nationalist marches combined. It is the predominant justification for violence, murder, and hatred against Jews in Europe and the Middle East. And it’s now infiltrating American politics.

    As has been observed before: there are a lot of countries in the world, many with (to put it mildly) checkered pasts, and quite a few with current horrors. But "Anti-Zionists" aim their ire exclusively at the country that just happens to be Jewish. Geez, what a coincidence!


  • At NR Kevin D. Williamson cheerfully points out that when it comes to Federal Government crises, we ain't seen nothing yet: Government Shutdown: Small Compared to Coming Crisis.

    Around 2038, less than 20 years out, total spending on the major entitlements — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid — plus interest on the debt will exceed all federal tax revenue. Put another way, come 2038, if we put every dollar Uncle Stupid collects in taxes toward Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the debt, all of that money combined will not cover those expenses.

    Fiscal Armageddon is coming.

    Which is to say: If the federal government does not do something to reform its long-term finances, then a fiscal crisis of some sort is inevitable. No one knows exactly what it will look like, and no one knows what the consequences will be when a country responsible for about a quarter of the human race’s total economic output becomes insolvent. Hard to say, really, how that will shake out. Safe to say it will be ugly.

    KDW suggests we not "sit around waiting for the bomb to go off." Unfortunately, nearly all members of the political class find it in their interests to … sit around waiting for the bomb to go off.


  • Oh, well, let's look at some good news instead. Ronald Bailey has something you might not have noticed: U.S. Cancer Incidence and Death Rates Fall to a 25-Year Low.

    "The overall cancer death rate dropped continuously from 1991 to 2016 by a total of 27 percent, translating into approximately 2,629,200 fewer cancer deaths than would have been expected if death rates had remained at their peak," notes the American Cancer Society (ACS) in its latest annual update of cancer mortality and incidence statistics. In 1991, the cancer death rate stood at 215 per 100,000 people and has fallen in 2016 to 156 per 100,000 people. The report also notes that the cancer death rate between 2007 and 2016 for both women and men declined annually by 1.4 and 1.8 percent, respectively.

    Neat! I may live long enough to see the fiscal armageddon! Or not:

    The report notes that the disparity between men and women is possibily associated with sex differences in immune function and response. Adult height is also positively associated with cancer incidence and mortality in both men and women, and has been estimated to account for one-third of the sex disparity.
    I am, unfortunately, six foot three. Been nice knowing ya.


  • The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript editorializes in a way that rings the LFOD alarm: Live free but don’t get high?.

    Live free or die, but don’t get high’ seems to be the new state motto now that Granite Staters have found themselves surrounded by fellow New England states – Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts – as well as the country of Canada, which are all now much more lenient than New Hampshire when it comes to marijuana.

    You can participate in a poll on the topic, but it seems that you need to register.


  • Megan McArdle asks the musical question: What if we paid people to donate their kidneys to strangers?.

    What if a simple policy could save tens of thousands of people every year from a deeply unpleasant treatment followed by early death? A policy that would disproportionately help the most disadvantaged? While actually saving taxpayer money?

    That’s a pretty rare combination; presumably you’d be pretty excited. But what if the policy involved paying people to donate one of their kidneys to a stranger?

    Possibly you are now less excited. Possibly you are now picturing a sci-fi dystopia where the poor serve as organ farms for the wealthy. Which is what such people as Gabriel Danovitch worry about.

    Danovitch is medical director of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and he's very much opposed to people profiting from organ donation. Megan rebuts his concerns, effectively in my view.