URLs du Jour

2019-02-01

[Amazon Link]

  • In our occasional "Pun Salad is a Sucker For Things Like This" department, the Reason Foundation has published a report Ranking U.S. Metropolitan Areas on the Economic Freedom Index. Oooh!

    For centuries, experts have been trying to discover why some places are so rich and others so poor. Some economists suggest that a largely unregulated system leaves individuals maximally free to pursue their own plans, spurring entrepreneurial activity and innovation.

    About 30 years ago, Nobel Laureate economists Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, and Douglas North, as well as a host of other economists and public policy experts, began an effort to quantify how free the economies of individual nations were. About 10 years later, that resulted in the production of the first Economic Freedom of the World report, and later a state-level version: Economic Freedom of North America (EFNA), which is now produced annually.

    That state-level index shows us how the level of economic freedom can vary across sub-national jurisdictions within the same country (e.g., Texas and Florida have less- burdensome economic policies and therefore much greater economic freedom than New York and California). However, levels of economic freedom can also vary within those subnational jurisdictions. For example, the San Jose metro area has substantially higher economic freedom than Los Angeles. The same is true for Nashville compared to Memphis. In some places, metropolitan areas straddle state borders, skewing state-level economic data. This report, the “U.S. Metropolitan Area Economic Freedom Index,”  quantifies those intra-state disparities by providing a local-level version of the EFNA, ranking 382 metropolitan areas by their economic freedom levels.

    OK, so how did we do? There's good news, sort of: New Hampshire's Strafford and Rockingham Counties (the former being the home of Pun Salad World Headquarters) are in the "Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH MSA", which ranks (surprisingly, for me) at #17 "among the 52 largest MSAs with 2012 populations of more than one million".

    Not bad! But does including those two New Hampshire counties raise the score for the region? (Or, equivalently, is Boston/Cambridge/Quincy dragging it down?) I'd bet yes. Evidence: the report also tabulates 330 MSAs with 2012 populations less than 1 million; on that list, the Manchester/Nashua NH MSA ranks #5. (Just behind Sioux Falls, SD. Damn you, Sioux Falls!)


  • At National Review, John Allison suggests that we should make the Moral Case for Capitalism.

    Progressives want to accelerate the country’s century-long shift toward socialism with a long list of policies: Medicare-for-all, “free” college, government-run energy production and prescription-drug manufacturing, federal job and housing guarantees, dramatically higher tax rates and new wealth taxes, and a $15 minimum wage.

    Conservatives have opposed these socialist proposals by pointing out how much they will cost. For instance, they’ve trumpeted a Mercatus Center study estimating that Medicare-for-all would roughly double the federal budget. They have explained how high tax rates would hurt economic growth. And they’ve demonstrated how a $15 wage floor would hurt small businesses and reduce job opportunities.

    These arguments are all correct. But they do not address the root of why these policy proposals are wrong. By merely citing the financial or economic challenges of implementing them, conservatives cede the moral high ground and tacitly accept the Left’s premises.

    That's an excellent point. There's no reason not to attack Progressive proposals on both fronts: not only are they guaranteed to make us worse off in objective terms, they're also inherently coercive, based in fear, envy, and resentment.

    Of course, that would mean a lot of pols would have to back off their own coercively-implemented proposals based in fear, envy, and resentment. That's tough for Republicans, given their choice of presidents.


  • Don Boudreaux writes at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Soaking the rich impoverishes us all.

    The truth that wealth creation requires creativity, risk-taking, saving and work effort seems to me to be both indisputable and obvious. And yet many people apparently don’t understand this truth.

    How else to explain the enthusiasm that many Americans today have for the soak-the-rich schemes offered up by politicians such as Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

    I’m not close to being a billionaire, and I have no prospect of ever becoming one. Yet when I hear calls to confiscate large amounts of wealth from billionaires, I shudder. While exceptions no doubt exist, the people who get rich in our economy are overwhelmingly people who have made the rest of us richer.

    RTWT. But, geez, the commenters are pretty bad, as one might expect.


  • Caught by Hot Air, a WaPo self-parodic "news" article from their "national political reporter" Matt Viser: Republicans seize on liberal positions to paint Democrats as radical.

    Yes! Those damned Republicans, seizing. But wait, what about…? Ah, never mind, there it is:

    “There is legitimate concern among Democrats about policy and rhetoric that comes out of the very far left,” said Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “Yes, they hurt. It gives Republicans fodder to continue this train of thought that Democrats have become a socialist party. . . . They pounce on anything someone in our party says and make it seem like it represents the whole party.”

    Yes, not only do they seize, they also pounce. One would think relatively savvy WaPo editors might caution their writers: avoid clichés like the plague.


  • And Reason's Eric Boehm has Super Bowl news you probably won't see anywhere else: Atlanta Spent $23 Million Building a Pedestrian Bridge for the Super Bowl That Pedestrians Can't Use.

    In anticipation of hosting this year's Super Bowl at the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the city of Atlanta spent more than $23 million to build a pedestrian bridge linking the stadium to the nearby Vine City public transit station, allowing fans to cross a busy street without needing a crosswalk. The bridge was originally supposed to cost about $13 million—already pretty pricey for a simple pedestrian crossing over a four-lane road—but city officials approved an extra $10 million in funding last year to ensure the project would be finished in time for the big game, which kicks off Sunday evening.

    The serpentine bridge—decked out with dazzling, customizable LED lights and wrapped with diamond-shaped aluminum panels—did indeed get finished in time for the Super Bowl.

    But it won't be used by the vast majority of the expected 80,000 people heading to the game on Sunday. Because of it's location adjacent to the stadium, the bridge has been deemed a security risk and will be closed to everyone except credentialed staff and media, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported this week.

    Well, that's just peachy. (Get it?)


  • But at the WSJ, Gregg Opelka makes a constructive suggestion that would cost… well, nothing. The NFL Should Stop LIVing a LIII. Specifically, enough with the roman numerals. Among the many reasons cited:

    The rest of the game uses Arabic numerals.Rob Gronkowski’s jersey reads 87, not LXXXVII. We don’t say the Patriots’ record was XI-V or the Rams beat the Saints XXVI-XXIII to advance to the Super Bowl.

    Tom Brady is at DXVII career touchdown passes; he only has XXII to go before catching Peyton Manning, who has DXXXIX.