URLs du Jour

2019-02-06

[Amazon Link]

  • At Reason, Ira Stoll: How Another Patriots' Super Bowl Victory Explains Anti-Billionaire Politics. Interesting facts about the NFL's efforts to (yes) level the playing field:

    The NFL owners have chosen to organize their affairs in a way that places a priority on equality of opportunity, if not equality of outcome.

    National revenue—about $8 billion in 2017—is split evenly among the 32 teams in the league. An inflexible salary cap means that each team is allowed to spend only a set amount on paying players, so richer teams can't win just by paying more for better athletes. The worst team each year gets the first draft pick, and the Super Bowl champion gets the last draft pick.

    Even all those steps to level the playing field, though, have not prevented the Patriots from assembling their impressive collection of Super Bowl wins.

    This, in turn, generates some envy, or resentment.

    No fooling.

    Possible lesson about the inequality warriors in general: their efforts to "level the playing field" won't stop people from being (relative) winners and losers.

    But in all honesty, on that front, it seems it's all about gaining political power, not actually helping people or society.


  • And not that it matters but it seems that some folks out there are saying the Pats might as well be wearing Klan hoods over their helmets due to the Trump fandom of owner Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady. On that topic, I noticed something back in 2017 from Kraft:

    The only bad deal I’ve had in my whole life is when my wife, bless her memory, died of ovarian cancer. He [Trump] flew up to the funeral with Melania. They came to my home. And he called me once a week for a year and invited me to things. That was the darkest period of my life. . . .

    I don't usually associate Trump with classy behavior, but… yeah, that's classy behavior, and something we probably wouldn't know about if Kraft hadn't talked about it.


  • We mentioned Cato's latest Freedom in the 50 States when it came out last August. But now Daniel Mitchell does a deep dive into the data: America’s Most Libertarian State Is…?. If you are a big a sucker for this kind of thing as I am, you'll find it interesting.

    All the way down at the bottom, though…

    This final selection tells us which ones have been moving in the right direction and wrong direction since the turn of the century.

    … and on this measure, New Hampshire is in a solid 45th place out of 50. That's sad news.


  • The headline on some articles seem to scream: longest article ever. Today's example is from David Harsanyi at the Federalist: Why Democrats Can't Talk Honestly About Abortion.

    Democrats will protect American children from the evils of trans fats and gay conversion therapy, but not from doctors who will kill them through negligent homicide in the first few hours of their lives. This is the ugly reality of the contemporary abortion debate. It’s why most advocates will do about anything to avoid describing the unpleasant realities and consequences of their increasingly radical position.

    On Tuesday, Senate Democrats blocked Republican Ben Sasse’s effort for unanimous consent on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. It must be stressed that this bill wasn’t technically about abortion, but about protecting babies who survived the procedure. It seems the already risible argument of “my body, my choice” has morphed into “not my body anymore, still my choice.”

    I'm old enough to remember pro-abortion folks saying: "If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament." Well, now it is a sacrament in the Holy Church of Progressivism.


  • With all the hoopla about squeezing more tax dollars out of the rich, advocates don't seem to notice that the "social democracies" they keep touting have pretty much given up on that particular class-warfare tactic. Economist Timothy Taylor asks the musical question: Why Have Other Countries Been Dropping Their Wealth Taxes?.

    Back in 1990, 12 high-income countries had wealth taxes. By 2017, that had dropped to four: France, Norway, Spain, and Switzerland (In 2018, France changed its wealth tax so that it applied only to real estate, not to financial assets.) The OECD describes the reasons why other countries have been dropping wealth taxes, along with providing a balanced pro-and-con of the arguments over wealth taxes, in its report The Role and Design of Net Wealth Taxes in the OECD (April 2018).

    For the OECD, the bottom line is that it is reasonable for policy-makers to be concerned about the rising inequality of wealth and large concentrations of wealth But it also points out that if a country has reasonable methods of taxing capital gains, inheritances, intergenerational gifts, and property, a combination of these approaches are typically preferable to a wealth tax. The report notes: "Overall ... from both an efficiency and an equity perspective, there are limited arguments for having a net wealth tax on top of well-designed capital income taxes –including taxes on capital gains – and inheritance taxes, but that there are arguments for having a net wealth tax as an (imperfect) substitute for these taxes."

    Translation note: "For the OECD" means: "Given that the OECD isn't particularly concerned with the immorality of taking cash from people just because (1) you can and (2) you want it".

    But in any case: net wealth taxes don't work well from a purely pragmatic point of view either.


  • Jim Treacher notes the newest gripe from the woke: 'Learn to Code': Good Advice, or Hate Speech?.

    It seems like a good piece of career advice, doesn't it? After all, we live in the Information Age, and just about every facet of daily life has been automated. A computer wakes you up, a computer has your coffee ready, a computer gives you the best route to the office, a computer tells you which song is on the radio, you go to work and stare at a computer all day, you go home and a computer gives you movies and TV shows to watch, social media shows you stupid people from all over the world 24 hours a day, you're reading this right now on a computer, a computer delivered all of the above to your door, etc. All this stuff has become commonplace, but it doesn't just happen by magic. Somebody had to code all that software. People who know how to code are crucial to our society, and learning to code is a valuable skill.

    Or... is it? Could it be that "learn to code" isn't good advice, but actually hate speech? A Russian plot? The work of alt-right white nationalist Nazis? If you have to ask, then the answer is obvious!

    It's not particularly polite to suggest that a newly-unemployed humanities major made a poor career choice way back when, but as advice goes, it's not that bad.


  • And our Google LFOD alert rang for a newsflash from a Vermont TV station: New Hampshire marijuana bill gets public hearing.

    "Granite Staters know that it is already legal to grow and possess marijuana in all three neighboring states. They ask, why can't we do this in the live free or die state?" said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project.

    This continues to be a Good Question. Governor Chris Sununu promises to veto any legalization bill that makes it to his desk. But the issue seems to be whether a bill can pass with veto-proof majorities. We'll see.