URLs du Jour

2019-02-07

[Amazon Link]

  • Jonah Goldberg knows The problem with 'social justice'. Specifically: the concept is nonsense.

    Now, when I say “nonsense,” I mean nonsensical, as in lacking interior logic and definitional rigor. A few years ago, while working on my book “The Tyranny of Clichés,” I put on my prospector’s helmet and mined the literature for an agreed-upon definition of social justice. What I found was one deposit after another of fool’s gold. From labor unions to countless universities to gay-rights groups to even the American Nazi party, everyone insisted they were champions of social justice. The only disagreements hinged on who is most in need of this precious resource.

    Common to almost every definition of social justice is some version of “economic justice,” which usually means what philosophers call “distributive justice” — i.e., taking money from the haves and giving it to the have-nots. But what it’s really about is power. Its advocates want the power to do what they want, and if they say it’s for social justice, that’s supposed to make it okay.

    That's a theme I've been hitting here over the past few days as well. And, as I'm sure I've said before: "social justice" is "justice" that punishes those who haven't done anything wrong, and rewards people who needn't have experienced anything wrong.


  • David Harsanyi is harsh but fair: The State Of American 'Fact-Checking' Is Completely Useless. Example:

    Hyper-precision fact-checking that creates the impression that a Republican is misleading the public: For this, take Politico’s insinuation that Donald Trump was lying to the public about abuse of women at the border. During the State of the Union, Trump claimed “one in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north.” This contention is only “partly true,” according to Politico, because a “2017 report by Doctors Without Borders” found that only 31 percent of female migrants and 17 percent of male migrants said they had been actually abused while traveling through Mexico.

    Whether Doctors Without Borders’ scary statistic is accurate or not, is one thing. Trump, however, was being called out for asserting that “one in every three” illegal immigrants has been abused attempting to cross the border rather than “33.333 percent of women”––probably a rounding error in the poll. It is almost surely the case that every past president and every politician has used “one-third” or “one-half” rather than a specific fraction, and walked away without being fact-checked.

    I wouldn't say fact-checkers are completely useless. If they manage to gripe about a Democrat, they are almost certainly justified. But in terms of selective coverage and double standars, it's pretty bad.


  • Veronique de Rugy looks at PURPA and Why Central Planning Fails.

    Among the goals of PURPA was expanding the use of renewable energy sources. To do that, it required utilities to purchase energy produced by "qualified facilities" (QFs) if it was an equal or lesser cost to what could be purchased from a traditional power plant or generated itself. In PURPA lingo, that's an "avoided cost." This was considered a way to introduce competition into energy markets. In practice, however, the unintended consequences of the mandate coupled with other government interventions have resulted in less competition.

    Utilities have had no choice but to buy from these QFs. In recent decades, the lower costs of solar and wind hardware, combined with the introduction of lucrative solar and wind tax credits, artificially high rates and PURPA's guaranteed purchase requirement, have made QFs moneymaking investments regardless of market need. In other words, tax credits distort the energy markets, and the PURPA mandate distorts them further.

    As Veronique notes, politicians have Hayek's "Fatal Conceit" disease in spades: they have utter, unwarranted, confidence that they can manage vast swaths of the economy via well-meaning legislation and regulation. Another unshakeable tenet of the Church of Progressivism.


  • My new CongressCritter, Chris Pappas tweets a lot about his support of H.R. 1. David French has some problems with it: For the People Act of 2019: Democrats’ Thoroughly Unconstitutional Campaign-Finance Bill.

    At its essence, the bill federalizes control over elections to an unprecedented scale, expands government power over political speech, mandates increased disclosures of private citizens’ personal information (down to name and address), places conditions on citizen contact with legislators that inhibits citizens’ freedom of expression, and then places enforcement of most of these measures in the hands of a revamped Federal Election Commission that is far more responsive to presidential influence.

    The bill is too long and complex to analyze in its entirety in one essay, but let’s pull out a few components.

    The bill contains a section misleadingly entitled “Stopping Super PAC-Candidate Coordination” that dramatically expands government regulation of political speech and contact with candidates for public office. These provisions not only work to flatly prohibit constitutionally protected speech, but their sheer scope would also chill a considerable amount of protected speech as law-abiding citizens try to steer clear of violating broad and vague laws.

    It's a travesty, I tells ya! Pappas should be, but won't be, ashamed.


  • Technophobes have one more reason to get over their fears and embrace new technology. As the Daily Mail reports: Small penis emoji is being rolled out on all phones this year.

    A new emoji being rolled out this year is a hand doing a pinching motion to depict a 'small penis' to mock modestly endowed men.  

    270 new emojis have been announced including a range of accessibility-themed symbols including hearing aids, wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs.

    It's a fine line, I guess, between mockery and respectfully recognizing differences in, um, physical attributes.