URLs du Jour

2019-02-28

[Amazon Link]

  • If you've been wondering whether Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are correct in that we should pay reparations for slavery, Megan McArdle has your answer from her WaPo perch: Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are wrong. We shouldn’t pay reparations for slavery.. There are practical and moral objections, but here's the biggie, according to Megan:

    […] reparations can be appropriate between nations, and disastrous within them. Germany can offer Israel money in partial recompense for the wrongs of the Holocaust, because Germany and Israel are two independent entities. For the United States to do the same for the descendants of slaves would be to imply that afterward, we will be going our separate ways, with no special obligations on either side. And indeed, conservatives can sometimes be heard tepidly endorsing reparations in just this sense: a one-time payment, and then nothing more owed — no affirmative action, no “national conversation on race,” nothing.

    That is the only conception of reparations that could possibly be politically viable. It would also be utterly toxic, ultimately widening divisions that we’re trying to shrink. And the benefit is likely to be smaller than the heroic price tag suggests; the economic evidence from lotteries suggests that one-time capital transfers do very little to improve the long-term welfare of recipients.

    There are, as I type, 314 comments on the article. I would wager they are of poor quality, although I haven't looked.


  • At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson contends: Health Care Is the Opposite of a Right. Taking to task a certain Vermont senator:

    Senator Bernie Sanders, gamely making the case for socialism on CNN, offers a familiar argument: that access to health care and other goods like it should be understood as a “right.”

    Properly understood, that claim is literally nonsensical, having the grammatical form of a sentence but no meaningful content, inasmuch as it is logically meaningless to declare a right in a scarce good. (I am using scarce here in its economic sense rather than in its common conversational sense.) For example: If you have twelve children and six cupcakes, the possibilities of division remain the same even if you declare that every child has the “right” to an entire cupcake of his own. Goods are physical, while rights are metaphysical, and the actual facts of the real world are not transformed by our deciding to talk about them in a different way. Other declarations in the same form — “Health care is quintessentially axiomatic,” “Health care is candy-apple gray,” “Health care is a spastically cloistered bottle of courageous smoke,” etc. — would be equally meaningless as sentences.

    Kevin's correct, of course: junk the "rights" rhetoric—it should be reserved for the classic Lockean rights—and start talking adult talk about who's gonna give, who's gonna get, and who's gonna make the rules.


  • Arnold Kling makes a subtle point about Wages and productivity. It's in response to a person claiming that the normal link between wages and productivity was decoupled, starting in 1973. Wait a minute, says Arnold:

    Productivity by definition is output divided by the amount of labor input. Let me make three points:

    1. You can’t measure the numerator very well.
    2. You can’t measure the denominator very well.
    3. The U.S. is not just one big GDP factory. Both the numerator and the denominator are affected by shifts in the composition of the economy, even if actual productivity and wages were not changing at all.

    Notably, the US has undergone a shift from manufacturing to services, like health care and education. I.e., from a sector where (at least) "output" is sort of well defined, to sectors where it's not.


  • But the Google LFOD News alert rang a lot yesterday. For example, an LTE to the Laconia Daily Sun from citizen John Sellers: Some want Bristol to be Utopia, catering to your every want.

    When it comes to Bristol’s taxes, many in our town want the government to care for them, cradle to grave, like they do in Mass. and other over-taxed nanny states. Many others enjoy living by N.H.’s motto,“Live Free or Die.” We should embrace the motto to keep our freedom from over-priced and over-powering government. If you love freedom it is worth fighting for and if you enjoy smaller government then Town Meeting (March 16, 9 a.m. at the high school) is the place you need to be this year.

    Good luck to John. And Bristol.


  • And (of course) LFOD came up, probably a lot, in the legislature's discussion of proposed regulations of Off-Highway Recreational Vehicles (OHRV), especially up in Coos County: Future of riding off-road in New Hampshire up for debate. Interestingly, the Union Leader article only quotes an OHRV-hater invoking it:

    “Turning rail trails and public roads that run through residential neighborhoods into OHRV trails has destroyed the very reason that most of us built and bought our homes in New Hampshire,” said Abby Evankow of Gorham.

    “We claim to be the live free or die state, yet with OHRV trails revving through our neighborhoods four to five months of the year, Coos residents are no longer free to even open their windows on a summer day.”

    I'd bet someone on the other side used it too, though.


  • And the Concord Insider summarizes This Week in Concord History. Specifically, we're coming up on the 46th anniversary of…

    March 1, 1973: Gov. Mel Thomson says he will veto any effort to remove “Live Free or Die” from the state’s license plates. Rep. Jack Chandler of Warner agrees. “Those who don’t like the motto should get out of New Hampshire and live in Massachusetts,” he says.

    I'm pretty sure there have been no recent efforts to get LFOD off the license plates. People have instead discovered that it can be interpreted as "Be Able To Open My Windows On A Summer Day Or Die”.


Last Modified 2019-06-14 5:25 AM EST