URLs du Jour

2019-03-11

[Amazon Link]

  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File muses on The Aristocracy of Victimhood.

    I won’t get all deep in the weeds on Nietzsche’s concept of ressentiment, but the gist of his argument was that the priestly caste turned the hierarchy of morality on its head. They made virtues — strength, honor, etc. — into vices, and vices — meekness, weakness, etc. — into virtues.  Now, Nietzsche’s ideas of what constitute virtue and vice are not my own, but his analysis was brilliant nonetheless.

    As I wrote recently, we’ve turned victimhood into a source of incredible cultural power to the extent that some people, like Jussie Smollett, make a perversely rational choice to turn themselves into victims because they know that if they can pull it off, they’ll gain status, fame, and money as a result. It’s not always as cynical as that, of course. Victimhood has cultural power because victimhood is a new source of meaning, and people are desperate to find new sources of meaning these days as religion recedes further from modern life. Rachel Dolezal didn’t don blackface — blackbody? — to mock or ridicule black people. She did it because she thought she could fill the hole in her soul with a can of shoe polish.

    It's been nearly five years since George F. Will wrote a column observing that when colleges and universities "make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate." That heresy got him booted off some newspapers.

    But he was just prescient, and that particular disease has spread into society at large.


  • A long and thoughtful article from Nick Gillespie in the current issue of Reason has made it out to the web: Everyone Agrees Government Is a Hot Mess. So Why Does It Keep Getting Bigger Anyway?.

    When libertarians dole out blame for the growth of government, perhaps we should take a look in the mirror. Is it possible that our arguments—correct and widely accepted though they are—about government inefficiency, ineffectiveness, and incompetence have had the unintended consequence of fueling government's growth?

    For 50 years, Reason writers and other libertarians have preached that government at all levels is bad at what it does, a view that virtually every poll finds to be widespread among Americans of all political persuasions. In his first inaugural address in 1981, Ronald Reagan famously declared that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." That's a tight summary of what not just a majority of libertarians but most Americans believe these days. But has all this declining trust in government actually led to smaller government? With some meaningful exceptions, the answer is no. The government spends more, controls more, and does more than ever.

    What's the bottom line? What's a better strategy for people who want strictly limited government? Ah, you must read the article, pilgrim.

    I'm not sure I'm in complete agreement with Nick, but that's probably because I'm wrong. He's very smart.


  • Granite Grokster Steve MacDonald looks at a recent story in my local paper: SeacoastOnline Gives Away the Democrat Lie On Taxes and Education Funding. It's a story covering Executive Councilor (and probable 2020 candidate for Governor) Andru Volinsky's presentation in Somersworth on school funding.

    In what can only be labeled as pro-Volinsky state-wide tax propaganda SeacoastOnline ran a story about Volinsky’s mission to change how New Hampshire funds education. The headline they chose?

    Volinsky: Take education funding burden off taxpayers

    Uh huh. Take the burden off taxpayers, and who will assume that burden instead? Unicorns and pixies?

    A more honest, accurate headline would be something like "Volinsky Advocates Shifting Education Tax Burden from Local Taxpayers to State Taxpayers". But neither Seacoast Online nor Volinsky have any interest in being honest or accurate.


  • Next time you hear that there's a farm bankruptcy crisis, here's a link for you to trot out, from Vincent H. Smith at AEI: There is no farm bankruptcy crisis. It's in rebuttal to a recent WSJ op-ed from Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), which, um, claimed there was such a crisis.

    In 2018, among the 2.2 million farms that produce food and fiber on a nationwide basis, only 501 farms filed for bankruptcy under chapter 12 (the one measure for which data on bankruptcies are available on a consistent basis from the mid-1980s). It is true that in 2008, a year in which corn and wheat prices reached very high levels, only 345 farms filed for bankruptcy. However, the number of farms who filed for bankruptcy under chapter 12 were 544 in 2009, 723 in 2010, 637 in 2011, and 512 in 2012 — all years in which crop and cattle prices were atypical high. The real point is that bankruptcies among farms were exceptionally low in all of those years, as they were in 2018. They are equally likely to be low in 2019, a year during which farm income is meant to increase by approximately $7 billion more than it was in 2018 according to the US Department of Agriculture forecasts.

    The Senator is correct that, unequivocally, in 2018, as a direct result of the current administration’s trade policies, prices for some agricultural commodities were substantially lower. On the crop side, those commodities include soybeans, peas (garbanzo beans et al) and lentils. On the livestock side, hogs are included. Prices for wheat, corn and some other crops were also lower but the trade related impacts were very modest.

    It would be nice if Trump would call off his stupid trade war, but overstating the argument doesn't help.


Last Modified 2019-03-12 5:07 AM EDT