URLs du Jour

2019-03-18

[Amazon Link]

  • Deirdre Nansen McCloskey provides some good self-improvement advice at Reason (from their April print issue): Quit Worrying and Learn To Love Trade With China.

    Get ready for the Great Trump-Xi Depression. The White House is pursuing two stupid policies, trying to reduce the United States' "balance of payments" with China and trying to protect "intellectual property" from China's thievery. These policies are leading to a crash in the Chinese economy, which has been grossly ill-managed under President Xi Jinping. International knock-on effects were already apparent last autumn, even as the trade deficit ballooned and Americans benefited from Chinese theft.

    "Balance of payments" is a silly way of talking, right from the get-go. Are you concerned about your balance of payments with your grocery store? You give Kroger cash and it gives you goods. Worried? I thought not. After all, you have a balance of payments surplus with your employer, right? Hope so. And your scary-sounding deficit with Kroger is good for you. In exchange for money, the store provides healthy food such as oatmeal, walnuts, olive oil, and blueberries. (Try it: I just lost 30 pounds that way, a good deficit.)

    The nearest Kroger to Pun Salad Manor is in Millsboro, Delaware, a mere 391.3 miles away. So I'm not likely to incur a trade deficit with them any time soon.

    But Deirdre's point is otherwise well-taken.


  • For your lexicographical pleasure, Jonah Goldberg devotes his G-File to a word you should get to know: Shibboleth Is a Fun Word.

    Shibboleth is a fun word, and not just because it sounds like what one of the kids from Fat Albert would say if he went to prison, got hard and mean, and told someone to “Shiv old Les.” You know like, “Shib ol’ leth in da shower durin’ the guard change.”

    For those who don’t know, it comes from the Book of Judges in the Hebrew Bible. Long story short, the Gileadites beat the stuffing out of the Ephraimites. When the surviving Ephraimites wanted to get past the River Jordan incognito, the Gileadites had a test to tell them apart from other travelers. They first asked the strangers if they were Ephraimites. If they said “No,” the soldiers asked them to say the word “shibboleth,” which referred either to a part of a grain plant or maybe a flood. But the definition didn’t matter, the pronunciation was everything — because the Ephraimite dialect pronounced “sh” words with an “s” sound. So anybody who said “sibboleth” got the business end of a sword (or perhaps a spear or some sort of pike — I’m no expert on such things). According to the Bible, some “forty and two thousand” Ephraimites went to their maker wishing they had a lisp like Cindy Brady.

    Don't worry, he has an insightful point that he will eventually get to. On the way there, enjoy his improvisational essaying.


  • In local news, Drew Cline of the Bartlett Center (I'm tired of typing their full name) notes what everyone should have seen coming: NH House has passed $56.5 million in new spending, $31 million in new taxes per week in 2019 (so far!).

    In the first 10 weeks of the 2019 legislative session, the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed nearly $310 million in tax and fee increases and $565 million in new spending, Grant Bosse reported at New Hampshire Journal this week. That’s $31 million worth of tax and fee increases and $56.5 million in new spending per week. 

    “The full House voted to increase the state’s two largest business taxes, accounting for most of the increased tax revenue in Fiscal Years 2020-2023. But the House has also passed several other pieces of legislation that increase state revenues or expenditures.  If all the bills given House approval were to be signed into law, taxes and fees would increase by $108 million in the next two years, and by $202 million in the following biennium, according to official estimates from the Legislative Budget Assistant’s Office (LBAO).

    And they're only just getting started. One can only hope that Governor Sununu's veto pen has plenty of ink.


  • And someone noticed that Google is engaging in a little bit of Orwellian history-rewriting. Roger L. Simon protests: Google Does Evil to Patrick Moore.

    Google's erasing the photograph of Patrick Moore, former president of Greenpeace, from the list of early founders and organizers of the environmental group, is, like the firing of James Damore a couple of years ago, a reminder of why it's fitting the tech giant dropped its original motto, "Don't be evil."

    Google is just that and then some. It is evil and dangerous. When one company controls the world's flow of information the way they do and can tilt the argument overtly or, more ominously, covertly in their preferred direction, watch out. We are headed for a new form of totalitarianism.

    We already kind of knew that Google hates America. Now they're at war with history. Next up?