URLs du Jour

2019-04-08

[Amazon Link]

  • Because someone had to do it: George Will Explains American Exceptionalism. Quoted by Kyle Smith at NR:

    Americans were born exceptionally free from a feudal past, and hence free from an established church and an entrenched aristocracy. This made them exceptionally receptive to intellectual pluralism and exceptionally able to achieve social mobility. America had an exceptional revolution, one that did not attempt to define and deliver happiness, but one that set people free to define and pursue it as they please. Americans codified their Founding doctrines as a natural rights republic in an exceptional Constitution, one that does not say what government must do for them but what government may not do to them. And because the Founding experience was the result of, and affirmed the potency of, human agency, Americans are exceptionally impervious to bleak modern anxieties about human destinies being shaped by vast impersonal forces. America’s central government is exceptionally constructed to limit the discretion of those in power by balancing rival centers of power.

    But will we throw it all away? Hope not.


  • What's the worst thing about Trump? According to Gene Healy (Reason), it's that he's Standing on the Shoulders of Tyrants. OK, his rhetoric is reprehensible and disturbing. But…

    But unsettling and repellent as Trump's behavior is, how he wields power has to matter more than what he rants about. It's entirely possible that Donald J. Trump is a terrible human being without a redeeming liberal impulse and not nearly as imperial a president as his two immediate predecessors. (Or at least not yet.)

    In fact, a close examination of Trump's policies suggests that what we've got so far is the Xtreme Energy Drink version of what's been on tap for a long time. Like Four Loko, it clouds your vision, sours your stomach, and wrecks your head, but it may not be as lethal as the alarmists claim. In his first two years, Trump has aggressively exploited the powers he inherited, but—with very few exceptions—he hasn't really forged new frontiers in the expansion of executive power.

    It would be nice (and also we'd be damned lucky) if one of the aftereffects of Trump's presidency was a de-imperializing of the American presidency.


  • On a related note, Dan Mitchell looks at Trump’s Keynesian Monetary Policy. After noting an NYT article saying that Trump wants the Fed to "cut interest rates and take additional steps to stimulate economic growth":

    Regardless of whether a politician is a Republican or a Democrat, I don’t like Keynesian fiscal policy and I don’t like Keynesian monetary policy.

    Simply stated, the Keynesians are all about artificially boosting consumption, but sustainable growth is only possible with policies that boost production.

    Trump realizes (probably accurately) that an easy-money policy might make the economy look good in November 2020, and the bills won't come due until after.


  • Philosopher Michael Huemer asks the musical question: Why Not Sell a Kidney?. Looking at the kidney-exchange system that's saved "probably thousands of lives", Huemer says that's nice, but…

    Also perhaps needless to say, we need to do more. 100,000 people need kidney transplants; most will die waiting for it. 5,000 die every year, waiting for a kidney transplant (http://lkdn.org/mission.html). Yet there are millions of people who have two healthy kidneys and could donate one and save someone else’s life. The cost to the donor would be minimal, compared to the value of a life saved. But almost no one does it, because there is still some cost and risk, and there is no benefit to the donor. And the reason there is no benefit to the donor is that it is illegal to pay the donor for giving a kidney. (The donor can be compensated for medical bills, transport, and the like, but not for the personal risk involved in going into major surgery, or the general disutility of donating a kidney.)

    I think this law is basically a form of mass murder. The government is not merely allowing 5000 deaths a year, or failing to save 5000 people; it is killing 5,000 people a year. Since the killing is unjustified (it is not, e.g., done in self-defense, or defense of an innocent third party, or as just punishment for a heinous crime, or as a form of euthanasia), it is murder.

    Argue about abortion all you want. But where are all the folks preaching about the "right to control your own body", when it comes to selling bits of it you can do without?


  • And finally, the Google LFOD News Alert rang for yet another article from Canada about their license plates (previous discussion here). In the opinion of one Jack Knox of the (British Columbia) Times Colonist Beautiful British Columbia a gold-plated motto. And it's nice to hear our northern neighbors squabble about this stuff the same way we do:

    That said, provinces change the words on their plates all the time. They’re etched in aluminum, not stone. Ontario last swapped things up in 1982, dumping “Keep It Beautiful” after someone noticed the smog-belching hell of the 401 and realized it was too late. In Quebec, René Levesque ditched “La Belle Province” in favour of “Je Me Souviens” (literal translation: “It’s not over, squareheads”) in 1978.

    “Friendly Manitoba” — a slogan that damns with faint praise, like Miss Congeniality — arrived in 1976. Saskatchewan has been the “Land of Living Skies” since 1998 (though for a laugh, it should try aping the T-shirts: “Easy to draw, hard to spell”). No truth to the rumour that Alberta will switch from “Wild Rose Country” to “Wild-Eyed Country” if Jason (Turn Off the Taps) Kenney wins next week’s election and goes Dr. Strangelove on his fellow Canadians.

    Tiny Prince Edward Island changes slogans more often than Alberta changes governments, doing so eight times since 1962, with some of the more eye-catching offerings being “Garden of the Gulf,” “Home of Anne of Green Gables,” “The Place to Be in ’73” (a slogan that actually hung around until 1975), the stately “Birthplace of Confederation” and the somewhat more prosaic “Seat Belts Save,” a message echoed by Ohio’s “Seatbelts Fastened?” and Maryland’s “Drive Carefully.” (American mottos, from New Hampshire’s “Live Free Or Die” to Idaho’s “Famous Potatoes,” have stories of their own: “Georgia … on my mind” was the only plate with lyrics by Ray Charles, while the “Sweet Home” on Alabama’s inspired drivers to thrust fists out the window and bray “Skynyrd!” to the embarrassment of their children.)

    There. I had to quote three paragraphs to get to LFOD, but the trip was worth it. (The rest is pretty funny too, so if you have a few minutes…)