URLs du Jour

2019-04-09

[Amazon Link]

  • At American Consequences, P.J. O'Rourke offers a Trick Quiz. No, not for you. It's for 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates, and there's only one question: Where Will the Money Come From?

    The big, unruly crowd of would-be Democratic presidential candidates is engaged in a free-for-all. Literally. They’re fighting to see who can promise the most free stuff to the largest number of people – college tuition, student-loan forgiveness, Medicare-For-All, Universal Basic Income (UBI), and throw in the kitchen sink of subsidized housing for the homeless who crowd the sidewalks of places like San Francisco and Portland where everybody votes Democratic.

    A few numbers: The 10% of Americans who earn the most money make a total of about $4.75 trillion a year. These are the rich. Not that they’re crazy rich… An annual household income of $118,000 puts people in the top 10%. But let’s not quibble, $118,000 ain’t hay. They’re the rich. We’ll take from them.

    And, what the heck, let’s take everything from them – all $4.75 trillion.

    Now let’s give to the poor. Or try to. The federal budget for 2018 was $4.1 trillion – without any new programs for dispensing costly goods and services at no cost to the recipients.

    If we took every bit of the $4.75 trillion from the rich, it would last the federal government 14 and a half months.

    Meanwhile, the people we took the money from have been earning nothing for more than a year… so they now qualify for free stuff, too.

    Oh, but maybe the people we gave money to will spend it, goose the economy, and we'll all be rich again! It will pay for itself!

    Ah, sure.

    Read the whole thing for P.J.'s discussion of some Democrats' Plan B, wealth expropriation.


  • I have close to zero opinion about Brexit, but Kevin D. Williamson is always worth reading, and it's usually safe to assume he's right. So check out Brexit: Deal or No Deal.

    The great benefit of trade is the imports, not the exports — the politicians always get that wrong. You would think that the United Kingdom, with its proud history of world-bestriding trade, would appreciate that first of all countries. For eons, kings, consuls, emperors, and khans undertook enormous pains to keep the trade routes open and to establish new ones, building everything from roads to navies to educational institutions (propagating the once-arcane sciences of accounting and basic finance) to enable the exchange of goods. It is a myth that the Romans salted the fields of conquered Carthage: They ate the grain Carthage grew, and only would have been starving themselves. They needed those imports.

    In our time, we have stood that on its head, and as the merchants of the world bring the best of everything to our shores for our use and delight, our biggest worry is that they are not charging us enough money for their goods. These are dumb times.

    Indeed. Trump was wrong when he said "trade wars are good and easy to win".


  • Caitlin Flanagan draws on her past life as a college counselor at an "good" LA high school ("worst job I've ever had") to tell us (for free) What the College-Admissions Scandal Reveals at the Atlantic. A little poignant story about the daughter of Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli:

    The couple paid $500,000 to get both of their daughters into USC on the preposterous claim that they rowed crew. Their daughter Olivia has become a particularly ridiculed character in the saga, because there are pre-indictment videos in which she describes both her lack of desire to attend college and how rarely she attended high school during her senior year. But I have sympathy for her. She knew higher education wasn’t where she belonged, but her parents insisted that she go. Up until the scandal, the girl had a thriving cosmetics line, was a popular YouTuber, and was clearly making the best of what Hillary Clinton would call her God-given potential. Now she’s a punch line, and Sephora has pulled her products off the shelves.

    She'll turn out OK, and maybe she'll even forgive her parents eventually. But, as Flanagan notes, there are Lessons To Be Learned from all this.


  • Another freed-up article from print Reason, this one from Matt Welch: The Populist Temptation.

    For the two decades that he's edited the scabrous and insightful U.K.-based web magazine Spiked, Brendan O'Neill, an occasional Reason contributor, has described himself—perhaps with a wee bit of provocation—as a "libertarian Marxist." That is, until the populist uprisings in Europe last year.

    "The thing that's different now than it would have been six months ago," O'Neill told me during a February episode of the Fifth Column podcast, "is that I've increasingly gone off the word libertarian." The Brexit vote in England, the Yellow Vest protests in France, various anti-elitist spasms across the globe—these have packed more of a punch in two short years than four decades' worth of classical liberal think-tank thumbsucking, he said: "I think other things more interesting than libertarianism are happening in the world right now."

    "May you live in interesting times" was always described to me as a Chinese curse.

    Which is not actually true, but still.


  • And a presidential candidate was just down the road from Pun Salad Manor the other day. In news you probably won't read other than the Washington Free Beacon: Gillibrand Twice Refers to Tactical Nuclear Weapons as 'Tactile'.

    Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke at Flight Coffee in Dover, where she discussed her opposition to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.

    "We used to say we don't worry about a first strike because a first strike would end in complete devastation of the person who fired nuclear weapons," Gillibrand said. "When you say you want to develop low-yield nuclear weapons that are tactile, what you're saying is you want to use them."

    You know what would be a good tactile weapon? Joe Biden! [rim shot]


  • And this Babylon Bee article may be less than factual: Ocasio-Cortez Suddenly Shifts To Speaking Like Jar Jar Binks While Addressing Crowd Of Gungans.

    NABOO—Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has come under fire after giving a speech to a crowd of Gungan supporters on the planet of Naboo. Critics claim Ocasio-Cortez clearly shifted her speaking style to try to emulate the Gungans' speech patterns, changing her speech to sound exactly like that of Jar Jar Binks.

    "Meesa Ocasio-Cortez. Meesa gonna seize the means of production big-big," she said as the Gungan crowd cheered. "Meesa your humble servant who's in charge." The congresswoman unveiled a plan to save Naboo, one which would coincidentally require giving her all the power and money. "Yousa planet gonna die big, icky icky goo goo if yousa don't change your habits." She pointed out that the ecosystem of the planet's core was already changing, and the giant monsters which live down there will likely die within 12 Coruscant solar cycles.

    If you're not acquainted with the underlying controversy, here you go.