URLs du Jour

2019-05-02

[Amazon Link]

  • At the NR Corner, Jim Geraghty analyzes the 'True Socialism' Argument. Specifically, from …

    The Socialist party of Great Britain asks, “When did the people of Venezuela get collective ownership of the means of production?” This is part of that perpetual argument, “True socialism has never been tried.”

    If the argument of the Socialist party is that many who claim to be acting in the name of economic equality get into power, focus their efforts on securing their grip on power, and then act in their own interest and only their own interest . . .  yeah, no kidding. Thanks for noticing, guys.

    If the argument for socialism is that it’s a noble theory that delivers economic and social equality on paper, but that every single time it gets tried, the leaders succumb to temptation and start accumulating wealth for themselves and stifling dissent and building a secret police and gulags . . .  then as a theory, it’s worthless. It would work when it’s run by human beings who can resist the temptation to take what they want through force, and those humans don’t exist. As Alexander Hamilton wrote, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    Coincidentally, I made a similar argument with one of my lefty Facebook friends the other day; he claimed that "actual communism" had never been implemented.

    My obvious, cheap rejoinder: wouldn't a more accurate term, then, be "imaginary communism"? The problem being when adherents of "imaginary communism" get real power it inevitably leads to immiseration, oppression, and mass murder.


  • At the Library of Economics and Liberty, Bryan Caplan looks at Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro, and asks Could Such a Man Care?. Pretty clealy not, but:

    Which raises a deeper question. Namely: Deep in his soul, when did Maduro stray from the path of decency?

    For Maduro’s former fans, it’s tempting to sigh, “Power corrupts.” Power turns a good man bad. He – like his mentor Chavez – started out as an idealist. Yet ironically, he ended up a tyrant.

    On reflection, however, this “ironic” account is absurd.  Think about the nicest, sweetest person you personally know.  Can you seriously imagine that this person, given power, would forge a brutal police state, destroy the economy, and cling to power with fire and blood?  I can’t.

    Bryan derives what should be an obvious conclusion: politics draws awful people, like moths to a flame: "extreme power-lusters".

    How to proceed, then? Click over for Bryan's conclusions.


  • An amusing takedown from Alex Berezow at the American Council on Science and Health: Chemicals on Panera Bread's 'No No List' Are In Its Food. Couple examples of ingredients that Panera claims "will never be in our pantry":

    L-cysteine. L-cysteine is an amino acid and one of the (roughly) 20 building blocks of proteins. Your body makes L-cysteine, even if you don't eat any of it3. Foods that contain protein are loaded with L-cysteine. If Panera Bread serves protein, and I know absolutely that it does because I just ate a chicken sandwich, then its food contains L-cysteine. The company violated its own No No List.

    Vanillin (synthetic only). Almost all, as in probably 99+%, of the vanilla flavoring used in food is at least semi-synthetic. The reason is that there isn't enough natural vanilla to satisfy the gigantic demand for it. So, chemists make it. It is identical in every way to natural vanilla, so the only thing that Panera Bread is accomplishing by insisting on fully natural vanilla is paying a premium and passing along those higher costs to customers.

    We occasionally go to the local Panera, but I try to ignore their obnoxious pandering to ignorance and fear.


  • At NR, Kevin D. Williamson has a take on Felon Voting Rights: Cynical Bid For Democratic Votes.

    When challenged on felon voting, Democrats ask rhetorically: “Why should these men and women continue to be punished after they have served their time?” It is an unserious question asked by unserious people. If we were serious about completely restoring the civil and social status of felons after release, then we would, among other things, allow them to buy and keep guns, to serve in security-sensitive positions, to be protected from exclusion in professional licensure and discrimination in hiring, etc. None of that is talked about very much — the discussion mostly begins and ends at voting rights. Cynical, but predictable.

    KDW goes on to note that some of the burdens placed on released felons are actually pretty unreasonable (“administrative fees”), but such burdens aren't being discussed by Democrats.


  • The Google LFOD alert rang for an article in the [Rhea County, Tennessee] Herald News: Buckle Up: States with the Most Car Accidents. And, as you might expect, LFOD appears in their discussion of state #6:

    6. New Hampshire

    • Percentage of drivers with prior at-fault accident: 14.68%
    • Number of fatal crashes in 2017: 98
    • Accident-related deaths per population of 100,000 in 2017: 7.6
    • Seat belt use among vehicle occupants: 67.6%

    New Hampshire is best known for its rugged individualism and beautiful New England landscapes. However, one surprising fact about the “live free or die” state is that it’s in the top 15 nationwide for the presence of law enforcement officers, according to the FBI 2017 Crime in the United States report. Yet, in spite of this elevated police population, New Hampshire is still both within the top 10 states in the country for prior accident rates and at the very bottom of the ranking for seat belt use. It seems that the threat of a state patrolman around every corner is not a sufficient deterrent to dissuade New Hampshire drivers from the reckless driving that has put them in the number six slot for accidents in America.

    Pretty bad, right? Well, there's more than one way to look at it. Here is the latest data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In 2017 (latest year analyzed) New Hampshire had 7.6 motor vehicle deaths per 100K population; that's significantly below the US average of 11.4. There were 0.76 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles travelled in NH; US average was 1.16.

    But 73% of vehicle occupant deaths were "unrestrained". Geez, folks: buckle up even though it's not the law.


  • And our Tweet du Jour is from Charles C. W. Cooke, commenting on a tweet from part-time presidential candidate and full-time statist blockhead Eric Swawell:

    I keep saying this, but am more fully persuaded every day: we should demand that candidates for public office take a battery of tests: intelligence, civics, science, etc. And publicize the results.