URLs du Jour

2019-05-11

[Amazon Link]

  • Jonah Goldberg lets us in on Washington's dirty little secret: No one is running the show. The whole thing's good, of course, but I especially liked:

    Capitalism nauseates because we come into this world with programming for a “Stone Age conception of clan life,” as economist Michael Munger puts it. Our brains are wired to expect someone to be in charge. When bad things happen, it must be because someone intended it. We get angry at perceived slights, inconveniences, and tragedies, and our anger needs a target.

    This wiring was perfectly adapted for a zero-sum world where resources were finite, and political and economic transactions were essentially face-to-face and communal. But in a world where the price of a bag of rice from India is influenced by political turmoil in Indonesia and heavy rains in Arkansas, never mind the overproduction of potatoes (a substitute for expensive rice) in Russia or the Netherlands, blaming your local grocer for charging an extra 50 cents is silly. But it’s still natural.

    The "wiring" isn't destiny. It's not even hard to override; we've been doing so, however imperfectly, for the last few centuries. But it requires constant effort.


  • At NR, Kevin D. Williamson looks at Brian Sims and Today's Political Fanaticism.

    How to explain Brian Sims? None of the three most likely possibilities — that he is not very bright, that he is insane, that he is a fanatic — speaks very well of the Pennsylvania state representative, who for some reason decided to accost an elderly woman praying silently in front of an abortion facility, to film the attack, and then to boast about it on Twitter.

    It is tempting to lean toward stupidity as an explanation for Sims’s shenanigans, if only because that is the most statistically likely scenario when the subject in question is a member of the Pennsylvania state legislature, as witless a collection of moldering goofs and ravening mediocrities as you will find in any of our state capitals.

    But let’s not give short shrift to the insanity option. Sims — who holds elected office and previously worked for the Philadelphia Bar Association — offered a cash bounty to his social-media followers for identifying information with which to “dox” three teenage girls who were praying outside the same clinic. Mentally normal adult men do not go around photographing teenaged girls and then trolling for their names on social media in order to facilitate harassing them. Generally speaking, adult men who go around taking photographs of teenaged girls are considered creeps; Representative Sims is a homosexual, which may spare him the charge of lechery in this matter, but his behavior is still pretty weird.

    The stupid/insane question is one that can be asked of a lot of legislators. For example, NH Rep Judith Spang (D-Durham, of course), who admits to haranguing constituents in the supermarket parking lot, if she feels they have too many plastic bags in tow.


  • Bleeding-Heart Libertarian Steve Horwitz asks the musical question: Why do Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Hate Poor People?. It's about the Bernie/AOC proposal for federal legislation to cap credit card and payday lender rates at 15%. Steve lists the likely outcomes:

    1. Reduced access to credit, especially for the poor and those with less human capital and riskier credit profiles.
    2. The folks denied will turn to less reputable and more expensive forms of credit, from payday lenders who will surely charge higher fixed fees that won’t count as interest to actual loan sharks (rather than the banks accused of such behavior by these two). This is bad for many reasons.
    3. One of which is that it will hinder their attempts to improve their credit rating and thereby get access to better credit card deals in the future. Getting a high rate card from an actual bank and making on time payments every month will improve your credit rating over time. This policy will extend the very reasons those behind it (wrongly) think it necessary.

    "Other than that, though, it's fine!"


  • Just One Minute explores a different bit of the Sanders/AOC scheme, and deems it Non-Crazy Idea With A Foundation Of BS.

    America's Sweetheart and America's favorite cranky old coot paired up to talk up the idea of turning the Post Office into a banking system for the under-served. To cur to the spoiler: After roughly an hour with Google and my Sixers, I am confident that the advocates, including Sen. Kristen Gillibrand and the US Post Office team, have failed to understand the numbers and the revenue opportunity they are tossing about and are talking about $89 billion when $30 billion is nearer the mark. $30 billion is not a trifle, but its not $89 billion either. And that sort of easily discovered error does not do much for my confidence in the quality of the research effort by the advocates. 

    And what is it with these progressives anyway? They want the government to have all our medical information and now they expect people (many of whom have, well, documentation challenges opening a conventional bank account) to trust the government with their financial information and savings? Do they know who is President or did Bernie forget?

    Click through for the (easy, I promise) math. Their numbers, are, unsurprisingly, garbage.

    And, also unsurprisingly: After Losing Nearly $4 Billion Last Year, Postal Service on Track to Lose $7 Billion This Year. Is that an organization that should be taking on additional responsibilities, or should it be quietly taken off to an Assisted Living Facility?


  • OK, so it turns out Donald Trump is not Putin's puppet. But CBS executives seem to be in thrall to a different tyranny. At the Daily Wire, Emily Zanotti reveals: CBS 'The Good Fight' Showrunners Threaten To Quit After Network Cuts Segment About Chinese Censorship.

    The series, a spinoff of "The Good Wife," airs on CBS's online platform CBS All Access and, unlike its parent program, focuses less on the soap opera-like lives of Chicago defense attorneys, and more on tackling "current events" and "Trump-era politics" and occasionally includes "an animated musical short that digs into controversial political issues of the day with an explanatory style similar to 'Schoolhouse Rock!'" according to The New York Times.

    This time, though, the short disappeared from the final program, which aired online last week, and was replaced, instead, by a black screen with white type reading, "CBS HAS CENSORED THIS CONTENT."

    Disclaimer: I didn't watch The Good Wife, and (even though there's a Star Trek series) I'm loath to shell out for Yet Another Streaming Service.

    Still, I wonder how much CBS's cowardice infects its other offerings.