URLs du Jour

2019-05-16

[Amazon Link]

  • At NR, Kevin D. Williamson analyzes The AFL-CIO’s Daft Marxism .

    The AFL-CIO, whose constituents once expended some effort expelling the Communists from their ranks, apparently has decided on another course and is now using its social-media accounts to distribute Marxist propaganda. This comes hot on the heels of the same organization suggesting guillotines as the solution to the nation’s economic troubles.

    There are many objections to this line of thinking, beginning with the 100 million people the champions of this philosophy murdered in the 20th century and the horrors they are inflicting today on the people of Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea. Our friends on the left like to lecture conservatives about the occasional outburst of violent rhetoric in our midst, and they are not entirely wrong to do so. But what the AFL-CIO refers to here is not violent rhetoric but actual violence in the form of mass murder.

    The link goes to a hand-waving babbler urging the "working class" to "seize the means of production". Kevin notes that workers already have the power to buy the means of production, but… I guess that's not as much fun.


  • Drew Cline of the Josiah Bartlett Center has a modest proposal: Before outlawing plastic bags and straws, try persuasion.

    The Senate votes Wednesday on two bills to regulate the distribution of plastic straws and bags. Before making outlaws of restaurateurs and grocers, senators ought to consider that there are other, less heavy-handed ways to address the issue of plastics pollution — and they have been shown to work better than bans.

    Up for a vote are House Bill 558 and House Bill 560. HB 558 would prohibit restaurants from serving plastic straws unless a customer specifically requests one. HB 560 would prohibit stores and food service businesses from providing single-use plastic carry-out bags. It also would force those businesses to offer reusable bags at a price of “no less than 10 cents” per bag.

    News says that the Senate killed the straw bill, and the fate of the bag bill doesn't look good.


  • A little bit of economic sense from the blog with the best name in the universe, Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, author Nick Rowe: Accounting Identities and the Implicit Theory of Inertia.

    Animals can be divided into Carnivores and Non-Carnivores: A = C + NC. Therefore, if we add some wolves to an island of sheep, the number of animals on that island will increase.

    It's easy to see why that argument might not be right. Wolves kill sheep. But if you didn't know that fact about wolves and sheep, the argument looks very appealing. But the equation A = C + NC tells us absolutely nothing about the world; it's an accounting identity that is true by definition. The only thing it tells you is how I have chosen to divide up the world into parts. And I can choose an infinite number of different ways to divide the world up into parts.

    What does that have to do with economics? Well, Nick goes on to tell you. But if you remember your Samuelson even dimly, you might be able to tell what's coming…


  • Advice from the American Council on Science and Health: Relax, McDonald's Touchscreen Menus Aren't Covered in Poop.

    A story that has gone viral (again) claims that McDonald's touchscreen menus are covered in poop. Is it true?

    No. There is no brown, smelly fecal matter covering McDonald's touchscreens. The global headlines saying otherwise are total lies. So, on what basis are they making that ridiculous claim?

    In November 2018, a British tabloid called Metro published a "study" (I'm using that term loosely) by a microbiologist in London who sampled McDonald's touchscreens to determine what sort of microbes were present. To the surprise of nobody except click-hungry media outlets, the microbiologist found lots of bacteria, some nastier than others.

    Bottom line: bacteria are everywhere, including (yes) restaurant touch screens. But also on everything else that people touch. It should be pretty far down on your list of things to worry about. (Unless you have a compromised immune system, in which case you shouldn't only be worried about McDonald's.)

    [And I don't know if it's biologically correct to say that a yarn about bacteria has gone viral. Seems wrong, somehow.]


  • Our Google LFOD News Alert rang for a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed: Trump abolished the health care mandate. California needs to restore it.. A statist pleading for more mandatoriness, as usual. But LFOD?

    Today we know that seat belts reduce the risk of death for drivers and front-seat passengers by 45%, and they cut the risk of serious injury by 50%. The overwhelming majority of drivers buckle up because not only is it the law in nearly every state (New Hampshire, the “Live Free or Die” state, is the only holdout), we know that life can change in an instant.

    The same is true for health care.

    Just like the seat belt law, the Affordable Care Act initially required consumers to protect themselves or face the possibility of a fine. Unfortunately, the mechanism to enforce that requirement has been stripped away from all but Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont and the District of Columbia. These states have a mandate in place to “nudge” people to do the right thing and purchase the virtual seat belt of health care coverage.

    Yes, the argument really is that since you bought being forced to wear your seat belt, you should also be forced to buy health insurance. No slippery slope there!

    Similar (but even weaker) arguments are made internationally. From the Daily Mail (via Hot Air): UK minister: We must treat online trolls like drunk drivers.

    [Jackie Doyle-Price, Britain's "first suicide prevention minister"] told the Press Association: ‘It’s great that we have these platforms for free speech and any one of us is free to generate our own content and put it up there, but free speech is only free if it’s not abused. I just think in terms of implementing their duty of care to their customers, the Wild West that we currently have needs to be a lot more regulated by them.

    I am pretty libertarian, so I probably would not recommend lengthy jail sentences for public officials who seize on far-fetched analogies to advocate boneheaded policies.

    It's a close call, though.