URLs du Jour

2019-05-30

[Amazon Link]

  • Nick Gillespie writes wisely at Reason: If You Think Having Too Many Choices Is Tyranny, Wait Until You Have Too Few. People have been bemoaning "choice" for ages:

    A quarter-century ago, it was Walmart, Borders and Barnes & Noble bookstores, and a few other bricks-and-mortar retailers that touched off panics over "the tyranny of choice." Too many flavors of Pop-Tarts, don't you know, was the new slavery, paralyzing us mere homo sapiens, who had evolved really only to choose between strawberry, blueberry, and brown sugar–cinnamon (either with or without frosting). Suddenly the breakfast aisle was overflowing with a few dozen types of breakfast pastries and we just couldn't deal with it. "Choice no longer liberates," wrote psychologist Barry Schwartz in a 2004 best-seller called The Paradox of Choice, "but debilitates. It might even be said to tyrannize."

    Unsurprisingly, the same basic argument migrated frictionlessly into cyberspace, where the Long Tail wags us all near to death. When faced with such plenitude, who can decide? Here's the latest, steaming-hot iteration of that basic take, courtesy of Amanda Mull of The Atlantic. "There Is Too Much Stuff," reads the article's headline, neatly summarizing its argument. "The human brain can't contend with the vastness of online shopping," insists the sub-headline. A search for clothing hangers at the online retailer Amazon, writes Mull, yields over 200,000 options, which are too many to sift through, proving that "contemporary internet shopping conjures a perfect storm of choice anxiety." Even as she grants that it's "tempting" to see more choice and variety as "advantageous to consumers," she concludes that "infinite, meaningless options can result in something like a consumer fugue state" and that "after shopping online, I often don't remember days later whether I actually made a decision."

    Tell me about it! I searched for "choice" at Amazon for a Product du Jour that might fit in with Nick's article, and all I got was pro-abortion crap. (The single area it seems that leftists are cool with "choice".) So instead I went with something relevant to the next URL…


  • Veronique de Rugy poses a leading question: Are Politicians Purveyors of Outrage?. Unsurprisingly, this is an exception to Betteridge's law of headlines ("Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.")

    One of the many problems with politicians is that it seems like they're in the outrage business. Some act as if they won't be needed unless there is some extreme wrong or insufferable unfairness to address. That's how we end up with politicians fighting mostly imaginary battles, which they propose to address through great sound bites and bad policies.

    The latest case in point is presidential hopeful Kamala Harris' plan for "Holding Corporations Accountable for Pay Inequality in America."

    The Democratic California senator's stated goal is to produce a world with "equal pay for equal work." There's nothing wrong with that, of course, if there's actually a problem. In her new report, she claims, like many others before her, that this is indeed an issue and that "women who work full time are paid just 80 cents, on average, for every dollar paid to men." That's the foundation of her report, and that number is actually meaningless.

    Note: the WaPo fact checker gave Two Pinocchios to this dishonest factoid over four years ago when it was uttered by Bernie Sanders. It's safe to say that its falsity doesn't matter to Kamala Harris; it's simply a useful tool to push the buttons of her audience.

    "Yeah, I'm insulting your intelligence. What are ya gonna do about it?"


  • At National Review, Kyle Smith reacts to a threatened boycott over Georgia's anti-abortion laws. But, he says, Netflix Will Have to Pay to Punish Georgia.

    Will Hollywood finally deliver on its threat to boycott Georgia over politics? Netflix has become the first major studio to threaten to leave the state over the new abortion restrictions. Yet Netflix is in Georgia in the first place only because of the state’s ruthless capitalism: Tax breaks for big business and right-to-work policies. My favorite smash-’em-up of Hollywood grandstanding and economics is The Campaign. Remember that? It was Will Ferrell’s 2012 Koch Brothers movie. In the film, the nefarious capitalists the Motch Brothers are harnessing the full power of NAFTA to outsource American jobs. The sole funny element of the movie is that it decried the Motch Brothers while being made in union-unfriendly, tax-refunding Louisiana. Ferrell and his lefty buddies (Zach Galifianakis, Adam McKay, etc.) outsourced the movie from California and its crushing cost structure. I suppose they could have demanded the movie be made in L.A. instead of LA, but then it might not have gotten made. (As it is, it appears to have lost money.) I mean, whoa, you know we’re liberal, but let’s not do anything crazy like cost ourselves a paycheck.

    They would be doing Georgia a favor. Subsidies for moviemakers are invariably a taxpayer ripoff. (The Union Leader recently ripped into the latest proposal to re-institute them in New Hampshire.)


  • Our Google LFOD News Alert notes a sighting in (of all places) the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazettte: Don't tread on me. It's about zoning. Specifically, a county government bemoaning litigation costs when it is sued for adverse decisions.

    Zoning in unincorporated areas is not as robust as it is in most cities, nor should it be. Most rural areas do not need strict rules that would make rural living difficult. But at the heart of the county's likelihood for being sued is the almost universal desire of rural residents to "live free or die" -- that is, to be left alone by county government -- and the resulting lack of specificity in county zoning regulations. In other words, there seems to be a lot of subjectivity in decision-making, and that doesn't always hold up in court.

    I don't know what the specific triggering issue here was, but the editorial makes a good point: vague and subjective laws governing use of your property are a big "sue me" sign on the back of authorities. And deservedly so.

    And it's nice to see that LFOD spirit even down in Arkansas.


  • And… oh, no! As reported in New Hampshire Business Review New Hampshire’s image taken down some pegs in online survey.

    “New Hampshire has low wages” and “you do see a poor class of folks.”

    Ouch.

    "The jobs are a problem, and so is our transportation system.”

    Double ouch.

    “Restaurants suck,” “no nightlife” and “generally a pretty boring place to live out your 20s and early 30s.”

    Ouch, ouch, ouch!

    These are some of the comments garnered in an unscientific survey commissioned by 603 and Me, an organization seeking to promote the state and carried out by students at the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire.

    When applied to survey methodology, "unscientific" is a nice way to say "worthless".

    "603 and Me" has a website! It seems pretty anodyne. Its big idea is for NH to adopt a slogan:

    [603 and Me founder Scott] Baker said the general opinion of the state ran counter to some nationally rankings, which often list the state as the best place to live (CNBC), raise children (CNN), the safest (US News) and with the third-lowest unemployment rate. Such figures prompted Baker to tell the students to ask what people thought of the tagline, “New Hampshire: America’s Best-Kept Secret.”

    The students prompted respondents to compare it with the state’s current motto, though Baker stressed to the NH Business Review that he wasn’t trying to replace “Live Free Or Die,” but to complement it with another.

    It turns out that total respondents preferred “Live Free or Die (74.7%), but Granite State respondents were split: 52.6% in favor, 47.4% against. “Best-Kept Secret” had a less favorable response overall: 54.1 percent, but outside the state only 44 percent had a favorable view.

    I would prefer the slogan: "Come live here if you want. Or not."