URLs du Jour

2019-06-03

[Amazon Link]

  • Jacob Sullum writes at Reason on an important topic: Double Standards Endanger Press Freedom.

    The day after the federal government indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on 18 charges related to his publication of secret Pentagon and State Department documents, San Francisco's police chief apologized for raiding the home of freelance videographer Bryan Carmody because he had obtained a report he was not supposed to have. The two cases reveal widespread confusion about who counts as a journalist and whether it matters.

    Declaring that Assange is "no journalist," a Justice Department official assured reporters that the DOJ appreciates "the role of journalists in our democracy," saying "it is not and has never been the department's policy to target them for reporting." Yet almost all of the federal felonies described in the Assange indictment involve obtaining and disclosing "national defense information"—crimes that reporters who cover national security routinely commit.

    Both sides of this "no journalist" argument are objectionable: You don't get extra Constitutional reights when you belong to some profession; and not belonging to some profession doesn't take away any Constitutional right. Tell it, Jacob:

    There is no federal shield law. But there is the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of the press. Contrary to what the Justice Department wants us to believe, that freedom is not a special privilege that belongs only to officially recognized journalists. It applies to all of us when we use technologies of mass communication.

    Or at least that's the way it should work. I'm not sure this is settled law.


  • At AIER, Don Boudreaux pinpoints yet more Flimsy Justifications to Restrict Your Freedom. Specifically, three of them, and here's one:

    When I was a boy my mother and father often put to me a version of a question that parents throughout the ages have put to their children: “If everybody jumped off of the Mississippi River Bridge, would you jump too?”

    Of course, I was asked this rhetorical question whenever I took some inadvisable course of action and sought to excuse it on the grounds that “all my friends did it.”

    Even a young child understands, without need of further elaboration, that no action is rendered acceptable simply because lots of other people do it.

    This vital piece of wisdom, however, is often forgotten by adults when the discussion turns to public policy. A common justification for destructive government interventions such as minimum wages, mandated paid leave, protectionism, export subsidies, and government-run health care is the indisputable fact that most other governments intervene in these ways.

    While awareness of the frequency or infrequency of some practice is relevant when judging the wisdom of that practice, such awareness is never sufficient. Human experience is filled with common practices that are inadvisable. And because governments, unlike individuals, are in the business of compulsion rather than persuasion, we should be especially reluctant to jump from the observation that some government practice is widespread to the conclusion that the benefits of that practice exceed its costs.

    Which for some reason reminds me of an quote from an old movie, Catch-22:

    Dobbs: Look Yossarian, suppose, I mean just suppose everyone thought the same way you do.

    Yossarian: Then I'd be a damn fool to think any different.

    I'm not sure if that supports Don's point or not; I just like the quote.


  • At the Daily Wire, Amanda Prestigiacomo relates a new service for ladies of pallor: This Outrageous ‘Race2Dinner’ Service Helps You 'Smash' Your 'White Fragility'.

    Racial activists Regina Jackson and Saira Rao are offering white women an opportunity to “smash” their “white fragility” by hiring women of color to attend dinner with and guilt trip them for all the alleged suffering they have caused them by virtue of the color of their white skin. This über progressive program has been aptly dubbed “Race2Dinner.”

    “Dear white women, you have caused immeasurable pain and damage to Brown and Black women. We are here to sit down with you to candidly explain how you caused this pain and damage,” a note from Jackson and Rao reads on the program’s website.

    Apparantly not a fiendish parody! (Although I'm not 100% sure of that, so tread lightly.)


  • George F. Will diagnoses and classifies: Protectionism Is Iatrogenic Government. (You don't have to look up "iatrogenic". GFW explains it.)

    The cascading effects of U.S. protectionism on U.S. producers and consumers constitute an ongoing tutorial about what Daniel Patrick Moynihan called “iatrogenic government.” In medicine, an iatrogenic ailment is one inadvertently caused by a physician or medicine. Iatrogenic government — except the damage it currently is doing is not inadvertent — was on display last week.

    The Trump administration unveiled a plan to disburse $16 billion to farmers as balm for wounds — predictable and predicted — from the retaliation of other nations, especially China, against U.S. exports in response to the administration’s tariffs. The $16 billion does not need to be approved by Congress because not much that presidents do nowadays needs to be. The president said the sum will be paid for by the billions of dollars the Treasury takes in from China. The evident sincerity of his frequently reiterated belief that exporters to the United States pay the tariffs that U.S. importers and consumers pay is more alarming than mere meretriciousness would be.

    Congress should not waste its time with impeachment; instead it should yank the tariff power away from the Executive Branch.


  • And… well, it's Don Boudreaux again. I don't usually blog people twice in one day but his Quotation of the Day.... is from Bastiat, and it's excellent, but Don's followup is even better:

    Each of us in modern society swims daily in a magnificent ocean of capitalism’s marvels – marvels now so commonplace that we take them for granted and assume, when we think of the matter at all, that they are somehow ‘natural.’ We are so fabulously rich that we have the luxury of asking ‘What causes poverty?’, oblivious to the reality that poverty is humanity’s default mode, and that what must be caused is wealth.

    Some people even write much-praised books that have among their premises the fantastic notion that, except in the most extreme circumstances, the value of capital – the tools used not only to keep filled, but to expand, this magnificent ocean of capitalism’s marvels – grows automatically, independently of human agency, ideas, effort, creativity, risk-taking, and institutions.

    Other people win political power by playing on the false belief that those whose glasses are ‘only’ 95 percent full are impoverished victims of those whose glasses are 99 percent full. “You’re poor because he’s rich” is today false in two ways. First, you’re not poor. Second, in almost all cases, not only did his riches not make you less-rich, his riches are a result of him making you richer than you would have been otherwise.

    "Indeed."


  • And I love this cartoon from Michael Ramirez.

    [The Muellerescher Report]


Last Modified 2019-06-13 4:41 PM EDT