URLs du Jour

2019-06-13

[Amazon Link]

  • Bleeding Heart Libertarian contributor Roderick Long writes on a philosophical conflict of which I, and maybe you, were unaware: Randians vs. Stoics.

    Stoicism is undergoing a bit of a renaissance today, both in academic philosophy (partly because it’s seen as a way of mediating between the eudaimonistic, virtue-ethical Aristotelean approach and the deontological Kantian approach; partly because of Foucault’s role, in his later works, of reviving the “care of the self” tradition in ethics) and in works of popular psychology. (There’s also a striking similarity between the Stoic theory of the emotions and that of Sartre, though I’m not aware that anyone besides myself has commented on this.)

    Primarily in response to the popular-psychology use of Stoicism, Randian scholar Aaron Smith has an article up today warning against the perilous influence of the Stoa and urging the preferability of the Randian alternative.

    Interesting! Part of the conflict, of course, is due to Randians adopting the default position: "anything that isn't Objectivism sucks." Following the style of Ms. Rand.


  • Why, yes, I am old enough to remember the Fairness Doctrine. And I'm in agreement with Paul Matzko at Cato: The Fairness Doctrine Was Terrible for Broadcasting and It Would Be Terrible for the Internet.

    Skepticism of big tech companies is surging on both sides of the political spectrum, from Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren calling for breaking up Amazon to Republican Senator Josh Hawley advocating rules that would prohibit online viewpoint discrimination. This wave of techno-progressivism finds its latest expression in Slate journalist April Glaser’s article, “Bring Back the Golden Age of Broadcast Regulation.”

    Glaser argues that the problems of internet discourse—eg hate speech, haphazard content moderation, and conspiracy peddling—are so trenchant that government intervention is warranted. She calls for applying the rules that once governed mid-twentieth century radio and television broadcasting to the internet, the most important of which was the mandate that broadcasting be done in the “public interest, convenience, and necessity” as laid out in the 1934 Communications Act. Inspired by that mandate, reform-minded progressives at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enacted the Fairness Doctrine in 1949, which required broadcasters to provide multiple points of view when discussing political disagreements.

    The usually unspoken premise of calls for "fairness" is that the American people are too stupid and/or unsophisticated to shop the marketplace of ideas and make up their own minds about the quality and correctness of the views they encounter.

    I suppose that could be right. But that's kind of an argument against letting them vote, too.


  • Are NASA's human spaceflight priorities correct? Robert Zubrin, writing at National Review, argues, nay, NASA's Human Spaceflight Priorities Are Wrong.

    The Trump administration has proposed a bold new initiative, dubbed the Artemis Program, that will send astronauts to the Moon by 2024 and Mars by 2033. As detailed by NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine in a presentation on May 23, the program will include some 37 launches by 2028, kicked off by the maiden launch of the agency’s new Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift booster in October 2020.

    Unfortunately, the program as currently conceived is very unlikely to succeed, as it appears to be designed primarily as a mechanism for distributing funds, rather than for accomplishing goals in space. This was made clear when Bridenstine said that a baseline condition for the program would be that all piloted missions would use the SLS booster and the Orion crew capsule, neither of which has yet flown, rather than much cheaper alternatives that have flown. Furthermore, at 26 tons the Orion is so heavy that the SLS cannot deliver it to low lunar orbit with enough propellant for it to fly home. So rather than using a SpaceX Dragon (which at 10 tons is still 50 percent larger than the Apollo crew capsule), which either SLS or the already operational and vastly cheaper ($150 million per launch, compared to over $1 billion for SLS) Falcon Heavy could readily deliver, NASA is proposing to build a new space station, called the Deep Space Gateway, in a high orbit around the Moon, as a halfway house accessible to Orion.

    Yes, unfortunately. NASA's plans seem to whipsaw with each new administration, never actually settling on any scheme long enough to actually accomplish anything. And the financing seems to be modeled on that of California High-Speed Rail. ("It's gonna cost more than we said, take much longer to build, and it's not gonna do what we promised.")


  • At Reason, Veronique de Rugy spells it out: Trump’s Tariffs Hurt American Freedom and Prosperity.

    The air always swirls with popular myths that, when repeated constantly, are taken by some to be indisputably true. One such myth today is that President Donald Trump is unique among presidents in standing up firmly to the Chinese and other foreigners to stop them from harming us economically with their import restrictions, export subsidies, and illegal immigration. According to that theory, the tariffs he uses to counter these foreign practices are to our benefit. As such, we should purportedly welcome them with gratitude.

    Trump is indeed unique among modern presidents in his eagerness to use tariffs. But his vaunted "toughness" in using them is nothing for us Americans to applaud: We should instead condemn their use. Trump's so-called standing up to foreigners is more like stomping on Americans' freedom and prosperity.

    The only upside: Trump has turned Democrats into free-trade advocates! Because Orange Man Bad! (But will they maintain their newfound wisdom once Trump is gone? Ha.)


  • New Hampshire Commie Public Radio triggered our LFOD Alert with a local story: Sununu Promises to Veto State Budget If It Keeps Democrats' Plan for Paid Family Leave. This is amusing:

    Democrats in the House and Senate want a paid family leave program funded by a mandatory payroll deduction, which the Governor calls an income tax. Democrats also want to freeze business taxes at current rates, reversing yet-to-take effect tax cuts favored by Republicans.

    Yeah, it's pretty outrageous that the Governor calls a mandatory payroll deduction an income tax. How dare he de-euphemize like that?!

    And, worse, he invokes LFOD:

    "With an income tax it will be vetoed," Sununu said. "That's an income tax in New Hampshire. I mean let's remember what New Hampshire is all about. Let’s remember what 'live free or die' is all about. Let's remember, ‘Why do we have opportunity today that other states don't?’"

    Which reminds me, I have to send in this quarter's estimated payment on NH's Interest & Dividends tax. Which is not an Income Tax, because… never mind.


Last Modified 2019-06-13 1:04 PM EDT