URLs du Jour

2019-06-20

[Amazon Link]

I was unaware of the New Hampshire Pulp Fiction Anthology Series until now. Or maybe I just forgot about it; that happens too. But their first volume, from 2010, is our Amazon Product du Jour, and I may do the rest, because they appear to be kind of a hoot.

  • In our occasional "Things Pun Salad is Completely Unsurprised About" department, the Federalist's Tristan Justice observes: Democratic 2020 Hopefuls Lack Plans To Save Social Security.

    Meaningful discussion of entitlement reform is completely absent among Democrats running for president, aside from loud promises to dramatically expand existing programs such as Medicare to provide “Medicare for All” and most recently, “Medicaid for All.” While candidates ignore Social Security, the outlook of the country’s largest welfare program is getting darker.

    An April report from the Committee for a Responsible Budget reveals that the so-called Social Security Trust Fund that Congress has been plundering for years will be finally exhausted by 2035, in just 16 years. Once the fund is depleted, beneficiaries will begin to see 20 percent cuts across-the-board unless Congress fixes the program, and the year 2035 is also just an estimate. If there is a recession, future retirees can expect cuts to come much sooner, depending on the severity of the economic decline.

    Of course, the Republican hopeful also lacks a plan.

    The Reason podcast folks spent a few minutes on this earlier this week in the midst of a general discussion of how wacky things are in politics these days. The consensus seems to be that we'll wait until catastrophe is almost upon us (a legally-mandated cut in Social Security payouts) and then come up with some must-pass bad solution (eliminate the "cap" on the payroll tax).


  • The good folks at TechFreedom react to the latest Bad Idea from Republicans: Hawley Proposes a Fairness Doctrine for the Internet.

    Today, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced legislation (press release), “Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act,” that would make popular social networks responsible for third party content — unless they receive certification from the Federal Trade Commission of their political “neutrality.” Companies would have to reapply every two years after receiving an external audit of how they moderate and prioritize user content, and re-certification would require the votes of four of five FTC Commissioners.

    “Hawley’s proposal would revive the Fairness Doctrine, an idea that Republicans have opposed since the Truman administration,” said Berin Szóka, President of TechFreedom. “For the first time, Internet services would effectively need a license issued by the U.S. government to operate. That would make them utterly dependent upon the goodwill of FTC Commissioners, and in turn, the White House. Any two Commissioners could block recertification. While the original Fairness Doctrine clearly skewed broadcast programming, actual showdowns were exceedingly rare: licenses were almost never canceled, broadcasters could rely on an expectation of renewal of their licenses every eight years, and the FCC at least tried to hide its partisan agenda. Hawley’s bill would set up a partisan bloodmatch every other year, with the FTC having to take a public vote on each social network’s political ‘neutrality,’ and companies having to prove themselves innocent each time. In short, the bill would give politicians a gigantic regulatory hammer to use against Big Tech — and transform the FTC overnight into the most politicized regulatory body in Washington. Sadly, that seems to be the point.”

    Geez, I still think that whole "free market in ideas" thing is something to defend and strive for. It's getting to be a pretty lonely position.


  • Power Line points to a provocative essay from Ted Nordhaus in Issues in Science and Technology: The Empty Radicalism of the Climate Apocalypse.

    If one believed that the climate crisis was already under way and that the world had only a decade or so not only to stop the growth of emissions but to slash them deeply, an emergency mobilization to rapidly cut carbon dioxide emissions would seemingly be the only sane response. But the apocalyptic rhetoric, endless demands for binding global temperature targets, and radical-sounding condemnations of neoliberalism, consumption, and corporations only conceal how feeble the environmental climate agenda actually is. The vagueness and modesty of the Green New Deal is not proof that progressives and environmentalists are closet socialists. It is, rather, evidence that most climate advocates, though no doubt alarmed, don’t actually see climate change as the immediate and existential threat they suggest it is.

    I really suggest you click through for the whole thing, which includes an imaginary Jay Inslee presidency scenario that really does tackle climate change as an existential threat.

    I'm afraid I'm less charitable than Nordhaus: for nearly all "green" politicians, it's just another issue they can use to scare the bubbas into voting for them. They are only "alarmed" by being out of political power.


  • Cato contributes to our "Eminently Predictable" department: Costs Skyrocket for NASA Launch System. It's based on reports concerning the latest GAO Report that tsks-tsks the space agency for paying tens of millions of dollars in “award fees” to Boeing despite cost overruns and multi-year delays.

    America’s moon landing 50 years ago was a brilliant achievement. But taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for another manned lunar visit because robots are more efficient at exploration these days and private enterprise is the future for people in space.

    From JFK's famed moon speech in 1961 to Apollo 11: about 8 years. From NASA's SLS design selection in 2011 until now: about 8 years, and we ain't close to getting it.


  • At American Consequences, P. J. O'Rourke writes on Schumpeter’s Creative Destruction.

    The amazing thing about free-market capitalism is that it gets rid of stuff that doesn’t work. You say, “Amazing? When stuff doesn’t work, of course you get rid of it!”

    If you’ve got a washing machine and – no matter how many times the supposedly lonely Maytag Man has been to your house – it just can’t be fixed… do you keep piling dirty clothes into it? You’ll run out of things to wear.

    No, you haul the old appliance to the dump and acquire a new one. This is what free-market capitalism does with businesses. When a business is no longer profitable, investors dispose of it and put their investment capital into another business that does (or will, investors hope) make a profit.

    As Peej points out, that's the sensible thing to do. And it's the way government doesn't work: "When the government has a broken washing machine, it breaks the dryer to ensure job security for the Maytag Man, then funds a grant program for free clean t-shirts."


  • Pun Salad long ago suggested the crackpot idea that the right number of time zones is zero. Now at last, some smart Norwegians (but I repeat myself) are doing something like that: Norway island of Sommarøy wants to be world's first time-free zone.

    Don't you wish those long summer days could last forever? An island in northern Norway is campaigning to do just that.

    With the Northern Hemisphere's summer solstice just around the corner on June 21, Sommarøy -- meaning "Summer Island" -- wants to swap its watches for flower garlands and declare itself the world's first time-free zone.

    It makes a certain amount of non-crackpot sense, because Sommarøy is about 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, and we all remember what that means from geography class.

    Ordinarily, they're on GMT+2. But hopefully, they'll come to notice that they could go to GMT, and it would make no difference whatsoever to the way they live their lives.


  • And science has spoken: Dogs developed muscles to make 'puppy dog eyes' at humans, study finds.

    If you've ever fallen for the old 'puppy dog eyes' trick, don't feel bad. A new study has found dogs evolved new facial muscles specifically to tug at your heartstrings over the course of thousands of years of domestication.

    Unlike wolves, dogs have a muscle responsible for raising the inner eyebrow "specifically for facial communication with humans," according to research published in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Monday. 

    Yeah. It works, too.


Last Modified 2019-06-21 7:33 AM EST