URLs du Jour

2019-07-19

[Amazon Link]

  • At National Review, Jim Geraghty claims 2020 Will Be a Referendum on Who Qualifies as an American. Hope I make the cut! Let's see:

    You may recall “Define American,” a nonprofit organization that, in its own words, “uses the power of story to transcend politics and shift the conversation about immigrants, identity, and citizenship in a changing America.”

    The organization more or less exists to advance an argument made by former president Obama, that the Dreamers – and by extension, a significant number of those who entered the country illegally – were “American by any other name except for their legal papers.” Obama elaborated that they were Americans because they “want to serve this country, oftentimes want to go into the military or start businesses or in other ways contribute.”

    Is being an American simply a matter of being within our borders and wanting to stay? Does it depend upon a desire to serve the country in some way? If you come here, have otherwise not broken the law beyond entering illegally, and want to start a business someday, does that make you American? Those legal papers that Obama wanted to hand-wave away have to count for something, don’t they? If they don’t matter at all, why do we have them?

    It would be nice to have an honest debate on immigration policy, but I'm afraid that horse left the barn a number of years ago.


  • In our "You Would Think This Would Be Obvious" department, Drew Cline writes at the Josiah Bartlett Center: Expanding the tobacco tax to non-tobacco products is bad policy.

    New Hampshire has no broad-based sales tax on goods, but it does have “sin” taxes on alcohol and tobacco. Legislators and the governor this year have proposed expanding the sin tax on tobacco to devices known as electronic cigarettes.

    This expansion is pitched not as a tax increase, but as a technical correction to an existing tax. But the measure is more complicated than that. For starters, the tobacco tax exists to discourage the “sin” of tobacco smoking. But e-cigarettes contain no tobacco.

    Current law (RSA 78:1) defines tobacco products as those that contain both tobacco and nicotine. E-cigarettes can discharge nicotine, a tobacco byproduct, but no e-cigarette burns tobacco. To get around that, the revision changes the “and” to “or.” The tobacco tax is thus changed to a tobacco or nicotine tax.

    Just that one little word…

    You might think that one more Juul user is (to a first approximation) one less tobacco user. Therefore a good thing, healthwise.

    But if you think that way, you are probably not a "something must be done" politician.


  • And you are also probably not the kind of person who finds it "compassionate" to encourage people to make the same mistakes over and over. For example, those sorts will ignore Chris Edwards at Cato pointing out: Governments Make Flooding Worse.

    Government policies encourage Americans to live in risky places on seacoasts and along flood-prone rivers. Disasters happen, governments bail people out, they rebuild in the same places, bad incentives stay in place, further disasters strike and more dollars and lives are lost.

    Chris references a WaPo story which contains the quote: “It’s lunacy. They’re continuing to build in places where Mother Nature intended water to go. And there’s no end to it."


  • At the WaPo, Megan McArdle finds that Marianne Williamson is the only true anti-Trump.

    New Hampshire may be the Granite State, but it appears to have a wee soft spot for long-shot presidential candidate Marianne Williamson. The best-selling self-help author garnered 1.5 percent support in a new Democratic primary poll by St. Anselm College.

    Critics will quibble that 1.5 percent is . . . not anything close to a majority. Indeed, it’s within the poll’s margin of error. But that still beats “serious” candidates such as New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (1.2 percent) and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (0.7 percent). Besides, Williamson tells us in “ A Return to Love,” “the world of the human storyline . . . is a veil in front of a more real world, a collective dream.” So let’s take a moment to dream about, well, a collective return to love, if only because her candidacy offers so many interesting parallels to that of our current president.

    Marianne has not found enough favor with the Betfair bettors in order to be included in our Sunday phony poll updates. Unfortunately, because she's a hoot.

    The UNH Survey Center poll (reporting things to the nearest percent) has her at 1%, behind Spartacus and Beto! (2%), tied with Tulsi, Yang, Delaney, and Kirsten. And ahead of Bennet, Steyer, Klobuchar, all at 0%.


  • And there's good news from AEI: Fears of a retirement crisis are overblown.

    The things that should be going up are going up, including the share of Americans with retirement plans, the size of our retirement-plan contributions, total retirement savings, retirees’ incomes, and retirees’ satisfaction with their financial security. And the things that should be going down — like poverty in old age and dependence on Social Security benefits — are going down.

    I can report (looking around quickly, left to right) no crisis in view at Pun Salad Manor. But I've stocked up on cat food, just in case.