URLs du Jour

2019-08-01

[Amazon Link]

Happy August, everyone! Won't be too long 'fore snow be flyin'!

  • I read this WSJ story yesterday with a growing sense of disbelief: Capital One Hacking Suspect Showed Strange Online Behavior.

    The 33-year-old woman accused of executing one of the largest-ever data thefts at a bank showed strange behavior online in recent months, at times bragging about her exploits and discussing deep struggles in her personal life.

    Paige Adele Thompson was arrested in her home city of Seattle on Monday, charged with stealing data from Capital One Financial involving more than 100 million credit-card customers and applicants.

    Skipping to page 6 showed a pic of Paige. When I began to suspect… yup, there it is:

    Ms. Thompson changed her name in 2009 from Trevor Allen Thompson, according to a legal document filed in King County District Court in Seattle.

    Capital One asks: "What's in your wallet?" Turns out it's Paige.


  • Veronique de Rugy makes a point that will seem obvious to people who know the way the world works: Colorado's Paid Leave Proposal Ignores Trade-Offs.

    There are no valid free market arguments for a nationwide, one-size-fits-all federal plan to provide paid leave. But should experimentation with this policy be off-limits to states? The beauty of a federalist system is that states can experiment and innovate with their own policies. This diversity can teach us what works and what doesn't. In this sense, Colorado's commitment to implement a new state-level, paid leave entitlement program — the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) Act — is consistent with federalism.

    The FAMLI Act would provide paid leave benefits to workers who have family events, such as the birth or adoption of a child or the need to care for a loved one, but the hefty price tag would be paid for by collecting a "premium" from employers and employees. So, while it's ill-advised for the state government to intrude in this way, depending on what the plan ends up looking like, the rest of the country will learn a valuable lesson at Colorado's expense.

    Veronique goes on to explain that the people that such policies are meant to "help" are actually the ones most likely to be penalized, in this case via regressive payroll-taxation, or by reductions in employment and promotion opportunities (disproportionately falling on women).


  • At the Federalist, David Harsanyi observes: Compared To The Democrats, Donald Trump Is Moderate.

    Once you strip away all the hysteria and madness surrounding the Donald Trump presidency, you’re left with a policy agenda of a populist, big-government Republican. Whether or not you have a moral or personal case against Trump himself, the president’s stated policy positions fall well within the contours of traditional right-left politics.

    Can the same be said of Democrats? I’m sorry, but across-the-board tax cuts, notwithstanding the panic-stricken reaction, aren’t particularly radical. Every Republican president going back to Warren Harding has passed some kind of rate reduction. Nor is Trump’s stated position on constrained foreign entanglement, which is popular with large factions of both parties. Trump’s anti-Iran and pro-Israel posture are long-standing GOP positions — and before President Barack Obama, bipartisan consensus.

    David's got a point. Still not gonna vote for Trump, though.


  • Max C. Eden, writing at National Review notes: Lack of Funding Is Not What Ails American Schools.

    Last month, researchers from Johns Hopkins University published a heartbreaking study describing the conditions of public schools in Providence, R.I. The report contained a laundry list of problems that plague America’s public schools, such as the inability to fire bad teachers and discipline unruly students, and the need for massive reams of bureaucratic paperwork to get anything done at all.

    Here’s what wasn’t a problem: lack of funding. Providence spends $17,192 per pupil every year.

    But to hear progressive politicians and advocates tell of it, insufficient spending is the only problem with public education. For example, in his “Thurgood Marshall Plan,” presidential candidate Bernie Sanders declared that schools have seen “savage” budget cuts, teachers are paid “starvation wages,” and schoolhouses are “crumbling.”

    This could not be further from the truth. The fact is that America spends more on education than any other major developed nation. In 2015, the latest year for which Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development data is available, the United States spent a combined $12,800 on primary and secondary education, significantly higher than Germany ($11,100), France ($10,000), Italy ($9,100), and Spain ($8,300).

    Don't confuse Bernie with facts. (Now known, apparently as "Republican Talking Points".)


  • In case it's not painfully obvious to the reader (and maybe even if it is), David Henderson tells us, at the Library of Economics and Liberty, Why Libertarians Distrust Political Power.

    In mid-July, Hillbilly Elegy author J. D. Vance delivered a talk at the National Conservatism Conference in Washington entitled “Beyond Libertarianism.” The talk is interesting and important for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it was one of several talks at that coming out party for “nationalist conservatism” that saw in classical liberalism the source of the social problems they hoped their new vision of conservatism could address. Vance’s talk took this point head-on, arguing that conservatives have to break away from libertarianism’s commitment to individual choice and be willing to exercise political power to fix the ills that he sees libertarian attitudes and policies as having caused. At one point, he says of libertarians:

    Libertarians are not heartless, and I don’t mean to suggest that they are. I think they often recognize many of the same problems that we recognize, but they are so uncomfortable with political power, or so skeptical of whether political power can accomplish anything, that they don’t want to actually use it to solve or even address some of these problems.

    But to me, ignoring the fact that we have political choices, or pretending that there aren’t political choices to be made, is itself a political choice. The failure to use political power that the public has given is a choice, and it’s a choice that has increasingly had, and I think increasingly will have, incredibly dire consequences for ourselves and our families.

    This argument treats libertarian criticisms of political power as either psychological “discomfort” or unexplained “skepticism.” If not that, then the refusal to use political power is the result of ignoring that we have political choices or pretending none are to be made. All of these claims deeply misunderstand the libertarian aversion to the use of political power and ignore the role that such power can often play in causing the very problems further use of such power is hoping to solve.

    I like J. D.'s book a lot, and his life story displays an admirable character. I just wish that he'd spend a little time perusing that old (origin unknown) chestnut: "Government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have."

    But David's response is longer, and deserves your attention.