URLs du Jour

2019-09-06

  • Obligatory note: Wired is probably the least politicized of the publications in the Condé Nast collection, but that's a very low bar. But they recently started putting up cartoons on their website, and I got a chuckle out of this one:

    [Cookies]

    See, it's funny because… oh, never mind.


  • A few days ago, Michael Huemer opined that Google Is Evil. Yeah, or maybe it's just very sick. Daniel Henninger wrote his WSJ (probably paywalled) column exploring The Google Syndrome.

    It may be time to take the big G out of Google. The company called Google has turned itself into a generic metaphor for our politicized times. In addition to being the name of a U.S. technology company, “google” should become a lowercase word for a psychological syndrome—such as attention-deficit disorder, paranoia or dissociative identity disorder. A person with google disorder would be diagnosed as being in the grip of an uncontrollable political mania.

    During the company’s early years, in keeping with what it called its culture of “openness” and the notion that employees should “bring their whole selves to work,” Google allowed thousands of internal message boards to proliferate. This must have seemed like a good idea at the time since Google employees are supersmart and presumably full of interesting, innovative thoughts.

    Henninger goes on to eviscerate Google's recent "Community Guidelines" memo addressed to its employees: "One of the striking things about [it] is how much of it sounds like a second-grade teacher talking to 7-year-olds."

    Being a recent University employee, I can relate.


  • Nick Gillespie at Reason relates 4 Memorable Moments From CNN’s Climate Town Hall. But before he does that:

    The Democratic contenders have laid out plans costing anywhere from about $1 trillion (Pete Buttigieg) to $16 trillion (Bernie Sanders) in direct federal spending on climate change over the next decade. About half of the candidates have endorsed the Green New Deal proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D–Mass.), which could cost as much as $90 trillion to implement. As important as any specific policy or position outlined last night were the general attitudes that were widely shared by the participants.

    A number likened fighting climate change to the effort to win World War II, a metaphor that perhaps says more about their comfort with regimenting society than the speakers intended. During World War II, all industrial production was overseen by the federal government, food and fuel were rationed, and civil liberties were sharply curtailed in the interest of defeating the Axis powers.

    And of course, about 70-85 million people perished in World War II. Modern governments are extremely good at killing people.


  • Reader, I bet you've never wondered if you can call people "terrorists" just for having different viewpoints.

    But you are not a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

    Jim Geraghty speaks truth to that particular power: You Can't Call People Terrorists Just for Having Different Viewpoints.

    We live in a time when authorities attempt to brazenly redefine the meaning of words by sheer force of will right before our eyes: “By a unanimous vote, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors have passed a resolution declaring the National Rifle Association a domestic terrorist organization and urging other cities to follow their example.” The resolution also orders city employees to “take every reasonable step to limit” business interactions with the NRA and its supporters.

    […]

    These city supervisors aren’t the FBI. They’re not the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. They’re not the National Counterterrorism Center.

    Terrorism is a crime, not merely a viewpoint. Being a member of Occupy Wall Street does not make you a terrorist. Being a member of Occupy Wall Street and planning to blow up a bridge makes you a terrorist. Being a Trump supporter doesn’t make you a terrorist. Being a Trump supporter and mailing pipe bombs to people you see as his enemies does make you a terrorist.

    Can anyone in San Francisco grasp the danger in letting politicians declare by proclamation that those who have committed no crimes but who have differing views are terrorists? Can anyone over there imagine how this mentality could turn out badly for someone they like?

    I believe the answers to Jim's questions in that last paragaph are, respectively, (1) Probably, but not enough to matter politically; and (2) No.


  • You may have been following the recent travails of Leif Olson. If not, Walter Olson will recap and summarize at Cato: Man Engages In Sarcasm On Social Media. Career Survives..

    This week, in one of the most unfair hatchet jobs I’ve seen over the years as a watcher of Washington journalism, a Bloomberg Law reporter took a heavily sarcastic Facebook post Leif Olson wrote three years ago and presented it as meant in all sincerity – complete with a partial screenshot which clipped off the comments that followed hailing the post as an elaborate exercise in sarcasm, which it obviously was.

    The original Bloomberg Law headline: "Trump Labor Aide Quits After Anti-Semitic Facebook Posts Surface" (and that's still in the URL).

    Current headline: "Trump Labor Aide Quits After Facebook Posts Surface (Corrected)".

    The article's author, Ben Penn, is whining about the understandable reaction, e.g.:

    As I type, Leif Olson has regained his post at the Labor Department.

    Also as I type, the miserable prick/repugnant child Ben Penn has apparently not been fired yet.


  • But Bloomberg isn't totally worthless. Michael R. Strain's column on the Elizabeth Warren Wealth Tax is worth reading. There are practical reasons why the tax won't collect anywhere near the amounts Warren claims. But (I think) the most important objections are at the end of Strain's column:

    The ostensible purpose of the wealth tax would be to finance the expanding entitlement state the Democrats want — the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, free college, universal child care, student debt forgiveness. According to Saez and Zucman, another aim would be to reduce the political power of the wealthiest households. They argue that the “root justification” for high tax rates “is not about collecting revenue.” Instead, “they aim at preventing an oligarchic drift that, if left unaddressed, will continue undermining the social compact and risk killing democracy.”

    I am not such a purist as to think that the only purpose of taxation should be to collect revenue — for example, I support tax credits for low-income households to encourage labor force participation and to fight poverty. But the “save democracy” approach is a bad use of the tax code.

    For one, it won’t work. You need a lot less than $50 million to be politically influential. And influence is much more diffuse than the plan’s advocates seem to think.

    Warren’s wealth tax would be an abuse of government power. It is the tax-code equivalent of looting mansions. What is wrong with the way these 75,000 families made their money? Why should we have special tax rules for a tiny fraction — 0.06% — of households?

    Paying taxes is not a punishment, and the tax code should not be used to penalize any group of citizens. Not even the very rich.

    The easiest way to destroy wealth is to make it subject to arbitrary confiscation. All those goodies suddenly seem to be worth a lot less when it becomes known that it's fair game for the legal plunderers.