URLs du Jour

2019-10-16

[Amazon Link]

  • Kevin D. Williamson takes down a bad idea at National Review. ‘Government Run Like a Business’: A Superstition Best Left Behind.

    Businesses measure their success in profit. Governments don’t. Businesses offer products and services in exchange for money in voluntary transactions. Governments don’t. Businesses that fail go bankrupt and are disbanded (except for politically sensitive banks, automobile companies, steel producers, farmers . . .) while failed governments keep right on misgoverning in the city and state of New York, in Illinois, in New Jersey, in California, in Connecticut, in the District of Columbia, in Austin, and abroad. Businesses have customers. Governments don’t. Those who profess their desire to “run government like a business” most often mean that they seek to achieve a higher degree of administrative excellence and bureaucratic accountability than Americans are used to seeing from their governments. But that isn’t running government like a business — that’s running government like . . . Swiss government.

    Yup. It's equally irritating to see (a) politicians tell corporations how they should be running their business; (b) CEOs presuming to have expertise in what government should be doing and how best to do it.


  • Mickey Kaus is an old-style liberal, which means that on a lot of days he sounds pretty conservative. And (good news) his blogging seems to have picked up a bit. He's always had interesting things to say about inequality, and he continues to do so, asking the musical question: What's More Important Than Progressive Taxes? Looking at dueling stats about ecomomic status:

    So in one statistic, workers at the bottom are losing. In another, they’re winning. Which is more important? It depends on why you care about income inequality. My argument is that we care about it, not for its own sake, but because we worry about its effect on social equality— how equal we are “in the eyes of each other.” If this is your perspective, does it matter more that 400 people—really, really, really rich people—paid 2.5 percent less in taxes, or that the bottom 25 percent saw their wages grow maybe 4.5% (annually).

    It’s not even close, With their incomes mostly stagnant for decades, unskilled workers were in danger of falling out of the bottom of the economy—into despair, disability, drugs. How much difference does it make, in their actual lived experience, if a billionaire pays 25.5% in taxes instead of 23 percent? Would they even notice the change? But it makes a world of difference if they can take a job—any job—and have enough to buy a used car, or rent a safer apartment, or go on a date--participate in the normal activities of their communities as normal citizens.

    That one link goes to Ronald Reagan's farewell speech to the 1992 GOP convention.


  • [Amazon Link]
    Writing at the (probably paywalled) WSJ, Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay have some tips for people (like me, maybe you) who dare to interact with the progressives in their lives: Social-Justice Warriors Won’t Listen, but You Should.

    It would be charming for advocates of social-justice ideology to say, “We need to have a conversation,” were they not almost uniformly such dreadful conversationalists. If they’ll converse with you at all, you might hear that any disagreement with them is a sign of your inherent weakness (“white fragility,” Robin DiAngelo), of your intentional refusal to engage honestly (“pernicious ignorance,” Kristie Dotson ), or of your unreasonable expectation that someone do your homework for you (“epistemic exploitation,” Nora Berenstain ). You might find yourself accused of complicity in white supremacy ( Barbara Applebaum ) or misogyny ( Kate Manne ), both understood in an obscure “systemic” sense, though of course the words retain the damning connotations rightly associated with their literal meanings.

    The suggestion is: buy (or at least read) our book. Amazon link at right.


  • I get a number of unusual pointers via my Google LFOD News Alert. This is one of the more unusual, from the Japan Times: So much to say — so many ways to show it. It is a review of “Image Narratives: Literature in Japanese Contemporary Art”, an exhibition at The National Art Center in Tokyo. And maybe this makes more sense to your average Japanese art lover than it does to me:

    Yuichiro Tamura has created a claustrophobic enclosed studio that glows beautifully with a yellow-green light, a warehouse space filled with New Hampshire number-plates with the state’s motto “Live Free or Die,” and a room filled with wooden oars laid out like dead bodies. A stream-of-consciousness computerized voice connects the muddiness of McDonald’s coffee with drowning in a flood of muddy water.

    So if you've been wondering where old license plates go when they die: a large number of them wound up in a Tokyo art museum. If you've started making travel plans already, the exhibit runs until November 11, and will set you back ¥1,000. As I type, that's about US $9.20.