URLs du Jour

2019-11-14

[Amazon Link]

  • Kevin Butterhof writes at Aero on Why We Should Reject Diversity and Equity As Values. His opening sentence will come as no surprise to anyone who has (say) visited the website of the University Near Here over the past decade or so.

    The concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion have gained in popularity in recent years among the political left, including university administrations and corporate HR departments. To those who believe no individual is intrinsically more valuable than any other, this trend is troubling. While inclusion is a good thing, valuing diversity and equity with regard to immutable characteristics is unethical. Naturally occurring diversity and equity are indications—though not proof—of a tolerant and inclusive society. A lack of diversity and equity may indicate bias. However, active pursuit of these ideals requires disregarding the basic, universalist ethics that civil rights leaders fought and died to achieve for everyone.

    From the UNH page linked above:

    We are committed to supporting and sustaining an educational community that is inclusive, diverse and equitable. The values of diversity, inclusion and equity are inextricably linked to our mission of teaching and research excellence, and we embrace these values as being critical to development, learning, and success. We expect nothing less than an accessible, multicultural community in which civility and respect are fostered, and discrimination and harassment are not tolerated.

    This is the Nicene Creed of modern American universities, and it's antithetical to actual tolerance.


  • Veronique de Rugy has a sharp eye for bad news. While everyone's distracted by the impeachment circus Congress Readies Another Round of Crony Handouts.

    Here we go again. We're approaching another deadline to pass a government spending bill or risk a government shutdown. Legislators routinely manufacture this sort of "crisis" to ram through provisions that wouldn't survive scrutiny standing on their own. Congress is reportedly likely to push the budget deadline into December, but whenever the next full funding bill is finally taken up, there will inevitably be an effort to load it up with crony handouts.

    At the top of the wish list will be "tax extenders." These are tax provisions that generally bestow benefits on particular business interests, but they expire every year or so. They must be renewed regularly if the benefits are to continue.

    Not all tax extenders are corporate favoritism. Some alleviate economic distortions in the tax code. But most of those provisions were either mooted by the 2017 tax reform or have already been made permanent. What is left, by and large, is cronyism, especially for various forms of renewable energy.

    Particularly egregious: the tax credit for electric vehicles, mainly benefiting the already well-off. (When was the last time you saw a poor person in a Nissan Leaf?)


  • James Pethokoukis writes at AEI on The ‘billionaire effect’ that wealth worriers never mention.

    The “billionaire effect” isn’t how the mere existence of the super-rich seems to cause great alarm in some people. Well, it isn’t just that, obviously. [Swiss financial services firm] UBS defines the “billionaire effect” as how entrepreneur-led businesses “have tended to outperform others financially” due to “long-term vision, smart risk taking, business focus, and determination.”

    UBS analysis of more than 2,000 global billionaires finds that over the past 15 years, billionaire-controlled companies returned almost twice the annualized average performance of the market and generated a 50 percent higher return on equity. Moreover, while the billionaire effect is seen globally, the effect was strongest in the United States.

    Reached for comment, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren sang in two-part harmony: "We don't care, we hate 'em anyway."


  • At Cato, Randal O'Toole asks the musical question: Is Amtrak Guilty of Securities Fraud? [Spoiler: no, but only because it's not a publicly-traded company.]

    A press release issued by Amtrak last week would, if it were published by publicly traded firm, be a violation of securities laws and regulations. The press release claimed that Amtrak's FY 2019 annual financial report, which has yet to be published, would show that passenger revenues covered 99 percent of operating costs. Amtrak officials further projected that the company would show a profit for the first time in its history in 2020.

    Neither of these claims are true because they grossly misrepresent what the annual report will say in two ways. Most important, the annual report will identify depreciation as one of Amtrak's biggest costs, amounting to nearly 20 percent of its budget. Depreciation was $807 million in Amtrak's 2018 annual report, and is projected to be around $50 million more in 2019.

    "We're profitable, if you ignore the things that would make us non-profitable."


  • John O. McGinnis writes, more in sorrow than in anger, at Law & Liberty on The Ongoing Decline of The New York Times.

    I have been reading the New York Times for over five decades. By the time I was ten, I came home from school to immerse myself in its pages, enthralled as the outside world enveloped me each evening at my parents’ kitchen table. I even played the game Stratego on the porch of our country home against an older boy who would become its publisher.

    It is thus painful for me to watch the fall of a once-worthy institution. At one time, it had some claim to be the United States’ paper of record because of its objective reporting and the absence of a persistent agenda in determining what news was fit to print. A sensible center-left perspective generally drove its editorials. These were not my views then or now, but the paper offered a useful challenge to my enduringly classical liberal perspective.

    As far as today's "paper of record" goes, John puts in a plug for my paper of choice, the Wall Street Journal.

    The NYT may have a marginally better crossword puzzle, but the WSJ's is pretty good. And Foster's has the NYT Sunday puzzle anyway, a week late.