URLs du Jour

2020-05-14

[Amazon Link]

  • I really liked the Quotation of the Day at Cafe Hayek. It's from our Amazon Product du Jour.

    Muddled thinkers confuse the world of our senses with the way in which it is depicted in language.

    Language, wonderful as it is, is full of ambiguity, illogic, and confusion. The cafe's proprietor, Don Boudreaux, explains further:

    Among the ‘costs’ of language is its tendency to cause us to suppose that the abstractions that we describe with words possess a concrete reality that these abstractions don’t possess. For example, we talk about how “the economy allocates resources.” This phrase isn’t meaningless; it conveys those who encounter it an impression that usually is more or less, kinda, sorta, typically reasonably close to what those who say or write this phrase mean to convey. Yet taken literally this phrase is mistaken. The economy allocates nothing. The economy is not an entity that thinks, has purposes, and acts.

    An easy thing to forget, to our peril.


  • I also liked JVW's guest "Pontification" in reaction to a recent tweet. Or, as JVW puts it: "another mindless utterance" from "the Senate’s worst demagogue":

    Sensible people have been discussing for the past several weeks how Congress can use its make-believe funds to provide economic relief to businesses and individuals who have seen their financial well-being undermined by the virus. Leave it to Lieawatha Liz to attempt to conflate minting more trillion dollar coins and making it rain [note: link moderately NSFW] in state capitals with actually saving the lives of vulnerable people who are afflicted with this virus. Very little if any of this so-called Phase Four stimulus (which would actually be the fifth such bill) goes directly to hospitals or equipment or testing kits — that was taken care of in previous stimulus bills — so now both parties seek to lard up the bill with their own spending priorities and Cocaine Mitch seems to be one of the few responsible Washington leaders who want to tap the brakes just a little bit as we careen downhill.

    Apparently the House is voting on this dreadful bill on Friday. I'd say "write your CongressCritter", but if said person has a (D) after their name, it's probably pointless.


  • Kevin D. Williamson has further comments on the legislation: the HEROES Act Is Just Another Democratic Omnibus Spending Bill. (NRPLUS article, sorry.)

    The so-called HEROES Act — and, please, please, please, can we finally stop with the sophomoric acronyms? — is another wish list from the House Democrats. It contains the usual Democratic wish-list items, one of the more expensive of which is a proposal to shunt vast streams of federal revenue into badly managed states and cities in order to buy them out of their self-inflicted financial troubles. More than $1 trillion of the $3 trillion package would be in the form of aid to state and local governments, with almost all of that money — $915 billion of it — in unrestricted cash. This will be a great boon to states and cities (largely but not exclusively Democratic) that have hamstrung themselves financially by promising government workers fat pensions and retirement benefits without actually spending the money necessary to fund those programs. States and cities generally cannot go into debt to finance regular operating expenses such as salaries (they do borrow money for infrastructure projects and the like), but they can effectively borrow from their pension systems by promising benefits in the future but using the cash today for other purposes.

    Agreed. RTWT if you can.


  • ProPublica has an underpublicized story: The TSA Hoarded 1.3 Million N95 Masks Even Though Airports Are Empty and It Doesn’t Need Them.

    The Transportation Security Administration ignored guidance from the Department of Homeland Security and internal pushback from two agency officials when it stockpiled more than 1.3 million N95 respirator masks instead of donating them to hospitals, internal records and interviews show.

    Internal concerns were raised in early April, when COVID-19 cases were growing by the thousands and hospitals in some parts of the country were overrun and desperate for supplies. The agency held on to the cache of life-saving masks even as the number of people coming through U.S. airports dropped by 95% and the TSA instructed many employees to stay home to avoid being infected. Meanwhile, other federal agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs’ vast network of hospitals, scrounged for the personal protective equipment that doctors and nurses are dying without.

    It's very tempting to envy certain features of China's governing style. Specifically, the ability to send folks responsible for such behavior to extralegal re-education camps in some remote and desolate region.


  • At the American Council on Science and Health, David Shlaes looks at The Keystone Cops vs. Coronavirus.

    It sounds like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has become completely dysfunctional. The Secretary, Dr. Azar (ex-lobbyist and President of Eli Lilly), apparently can’t get along with his administrator of Medicare, Seema Verma. He led the FDA and CDC (HHS agencies) as they failed to protect the US population because of their disastrous early approach to coronavirus testing. And on and on . . . .

    As we pointed out two months ago: heads should roll, but they won't. The first rule of government bureaucracy is: cover your ass.