URLs du Jour

2020-09-15

[Amazon Link]

  • The Fraser Institute has produced its 2020 edition of Economic Freedom of the World. And let's let them tell you why it's important:

    Nations that are economically free out-perform non-free nations in indicators of well-being

    • Nations in the top quartile of economic freedom had an average per-capita GDP of $44,198 in 2018, compared to $5,754 for nations in the bottom quartile (PPP constant 2017, international$) (exhibit 1.5).
    • In the top quartile, the average income of the poorest 10% was $12,293, compared to $1,558 in the bottom quartile (PPP constant 2017, international$) (exhibit 1.9). Interestingly, the average income of the poorest 10% in the most economically free nations is more than twice the average per-capita income in the least free nations.
    • In the top quartile, 1.7% of the population experience extreme poverty (US$1.90 a day) compared to 31.5% in the lowest quartile (exhibit 1.10).
    • Life expectancy is 80.3 years in the top quartile compared to 65.6 years in the bottom quartile (exhibit 1.6).

    Our fine country still manages a decent showing, in fifth place behind Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, and Switzerland.

    The data is from 2018, and the authors note that Hong Kong's ranking is likely to take a dive in future reports.


  • John Tierney has been a wonderful contrarian voice to the recycling gospel, and he continues in that role in City Journal: Let’s Hold On to the Throwaway Society.

    For half a century, it’s been a term of disdain: the “throwaway society,” uttered with disgust by the environmentally enlightened. But now that their reusable tote bags are taboo at grocery stores and Starbucks is refusing to refill their ceramic mugs, they’ve had to face some unpleasant realities. Disposable products aren’t merely more convenient than the alternative; they’re also safer, particularly during a pandemic but also at any other time. And they have other virtues: the throwaway society is healthier, cleaner, more economical, less wasteful, less environmentally damaging—and yes, more “sustainable” than the green vision of utopia.

    These are not new truths, even if it took the Covid-19 pandemic to reveal them again. The throwaway age began because of public-health campaigns a century ago to control the spread of pathogens. Disposable products were celebrated for decades for promoting hygiene and saving everyone time and money. It wasn’t until the 1970s that they became symbols of decadent excess, and then only because of economic and ecological fallacies repeated so often that they became conventional wisdom.

    A bonus is Tierney's history of the Dixie Cup, once advertised with the come-on "Now’s no time to flirt with Contagion!” Maybe they'll bring that back.


  • Hollywood in Toto notes Woke, Anti-Trump MCU Stars Silent on Disney-China Ties. For the uninitiated, "MCU" == "Marvel Cinematic Universe". And the stars include those actors who have played Nick Fury, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, … You know, the very people most qualified to tell us ticket-buying slobs how to vote.

    It’s worth noting a crush of progressive stars reportedly refused to work in Georgia last year after the state enacted strict laws regarding abortion. Disney co-CEO Bob Iger was part of that movement, saying it would be “very difficult” for the mega company to use Georgia locales following the decision.

    So, what about China, Bob?


  • Jim Geraghty notes a funny (actually not so funny) thing about ex-FBIer (and current fibber) Peter Strzok:

    Former FBI counterintelligence officer Peter Strzok, on Meet the Press yesterday: “I think it is clear, I believed at the time in 2016, and I continue to believe, that Donald Trump is compromised by the Russians. And when I say that, I mean that they hold leverage over him that makes him incapable of placing the national interests, the national security ahead of his own.”

    Gee, that sounds serious. We should probably investigate that, because if it’s true, surely there must be gobs of evidence to support that earth-shaking accusation. Hey, could we get some sort of trusted law-enforcement official to investigate this? Maybe former FBI director Robert Mueller or someone like that? Let’s give Mueller roughly two years to dig into this and see if he finds any proof.

    It's probably a good thing that we don't put people in jail for being self-serving idiots on TV.

    Probably.


  • And another look at the 21st Century American Progressive mindset, from David Chavern at Wired: Section 230 Is a Government License to Build Rage Machines.

    Facebook has been called the “ largest piece of the QAnon infrastructure.” The app has not only hosted plenty of the conspiracy group’s dark and dangerous content, it has also promoted and expanded its audience. QAnon is hardly the only beneficiary: Facebook promotes and expands the audience of militia organizers, racists, those who seek to spread disinformation to voters, and a host of other serious troublemakers. The platform’s basic business, after all, is deciding which content keeps people most engaged, even if it undermines civil society. But unlike most other businesses, Facebook’s most profitable operations benefit from a very special get-out-of-jail-free card provided by the US government.

    Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects “interactive computer services” like Facebook and Google from legal liability for the posts of their users. This is often portrayed as an incentive for good moderation. What is underappreciated is that it also provides special protection for actively bad moderation and the unsavory business practices that make the big tech platforms most of their money.

    Statist conservatives have also targeted Section 230.

    Of course, the Wired author and his ilk imagine that they'll be in charge of deciding which firms and organizations are not playing nice under (unsurprisingly) vague and (almost certainly) broad definitions of "rage machines".

    The author, David Chavern, is identified as "president and CEO of the News Media Alliance, which bills itself as an advocate of "local journalism". Meaning legacy media.

    So a cynic might see his article as an attempted hit job on the competition. I mean, it's not as if "local journalism" hasn't inspired rage… Can I sue Foster's Daily Democrat for publishing hate-filled ranting LTEs against President Trump?

    But don't worry! Chavern's organization is also demanding that government get its nose under the tent in favor of "local journalism". Note its support of the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, a bevy of tax credits and subsidies to prop up your failing local paper. Awful details at the link. (NH CongressCritter Annie Kuster is a co-sponsor, Chris Pappas so far is not.)