URLs du Jour


W00t! Made it to October!

  • Pun Salad fave Timothy Sandefur is one of the libertarians asked to write a new constitution. The Constitution Center has the details. The other two teams are "Progessive" and "Conservative" (which I'll assume are, respectively, "bad" and "flawed".) From the introduction to the good one:

    This was probably an easier project for us than for our conservative and progressive counterparts because the current United States Constitution is fundamentally a libertarian or, more precisely, classical liberal document. So much so that, at the outset, we joked that all we needed to do was to add “and we mean it” at the end of every clause.

    After all, the Constitution set out a government of limited and enumerated powers, powers that are divided both “horizontally” among the three branches of the federal government and “vertically” in a federalist system that recognizes, while limiting, the sovereignty of states, in order to protect “the blessings of liberty.” That original structure provided a mechanism to preserve the full range of individual liberties because it largely withheld from government the power to violate them. The Reconstruction Amendments further advanced that project by extending the Constitution’s libertarian guarantees to protect against state violation, including eradicating slavery, the single greatest contradiction to the ethos of the American experiment.

    The libertarian team did a lot of beneficial tweaking: for example, removing the irrelevant "well-regulated militia" language from the Second Amendment; repealing the monopoly powers of the Postal Service; shrinking D. C. to a Federal District, returning the rest to Maryland; limiting patents and copyright to 28 years.

    And many more. I've sometimes thought that I should accumulate a list of "reform ideas" I've mused about over the years, but this really captures a lot of them, at least the Constitutional ones. I'm not sure I agree with everything, but it's really a great work.

  • At the NR Corner, David L. Bahnsen has worthwhile thoughts On [Tuesday Night's] Debate.

    The fact that I believe the debate was unwatchable [Tuesday] night does not mean I believe President Trump did not have some good moments. And the fact that I imagine it was a net-net win for Joe Biden does not mean he did not have some utterly awful moments. Yet the unwatchability of the debate — the cringe factor that I have to believe the vast, vast majority of Americans felt [Tuesday] evening — was primarily caused by President Trump’s incessant interrupting. I am happy to pile on Chris Wallace, and obviously Biden had moments of getting down in the dirt. But you are blinded by your red hat if you don’t believe the general chaos of the evening was the handiwork of POTUS.

    What I do not mean by that is that President Trump was too feisty or too tough. This is actually where my biggest criticism would lie — he had multiple opportunities to be substantively tough, and neglected to do so. I wanted to come out of my seat to make his case for him as it pertained to much of Biden’s indefensible COVID accusations. POTUS stayed locked on his line about having shut down travel with China — accurate enough, but a totally incomplete summary of the administration’s COVID portfolio. The accusation is ridiculous on its face — that somehow with what was known in February, and with a grand total of one or two American infections at that time, they could have gotten away with shutting down the country earlier than they did — and it is among the most dishonest and absurd things the Biden camp is launching at Trump. But Trump has no answer for it, and in fact, he completely missed the biggest vulnerability in Biden’s entire assault last night: Biden all at once attacked Trump for the wealth disparity the virus has created, and attacked Trump for not keeping the nation locked down. There is nothing — nothing — that exacerbates wealth inequality more than shutting down the country from the activity that employs the vast majority of the bottom 10 percent of wage earners, while allowing the rich and comfortable to work their service jobs via Zoom from their beach houses. How the Left gets away with this absurdity is beyond me, but POTUS last night refused to make the argument, and on substance, it was the most frustrating omission for me.

    It must be disappointing, maybe maddening, for folks that thought Donald Trump would do better.

  • Another debate take, this one from Eric Boehm at Reason: [Tuesday] Night’s Debate Was a Disaster. That’s Exactly Why There Should Be More of Them..

    So much for trying to figure out which candidate you'd rather have a beer with. [Tuesday] night's debate posed a darker question: if you were locked in a bar with both candidates and a pistol with a single round, would you take the easy way out?

    Guess what, America: There is no easy way out. Either Trump or Biden will be president for the next four years. We collectively stared into that abyss for 90 minutes on Tuesday night, and the only ones among us who weren't driven mad by the experience were those who are already insane.

    There should be more debates for roughly the same reason that we should abolish tax withholding. Though originally a well-intentioned idea pushed by none other than Milton Friedman, having taxes automatically withheld from paychecks means that most Americans don't experience the reality of paying roughly one-third of what they earn to the federal government every year. If we could only force people to write massive checks to the IRS every year, the theory goes, more people would feel differently about proposals to increase the size and cost of government. Likewise, if only we had more presidential debates, perhaps we could awaken more of America to the ruinous consequences of having only two viable political parties in a country of 325 million people.

    Every time Biden and Trump speak, they undermine the rotting system that put them in front of the cameras, so they should be invited to speak, literally ad nauseum, until we can't take it anymore.

    Unfortunately, it would be difficult (not to mention non-libertarian) to force Trump/Biden fans to watch their aged boys go at it and be honest about what they're witnessing.

  • Bryan Caplan on Orwellian Othering. Specifically…

    The most noted skirmish of the anti-othering crusade happened in an English class at Iowa State, where the syllabus gave this now-notorious “GIANT WARNING”:

    GIANT WARNING: any instances of othering that you participate in intentionally (racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, sorophobia, transphobia, classism, mocking of mental health issues, body shaming, etc) in class are grounds for dismissal from the classroom.  The same goes for any papers/projects: you cannot choose any topic that takes at its base that one side doesn’t deserve the same basic human rights as you do (ie: no arguments against gay marriage, abortion, Black Lives Matter, etc).

    Yes, the media scandal only happened because the story was atypically dramatic.  The professor was even ordered to fix her syllabus and “provided additional information regarding the First Amendment policies of the university.” Yet the “othering” meme – and the attendant crusade – are already commonplace in the humanities and social sciences.

    What is so Orwellian about this crusade?  The fact that most of those who denounce “othering” exemplify the practices they denounce.  The diversity and inclusive movement has a broad list of odious outsiders they mention with scorn and treat with disdain: “straight cis white males,” adherents of traditional religions, conservatives, moderates, opponents of abortion, and even insufficiently radical liberals and progressives.

    Bryan also notes the Orwellian nature of "diversity and inclusion", holding itself up as "anti-racist", while being "the only prominent openly racist movement I have encountered during my life in the United States."

  • And Veronique de Rugy notes the Export-Import Bank is returning to its old tricks: Once Again, the Export-Import Bank Dogs Taxpayers with Pemex.

    As the saying goes, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Nowhere is this truth more evident than in the recent behavior of the allegedly "reformed" Export-Import Bank of the United States.

    Reauthorized by Congress in December 2019 with the promise that it would suddenly change its ways and focus its fire power on fighting China, this export credit agency quickly returned to its tired routine of propping up its old and favorite customers, including — very prominently — Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex.

    Right under Congress' nose, Ex-Im Bank approved $400 million in financing to this Mexican government-owned oil company. This use of taxpayer funds raises several questions, not the least of which is why our federal government would subsidize a foreign state-owned company in the first place. There's no good answer.

    Veronique doesn't fail to quote an even more apt dog-related saying, Proverbs 26:11: "As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly." Woof!

  • Good news from Jacob Sullum: Amy Coney Barrett has a fine record on civil liberties.

    Democrats worry that Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, an originalist and textualist who clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia in the late 1990s, will emulate him if confirmed by the Senate. We could do a lot worse.

    Although progressives often portrayed Scalia as an authoritarian ogre, he was, in fact, a more faithful defender of First, Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights than some of his purportedly “liberal” colleagues on the court. Barrett’s track record during her three years on the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit suggests she also would frequently prove to be a friend of civil liberties.

    Yeah! So there!