URLs du Jour


  • The good folks at Reason bring us a New Year's gift: Citizen vs. Government (Vol. 6).

    They may wonder about the format being outdated, but I don't think they'll ever run out of material.

  • At National Review, Steve H. Hanke and Richard Conn Henry make The Case for a Permanent Calendar. Specifically, theirs, the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar (HHPC):

    The HHPC offers a comprehensive template for revising the contemporary calendar. It adheres to the most basic tenet of a fixed calendar: Every date would fall on the same day of the week every year. New Year’s Day, for instance, would always be a Monday. The year would be divided into four three-month quarters, with first two months of each quarter lasting 30 days and the third lasting 31 days. Each quarter would contain 91 days resulting in a 364-day year comprised of 52 seven-day weeks. This is a vital feature of the HHPC: By preserving the seven-day Sabbath cycle — and by not inserting “extra days” that break up the weekly cycle — it would avoid the major complaints from ecclesiastical quarters that have doomed all other attempts at calendar reform.

    As for holidays, with the HHPC, they predictably fall on the same date and day of the week year‐​after‐​year. For example, seven existing federal holidays, such as Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, fall on Mondays. The HHPC would also pin down floating holidays, such as Memorial Day, which would eternally fall on Monday, May 27, and Labor Day, which would fall on Monday, September 4. The calendar places both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve on Sundays.

    I'd be OK with it. You can get more details at their website. And find out that it's still 2020 according to the HHPC (Aaargh!) Specifically it's "2020 Xtra 5". And they also advocate doing away with time zones, something of which I've been in favor of since 2013.

    It will almost certainly never happen. But we all need one or two totally crackpot ideas in our back pockets.

  • Cato's Michael F. Cannon tells the tale of The Great Bucatini Shortage of 2020 and the FDA's History of Telling Italians How to Make Italian Food.

    Rachel Handler has a delightful piece at New York magazine’s food and restaurant blog Grub Street on how Big Pasta is using government regulation to punish competitors and consumers. The result is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in addition to causing a shortage of COVID-19 diagnostic tests and vaccines, is basically causing a nationwide shortage of bucatini.

    On March 30, at the beginning of a pandemic whose supply shocks were making everything from toilet paper to pasta harder to get, the FDA blocked imports of De Cecco bucatini. The FDA found the iron content of the Italian company’s bucatini to be—brace yourself—10.9 milligrams per pound rather than the 13 milligrams per pound the FDA requires. The product in question is perfectly safe. It presents no threat to the public. It is legal to sell throughout the European Union. But since the FDA alleges it does not meet the agency’s arbitrary standard, the agency turned a temporary shortage of bucatini into a…less-temporary one. Handler surmises the FDA took the action at the behest of one of De Cecco’s competitors.

    I believe the government's logic is that the rules must be enforced, otherwise people might get the idea that the bureaucrats writing the rules are a waste of space, time, energy, and oxygen. Can't have that!

  • Which brings us to a guest essay by David Hart at Cafe Hayek about the Presumption of Government Failure. Why is it, David wonders, that government action is assumed to be "safe and effective"? When we have a number of reasons to think it won't be. Here's one of those reasons:

    The principle of the impossibility (or great unlikelihood) of rational economic calculation by government planners applies just as much to government public health and hygiene planners as it did to Stalinist central planners. Thus, it is up to advocates of government intervention to demonstrate how the central planning of the health economy in particular and the broader economy in general can avoid the fatal problems identified exactly 100 years ago by Mises in his essay “Economic Calculation under Socialism” (1920). For example, how is the distinction between “essential” and “non-essential” economic activity even possible in an economy as complex as ours? How do you avoid the problem of the overproduction of ventilators (which turned out not to be needed and in fact harmed the patients who were forced to use them), or the overproduction of temporary “Nightingale hospitals” in England or the underused naval vessels in New York harbor?

    If government were held to the same standards that it imposes on private actors,… we'd have a lot less government, and a lot more liberty.

  • And we're winding up the Alex Trebek era on Jeopardy! with his last few shows airing next week. And then it's Ken Jennings, at least for a while. At the Federalist, Jordan Davidson reminds us: Wannabe 'Jeopardy!' Host Ken Jennings Is A Kavanaugh Rape Truther Who Hates Republicans.

    “Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings is attempting to backtrack on years of insults hurled at conservatives and others on his Twitter feed in what some have speculated is a bid for the popular game show’s open host position.

    Jennings, who is a Brett Kavanaugh rape truther and currently an interim host of “Jeopardy!” following the death of longtime host Alex Trebek in November, issued a statement on Twitter on Wednesday addressing any “insensitive” and “unartful” content he has shared in the past.

    “Hey, I just wanted to own up to the fact that over the years on Twitter, I’ve definitely tweeted some unartful and insensitive things. Sometimes they worked as jokes in my head and I was dismayed to see how they read on-screen,” Jennings wrote, claiming he did not delete his tweets “just so they could be dunked on” and so he wouldn’t be “whitewashing.” He continued the thread by claiming it “wasn’t my intention to hurt anyone.”

    Geez, Ken. Own up to your lack of basic human decency.