URLs du Jour

2021-08-09

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  • I Forgot to mention one last thing about Heritage's latest Index of Economic Freedom.

    Yes, it has the USA in a distant 20th place among the nations.

    Yes, that's a significant drop from past years. We were in 17th place in the 2020 edition. We were #12 in the 2019 edition.

    But here's the thing: from their About page, answering the question "What is your period of study?":

    For the 2021 Index , most data covers the second half of 2019 through the first half of 2020. To the extent possible, the information considered for each factor was current as of June 30, 2020. It is important to understand that some factors are based on historical information. For example, the monetary policy factor is a 3-year weighted average rate of inflation from January 1, 2017, to December 31, 2019.

    This decline in economic freedom happened under Trump. He wasn't good on that.

    Can you imagine how bad things will be next year?


  • We Just Don't Care About That Stuff Any More. Jeff Jacoby writes at the Boston Globe on The eviction moratorium and the rule of lawlessness.

    Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, President Biden acknowledged that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nationwide eviction moratorium, which expired on July 31, had violated the Constitution. Then he announced that the CDC would revive that unlawful moratorium and extend it until October. That was a political victory for left-wing Democrats who had been urging Biden to unilaterally extend the moratorium, regardless of the legal objections. It was also a defeat for the rule of law and a glaring violation of the president’s oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.”

    Biden conceded that the eviction ban, first instituted last September under Donald Trump, had failed the separation-of-powers smell test and been repeatedly rejected by federal judges. “Look, the courts made it clear that the existing moratorium was not constitutional,” the president said. The Supreme Court ruled in June that the eviction ban could not be extended past its July 31 expiration date; the controlling opinion by Justice Brett Kavanaugh stressed that it would take “clear and specific congressional authorization” — an actual law, not a mere CDC regulation — to extend it. Biden knew all this; he had said for days that he had no authority to unilaterally maintain the moratorium. He underscored the point on Tuesday: “The bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster,” he told reporters.

    Jeff (I call him Jeff) goes into recent examples of presidential lawlessness; neither side's hands are clean, which makes this difficult for partisans to raise a stink.


  • He's Leaving / On the Midnight Train to Bankruptcy. The WSJ editorialists note yet another outrage in the "bipartisan" infrastructure bill, on its way to a train track near you: Amtrak’s $66 Billion Ticket. Choo-choo subsidies are a bad idea in general, of course, but the details are even wackier:

    The bill also pours $16 billion into Amtrak’s national network, which is a financial sinkhole. Some 4.5 million riders in 2019 took Amtrak’s long-distance routes that traverse the country—about a third as many as in the Northeast Corridor. Many of them are travelers nostalgic for the days of sleeper cars as glamorized in classic films.

    Low-trafficked routes through rural regions make it harder for Amtrak to increase intercity trains that generate a larger economic benefit. Yet the Senate bill would prohibit Amtrak from changing or reducing service on long-distance routes, no matter how few riders they draw or how much money they lose. Amtrak won’t be allowed to lay off workers on these routes.

    If all this weren’t bad enough, the Senate bill would also require Amtrak to employ at least one ticket agent at each station where there were at least an average of 40 passengers per day in 2017. Passengers nowadays can buy tickets on Amtrak’s website or at station kiosks. Employing ticket agents sucks up money that could be used improving service.

    I wave at the Downeaster heading through Rollinsford on its way to Dover and points south. The engineer usually honks in response. It's fun, but I'd forego it in a nanosecond if it brought us even one dollar closer to fiscal sanity.