URLs du Jour

2021-09-20

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  • The Hayek-Will-Boudreaux-Pun Salad relay team brings you the… Quote du Jour.

    What socialists are so fond of saying, national conservatives are now saying: This time will be different. It never is, because government’s economic planning always involves the fatal conceit that government can aggregate, and act on, information more intelligently and nimbly than markets can.

    Kind of a theme today. And yesterday. And tomorrow…

    Remember these "planners" are the same folks who … oopsy! … killed ten innocent Afghans including seven children. Are these the sort of people you want "planning" your economy? Running the "health care system"?


  • Or, for that matter, controlling energy production? Power Line poses the question: Will “Green” Energy Destroy Europe?. (One of those headlines where Betteridge's Law doesn't apply.) A news story from the Times:

    Acute food shortages were feared last night after high gas prices forced most of Britain’s commercial production of carbon dioxide to shut down.

    Emergency talks were being held between government officials and food producers, retailers and the energy industry….

    The closure of two fertiliser plants in northern England and others in Europe has left the food and drink industry facing a shortage of carbon dioxide, which is a byproduct of fertiliser manufacturing. The gas is critical to the production and transport of a range of products, from meat to bread, beer and fizzy drinks.

    Spiking energy costs are blamed for the plant shutdowns, which (in turn) are caused by carbon taxes and over-reliance on "renewables" like North Sea windmills.


  • Not a fair fight. Kevin D. Williamson takes on an NYT columnist, and the result is predictable. Gun-Control Laws Don’t Prevent Crimes; They Just Satisfy Culture Warriors’ Bloodlust.

    Instead of doing the hard work of enforcing the law on people committed to breaking it, we focus almost all of our efforts on the most law-abiding group of Americans there is: People who legally buy firearms from licensed firearms dealers, a group that, by definition, has a felony-conviction rate of approximately 0.0 percent. These are law-abiding people, but they also are, in no small part, the type of people who mash the cultural buttons of the big-city progressives who dominate the Democratic Party both culturally and financially. From that point of view, what matters is not that retail gun dealers and their clients are dangerous — which they certainly are not — but that they are icky.

    That culture-war mentality produces a great deal of sloppy thinking and ignorant commentary. Consider the case of Gail Collins in Thursday’s New York Times. Collins is hopping mad about gun shows, about which she seems to know . . . not a whole lot. “Yeah,” she writes — really, “yeah” — “right now one easy way to buy a gun without having anyone check to see if you have a history of criminal convictions, mental illness or a domestic violence restraining order is to just plunk down some cash at a gun show.”

    This is — and this part still matters! — not true.

    You'd think the NYT could employ someone to prevent this sort of blather from appearing in print. But I suppose they'd have a lot of empty whitespace on their pages if they did that.

    KDW notes that if we were serious about decreasing "gun crime", a promising avenue is enforcing existing straw-buyer laws. But that would involve "locking up a lot of young women and, almost certainly, a disproportionate share of them will be black or Hispanic and low-income." So a non-starter.


  • Worthwhile WIRED article. No, I'm not kidding. It happens: Apple and Google Remove a Navalny Voting App to Appease Russia.

    As voting began on Friday for Russia's lower house of parliament or State Duma, Google and Apple quietly pulled a beleaguered anti-establishment voting app from their app stores. It's just the latest in a series of concessions that Apple in particular has made to the Kremlin—whose demands seem likely to become only more aggressive from here.

    As the tech industry grapples with how to address a host of complicated human rights and safety issues, the incident underscored the uncomfortable compromises that many tech companies strike in order to operate in certain regions, as well as the increasingly brazen demands of authoritarian governments.

    The Russian government had pressured Apple and Google to take down the voting app for weeks, threatening fines and even accusing the companies of illegal election interference. Created by associates of imprisoned opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, it offered recommendations across each of Russia’s 225 voting districts for candidates with the best shot of defeating the dominant United Russia party in each race. Voting is open through the weekend, but the app is no longer available for download, and misleading imposter apps have already started to pop up in its place.

    Reminding us that Google's "Don't Be Evil" motto has long since been forgotten. And Apple was a lost cause long before that.


  • Eye-catcher. Mark J. Perry brings us the Animated chart of the day: America’s middle-class is disappearing…. but it’s because they’re moving up, NOT down! Five yard penalty for unnecessary uppercase and exclamation, Mark. But let's see…

    The source is the latest Census Bureau data. Note that the "low income" segment is shrinking too. As Instapundit is wont to say: "Faster, please."


  • Ah, but Betteridge's Law of Headlines does apply here. Elizabeth Nolan Brown's article from the October Reason peeks out from under the paywall: Do We Really Need New Anti-Asian Hate Crime Laws?.

    In March, a man opened fire at Young's Asian Massage, just north of Atlanta. Later, he shot up two more Atlanta-area Asian spas. All told, eight people were killed. Six of them were Asian women.

    Was this a hate crime?

    Clearly, it targeted a certain sort of business. In the immediate aftermath, people chalked the killings up to anti-Asian sentiment. Many were quick to implicate the Trump administration's anti-Chinese rhetoric during the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, the shootings came amid a much-discussed uptick in alleged anti-Asian crimes. But neither the Atlanta massage parlor murders nor the broader narrative around anti-Asian incidents is so easily categorized.

    The Atlanta shooter—Robert Aaron Long—told police he struggled with sex addiction. He was a devout Christian who felt guilty about visiting sex workers at Asian spas, friends said. Were Long's hateful acts really about race? Or were they more about misogyny—a man lashing out at women for inspiring lust in him? How significant is the fact that the victims were largely Asian women? Was his true bias against sex workers?

    In one sense, none of this makes a difference. Eight lives were senselessly lost. Long's acts were morally heinous whether driven by anti-Asian racism, general misogyny, resentment of sex workers, or total randomness. And hate crime or not, murder is a serious criminal offense, punishable in Georgia by life in prison, with the possibility of life without parole or even execution.

    Yet if Long was motivated by anti-Asian or anti-female bias, this would be considered, under Georgia and federal law, a hate crime. If he was motivated by hatred of sex workers, it would not. This ambiguity perfectly encapsulates the tangled logic behind U.S. hate crime laws.

    Tangled logic, indeed. Why it's almost as if such laws were designed only to make their authors feel good about themselves.


Last Modified 2021-09-21 5:23 AM EDT