In Our Hands

[Amazon Link] This is Charles Murray's Real Big Idea, his plan to rip out all the various entitlement and welfare programs run by the government, and replace them with a simpler, flat, yearly cash grant to each American citizen.

He calls this The Plan, which:

… makes a $10,000 annual grant to all American citizens who are not incarcerated, beginning at age 21, of which $3,000 a year must be used for health care. Everyone gets a monthly check, deposited electronically to a bank account.
Murray's arguments for this are impressive and detailed. You can read a short version here (from which the above quote comes); if you don't want to get hold of the book, that's probably the best place to start. A friendly interview with St. K-Lo is here at National Review Online.

Then, you might want to check Harry Farrell at Crooked Timber, who has a number of interesting observations and criticisms from a moderate-lefty perspective. (On the other hand, if you're interested in a largely thoughtless attack consisting mainly of ad hominem and invective, then Ezra Klein at The New Republic is your go-to guy.)

All in all, much recommended for folks worried about increasingly unaffordable entitlements. I wonder whether the current political climate, which seems to rely mainly on fervent wishing that we can somehow maintain the status quo, will allow serious discussion outside of think tanks and journals.

Last Modified 2022-10-04 7:55 AM EDT

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

[Amazon Link] [4.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

Millions of people were killed during the Cultural Revolution in China. You'll be happy to know that sort of thing is pretty much absent from this movie, which follows a couple of kids—a would-be dentist and violinist—sent to a tiny village up in the mountains for Maoist re-education. They both fall for the "little Chinese seamstress" of the title, the daugher of the local tailor. They also are in love with Western culture, a pretty dangerous habit for that time.

The whole movie is beautifully shot. Some comedy comes from their efforts to disguise Mozart and Flaubert from the Red Guard, transforming them into paeans to Mao. The movie wraps up with a flash-forward to the present, where the now-adults return to the village as it's about to be drowned by the Three Gorges Dam.

Last Modified 2022-10-15 9:00 PM EDT

Happy Independence Day!

You say you're 230 years old? Wow, you don't look a day over 221!

  • If you're looking for interesting July Fourth mythbusting and trivia, check Janice Brown's Cow Hampshire. She also recommends this short essay from on the Declaration, and Pun Salad seconds that in a totally enthusastic manner.

  • Or, if you're in a more partisan mood, check out Patterico's analysis of the late Katherine Graham's admission:
    Her example was the disclosure, after the bombing of the American embassy in Beirut in 1983, that American intelligence was reading coded radio traffic between terrorist plotters in Syria and their overseers in Iran. The communications stopped, and five months later they struck again, destroying the Marine barracks in Beirut and killing 241 Americans.
    Comments Patterico: "So as the Fourth of July approaches, be proud that we live in a country where newspapers can make stupid decisions that can get us all killed."

    Myself, I have mixed feelings about that.

  • Over at Cato@Liberty, Will Wilkinson makes the case for a Declaration of Cognitive Independence.
    So, this Independence Day, why not pick up a political book you know you'll disagree with. Or write a short essay giving the best argument you can think of for a position you find abhorrent. Or really listen to what your annoying brother-in-law thinks about the war at the family picnic. We could all be a little more rational, and a little more free, if only we really wanted to be. Dogmatic, whole-hearted commitment does feel good. But there is more to life than feeling good. There is truth, for one thing. And there is freedom—self-command. We're all jerked around by our own minds. But we can be jerked around less.
    Good advice. Although neither of my brothers-in-law is particularly annoying.

But no matter what, no matter where you are, try to get out tonight and watch some stuff explode. (I haven't actually checked, but I believe that is one of the inalienable rights mentioned in the Declaration.)

And if you do that at UNH's Cowell Stadium in Durham, New Hampshire, come on by and say hi. (UPDATE: Uncertain weather, may not happen.)

Last Modified 2006-07-04 5:09 PM EDT