URLs du Jour - 2014-12-03

  • [I HATE TEA (PARTIES)] The Official Store of the Democratic Party has decided to shed all that phony we-are-all-Americans rhetoric, and is selling the "I HATE TEA (PARTIES)" travel tumbler". It's a cool $30.

    A message-free mug will only set you back, what, $7 or so? But if you're a Democrat, apparently your party apparat thinks you're willing to shell out more than that in order to perfectly express your blind hatred.

  • Kevin D. Williamson unveils "The BET ME Challenge":

    If I were inclined to violate my own libertarian leanings, I’d lobby the new Republican majority in Congress to enact the Better Expertise Through Monetary Exposure Act of 2015 — the BET ME Act. The purpose of the BET ME Act would be two-fold: First, it would impose accountability on pundits and self-appointed experts of all descriptions by requiring them to wager a month’s pay on the real-world outcome every time they published a prediction.

    Second, and consequently, it would surely eliminate the national debt in a matter of months.

    As Kevin notes, there are Constitutional issues. But…

    I've occasionally avocated a similar proposal for politicians and their legislation:

    • Each bill going through the legislature must explicitly describe, precisely and objectively, the foreseen benefits it will accomplish.

    • Then—this is the critical bit—if at any point any of those benefits fails to materialize, the legislation will immediately and automatically go out of effect.

    I.e., force advocates of the bill to bet its continued enforcement on whether it will do what they claim it will. (It would be OK to claim that the bill would have no measurable benefits, but why then would anyone vote for it?)

    Is there any doubt that if this provision had been in effect in 2009, ObamaCare would have been gone by now, and its advocates even more embarrassed than they are?

  • For example:

    [About to be ex-] Sen. Tom Harkin, one of the co-authors of the Affordable Care Act, now thinks Democrats may have been better off not passing it at all and holding out for a better bill.

    Harkin spent 5 terms, 30 years, in the Senate. And it took him all this time to admit he was really bad at the job.

    Peter Suderman, by the way, deems Harkin's musings "a revisionist liberal fantasy". Not that there's anything unusual about revisionist liberal fantasies.

  • And another example comes from Walter Olson at Cato:

    Economic sanctions, when they have an effect at all, tend to inflict misery on a targeted region’s civilian populace and often drive it further into dependence on violent overlords. That truism will surprise few libertarians, but apparently it still comes as news to many in Washington, to judge from the reaction to this morning’s front-page Washington Post account of the humanitarian fiasco brought about by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law’s “conflict minerals” provisions. According to reporter Sudarsan Raghavan, these provisions “set off a chain of events that has propelled millions of [African] miners and their families deeper into poverty.” As they have lost access to their regular incomes, some of these miners have even enlisted with the warlord militias that were the law’s targets.

    But I'm sure Dodd and Frank are quite proud of their handiwork.

  • At Reason, Ira Stoll looks at the recently-defunct "green" Xunlight Corporation, the latest "example of how government at all levels—state and federal—and in both parties—Republican and Democrat —wastes taxpayer money by subsidizing politically connected businesses." Worth reading, especially if you think one party's more guilty than the other on this issue.

  • I liked Jonah Goldberg's essay on integrity when it was in my dead-trees National Review and now it's out from behind the NR paywall. He bemoans the ever-more-popular Nietzschean concept that one must "look within" for one's moral compass.

    Such saccharine codswallop overturns millennia of moral teaching. It takes the idea that we must apply reason to nature and our consciences in order to discover what is moral and replaces it with the idea that if it feels right, just do it, baby. Which, by the by, is exactly how Lex Luthor sees the world. Übermenschy passion is now everyone’s lodestar. As Reese Witherspoon says in Legally Blonde, “On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle: ‘The law is reason free from passion.’ Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard I have come to find that passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law — and of life.” Well, that solves that. Nietzsche-Witherspoon 1, Aristotle 0.

    As usual, Jonah draws multiple lessons from pop culture. Check it out.

  • Finally: Readers on Pun Salad's "Default" view might be interested in my takes on some recent reads: The Up Side of Down by longtime blogger Megan McArdle (aka "Jane Galt"); and The Norm Chronicles by Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter.

Last Modified 2014-12-05 11:17 AM EDT