URLs du Jour

π Day 2018

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 15:31 is another fortune cookie:

    31 Whoever heeds life-giving correction
        will be at home among the wise.

    And perhaps they will give you Σ π. Ha!

  • The WaPo's Elizabeth Bruenig has made some noise lately advocating for socialism. Steven Horwitz takes her as seriously as possible, and imagines What a Good-Faith Discussion of Socialism Might Really Look Like. He quotes Breunig:

    [C]apitalism…encourages and requires fierce individualism, self-interested disregard for the other, and resentment of arrangements into which one deposits more than he or she withdraws. (As a business-savvy friend once remarked: Nobody gets rich off of bilateral transactions where everybody knows what they’re doing.) Capitalism is an ideology that is far more encompassing than it admits, and one that turns every relationship into a calculable exchange. Bodies, time, energy, creativity, love — all become commodities to be priced and sold. Alienation reigns. There is no room for sustained contemplation and little interest in public morality; everything collapses down to the level of the atomized individual.

    Horwitz's rebuttal:

    It takes some chutzpah to define capitalism that way then complain your critics are arguing in bad faith, given what a bad-faith explanation of capitalism that is. I could spend this whole space picking apart that definition claim by claim, especially its ignorance about the nature of exchange. It might be easier to ask folks who have lived under nominally socialist regimes whether that paragraph better describes their lives under socialism or capitalism. I’m pretty sure it’s the former, not the latter.

    Bruenig's problem, Horwitz argues, is that she defines socialism in terms of its goals, not its structure. That's not enough.

  • But we have enough real-life instances of "democratic" socialistic policies here in the US already. At Cato, Chris Edwards describes Federal Fuel Foolishness

    The federal government imposes a mandate to blend ethanol into gasoline. This “Renewable Fuel Standard” harms consumers, damages the economy, and produces negative environmental effects. The mandate has also spawned a bureaucratic trading system in ethanol credits, which the Wall Street Journal reports is bankrupting a refinery in Pennsylvania.

    The rubber hits the road with that “10% Ethanol” sticker you see on the pump when you fill your tank. The sticker signifies that the government is imposing a foolish policy on the nation at the behest of a handful of selfish senators, who are bucking the interests of America’s 220 million motorists.

    Those senators are Republicans from Iowa and Nebraska; so much for the GOP being a reliable friend of capitalism. From the linked WSJ article:

    The core problem is that the federal government has distorted the energy market by using subsidies and mandates to support biofuels. The solution is to end this political favoritism. But if the Trump Administration lacks the political fortitude to stand up to the ethanol lobby, at least it can limit the most destructive effects. When policy is this bad, almost anything is an improvement over the status quo.

    The "almost anything" advocated by the WSJ writer: the EPA should grant waivers to independent oil refiners who can't meet the biofuel mandates.

  • Hillary Clinton made news again by revealing her deep contempt for the folks that voted against her. Michael Brendan Dougherty writes at NR about Hillary’s Bitter Clinging. Quoting HRC:

    I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product. . . . So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And his whole campaign, “Make America Great Again,” was looking backwards. You know: “You didn’t like black people getting rights, you don’t like women, you know, getting jobs, you don’t want to, you know, see that Indian-American succeeding more than you are, whatever your problem is, I’m going to solve it.”

    Yes, of course she was speaking in India. Note the pandering.

    Dougherty comments:

    Although she is not running anymore, Clinton’s comments are in some ways worse than Obama’s ["bitter clingers" comments]. He attributed the bitterness in “small towns in the Midwest” to the policy failures and false promises of the Clinton and Bush years. He prefaced the remark by saying, “Each successive administration has said somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.”

    Clinton’s remarks manage to combine self-pity with contempt. They are unhelpful to Democrats trying to get elected. And they articulate what is becoming the central myth of the liberal elite: We are beautiful and successful because we’re morally superior. Clinton’s remarks connect the expanding GDP of her constituents to their commitment to diversity, and the economic trouble of the red states to their supposed opposition to “women having jobs” and civil rights.

    How do Progressive Democrats reconcile their inequality blather with their "hey, rich people vote for us" blather?

  • We're looking forward to a day of strident moral posturing about gun-grabbing. At Reason, J. D. Tuccille isn't having it: Your Right to Free Speech, Like My Right to Self-Defense, Isn’t Open to Debate.

    Today, some students, teachers, and other Americans who share their views are walking out of classes across the country to call for limits on the right of free assembly. Wait, strike that. They're walking out of classes to call for further restrictions on protections against unreasonable search and seizure. Nope, that's not it either. Wait, I have it: they're protesting for greater regulation of self-defense rights. Yup, there we go.

    Of course, they're exercising their free speech rights in the process, and that's as it should be (although at least some of the kids have been conscripted into exercising somebody else's free speech rights by school officials who expect that their charges will adhere to officially endorsed positions). After all, the exercise of individual rights shouldn't be subject to popular opinion or debate.

    If Progressives get their legislative druthers, their War on Guns will make the War on Drugs look like a minor skirmish.