URLs du Jour

2019-01-24

[Amazon Link]

  • Good advice from Stephanie Slade at Reason: Don't Let Tucker Carlson Make You a Victim.

    The country is going to hell and laissez faire capitalism is to blame.

    "Families are being crushed by markets," says Fox News personality Tucker Carlson. "The American worker is in crisis," says Republican consultant Oren Cass. "The opioid epidemic, in particular, has ravaged whole communities," says Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance.

    One thing is for sure: People are angry. "Voters around the world are revolting against leaders who won't improve their lives," as Carlson put it in his now-famous January 2 monologue. It's hard not to be filled with righteous fury at America's elites—after all, we're getting screwed. Aren't we?

    In fact, the data suggest nothing of the sort. Decades of what Ben Shapiro called "supply and demand economics" have brought about miraculous gains in human well-being. These are most dramatic at a global level: In just 10 years, extreme poverty around the world has dropped from 18.1 to 8.6 percent. But contrary to the picture painted by Carlson and others, the United States has fared swimmingly as well.

    I'm kind of a J.D. Vance fan, so it's a shame he's bought into this particular narrative. I have hopes that he'll undergo a course correction once he gets a fuller picture from people like Stephanie..


  • I've been "discussing" the Covington brouhaha with one of my lefty Facebook friends, and one thing I've noticed is how much it resembles the "Two Minutes Hate" George Orwell invented for 1984, with the Covington kids taking the place of Emmanuel Goldstein this week.

    And (as I said there) we didn't even need Big Brother to coerce us; we gratefully grabbed the tools gifted us by Zuck and Dorsey, and did it willingly.

    Great minds, etc. At NR, Kyle Smith examines the Covington Controversy: Orwell’s 1984 Comes To Life.

    Orwell in 1984:

    It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself — anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (incredulity when a victory was announced, for instance) was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.

    Mulling over what Orwell got right and wrong will be the work of decades to come. The video screens he envisioned are indeed ubiquitous, but they’re in our pockets, not run by a central authority. Orwell got one purpose of incessant video monitoring right, though: to identify and punish those whose facial expressions don’t conform to the cultural orthodoxy.

    RTWT, as usual. I'll have more on this over the next few days, probably. Sorry. This snowflake has been triggered.


  • At the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf offers a cheerful prophecy: Covington Pile-On Will Destroy the Left. (Except, note, that it's the Atlantic, so most of their readers won't consider it that cheerful.) Focusing on particularly unhinged reactions, Conor says:

    Were I to distill “the dynamics of the current moment into a single image,” focusing on negatives, I’d seek out photos of children forcibly separated from their parents at the Mexican border; or addicts dead from opiate overdoses; or mass-shooting victims at a synagogue; or white supremacists beating counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia; or lobbyists facilitating rent-seeking; or homeowners blocking the construction of apartments in their neighborhood; or segregated schools; or signs of climate change.

    If you think the better choice is a photo of a smirking white 17-year-old, I suspect that the Donald Trump reelection team would thrill at letting you define the 2020 election. And I say that as someone who hates both the maga caps and the vicious campaign that popularized them.

    As I'm sure I've said recently: Trump is extremely lucky in his enemies.


  • At the Federalist, David Harsanyi has 25 Questions For Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

    So, earned or not, Ocasio-Cortez needs to be taken seriously, because she has the full backing of the liberal establishment — which is to say she will only rarely be challenged to explain her positions. Stephen Colbert didn’t grill Ocasio-Cortez on how her Marxist ideas comport with the Constitution, he asks her how many f-cks she gives about criticism. (Answer: “zero.”)

    There are more pertinent questions. For instance, has anyone ever asked Ocasio-Cortez if, generally speaking, she believes a billionaire-free Cuban system that ostensibly offers free health care, guaranteed housing, a free education, and greater income equality is preferable to the United States’s vulgar, capitalistic model? If not, why not?

    After all, what guiding ideological principle stops Ocasio-Cortez from supporting confiscatory policies? Why not nationalize the fossil fuel industry? This is our last chance to save humanity, after all. If she really believes the fight against climate change is analogous to the war against fascism — a war that cost the lives of somewhere around 80 million people worldwide — then why wouldn’t she propose taxing the wealthy at 50 or 60 percent across the board? If income inequality and concentrated wealth are a problem almost as dangerous as climate change, would she be negligent if she failed to support those policies?

    AOC embarrassed herself even under the slightly-less-than-softball questions from Margaret Hoover on Firing Line. I don't think she'll offer her baloney to the grinder anytime soon.


  • If you read/watch the news, you've been subjected to any number of continuing sob stories about Federal employees. At Cato, Chris Edwards will dry any tears you might have, looking at a recent NYT story on Pay for Federal Government Workers.

    The NYT uses data from the Bureau of Economic (BEA) for its pay comparisons. Federal worker wages averaged $90,794 in 2017, which was 48 percent higher than the private sector average of $61,311. But as the NYT article indicates, gold-plated benefits are a key advantage that federal workers enjoy over private-sector workers.

    The chart below shows BEA data on total compensation, wages plus benefits. Compensation averaged $130,429 for federal workers in 2017, which was 79 percent higher than the private-sector average of $72,992.

    As I'm pretty sure I've said before: Progressives love to deride "trickle-down economics", but remain blind to Uncle Sugar grabbing our tax money, and doling out a generous slice to itself before sending some back to the hinterlands.


  • Daniel Mitchell explores an interesting question: Did Migration to America Make Scandinavia More Collectivist?.

    The most persuasive data, when comparing the United States and Scandinavia, are the numbers showing that Americans of Swedish, Danish, Finnish, and Norwegian descent produce much more prosperity than those who remained in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway.

    This certainly suggests that America’s medium-sized welfare state does less damage than the large-sized welfare state in Scandinavian nations.

    But maybe the United States also was fortunate in that it attracted the right kind of migrant from Scandinavia.

    As a descendent of Norwegian migrants myself, I'm probably too eager to buy this hypothesis. But nevertheless it makes a certain amount of sense.


  • And our Google LFOD news alert rang for a story from New Hampshire Commie Radio: Something Wild: Hiking to Escape. It's about a hike taken with Andrei Campeanu, who moved here from…

    Though his family has German roots, Andrei grew up in Romania in the late 1950s and 60s, a time at which getting “out to the country” was a part of the culture in many ways. “I lived in Bucharest, which is the capital, but the country was always present. In Europe, cities and the country are more linked because of the way cities are supplied. The supermarkets were bare all the time, so going out to the country was something people had to do.”

    Folks would travel to the country to supplement government rations. But it wasn’t just food that drove them there. Living in Romania at the time, meant that Andrei and his family were behind the iron curtain. So, going for a hike was as much about protecting their sanity.

    “It was a very oppressive system. Not that kids notice so much, but the parents did. It was a surveillance society. In those days, it was people listening to your phone, and your neighbors turning you in. And this,” he indicates the forest trail we found opurselves hiking in Newbury that day “meant freedom from that…being out in the woods. Nobody listens here.” On a ridge, out of sight of houses, out of earshot from everyone, you can stand and listen to a different kind of chatter.

    Eventually Andrei left Romania, and landed in New York City just before Thanksgiving, 1974, but his restless bones drove him ever north. “And for somebody who lived behind the Iron Curtain, Live Free or Die looked really good. So I said, “ok I can stop here.” And I’ve loved NH ever since. I’ve been here 30 years now.”

    And we are lucky to have him.