URLs du Jour

2019-03-30

[Amazon Link]

  • Dan Mitchell wins the Pun Salad "Headline Implying Longest Article Ever" award for today: Budget Dishonesty in Washington. It is a reaction to a story in The Hill, which talks about "a GOP-backed budget resolution that would allow for draconian spending cuts." Draconian!?

    I was initially semi-excited when I read the story.

    After all, we desperately need “draconian spending cuts” in Washington.

    But I was only “semi-excited” because I feared – based on past experience – that these supposed reduction[s] were fake.

    So I decided to look at the actual numbers in the Senate’s proposed budget.

    Lo and behold, my skepticism was warranted. There are zero genuine cuts. Instead, spending increases by an average of 3.5 percent annually under the Senate’s “draconian” budget plan.

    The GOP proposal actually seems to hold "Discretionary Outlays" relatively constant at $1.29 trillion/year for FY2020-2024. (Compared to roughly $1.36 trillion in FY2019, a "draconian" cut of 5%.)

    What's driving increases, of course, is so-called "mandatory" spending, the kind which Congress has long since put on autopilot.


  • Drew Cline at the Josiah Bartlett Center notes that when we compare state economies we should be Measuring outputs, not inputs.

    The financial services website WalletHub this week ranked New Hampshire No. 1 in the nation for return on taxpayer investment (ROI). It’s a fascinating ranking primarily because that’s how taxpayer expenditures ought to be ranked but seldom are.

    State political and government rankings often tell us how much a state spends on X or how much it taxes X. Those can be useful in the way that price tags are useful. But tags tell us price, not value. (They also can convey social status, sometimes in unexpected ways.)

    On the WalletHub rankings, you have to go down to #15 to get another New England state (Rhode Island). Vermont, for example, is in a solid 43d place.

    As usual, New Hampshire Democrats are busy legislating to move us down the list.


  • The outrageous outrage mobs came for Betsy DeVos this week. But Nick Gillespie (at Reason) is unafraid to be unoutraged. Because Betsy DeVos Is Right: Feds Shouldn't Be Funding Special Olympics.

    Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, arguably the most consistently dragged member of President Trump's cabinet, has stepped in it again, this time with a budget plan that calls for zeroing out $17.6 million in funding for the Special Olympics, which organizes athletic training and competitions for intellectually disabled children and adults.

    That reduction comes in the context of an Education budget that asks for 10 percent less than what it was given in fiscal 2019, a rare moment of parsimony for a government that has amassed $22 trillion in debt and set a record in February for posting the single-biggest monthly deficit in history. DeVos's budget for 2020 requests $64 billion, down from about $71 billion this year.

    I'll just point out that (since I can still do math at this level): $17.6 million is 0.0275% of $64 billion.


  • I suppose you're wondering what the college bribery scandal shows? Fortunately, I dug out this Kevin D. Williamson essay at National Review that helps answer that question: the College Admissions Scandal Shows the Limits of Progressive Beliefs on Inequality.

    […] the college-bribery scandal is a humiliating kick to the crotch of the great myth of American meritocracy, the progressive version of which goes approximately like this: “Your family had 17 percent more money than mine did, which makes your success in life the result of privilege; I went to Bryn Mawr, which makes my success in life the result of virtue.”

    That’s a flexible kind of virtue, of course: Giving a rich Nigerian kid with two Ivy League–educated parents a nudge through the door at Princeton because he’s black is not only A-okay but a practice progressives are prepared to defend all the way to the Supreme Court. But when the son of some beer-drinking Lexus dealer in Houston gets an edge from years of tutoring and preparation — a.k.a. studying his ass off for every test with the encouragement and assistance of a supportive family — then the New York Times will argue at some length (it really did; this is not a hypothetical) that this is morally equivalent to paying a bribe. The unspoken corollary there is that the young people in their own orbits somewhere between dead average and waste of space would, if only they had had certain financial advantages, have at least had the opportunity to become Ivy Leaguers.

    The ivory tower is inhabited by people, for better or worse, the same sort of people that they look down on from above. And when I say "for better or worse", the worse part is: a goodly fraction really believe in their superiority to the money-grubbers in the private sector.


  • And Mr. Ramirez is on a tear. Just one of his latest: