URLs du Jour

2019-06-22

[Amazon Link]

  • A provocative essay from Jeff Spross at The Week: No one should be a billionaire. It's a response, sort of, to the question posed by the NYT to the Democratic presidential candidates: "Does anyone deserve to have a billion dollars?"

    More to say on this tomorrow, probably, but here's Jeff:

    Defenders of the capitalist order will point out that anyone can be a farmworker or a dishwasher. These jobs are easily replaceable, which is why they are paid poorly. Not everyone can be CEO of Apple, thus the position pays more. It's just a consequence of supply and demand. But that is not the question. A better thing to ask ourselves is: Does anyone need to be CEO of Apple? That company is staffed by thousands of workers and software engineers and more. They're all perfectly intelligent people. Under a different arrangement, a form of worker-elected committee could run the company just fine. (Some oddball worker co-ops already operate this way.) Does anyone really think that Apple could not possibly function without Tim Cook, or some other individual of similar oligarchical baring [sic], at its head?

    Okay, well first: "similar oligarchical baring"? Doesn't The Week employ copy editors, or can they not afford them, thanks to their CEO's grossly inflated salary?

    Just kidding. Sort of.

    But (furthermore): Tim Cook isn't a billionaire, at least not the last time anyone checked. In 2017, Time said he was worth about $625 million. Most of that was Apple stock, though. It's gone up, but (by my back-of-the-envelope calculation) not nearly enough to put him over a gigabuck. Why pick on Tim?

    Quibbles aside, Mr. Spross imagines a "different arrangement" like a "worker-elected committee" would work out "just fine" for Apple. The easiest refutation of that idea, of course, is its lack of acceptance beyond "oddball worker co-ops". In the economic ecosystem, "different arrangements" aren't major competitors.

    And, as someone once said about someone else, Jeff Spross has never run anything except his own mouth.


  • Continuing the onslaught of criticism against a bad idea, David French at National Review: Josh Hawley’s Internet Censorship Bill [is] Unconstitutional and Unwise.

    It’s often the case in Washington that the title of a bill communicates the exact opposite of its content or effect. Think, for example of the Affordable Care Act — a title that seemed almost laughable in the face of skyrocketing insurance premiums. Now we have the Republican version of a deceptively named bill, Missouri senator Josh Hawley’s Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act.

    In reality, it’s a bill that would inject the federal government directly into the private social-media business and grant it enormous power over social-media content. It would enable public censorship in the name of limiting private control.

    David notes the bill as written is extremely vague and broad, hence offensive to the Constitution.


  • At Reason, Robby Soave invites us to Watch the Media Manufacture a Dumb Story About Bernie Sanders and Sexism.

    Reasons to be critical of Sanders are numerous: He was an apologist for the brutal, rapacious communist regimes in places like the Soviet Union and Cuba; he's called open borders a "right-wing Koch brothers proposal" and opposes it because he perceives that high levels of immigration would threaten his Medicare for All schemes; he wants to fight poverty in all the wrong ways. Indeed, it appears that he doesn't even understand the difference between revenue and profit. These are significant flaws—there's no need to invent a fake sexism narrative.

    Three years later, some media organizations are still pushing the idea that Sanders has a problem with women. This week, both Vanity Fair and Jezebel lashed out at Sanders for suggesting that he was losing ground to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) because some voters would prefer to elect a female president. "Sanders: Warren Is Surging Because She's Got Ovaries," was the Vanity Fair headline.

    Instead, as Robby documents, Bernie was guilty of making the (perfectly obvious and true) observation that "there are a certain number of people who would like to see a woman elected".

    We may have to start up a new Pun Salad department: "Sites You Can't Trust To Report Candidates' Words Honestly". Problem is that we might not be able to do anything else.


  • Greg Mankiw is a lonely voice at the New York Times: The National Debt Is Still a Problem. Even Keynesians don't think we should be in this state when the economy is behaving well.

    What is to be done? Perhaps the wisest words on this topic come from an old New Yorker cartoon. In it, the president’s advisers are huddled around his desk. They summarize the situation this way: “Our deficit-reduction plan is simple, but it will require a great deal of money.”

    If we are not going to saddle future generations with ever-increasing government debt, we need to find a great deal of money. That means either spending less or taxing more.

    I would prefer to curb spending. For example, to prevent Social Security’s funding shortfall from enlarging the government debt, we could slowly increase the age of eligibility. The government would still provide a safety net for the very old, but others would have to keep working or use their savings to pay for an earlier retirement.

    Greg goes on to note that that might not sit well with "the body politic". So taxes might need to go up. And he notes that much of that (of course) will need be imposed on "the body politic".

    He bemoans the current deficit at 3.9% of GDP, when it's averaged 2.1% of GDP over the previous 70 years. Unfortunately, he doesn't provide the same percent-of-GDP figures for outlays and revenues. Exercise for the reader, I guess.


  • At Cafe Hayek, Don Boudreaux has A Question About the First Amendment (or a Question About Logical Consistency).

    If the First amendment is violated when federal taxpayer funds are channeled to schools operated by churches – channeled with no intention by the state (or anyone else) either to give any religion an advantage or to deny the people of any religion the freedom to worship as they please – why is the First amendment not violated when federal taxpayer funds are channeled to organizations that are part of “the press”?

    Specifically, how can Your Federal Government justify funding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting?