URLs du Jour

2019-06-28

[Amazon Link]

  • I added the Daily Wire to my reading list awhile back, but… this article is an example of why I'm rethinking that: Where Does Joe Biden Stand On The Issues? Here’s Everything You Need To Know.. It's by a guy named Josh Hammer, who seems to be doing this for all the major Democratic presidential candidates.

    Here's the problem:

    In 1988, Biden ran for president, although his campaign proved short-lived after allegations of perjury surfaced.

    Well, of course not. In 1988, Biden's habitual plagiarism was the issue. And "allegations"? No, more like admitted fact.

    It irks me when I read things more carefully than they've been written. I can hear a tiny voice from the Daily Wire: <voice imitation="nelson_muntz">Ha ha! Wasted your time and insulted your intelligence!</voice>

    And this is strike two for the Daily Wire. (Strike one described here.) One more and they're out?


  • I know it's not obvious, unless you notice little hints here and there, but I'm a solid baby boomer. It was fun while it lasted but people (like Lyman Stone at the Atlantic) are beginning to notice: The Boomers Ruined Everything. Sorry!

    That sounds like a hyperbolic claim, but it’s one way to state what I found as I tried to solve a riddle. American society is going through a strange set of shifts: Even as cultural values are in rapid flux, political institutions seem frozen in time. The average U.S. state constitution is more than 100 years old. We are in the third-longest period without a constitutional amendment in American history: The longest such period ended in the Civil War. So what’s to blame for this institutional aging?

    One possibility is simply that Americans got older. The average American was 32 years old in 2000, and 37 in 2018. The retiree share of the population is booming, while birth rates are plummeting. When a society gets older, its politics change. Older voters have different interests than younger voters: Cuts to retiree-focused benefits are scarier, while long-term problems such as excessive student debt, climate change, and low birth rates are more easily ignored.

    But it’s not just aging. In a variety of different areas, the Baby Boom generation created, advanced, or preserved policies that made American institutions less dynamic. In a recent report for the American Enterprise Institute, I looked at issues including housing, work rules, higher education, law enforcement, and public budgeting, and found a consistent pattern: The political ascendancy of the Boomers brought with it tightening control and stricter regulation, making it harder to succeed in America. This lack of dynamism largely hasn’t hurt Boomers, but the mistakes of the past are fast becoming a crisis for younger Americans.

    Cheer up, kids. We'll be dead soon, then you can fix all that stuff.

    You're smart, right?

    Oh, wait, you're not.


  • At City Journal, Myron Magnet has a modest usage proposal: We Should Stop Using “Progressive” As A Synonym For Political-Leftists.

    Political Leftists call themselves “progressives” as a form of self-praise, an assertion that their politics represent a higher consciousness than the prejudices of the mob of unthinking deplorables and will lead mankind to a sunny upland where human nature will transcend its baser impulses, and peace and harmony will reign. Conservatives should not indulge them in this self-deception. We should stop using “progressive” as a synonym for the noun “Lefty” or the adjective “left-wing.”

    Myron has a point, but I'm not sure that left/right terminology originally used to describe the seating patterns in the French National Assembly more than a couple centuries ago is particularly appropriate either. "Statist" works for me.

    When I need to use a broad-brush label, that is. I am trying to get away from that; as I would declined to be labeled, the Golden Rule says I should decline to label others.


  • At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson has something with which nearly everyone will partially agree: policy on Immigration Borders on Madness.

    The United States is not good at incarceration — strange, given that we get so much practice at it. Whether it is roasting homeless veterans to death in Rikers Island or the systematic rape and abuse that characterizes our prison system, Americans are among the world’s most incompetent and dangerous jailers.

    Part of that is the familiar deficiency of American public administration — American prisons are what happen when you create a hermetically sealed society with the DMV lady as dictator-for-life — and part of that is our sick culture: We view rape and abuse as a motivating, and at least wincingly tolerated, part of the penitential mix. We make feature-length comedy films that consist of little more than prison-rape jokes. We think the answer to terrorism is electing the guy who promises to be “very hard on the families.”

    Sooner or later it all comes back to the voters (a goodly fraction of whom are boomers): we elect the people who set the policies.


  • I'll have some notes about the debates over the weekend, but Billy Binion at Reason notes the Candidate Who Would Be Queen was all-too-predictable: Kamala Harris Can’t Stop Promising To Do Things Via Executive Order. Immigration decrees, of course. But also:

    Harris also threatened to use executive action to curb gun use if Congress does not act within the first 100 days of her presidency. An executive order would be put in place to establish a "comprehensive background check policy," she said, and she would also require the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives "to take the licenses of gun dealers who violate the law." Another executive order would ban imports on assault weapons, she said. Such measures have failed to pass Congress for years.

    Harris' rhetoric on Thursday night matches her past statements expressing support for executive action on both guns and immigration.

    Is this something we can somehow blame on the baby boomers? Or is it just the voters generally?


  • Veronique de Rugy speaks Truth to Power, at least to those in power who would argue otherwise: Markets, Not Politicians, Control the Law of Supply and Demand.

    The prices that emerge in [the health care] "market" aren't the result of supply and demand, influenced by innovation and competition. Instead, they're the product of a bunch of legislators who want to create a system where anyone but the consumers pay the costs of health care. To achieve that goal, politicians distort the market process with regulations, restrictions and price controls. At the same time, they placate providers, doctors, hospitals and drugs manufacturers with goodies of their own to help providers swallow this command-and-control pill.

    The most recent example of politicians trying to force others to pay for your health care is a piece of legislation introduced by Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas. His statute would lift the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program (MDRP) cap. Three decades ago, Congress created the rebate in response to the pressure that rising prescription drug prices put on Medicaid. It required drug manufacturers that want any of their drugs covered by other federal programs, like Medicare Part B or the Veterans Affairs health care system, to rebate Medicaid costs to the government based on a complicated formula.

    It would be nice if there were a serious proposal out there to move health care even incrementally toward an actual market, but that doesn't seem to be on any pol's wishlist. It's probably the boomers' fault.