URLs du Jour

2019-08-23

[Amazon Link]

  • At Quillette, Michael Hannon asks the provocative (but musical) question: Are Political Disagreements Real Disagreements?. Yes, I'm singing "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off" in my head.

    In Democracy for Realists, Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels argue that Americans vote largely on the basis of loyalty to their “team,” not sincere policy preferences. Although many citizens will describe themselves as “liberal” or “conservative,” they actually lack stable beliefs fitting these ideological self-descriptions. Thus, what seems like deep political disagreement is actually superficial and inauthentic. We know this because a small payment of $0.30 will motivate people to give more accurate (and less partisan) answers to politically charged questions. By incentivizing people for accuracy, the gap between Democrats and Republicans in response to factual questions sharply decreases, and sometimes disappears entirely.

    Being a "team player" can tend to make you deny obvious facts. That sounds like a bad idea. So good advice: don't be one of them. And don't trust any of them to give you the straight scoop.


  • With reference to the above item, the first two headlines presented this morn by Real Clear Politics, provided here without excerpt.

    The links are there if you want them. I suspect you don't want them.


  • And (very) related, from Nick Gillespie at Reason: The 2020 Race Is Completely Unpredictable Because Politicians Are Awful.

    It's unlikely that either major party will see a surge of new members as they get increasingly shrill, bitter, and partisan leading up to Election Day. President Trump is already floating policies that are geared to fire up his base. He wants to end birthright citizenship and double down on trade war with China, and in anticipation of a recession, he's already lambasting the Federal Reserve for not doing his bidding. The Democrats have their own reflexive responses, including amping up charges of racism against any and all voters who disagree with them on just about anything.

    The end result of such ugliness is not likely to be a great awakening of civic engagement but something like The Great Tuneout, with weaker-than-expected voter turnout and even less faith and confidence in whoever manages to squeak into office. Which, if past is prologue, will lead not to less government but more.

    Well, Nick is optimistic today, right? Well, maybe tomorrow.


  • Just to add to my air of unremitting gloom, Jim Geraghty points out at National Review: Anti-President Trump Conservatives Have No Good 2020 Options.

    If you’re a conservative who subscribes to the old Reaganite mix of free-market economics, a strong national defense, and traditional values, it’s understandable that you might be less than fully satisfied with a Republican presidency that features $555 billion in new tariffs, $8.4 billion in new taxpayer-funded assistance to farmers to offset the effect of those tariffs, talk of a full withdrawal from Afghanistan, persistent presidential desire to withdraw from NATO, increasingly warm public praise of Kim Jong-un, a perpetually furious presidential Twitter feed full of personal insults, and six-figure payoffs to porn stars.

    Unfortunately, the alternatives for traditional conservatives are not great, and the odds of another Republican winning the GOP nomination in 2020 are infinitesimal.

    And the Libertarians stand a good chance of nominating an inexperienced wacko, for whom I will probably vote.


  • The WSJ Editorial Board makes a plea that will fall on two deaf ears, because they are the only ears that matter: Cut the Trump Uncertainty Tax.

    President Trump isn’t famous for consistency, but his reversal on a new round of tax cuts may be a record. On Tuesday he said he was considering a cut in the payroll tax and indexing capital gains for inflation, but on Wednesday he took it all back.

    “I’m not looking at a tax cut now,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “We don’t need it. We have a strong economy.” He added that indexing capital gains might be seen as “somewhat elitist” and would benefit the wealthy, thus aligning himself ideologically (and bizarrely) with his many media opponents who still denounce his 2017 tax reform.

    Mr. Trump is also confused about whether the economy is strong or weak, whether more economic stimulus is needed, and even whether his trade brawls with the rest of the world are weakening the economy. No wonder business investment is falling amid this climate of policy uncertainty. Mr. Trump’s payroll-tax cut wouldn’t pass Congress in any case, and indexing capital gains for inflation, while economically useful, would be challenged in court if he implemented it by executive order.

    With the vast powers stupidly vested by Congress in the hands of a whimsical President, it's surprising that the economy has done as well as it has. Although, as I type, the DJIA is down 400 points or so…


  • And the Google LFOD alert rang for an Above the Law story: New Hampshire Shows Its Baby Love (And Practical Side) By Passing Fertility Access Law.

    As of August 1, 2019, hopeful parents in New Hampshire have reason to celebrate. That’s because Governor Chris Sununu signed into law SB279, a law expanding insurance coverage for fertility-related diagnosis, treatment, and preservation. Now not everyone has to work at Starbucks to get in vitro fertilization (IVF) benefits! Or at least not after the law’s effective date of January 1, 2020.

    But LFOD is… ah, there:

    Since When Did The “Live Free Or Die” State Go For Insurance Mandates?

    [Assisted reproductive technology law specialist and attorney Catherine] Tucker explained that while perhaps counterintuitive, there is considerable evidence that a fertility mandate will save insurance companies, the state, and taxpayers money in the long run. Without the help of insurance, IVF can commonly run around $15,000 a round. That’s all out of pocket to a patient lacking coverage. Aside from being cost prohibitive for many, it has also been shown to lead infertility patients to make poor choices.

    Insurance companies are too stupid to figure this out for themselves, I guess.

    [Sarcasm, in case it wasn't obvious.]