URLs du Jour

2019-09-21

[Amazon Link]

  • I'm not recommending this Wired story by Matt Simon except as an example of the latest excuse for statist totalitarianism: Capitalism Made This Mess, and This Mess Will Ruin Capitalism. Matt is alarmed, and he knows who to blame:

    You and I have the unfortunate honor of facing down a crisis the likes of which our species has never before seen. Rapid climate change of our own making is transforming every bit of ocean and land, imperiling organisms clear across the tree of life. It’s killing people by way of stronger storms and hotter heat waves and unchecked pollution.

    We all can and should do our part—fly less if possible, buy local foods that haven’t been shipped thousands of miles, get solar panels and an electric car. But let’s not lose sight of the root cause of this crisis: rampant capitalism. Capitalism has steamrolled this planet and its organisms, gouging out mountains, overexploiting fish stocks, and burning fossil fuels to power the maniacal pursuit of growth and enrich a fraction of humanity. Since 1988, 100 corporations have been responsible for 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

    If you're like me, you probably read the above while muttering "Bullshit … bullshit … bullshit …". And we could dig up refutations that would at least drag the discussion back to calmer, saner, waters.

    But that last link, let's follow that. It's to a 2017 Guardian article, which in turn references something called the Carbon Majors Report. It purports to trace back greenhouse gas emissions not to the emitters themselves, but to the fossil fuel "producers".

    The number one "corporation" is "China". For the grand total of its coal mining. The list is replete with state-owned enterprises. Not exactly "capitalism", Matt.

    But Matt goes on to repeat the "100 corporations are responsible for 70 percent of emissions" unfact.

    Anyway, this is all a pretext for an interview with one Jason Moore, "environmental historian and sociologist at Binghamton University". Jason's big idea:

    You would have to have a democratically controlled accumulation fund. I think that banking and finance have to be socialized because otherwise you're continually at the mercy of big capital deciding what's profitable or not.

    In other words, a worldwide takeover not only of energy producers, but also the "banking and finance" sector. It would be "democratic" of course. We'd all get to vote, maybe?

    So, if you haven't shaken your head in despair enough this week at statist cluelessness, I recommend the Wired article.


  • Bernie, AOC, et. al. are forever denying that they want that icky socialism of the USSR or Venezuela. No, they want Sweden! But at the American Institute for Economic Research, Phillip W. Magness reminds us: Even Swedish Socialism was Violent.

    Sweden’s government has actually been trending away from the centrally planned economic approach favored by Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez. The country reined in public spending with a system of budget caps in the 1990s, scrapped its wealth tax in 2007, and has generally followed a path of privatization and deregulation over the past two decades.

    But there’s also a neglected dark side to the Swedish welfare model that its “democratic socialist” admirers seldom mention. That same welfare system developed in explicit conjunction with a violent and coercive eugenics policy, intended to ensure its fiscal solvency and prevent abuses of its programs by persons who were deemed genetically “unfit” by the state.

    Click through for the nasty details. It's unsurprising that the folks who want to redesign a political/economic system from the top down need to eliminate the little obstacles in the way of utopia.


  • At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson has a provocative title on his essay: American Universities: Envy of the World. Wait a minute, Kevin. Are you sure we are talking about the same thing?

    For the ideologue, “take government out” is a self-recommending policy. The conservative might take a different view, as I do. There is a lot that is silly, meretricious, distasteful, and genuinely destructive going on in American universities, especially at the second-rate institutions and in second-rate programs. (The thing about second-rate schools is, they’re second-rate.) But there also is much that is splendid, productive, admirable — and, indeed, the envy of the world.

    And if you do not believe that American universities are the envy of the world, ask the world. The number of students from abroad who travel to the United States to study dwarfs that of any other country: The United Kingdom, whose top universities have for centuries attracted the best and brightest, doesn’t have half the foreign students the United States does. France has about a third the number; Germany, a quarter.

    And top academics from around the world flock to American campuses, too — for good reason. If you are among the world’s best in any significant intellectual field, chances are excellent that an American university is the place you want to be. For a rough indicator, consider which universities have the most Nobel laureates associated with them. What do you imagine that list looks like? The top ten includes the two British universities you’d guess (Oxford and Cambridge) and eight U.S. universities: Harvard, Berkeley, Chicago, Columbia, MIT, Stanford, Cal Tech, and Princeton. You won’t find a continental European university on the list until No. 13 (Humboldt) and only four more in the top 20 (University of Paris, Göttingen, Munich, Copenhagen). You won’t find a single Asian, African, South American, or Middle Eastern university on the list.

    Envy of the world? No question.

    There's much to recommend here. Or it could be that we're bad, and everyone else is even worse.


  • Are you worried that partisan politics is getting in the way of government spending? Well, first, are you high? But second: At Reason, Nick Gillespie says Don’t Worry, Partisan Politics Isn’t Getting in the Way of Government Spending.

    What's got your goat right now? Maybe it's all those climate-change strikes that are giving schoolkids cover for playing hooky on a beautful early Autumn day. Or maybe it's that we're not doing enough to combat climate change. Blackface is back in the news, thanks to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's compulsion to impersonate other races. What else is going on? Unending modifications by Democratic presidential candidates to the theme of "Medicare for All." An intriguing and emerging possible scandal involving Donald Trump, the Ukraine, and interference in the 2016 presidential election. Or maybe it's actually an intriguing and emerging scandal involving the deep state trying to hamstring a president.

    There isn't a day—an hour, really—that goes by where you can't lose yourself in breaking news or developments in all sorts of stories. Which is exactly how the people running the federal government probably want it. While we're outraged or flummoxed by the latest outrage du jour, the feds manage to keep spending more and more money that we don't have. The practice is so routine that only oddballs such as Rep. Justin Amash (I–Mich.) even bother pointing it out anymore:

    The only thing more predictable will be the shock and outrage when it all comes crashing down.


  • Justin O. Smith of the American Thinker takes his theme from our license plates: 'Live Free or Die' and Government Gun 'Buybacks'.

    Live Free or Die. Some of us meant those words when we say them.

    Americans may mouth the words, but when push comes to shove, too many either really don't care or they are cowards deep down, who will allow the status quo to carry on, no matter how sorry a state of affairs has grown around it; or, their own ignorance is so deep that the God Given nature of our individual rights is beyond their grasp and understanding, and those words in the mouths of the timid, the weak and unsure become mere noises like the squeaking of a mouse eking out an advertising catch-phrase. Their words are empty and void of any sense of duty and obligation to themselves, their families and their country and what one must do to actually maintain a free society.

    Justin plans to start shooting, I think, when they come to take his firearms away. Even if they have a check (which they've deemed to be adequate payment) in hand.

    I can't recommend that, but I can't say I blame him.