URLs du Jour

2019-09-24

[Amazon Link]

  • David Harsanyi writes at the Federalist on The Tragedy Of Greta Thunberg.

    Sixteen-year-old Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg lives in the healthiest, wealthiest, safest, and most peaceful era humans have ever known. She is one of the luckiest people ever to have lived.

    In a just world, Thunberg would be at the United Nations thanking capitalist countries for bequeathing her this remarkable inheritance. Instead, she, like millions of other indoctrinated kids her age, act as if they live in a uniquely broken world on the precipice of disaster. This is a tragedy.

    Our Amazon Product du Jour is (as I type) the "#1 New Release in Children's Social Activists Biographies", so there David. There's still hope for the world!

    In my case, it's "hope that the world wises up before spooky, clueless, Greta gets her way." Whatever that is.


  • At Cato, Diego Zuluaga wonders: Was the Housing Bailout Good Business for the Taxpayer? You'll be happy (or not) to know Betteridge's law of headlines applies.

    As the GSEs’ [Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's] long-overdue exit from government “conservatorship” becomes a more realistic possibility, some market participants with a vested interest are telling us that Uncle Sam actually made money by rescuing the mortgage giants – to the tune of $110 billion. Since putting taxpayer resources into failing firms is such good business, perhaps we should stop worrying and learn to love bailouts.

    If you think that’s a good idea, I have a “liar loan” to sell you. No, the bailouts were not a sound investment. They weren’t really an investment at all in the usual sense, but rather a political imposition on taxpayers in the heat of the meltdown. And they definitely weren’t sound. Whoever makes that claim is committing two economic fallacies at once: ignoring alternative uses of scarce capital and neglecting the high risk that rescuing Fannie and Freddie involved at the time.

    Let’s start with the opportunity cost of bailout funds. The Treasury has so far spent around $190 billion to keep Fannie and Freddie in the black. It has collected around $300 billion in dividends from the two GSEs. That gives a cash accounting profit of $110 billion, for a cumulative rate of return of 57 percent, or 5.7 percent each year that the GSEs have been in conservatorship.

    But nearly every decent investment did better than that over that time period. It's a classic seen/unseen fallacy: "seen" are the surviving GSEs; "unseen" are the foregone investments not entered into because of the bailout.


  • Jeff Jacoby wonders: Where's the clamor over our disastrous national debt?.

    A DECADE AGO, Americans clamored in outrage over the government's growing mountain of debt. Today, as that mountain erupts to monstrous new heights, the clamor has been replaced with crickets.

    As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama condemned George W. Bush for "driving up our national debt from $5 trillion . . . [to] over $9 trillion." Such a sea of red ink was "irresponsible" and "unpatriotic," he said, promising that as president he would shrink it.

    He didn't.

    As soon as he was inaugurated, Obama began aggressively lobbying Congress to adopt a vast "stimulus" package to revive the economy and put Americans to work. Congress obliged with one of the most gargantuan spending bills in US history. The stimulus failed to stimulate and unemployment went up, not down. But that didn't stop Washington from continuing to spend money at an unprecedented rate, dragging the nation deeper and deeper into debt to pay for it.

    Don't worry, folks! Greta Thunberg, and her enablers, have plans to make everything far worse.


  • Fox News reports on one of the alleged GOP adults wanting to be president: Bill Weld suggests Trump could face execution over Ukraine phone call.

    Weld was responding to claims that Trump pressured [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden -- the son of former vice president and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden -- and threatened to withhold military aid to Ukraine as leverage. Trump has denied wrongdoing.

    “Talk about pressuring a foreign country to interfere with and control a U.S. election, it couldn’t be clearer. And that’s not just undermining democratic institutions, that is treason," Weld said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "It’s treason pure and simple. And the penalty for treason under the U.S. Code is death. That’s the only penalty.”

    Leave it to Fox, however, to correct onetime attorney Weld:

    While the U.S. Code does list the death penalty as a punishment for treason, Weld’s claim that it is the only penalty is false. Treason is covered by 18. U.S. Code § 2381, which says that a person guilty of treason “shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

    When Fox News asked Weld’s campaign about this, they did not immediately respond.

    Fun fact: Apparently the current approved method for carrying out Federal executions is lethal injection.


  • [Amazon Link]
    Randall Munroe has a fun sample from his new book, How To (Amazon link at right). Specifically: How to Send a File. One possible method:

    [Snip]

    I assume Randall's book is full of humor, math, physics, insights,… With any luck, a Christmas present.


  • The Google LFOD News Alert rang for an article in Connecticut (!) News Junkie by Terry Cowgill: Lamont Feeds Connecticut Cynics With One Mistake After Another. "Lamont" being Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont. It's a sneak preview of the Elizabeth Warren Administration. But what I found interesting was the LFOD part:

    Lamont’s erratic governorship has led the state’s largest newspaper, the Hartford Courant, to suggest in an editorial that he’s the “do-over governor.” In that same newspaper, a wealthy couple from Glastonbury who have decided to retire to New Hampshire and “live free or dietook some serious parting shots at the state.[…]

    My colleague Susan Bigelow, an admitted Connecticutophile, fired back at the Glastonbury goblins, saving CT News Junkie readers the trouble of penning their own missive by writing a clever form letter asking readers to fill out a multiple-choice template complaining of every ill — real or imagined —that plagues the state.

    So those last two links are interesting on their own. In the first, Gary and Michelle Vallo (aka the "Glastonbury goblins"; Cowgill has no problem with literally demonizing them) explain their CT-to-NH move:

    We are the retirees whom Connecticut would be smart to retain. We worked hard to build successful careers. We raised well-educated, successful children. We built homes — beautiful homes — in Glastonbury, where we lived for 35 years, that contributed to the property tax base that supported a wonderful community. We were among the top 10 percent of earners who paid the majority of Connecticut’s income taxes. We were the good citizens who voted in every state and local election.

    But Connecticut’s political class has made it clear that people like us are no longer welcomed. They have created an environment that is hostile toward business, resulting in anemic long-term economic growth. Simultaneously, they have grown state government spending at a faster pace, driven by outrageously generous and unsustainable state employee union contracts.

    So, welcome Gary and Michelle, wherever you decided to settle up here. Please don't vote for Democrats; they'd like nothing better than to turn our state into a copy of the one you just left.

    The second link is pretty funny. Sample:

    It’s apparently the time of year again when well-off white conservatives sell their expensive homes and feel compelled to write editorials about why they are, regretfully, taking the piles and piles of money they earned here and leaving the state.

    If you’ve ever felt like flouncing loudly out of Connecticut like a teenage girl from a Livejournal group, but weren’t sure how to write the necessary opinion piece, I have great news. Presenting: The “Write Your Own ‘I’m Leaving And Never Coming Back, So There’ Template®!”

    "Funny" in the sense that the author, Susan Bigelow, is apparently seething with resentment that the Vallos have declined to shut up and keep paying ever-higher taxes, tolls, and fees to support a spendthrift state government.

    Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that Connecticut was the "biggest loser" in terms of people voting with their feet:

    Connecticut lost the equivalent of 1.6% of its annual adjusted gross income, as the people who moved out of the Constitution State had an average income of $122,000, which was 26% higher than those migrating in. Moreover, “leavers” outnumbered “stayers” by a five-to-four margin.

    So it's not just the Vallos. I'd suggest that Susan Bigelow and Terry Cowgill keep encouraging this trend; it will only make it more obvious that Connecticut is a bad example for us to follow.


  • In National Review Kevin D. Williamson is Against Straws.

    Everybody wants to give me a straw: Starbucks, the café at the gym (shut up, all of you), even the occasional drink-drink bar, depending on what you order. A decade or so ago, half the drinking establishments in the civilized world were for about 18 months filled with young Paris Hilton impersonators drinking from little miniature bottles of champagne with straws sticking out of them.

    Whiskey Tanqueray Frangelico?

    Being as I am not: 1.) an invalid 2.) a 16-year-old girl in a 1950s malt shop in some charming old Technicolor movie 3.) a Howard Hughes-level germ-and-bug strange-o, no thanks—hard pass on the straw. I’ll drink like a functional adult who can lift a glass to his face, thanks.

    But Madeleine Kearns demurs. She's For Straws, against Kevin.

    First, Kevin does not wear lipstick. For if he did, he would know that straws play an essential role in preventing the smudging and smearing, not of one’s character (since, in fairness, he does know about that), but of one’s facial polish.

    Second, Kevin does not drink smoothies. For again, if he did, he would know that an unwanted purple mustache would probably accompany his — what was it? — pledge to “drink like a functional adult who can lift a glass to his face.”

    I'd speculate further that Kevin has not been drinking from a glass containing unstable arrangements of ice. You lift the glass to your face, and an internal microavalanche causes a mini-tsunami of Diet Coke up toward your mug, overflowing onto your shirt.

    Nobody wants that.