URLs du Jour

2019-09-28

[Amazon Link]

  • At the Federalist, David Harsanyi asks us to cheer up already: Here Are a Bunch Of Charts That Prove The World Is Better Than Ever.

    […] whenever I write pieces that point out that life has vastly improved for billions of people despite climate change, angry readers inundate me with links about glaciers and coral reefs and heat waves. These events are allegedly apocalyptic proof that we’ve left a rickety planet to our kids. Never once do any of these emailers consider the tradeoffs that accompany the authoritarian system they propose to fix climate change. For many, of course, the authoritarian system is the point.

    Now, I can’t disprove forecasts about our impending collapse. But I can point out that Malthusian environmentalists have been consistently and spectacularly wrong going on five decades and that even in a warming planet, nearly every quantifiable measure of human existence is improving. The retreat of socialism — exactly the kind of system environmentalists would like to bring back to fight global warming — has led to extraordinary gains in the most important aspects of human existence over the past 30-40 years.

    There are a lot of charts, reader. Here's one that's easy to embed, and it moves when you click thereon:

    Statists will never run out of excuses to demand increasing statism. Crises and catastrophes are always under the bed, around the corner, or barrelling right at us like a runaway train! Eek!


  • And not only that, but as James Pethokoukis at AEI claims: American workers are doing better than you think — and have been for some time.

    Is there a more endangered species than the American worker? Threats abound: Offshoring, robots, trade, the gig economy. And even if they survive, wages will continue to stagnate. Same as it ever was for this victimized creature of modern, globalized, tech-enabled capitalism.

    Or perhaps the US labor market is a bit more resilient than assumed. And I’m not just talking about the low jobless rate and rising real wages, especially at the bottom. So many worrisome predictions just haven’t panned out. 

    For instance — back in 2007, economist Alan Blinder predicted the combo of fast computers and broadband internet made nearly 30 percent of jobs offshore-able. But a new analysis by Upwork economist Adam Ozimek found “no relationship between job growth and offshoring risk.” Instead of hiring overseas workers, there’s a growing relationship with remote work right here in America. Ozimek: “By enabling more remote work opportunities, technological advancement provides greater freedom, more flexibility, shorter commutes, and the potential to redistribute those opportunities within the US.”

    Also Pethokoukis-debunked: the travails of the gig economy and stagnant wages.


  • OK, maybe I'm a little Pollyanna-ish today. There's that whole looming fiscal disaster caused by runaway entitlements. And, hey, you remember those corporate bailouts that we Tea Partiers were all upset about back in 2008-2009? Well, as Veronique de Rugy notes, they're back, baby, and they're bigger than ever: Cronyism Yields a Bumper Crop with Farm Bailouts. And nobody (except us libertarian cranks) cares this time around!

    Cronyism is the unhealthy marriage between corporations, or other special interests, and the government. And farmers have been willing participants in this relationship for decades, at the expense of taxpayers and good economic policy. They've received subsidies and other government-granted privileges despite being relatively well-off and part of an industry that's not more subjected to adversity than many others. Conservative, free market and even left-wing advocates have used buckets of ink complaining about the handouts.

    On closer inspection, it's obvious that these farm bailouts are the culmination of everything that is wrong with cronyism. They came about after the president imposed duties on steel and aluminum in order to protect those industries from competition, which is cronyism. Then China, the European Union, Canada and Mexico retaliated by targeting U.S. agricultural exports. From soybean to corn farms, from steel nails to bicycles, this trade war is hurting many businesses, some of which are closing their doors.

    But none of Trump's trade war victims are as powerful and important a voting bloc as farmers, who secured two agriculture bailouts over the past two years, totaling $28 billion — so far. For perspective, Bloomberg reminds us that this "farm rescue is more than twice as expensive as the 2009 bailout of Detroit's Big Three automakers, which cost taxpayers $12 billion." Many Republicans at the time rightfully decried the auto bailout, yet most have nothing to say about the farm bailouts. Many have even joined in and demanded more for the farmers in their states.

    Wouldn't it be nice if Trump simply declared victory in the Great War on Trade, dropped tariffs, canceled bailouts, and otherwise just moved us to a freer economy?


  • Unfortunately, the Great War on Trade is not the issue on which Trump is in trouble. It's that Ukraine thing, and (as mentioned previously) Trump fans say it's a Nothingburger, and Trump haters say it's an Obvious Smoking Gun. Does Jonah Goldberg offer a bit of middle ground? Maybe: Trump Did It, but Should He Be Impeached?.

    Impeachment is ultimately a question of whether a president violated the public trust. But there’s nothing in the Constitution that says a president must be impeached for violating the public trust. I can list any number of occasions when presidents have done that and it never even occurred to anyone that they should be impeached for it.

    It’s a prudential question with good arguments on both sides. If I were Nancy Pelosi, I’d be even more torn than she’s clearly been. In the modern era, we’ve never had the drama of an impeachment process in a president’s first term or in the run-up to a reelection. We’ve never had a lot of things that we’ve had under Trump.

    Absent new facts, the GOP-controlled Senate will not remove Trump. The president would claim “exoneration,” and his behavior would become normalized for future presidents. So I’m not sure Democrats are right to pursue impeachment. I’m sure Republicans are wrong to pretend that what Trump did was totally fine.

    We're supposed to view Trump as a sudden anti-corruption champ? Jonah has made the completely obvious point that Trump has taken no similar action with countries that are more corrupt than Ukraine. Let's not hold our breath on that.


  • And Reason's Eric Boehm notes another campaigner's latest absurdity: Beto Goes to Kent State, Argues Only the Government Can Be Trusted With Guns. And Beto thought it was such a great argument, he even Tweeted it:

    Eric eloquently makes the obvious point:

    Kent State is, of course, the location of the infamous 1970 shooting that left four students dead and nine others injured. The shots were fired not by private citizens but by members of the Ohio National Guard, who shot at a crowd protesting America's involvement in the Vietnam War.

    Invoking armed agents of the state gunning down unarmed civilians is an interesting way to argue that Americans would be better off if the government forcefully disarmed private citizens. But hey, I guess that's why we keep being told Beto's an "unconventional" candidate.

    The sheer rhetorical dishonesty packed into those two words, "buy back", is massive even by politician standards.