URLs du Jour


  • At Reason, Baylen Linnekin notices a liquor-fueled hubbub in my second-favorite New England state: A Tiny Reform to a Massachusetts Booze Law Reform Faces Big Opposition.

    Massachusetts alcohol buyers could see a tiny measure of relief from the state's overbearing prohibition on retail alcohol discounts if a bill introduced earlier this year becomes law. But a powerful lobby group is pushing back.

    The proposed reform centers on a Massachusetts law that requires licensed alcohol retailers to file "a schedule of minimum consumer prices for each such brand of alcoholic beverages" with the state. That law also prohibits sellers from beating those scheduled prices. "No licensee authorized to sell alcoholic beverages at retail for off-premises consumption shall sell, offer to sell, solicit an order for, or advertise, any alcoholic beverages at a price less than the minimum consumer resale price then in effect," it states.

    Baylen goes on to reference the competition MA retailers face from my favorite New England state:

    Supporters of the booze-discount ban claim it levels the playing field for small mom-and-pop stores that might otherwise not be able to compete.

    That argument is also shortsighted and likely incorrect. If mom-and-pop packies don't face pressure from large in-state sellers, then they'll simply feel that same pressure from outside the state. That's the current reality. New Hampshire's state-owned liquor stores (that'd be a whole different column) offer better prices than their private Massachusetts competitors, even including special discounts to thank the out-of-state buyers who make up half their sales.

    (And if you're willing to put aside for a moment the crappiness of government-owned liquor stores as both concept and shopping experience, New Hampshire's periodic trolling of Massachusetts lawmakers is amusing.)

    The "trolling" consists of NH state liquor stores offering discount coupons to MA residents with the slogan "No Taxation on Our Libations".

    Note: of course some percentage of your NH booze purchase winds up in state coffers. I suppose this is not, technically, a "tax". But still.

  • Mark J. Perry offers Animated chart of the day: The rise and dramatic fall of democratic socialism in Venezuela. And it's pretty cool:

    Pretty cool, that is, unless you're Venezuelan. Then it sucks.

  • I imagine Veronique de Rugy saying this verrrry slooowly: One Point Four Trillion Dollars.

    This week, the House of Representatives went all out. It oversaw and approved a massive spending package, resurrected sleazy corporate tax breaks, reauthorized an odious corporate welfare program, and implemented paternalistic policies, and simultaneously found the time and energy to impeach the president. While the Senate won’t convict Pres. Trump, Senators gave up all pretenses of fiscal rigor and rushed to pass the bills by a large margin.

    Congress approved two major spending packages. Together they spend $1.4 trillion spread over 2,300 pages, which no one has had time to read. (For the geeks out there, you can find 4 of the 12 Appropriations bills here, and the other 8 here). 

    I would suggest you find out if your CongressCritter and your state's Senators voted for these monstrosities, and (if so) pledge to never, ever, vote for them again.

    And, oh yeah, Trump signed them. Ditto on that voting thing.

  • At National Review (NRPLUS article, sorry, don't know what that means), Kevin D. Williamson has suggestions: How to Deal with the Counterfeit-Goods Problem. It's a decent-sized article, but the executive summary is succinct: Your Federal Government should enforce the laws already on the books.

    The United States has robust anti-counterfeiting laws, which would be even more robust with the implementation of Counterfeit Goods Seizure Act of 2019, a bipartisan bill (from Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Chris Coons of Delaware, and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii) that enjoys the support of the International Trademark Association. The U.S. government already has the power to seize certain counterfeit goods; the bill would expand the category of goods eligible for seizure to include those that infringe “design patents,” which is to say, counterfeits that replicate the real thing in everything but name.

    That’s a good idea, but it won’t work unless the U.S. government gets serious about doing its job when it comes to law enforcement. As it stands, only about 3 percent of the shipping containers entering U.S. ports are inspected. The U.S. government manages to seize only about $1.4 billion a year in counterfeit goods, almost all of that being goods sent through the mail, mostly fake watches and handbags. All the statutory power in the world will not do any good unless Uncle Stupid puts in the grunt work: inspecting, investigating, indicting, seizing goods and financial assets, making it impossible for offenders to access shipping and banking services, etc. There is not a lot that we can directly do about what happens inside China and other countries, but somebody in the United States is receiving U.S.-bound counterfeit goods, and we could prosecute the heck out of them — if somebody were willing to put in the work.

    I am a sucker for any article containing the sobriquet "Uncle Stupid".

  • I recently read Lost in Math by theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, liked it enough to subscribe to her blog, and she recently entertained with her rendition of Monty Python's Galaxy Song.

    You don't see Richard Feynman do stuff like that. (Well, you might find a video of him on the bongos somewhere.)