URLs du Jour

2019-12-30

  • xkcd has a party idea that should appeal to programmers who have to worry about this stuff:

    [New Year's Eve]

    Mouseover: "Off-by-one errors" isn't the easiest theme to build a party around, but I've seen worse.


  • In our "It must have been an easy article to write" Department, AIER's Max Gulker reviews The Year in Bad Ideas. There are ten. Here's number ten:

    National Conservatism – The left has unsurprisingly occupied most of the spots on this list–they’re the opposition and we’re approaching primary season which means plenty of ideas from radicals and one or two from centrists. Given the litany of destined-to-fail hail marys on this list, one might think the right would find it expedient to double down on its perceived affinity for free markets, but that would be easier had the perception ever been true. Events like Yoram Hazony’s national conservatism conference suggest that for much of the right “free markets” always meant what the left assumed it did–a preference for big business and the businessman in his place atop society’s hierarchy. In truth capitalism and conservatism don’t go hand in hand, the former being a force for constant change in society through bottom-up, evolutionary means that, while messy, offer sounder guidance than any hand. Our system may offer the choice between Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren. Bring it on. Never have those in the free-market camp been ceded more ground, but we need to jettison our old bad ideas too. Let’s be clear, libertarians have repeatedly made the mistake that right-populists also want small government. They don’t. They want to be the government. This isn’t a quick-turnaround opportunity, and more elections will likely come and go before we’re out of this hole. A lot of those bad ideas above have the seed of good intentions and those intentions can be met far more effectively by markets, philanthropy, and private governance. It may require patience and some dead-end bad ideas of our own, but the potential is out there to make people’s lives better without making everyone’s worse. That’s a daunting resolution for the new year, but consider the alternatives.

    This is a point Jonah Goldberg has been making in his recent "Remnant" podcasts: Hayek dedicated The Road to Serfdom to "the socialists of all parties" (emphasis added). It's not great to see folks on "our side" beguiled by the planning fallacies he so ably debunked 75 years ago.


  • The WSJ had a long editorial that deserves your attention if you can breach the paywall: Elizabeth Warren Has a Plan, Oh My. It's a "greatest hits" list of the various proposals she's set out in her "60-some policy papers". The greatest hit will be the American economy, of course. For example:

    Green New Deal: Spend $3 trillion, including $1.5 trillion on industrial mobilization, $400 billion on research, and $100 billion on a Marshall Plan. By 2030 hit 100% carbon-neutral power and 100% zero-emission new cars. Retrofit “4% of houses and buildings every year.” For “environmental justice,” put a third of the funds into “the most vulnerable communities.”

    An end to fossil fuels: Ban fracking. Halt new drilling leases on federal land. “Prohibit future fossil fuel exports.” Kill the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. “Subject each new infrastructure project to a climate test.” Give “workers transitioning into new industries” a “guaranteed wage and benefit parity” and “promised pensions and early retirement benefits.”

    Why, no, she's not a big Hayek fan. How'd you guess?

    And, as the WSJ observes, her plans also include getting rid of the Senate filibuster, so that if the Democrats take control of that chamber, and keep the House, they'll be able, in theory, to pass everything.

    Thank goodness a lot of it is unconstitutional. Unfortunately, not enough of it.


  • At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson asks the musical question: Do Celebrities Really Buy the Climate-Change Story?.

    I love Emma Thompson’s acting. I wish somebody would tell her about Skype.

    The great English actress is a climate-change activist, “activist” here meaning “a celebrity who cares about popular causes in public.” When she recently was accused of hypocrisy for jumping on a jet to attend a climate-change rally — international air travel is one of the most carbon-intensive things a person can do — she attempted to justify herself, saying: “For decades now we have been asking for clean energy, and this has been ignored.”

    That is some grade-A magical thinking: The constraints involved in the problem of moving x pounds of people or freight y distance at speed z are questions of physics, not questions of ethics. “Asking for” things to be different does not remove those constraints; for decades now, I have been asking for a way to live off bourbon and cheeseburgers without getting fat and unnecessarily dead but, so far, no dice. Physics always wins.

    It is about power. They say they want to get the climate under control. What they mean is: they want to get people under control. Just like…


  • "Gun control." As Daniel J. Mitchell notes in his third collection of Gun Control Humor. A sample:

    [thoughts and prayers]

    Ayuh.