URLs du Jour


  • The Club For Growth emits its 2019 Scorecards for last year's votes by Senators and Congresscritters.

    Club for Growth’s annual Congressional Scorecard tracks how members of Congress vote on economic legislation. Each year the Club for Growth issues Key Vote Alerts urging Representatives and Senators to vote in favor of economic policies that strengthen our nation’s economy and against legislation that would raise taxes, increase harmful regulations, and grow our already massive government. At the end of the year, the Club for Growth Foundation conducts a study of how members of Congress voted on key issues, including the Club’s Key Vote Alerts, and ascribes a score.

    The CfG has taken on a more partisan cast, unfortunately. Despite their claim to track "economic legislation", it seems they put the Trump impeachment votes on the scoreboard. Whether you think impeachment was a good idea or not, it's hard to cast it as an economic vote.

    And, since both NH senators and my congresscritter are Democrats, they got lousy scores.

  • So my Governor, Chris Sununu, stepped up his Covid-19 game, issuing a "stay-at-home order" for the Granite State. You can Read The Whole PDF here. It's pretty porous. I'm still allowed to walk my dog, for example. Anywhere I want, except Hampton Beach is off limits, social distancing guidelines must be obeyed, etc. At Inside Sources, Michael Graham has some fun asking us to Meet New Hampshire's 'Essential' Workers.

    Who’s ‘essential?’ Doctors and nurses certainly are, and first responders, too. Grocery stores have to stay open and vital supplies must be trucked across America’s highways.

    And then, of course, there are the florists.

    When New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu announced his state was going on stay-at-home lockdown, he issued a list of ‘essential’ jobs and services exempted from the no-go order. Among them: “Workers supporting…florists, and farm stands.” Is a bouquet of roses and a loaf of farm-fresh bread an ‘essential’ service? It is in New Hampshire.

    Not to mention a freshly dry-cleaned shirt.

    I'm slightly inconvenienced by the closure of the UNH Library, my primary source for "serious" non-fiction. (The Portsmouth Public Library, my primary source for everything else, closed back on 3/16.)

    I'll live. I hope.

  • Daniel J. Mitchell discusses the latest nonsense, namely Washington’s Counterproductive Attack on Stock Buybacks.

    Back in 2013, I joked that “you get bipartisanship when the Stupid Party and the Evil Party both agree on something.”

    That generally means bad outcomes, with the TARP bailout being a prime illustration.

    We now have another example since many Republicans and Democrats want to restrict – or even ban – companies from buying shares from owners (i.e., company shareholders).

    If you're weak on what stock buybacks are, Dan has links to more information, mostly describing the awfulness resulting from politicians substituting their own judgment for that of business owners and managers.

  • At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson accurately skewers pundits and pols who see dead people market failure everywhere. Coronavirus Face-Mask Shortage: Failure of Planning, Not Economics. (Current headline: 'More Cowbell'.)

    For Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other comrades in the socialist vanguard of the Democratic Party, the coronavirus epidemic proves that the world needs socialism. For admirers of Western European universal health-care systems, the outbreak proves the need for the United States to build a Western European universal health-care system. (Like Italy’s?) For Joe Biden, the plague proves that the world needs Joe Biden. It is pretty easy to imagine Joe Biden demanding “More cowbell!” but that is what every political opportunist is saying right now. Like climate change or that infinitely plastic thing known as “national security,” the coronavirus epidemic is a policy palimpsest that political entrepreneurs will be writing over forever, or at least until something more convenient comes along. We know how that story goes, because we have heard it so many times before: Al-Qaeda flies airplanes into a building and Arianna Huffington gets to tell you what kind of car to drive.

    Kevin has a good rundown of the actual producers of facemasks and what they've been up to.

  • At the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf detects Two Kinds of Pandemic Failures. Current headline: "The Government Is Failing by Doing Too Little, and Too Much". Is it too much to ask for Goldilocks Government—just right?

    The United States is performing more poorly than it should in the present crisis, even apart from the actions and rhetoric of President Trump, for at least two distinct reasons: underinvestment in public-health infrastructure and unduly onerous government regulations.

    That first category of error has received far more attention. To cite one example of many: the Bush administration noted in its “National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza,” released in 2005, that if an infectious disease spread across the nation, federal officials planned “to distribute medical countermeasures ... from the Strategic National Stockpile and other distribution centers to federal, state and local authorities.” According to the Los Angeles Times, the Strategic National Stockpile shipped out roughly 100 million N95 masks to protect doctors and nurses during the 2009 swine-flu epidemic, prompting a task force to urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to replenish the supply.

    I'm pretty libertarian, but maintaining public health in the face of pandemic is pretty high up on even my short list of "Valid Government Functions". But even less libertarian folks should wonder: if the government is so bad at this, why should we expect them to do better on more complex and subtle tasks?