URLs du Jour


  • Arnold Kling has been a prolific blogger recently, making a lot of sense to which probably nobody will pay heed. But if you read only one article, make it his observations of The childish view of government.

    When you are eight years old and you want something, you ask your parents. When they give it to you, it seems that they are being nice and nurturing. When they don’t, it seems that they are being strict and tough.

    That is the way most people think about government, and the way that journalists encourage us to treat government. When Congress gives us something we want, they are being nice. And when it doesn’t they are being mean.

    Thinking about economics should allow you to see a difference. Your parents have something to give you because they worked to create something of value and earned a paycheck. The government only has something to give you because it takes it from someone else. The government cannot be “nice” to everyone at the same time.

    Arnold thinks that things are going to get real expensive, thanks to "stimulus" that involves government spending a lot of money that it will have to print up. I have no idea, but it certainly sounds plausible.

  • George Will sings a related note: Crises and the collectivist temptation.

    Today’s pandemic has simultaneously inflicted the isolation of “social distancing” and the social solidarity of shared anxiety. In tandem, these have exacerbated a tendency that was already infecting America’s body politic before the virus insinuated itself into many bodies and every consciousness.

    It is the recurring longing for escape from individualism, with its burden of personal responsibility. It includes a concomitant desire for immersive politics, whereby people infuse their lives with synthetic meaning by enlisting in mass movements or collective efforts. These usually derive their unity from a clear and present danger or, when that is lacking, from national, ethnic, racial or class resentments (e.g., Donald Trump’s and Bernie Sanders’s not-so-very-different populisms of those who feel victimized).

    I can tell you (thanks to grep) that this is only the third occurrence of "concomitant" in the 15-year history of this blog.

  • And Jonah Goldberg's G-File moans that A Weiji is a Terrible Thing to Waste. ("Weiji" being the ASCII-ized Chinese word for "crisis". I just want to quote this bit:

    You may not know this, but the Chinese symbol for “crisis” also means “I’m a pretentious power-hungry ass-ache looking to exploit a crisis.”

    Pun Salad Fact Check: True enough.

  • California-based Patterico notes the heartwarming story (as recounted in the NYT) of New Hampshire doctor Dr. Richard Levitan.

    Answering Gov. Cuomo’s call for medical volunteers from across the nation to go to New York to help save lives during the ongoing nightmare of a coronavirus outbreak, New York born Dr. Richard Levitan left New Hampshire to help at Bellevue Hospital Center, where he once trained. Unable to find an available hotel room, he ended up staying at his brother’s vacant apartment on the upper West Side. When word got out that he was a doctor helping to manage coronavirus patients, the building’s board of directors kicked him out. This, in spite of his reputation as “a teaching guru on managing the human airway,” including “performing the tricky but vital task of intubation, threading a breathing tube into people who are not getting enough oxygen”

    Dr. Levitan is based up Littleton way, where, as of yesterday, state officials reported between 1-4 cases. So demand for his skills there is arguably low.

    News flash: New Yorkers can be ungrateful idiots.

  • At National Review, Kyle Smith says Welcome Back, Plastic Bags.

    Single-use plastic bags are a miracle of modern technology. Cheap, light, convenient, and ubiquitous, they provide an elegant solution to a problem. If you recycle them, as most people do, and put your rubbish in them, that creates a net reduction in carbon emissions compared with buying the heavier, thicker garbage bags sold in stores. Best of all, they’re sanitary.

    Cue up a head-spinning headline: San Francisco has just banned the use of reusable tote bags and switched back to single-use plastic bags to help fight the spread of the coronavirus. In New Hampshire, on March 21, Governor Chris Sununu signed an executive order to the same effect. Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker followed suit on March 25. A Maine ban on plastic bags was due to take effect on April 22 but has just been pushed back until next year.

    Whoever could have warned us that cloth tote bags were unhygienic? Well, there was this New York Post columnist who wrote, six years ago, “Reusing that Earth-friendly tote gradually turns it into a chemical weapon” and noted that plastic-bag bans were associated in one study with a 46 percent increase in death from food-borne illnesses. Cloth tote bags are inconvenient, they’re eco-unfriendly (more carbon emissions than single-use plastic, unless you use them more than 14 times, which people tend not to do), and oh, by the way, they’re deadly.

    I don't know how many Covid-19 cases were spread via reuseable bags. But yeah, here's hoping they don't come back.

  • J.D. Tuccille has an immodest proposal at Reason: Dump the FDA for a Healthier America.

    Even before federal red tape delayed development and deployment of COVID-19 testing and hampered the acquisition of protective gear for medical professionals, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had a reputation as an obstructionist bureaucracy that emphasizes caution over innovation. That caution comes with a price tag in human lives that might have been saved by faster access to new drugs and devices.

    Although it's usually been largely invisible, that regulatory price is now on public display. As a result, this may be our best opportunity to abolish, or at least reform, this deadly government agency.

    I say let's play it safe and dump all the agencies that begin with "F". For starters. That would be the FCC, the FAA, the FBI, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FEMA, the Federal Reserve, …

    Then we'll get started on the others.