URLs du Jour

2020-04-11

With respect to our Amazon Product du Jour: why, yes I am. Do you need ask why?

[Amazon Link]

  • At National Review, Andrew C. McCarthy finds Authoritarian Overreach Unnecessary. He offers up numerous examples of such. Bottom line:

    At a certain point, a free people — nearly 17 million of whom have now filed unemployment claims in an economy that was booming just a month ago — comes to realize that the de Blasios are pleaders, not rulers. Common sense emerges in the clarity of lives torn asunder by willful acts of elected officials and faceless bureaucrats. Our DNA reminds us that governments derive their just powers only from the consent of the governed.

    There is a lot going on that no one has consented to. The law is beside the point. The state and its police need the public’s cooperation. They won’t get it by coercion. If they can’t get cooperation because they’ve forfeited their legitimacy by capricious, politicized enforcement . . . well, there are worse things that can happen than a pandemic.

    The preservation of a free society requires ordered liberty. The government can never forget that the objective is not order for its own sake, or for the sake of “progressive” social transformation. The point of order is the flourishing of freedom.

    I note that the grade school up the street has closed its playground as "unsafe". (By stringing up some tape across an entrance, signs dangling from it.)

    The same one dozens of kids occupy just about every school day.

    It's clear that the playground isn't unsafe. Yes, I suppose that there are some that might use it unsafely.

    But they'll just go be stupid somewhere else now.


  • Jonah Goldberg says Central Planning Hasn't Flattened the Curve. People Have.

    My American Enterprise Institute colleague Lyman Stone, an economist based in Hong Kong, makes the case that the essential variable in “flattening the curve” isn’t central planning but behavior change. Many businesses closed down well before they were ordered to. Millions of people practiced social distancing and refused to get on planes not because they were commanded to, but because they were convinced this was a wise course of action for themselves and their loved ones. 

    People change their behavior when they are given clear information about risks. Various countries have flattened the curve of COVID-19 cases in different ways, Stone explained on my podcast, The Remnant. Some relied heavily on contact tracing, others on quarantining the sick, others through lockdowns—or all of the above. “But what we’ve seen in every country is that what really does it is information,” Stone said.

    Jonah notes the (relatively) good news that we seem to be doing better on Covid-19 deaths than models were predicting even a few days ago. Some sort of government conspiracy? Nah, probably not.


  • Let's get off virology for a bit, and look at Heather Mac Donald at City Journal, who observes that Higher Education Today Resembles Massive Ponzi Scheme.

    Higher education today resembles a massive Ponzi scheme. Colleges desperately recruit ever more marginal students who stand little chance of graduating. Before their inevitable withdrawal, those students’ tuition dollars fuel the growth of the bureaucracy, which creates the need to get an even larger pool of likely dropouts through the door to fund the latest round of administrative expansion. Administrative positions at colleges and universities grew at ten times the rate of tenured faculty positions from 1993 to 2009, according to academic consulting firm ABC Insights. By the 2013 school year, there were slightly more campus administrators nationwide than faculty; spending on the bureaucracy was equal to spending on all educational functions, including faculty. Tuition rose to cover those bureaucratic expenses, regardless of whether families could afford to pay it. Tuition at private four-year colleges grew 250 percent from 1982 to 2012, while the median family income rose about 18 percent, adjusted for inflation, according to ABC Insights. Since the 2008 recession, tuition at four-year public colleges rose 35 percent.

    My favorite example is the "UNH Foundation", set up to get people to give money to the University Near Here. Their current staff list is here. Exercise for the reader. Use your browser's search-on-page function to count the number of people who are various flavors of "Vice President". And then "directors". Egad, who does the actual work there?


  • Well back to political virology to tell you about a Google LFOD News Alert ringing for the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, which reports on Civil rights groups monitoring NH’s coronavirus-related executive actions.

    Libertarians in the state have taken the stance that executive orders are unnecessary since the incentive for self preservation and the “weight of another’s life in your hands” is enough to encourage people to take the necessary precautions.

    “This is an unprecedented abridgment of civil rights on everyone,” said Brian Shields, Chair of the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire.

    Shields said his greatest concern is the inability for the legislature to meet and pass emergency legislation, effectively concentrating all the government power in the executive branch.

    “New Hampshire is essentially living under a benevolent dictator,” Shields said. “If it was anyone but Sununu as governor I would be scared for the future of the live-free-or-die state. It still sets a dangerous precedent. The only check and balance on the Governor are the judges he appointed. That is an incredible flaw in our system of government and is frightening if that power ever gets in the wrong hands.”

    Huh. Kind words for a Republican emanating from a big-L Libertarian.


  • And Drew Cline, writing at Josiah Bartlett, notes that Regulations keep food trucks from riding to the rescue.

    State law requires food vendors to get a state license ($50), which allows them to operate everywhere in the state. They remain subject to local regulations. Fifteen New Hampshire municipalities regulate where, when and how food trucks can do business. Food truck operators say the local regulations are highly restrictive and the fees expensive.

    This month, with Granite Staters ordered to stay home and non-essential businesses closed, ordinances prohibit food trucks from going where their customers are — homes, public parks, and hospitals — and force them into deserted downtowns and big-box-store parking lots.

    “They could be operating more freely,” Aaron Krycki, environmental health supervisor for the City of Manchester said.

    “Rules aren’t designed to tell you what you can do,” Krycki said. “They’re designed to tell you what you can’t do.”

    One of the cities that have temporarily liberalized its rules is Rochester, which invited trucks normally at Lowe's (closed) or the Harley dealership (ditto) to come downtown.

    And of course, there are people mad at that

    Shawn Hooper, owner of the Moe’s Italian Sandwiches eatery on North Main Street, is unhappy to be facing added competition from food trucks. It comes at a time when restaurants are hard-hit by fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

    Dirty little secret about competition: businesses, at best, have mixed feelings about it.