URLs du Jour


  • As I've said before, I tend to say "As I've said before" quite a bit.

    (See what I did there?)

    Maybe a bad habit. As David Byrne said (over and over): "Say something once, why say it again?" Of course, that's from "Psycho Killer", so maybe not meant as advice.

    All that leading up to Don Boudreaux's thoughts on the matter: Why I Repeat Myself.

    One reason for my repetition is that it’s good for my soul. This reason is selfish, for it’s about me and not about those persons who might read my pedestrian prose. Whenever I encounter rank economic ignorance, the experience is for me very much like hearing fingernails scraping across a chalkboard. (Young people: look it up.) To relieve myself of the grating annoyance I must write something in response. Even if I’m protesting only into the void, the very act of articulating a protest makes me feel better.

    But another reason for my repetition is less selfish than the first, although it’s undoubtedly more arrogant: If I use my voice, then someone – maybe multiple someones – might hear it and be prompted to think a bit differently, a bit more rationally, about economic reality.

    A third reason for my repetition is related to the second: economic ignorance repeats itself. Almost all that I write here at Cafe Hayek is offered in response to something that I encounter in newspapers, on other blogs, or in my e-mailbox. Pundits, politicians, and other professors incessantly go on about how free trade impoverishes the home country, about how so-called “price gouging” is a crime against humanity that must be prohibited, about how minimum-wage diktats help low-skilled workers either at no cost or at costs only to people who can afford to have such costs inflicted upon them, and about how the American middle-class has stagnated economically since Richard Nixon turned the Oval Office over to Gerald Ford.

    I'll take DB's argument as my defense.

  • I subscribe to Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby's Arguable newsletter. It drops into my inbox weekly, and it's full of good stuff.

    Unfortunately, it's not available on the web. Sigh. I don't know why not, but I suspect it's due to some brain-damaged Boston Globe marketing strategy.

    Even though I don't often share content you can't read on the web, JJ's latest had a section on mail-in voting, and he tells an interesting story:

    In 1995, the National Voter Registration Act — the “motor voter” law — came into effect. Under its provisions, states were required to accept voter registrations by mail, with no personal appearance before a town clerk or even proof of residence required. Nor was proof of citizenship asked for. Under motor voter, election officials were obliged to add to the voter list any name mailed in on a properly filled-out registration form. Anyone so registered could then request an absentee ballot — by mail, of course. The system was not only open to manipulation, I thought, but positively invited it.

    So I followed up that invitation. I registered my family cat as a voter in three different states — Massachusetts, Illinois, and Ohio — and then requested absentee ballots from all three jurisdictions. All three mailed ballots to the address provided, no questions asked. Had I wanted to, I could have registered the cat in all 50 states — and not just in one city per state, but in one per county. I didn’t cast the ballots I was sent, but I could have. And who would have suspected? Gaming the system was easy. And if that were the case for a mere columnist trying to make a point, imagine what could be accomplished by sophisticated political crooks bent on affecting the outcome in a tight race.

    I accept the findings of those who say there has been no evidence of serious vote-by-mail fraud. But absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. For better or for worse, America is about to have its first national election in which mailed-in ballots may well play a decisive role. For the sake of our country’s dwindling democratic self-confidence, let’s hope state and local election officials everywhere will be actively watching and testing for signs of registration scams or ballot theft.

    I might buy the "no evidence of serious fraud" argument if the voting system weren't designed to ensure that it's really difficult to detect fraud. Generally, the people who get caught make dumb mistakes. What is the level of fraud perpetrated by smart people?

  • A good paragraph from James P. Freeman's Best of the Web column from yesterday, on moving goalposts:

    In the bizarre world of conventional media analysis, burning trillions of dollars by shutting down society based on estimates from public health experts who turned out to be wrong was sensible, but allowing life-sustaining economic activity is a “brazen gamble.”

    Did I say "moving goalposts"? It's more like tearing down the old goalposts and converting the field over to a marching band competition.

  • And darned if one of my lefty Facebook friends didn't share this:

    Click "See more" if desired. It's more of the same. But here's the post's bottom line:

    Geek culture isn’t suddenly left wing... it always was. You just grew up to be intolerant. You became the villain in the stories you used to love.

    Oh dear. It's the left-wing geeks against intolerant villains!

    Now, it's usually a bad idea to start typing a comment at this point. I did anyway.

    Little did I know that my antediluvian political views were shaped by totally incorrect interpretations of comic books, movies, and TV shows of my youth.

    A gentle enough criticism, I hoped.

    But if I were feeling meaner, I woulda/coulda typed:

    It is not surprising that "left-wing geek culture" is solidly based on fantasies involving Nietzschean superheros, mystical Forces, and simplistic (albeit entertaining) feel-good morality plays.

    It is somewhat surprising how readily "left-wing geek culture" gobbles up such fantasies that uniformly emanate from titans of Corporate America: Disney, ViacomCBS, Warner Communications, et. al,, designed to suck as many dollars as possible from consumer wallets into the pockets of millionaires and billionaires.

    I would have thought lefties would be more skeptical of such sources.

    And that "Pass the 28th Amendment" thing? Apparently they've given up on that. The latest version of the proposed amendment's text is dated 2012, It is (however) a hoot, a barely coherent jumble of anti-religious bigotry, and left-wing wishlist items. It shows massive ignorance about the Constitution's purpose, containing items that could simply be legislated, a much easier process.

    But although it does ban "any religious, theistic or deitistic language or terminology" from the national motto and all currency, it does not mandate replacing the Star Spangled Banner with "Imagine".

  • At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson does his bit to combat fake news: The George Floyd ‘Judge Judy’ Video Is Obviously a Misrepresentation. Briefly: there's a video making the rounds showing a 17-year-old kid on an old episode of Judge Judy admitting to being a carjacker. But it's not the same George Floyd.

    Which is not the point.

    Here is an interesting social phenomenon: When I take the time to point out to my correspondents that they have been lied to, and that they are, in turn, circulating lies, they become angry — at me, not at the person who lied to them.

    If you tell somebody a lie they want to hear, then you do not have to worry about explaining yourself or defending yourself — the people you lie to will defend the lie for you. They will hold tight to the lie. It is an amazing phenomenon. It’s small wonder we see so much dishonesty in our politics.

    People will go down fighting for a lie even if they know, in their hearts, that it is a lie. There are some obvious contributors to that strange situation — lack of self-respect, lack of religious and moral education, an attenuated sense of civic duty and patriotism, etc.

    Pun Salad fact check: True.

Last Modified 2020-07-21 4:28 PM EDT