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  • Our Amazon Product du Jour has a double meaning. [Update, October 2022: Amazon link replaced with, I hope, an equivalent.] As Ann Althouse notes, Biden lies. Sharing a tweet:

    Here's Ann (quoting herself from when Biden previously said this, months back):

    I'm blogging this morning in a public place, so although I've put up 2 posts about Biden's announcement video, I had not yet listened to it. I finally got out my headphones out so I could  listen, but I could not get through to the end, because I became so angry at the LIE and the continued music and montage became torture to me.

    In the part that I did see, we were shown images from the Charlottesville march — replete with the "Jews will not replace us" chant and swastikas — and then Biden's blandly earnest face asserted that Trump said some of them "are fine people." But Trump did not say that! It's absolutely established that Trump excluded those people explicitly before saying that there were some fine people on both sides of the question of keeping Confederate statues. (At the time of the fine people remark, Trump said, "I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists because they should be condemned totally.")

    How dare Biden rest his campaign on a blatant lie — a lie that has been used to stir up fear and racial discord?! The hypocrisy of offering to bring us together and embrace lofty values when he is either repulsively ignorant or just plain lying!

    I could not finish watching that video. I tried, but I couldn't force myself. It's utterly toxic bilge.

    If Biden does not come forward and retract this video and apologize and commit himself to making amends, I consider him disqualified. He does not have the character or brain power to be President.

    Unfortunately, neither does Trump, so what are you gonna do?

    It would be nice (however) if some of the "unbiased fact checking" sites would be as tough on Biden as they are on Trump.

  • Still catching up with articles from the Bridge, brought to us by the Mercatus Center at George Mason U. Back in July, Patrick Horan asked: Is a Gold Standard Practical Today?. The answer is "probably not".

    As indicated by the historical record, a gold standard regime is not necessarily a bad idea. The classical gold standard performed comparatively well in its day. However, a gold standard regime is not necessarily a good idea for today because virtually every country now has a central bank, and central banks are major players in monetary policy and financial markets. Unless we abolish central banks (an unrealistic proposition), instituting some sort of gold standard–like system would require trusting central bankers to administer the system well.

    Given the disastrous results of the interwar system as well as the end of the ill-fated postwar Bretton Woods System (which also proved difficult to implement as its fragile design prompted attacks from speculators seeking to game exchange rates they believed central banks could not credibly control), it seems unlikely that a current-day version of a gold standard would work well. Moreover, as the interwar experience shows, severe economic downturns brought on by poor monetary policy can lead to support for less market-oriented policies, as politicians blame the downturn on supposed inherent flaws of the market economy rather than on bad policy.

    So an "End the Fed" position would actually make more sense. Barring that, the Fed adopting a "stabilize nominal GDP" policy would probably work as well. I don't know how realistic that would be, either.

  • At Reason, Veronique de Rugy writes on a related matter: Why Stimulus Spending Fails.

    When revenue shrinks by 1 percent of GDP and spending increases by 51 percent over 10 months, you get a $2.8 trillion deficit. That figure, according to the Congressional Budget Office, is significantly larger than the deficit Uncle Sam accumulated over the first 10 months of 2019. Yet, many in Congress demand that even more spending be enacted in the name of stimulating the economy.

    More spending means more debt and more future taxes. That much we know. What we also know is that the calls for sustained spending—in the form of unemployment checks, individual stimulus checks, small-business grants, and payroll tax cuts—which are made regularly in newspapers, political speeches, and partisan punditry, are overblown to stay the least. The idea here is that if Uncle Sam continues paying people to stay home, their consumption will continue, and the economy will grow.

    These calls are based explicitly or implicitly on the belief in an all-powerful federal spending multiplier, or the idea that if the government spends one dollar, the economy will grow by more than a dollar.

    Veronique points to her recent article in the Bridge with the sad, unmagical, news: the "multiplier" is probably significantly less than one. Meaning … well, we are in a heap of trouble, prosperity-wise.

  • Kevin D. Williamson in his weekly newsletter writes on Bloc Politics and Democratic Decline.

    Right-leaning writers hawking books about virtue and character used to go on and on about the moral dangers of the welfare state, the spiritual deadening caused by dependency, the “culture of victimhood,” passivity, lack of personal agency — and they grew strangely quiet right around the time a bunch of white people in the suburbs and rural areas started dying from opioids and rallying around the banner of Donald Trump, whose populist-nationalist politics offered them both patronage and a barely plausible justification for their embrace of dependency, which is what all patron-client politics ultimately comes down to.

    The about-face was remarkable, hence much remarked-upon. When it was young, poor African Americans and Puerto Ricans dying of heroin overdoses in New York City under Mayor John Lindsay (“demand a recount!”), the preferred solution was tougher policing and longer prison sentences, a prescription that held for a generation with the enthusiastic support of Joe Biden, among others. In the early 21st century, when it was young white men from modest-to-affluent backgrounds dying of prescription-painkiller abuse in Governor Robert J. Bentley’s Alabama, the entrepreneurs of Virtue, Inc. did their best imitation of the tweedy sociological liberals they once mocked and began snuffling out “root causes” like so many shiny pink truffle-hunters. (And I don’t mean Der Truffeljäger von Zuffenhausen.) Our progressive friends insist that this is racism prima facie, but, then, they also insist that it is evidence of racism if Mitt Romney orders oatmeal for breakfast.

    Oatmeal? Darn, now I'm hungry.

  • At the Library of Economics and Liberty, Pierre Lemieux makes a good point about Price Gouging.

    When the Treasury auctions government bonds (more than $100 billion per week these days), its goal is to obtain the highest possible prices (pay the lowest interest rate): that’s why a seller holds an auction. But private individuals are forbidden to hold auctions of goods deemed important in an emergency; they are forbidden to charge what the market will bear. Sanctimonious officials defend it and the populace often applauds.

    In the sort of announcement that has become familiar in the current crisis, the Attorney General of Iowa, Tom Miller, announced a second lawsuit against a Brenda Kay Noteboom who had auctioned toilet paper and sanitizing products on eBay, and sold them at prices judged excessive by the state’s “price gouging” law. The majority of American states have such laws on the book (not counting the federal Defense Production Act). This is not the first prosecution against private auctioneers and it is not surprising that price-control laws would apply to formal auctions because, after all, the market itself is a vast, continuous, and invisible auction. “Price gouging” laws naturally target all free markets.

    OK, I bought the whole idea that the state has a Monopoly on violence. Didn't think that extended into a monopoly on charging market prices.

Last Modified 2024-01-23 5:01 AM EDT