URLs du Jour

2020-10-22

Pictured: probably not Hunter Biden.

  • Writing at the WSJ [probably paywalled] Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. says the latest Hunter Biden news provides A Laptop Window on the Oligarchy.

    Step one, help yourself to tasty assets from the public trough. Step two, figure out how to keep them.

    The best investment in Ukrainian history may be about to become even better—Burisma’s recruiting of Hunter Biden to its board. After a government minister allegedly awards himself lucrative gas rights, the Ukrainian people overthrow a regime famous for its corruption. In the normal course of events, a successor regime would seek to establish its bona fides by clawing back the disputed gas rights, except for one thing: The new government, under military threat from Russia, is desperately dependent on a U.S. administration whose vice president was Joe Biden.

    It was unnecessary for Mr. Biden to do anything. The new regime was checkmated from the start in its desire to relieve Burisma of its questionably obtained assets. Now U.S. reporters frightened to be seen playing it straight in the middle of an election insist there’s nothing to see here except the sad misjudgment of Mr. Biden’s dissolute son. A normal person, though, can’t help regarding Burisma as the culminating chapter in a Hunter Biden career in which, from day one, every job and opportunity was handed to him by someone seeking influence with his father.

    The media is doing its level best to downplay what anyone with an ounce of sense can see is true.


  • The National Review editors claim, I think accurately, that the Google Antitrust Case Is Weak.

    American antitrust laws are broadly written, and the prevailing legal standards have changed over the years. The dominant and most economically sensible approach to enforcing these laws, however, remains the one that Robert Bork laid out in the 1970s: “Anticompetitive” behavior becomes a problem when it harms consumer welfare. In our view, officials should not pursue antitrust actions unless they can compellingly show a company is, in fact, harming consumers — not just that it is doing everything it can to attract consumers to its product at the expense of the competition.

    Is it harmful to consumers for Google to pay other companies to feature its search engine as the default? That’s a hard case to make, because it’s generally easy for those who prefer other search engines to change the default, as Google and the alternative engines are all free and switching can be achieved in a few clicks; because these lucrative arrangements help to subsidize the devices consumers use; and because most users would probably choose Google anyhow, if its runaway success over the past two decades is any guide.

    I'm just as disgusted by Google's practices as (probably) you are. I can't imagine they'll be improved by lawsuit. NR compares Google's current legal woes with Microsoft's, decades back.


  • If you want to give a progressive the fits, mention the American Legislative Exchange Council, aka ALEC. But I'm a sucker for state economic comparisons, and if you are too here's Laffer-ALEC Report on Economic Freedom: Grading America’s 50 Governors.

    Each governor is awarded an overall rank, a results rank and a policy rank, which is expanded to list the exact criteria used so readers can clearly identify how their state leader stacks up and why. Governors and taxpayers can also use the criteria to determine state policy areas that need improvement, such as tax and spending policy, handling of federal funds from the CARES Act and economic competitiveness data. The 20 variables used to rank the governors equip readers, voters and taxpayers with an objective analysis so they can make an informed opinion.

    And (spoiler alert):

    New Hampshire is one of nine states in the country without a state income tax. We often see these states outperform states with progressive income taxes in terms of domestic migration and general economic performance, so it is no surprise that Governor Chris Sununu has earned himself and his state five stars within our rankings. New Hampshire values small government, and its governor shares those values. Governor Sununu has continued longstanding education freedom, low debt levels and restrained welfare policies. New Hampshire is well situated for the fiscal shock from the pandemic crisis despite its budget gap. New Hampshire’s competitive tax rates help the state benefit from its proximity to New York and Massachusetts, incentivizing migration and a subsequent growth in the state’s tax base.

    New Hampshire faces a budget gap of over half a billion dollars this year, and Governor Sununu has pledged to make the tough but necessary financial decisions without raising taxes. “We’re going to do it. We’re not going to raise taxes. We’re not going to be putting the burdens of the state onto the backs of our citizens and our businesses that are already having a tough time paying their bills as it is,” said Sununu.

    Governor Chris came in 10th place overall, marked down due to (among other things) high property taxes and the top marginal corporate income tax rate.


  • Another state comparison from the Tax Foundation: 2021 State Business Tax Climate Index.

    The 10 best states in this year’s Index are:

    1. Wyoming
    2. South Dakota
    3. Alaska
    4. Florida
    5. Montana
    6. New Hampshire
    7. Nevada
    8. Utah
    9. Indiana
    10. North Carolina

    Ta-da! We're number six!


  • So, could be better, could be worse. At the American Enterprise Institute, Mark J. Perry asks: Suppose you live in America’s most liberal state. Now suppose you live in the state known as the “poverty capital of America.” But I repeat myself Yes, it's another state-by-state ranking:

    [poverty]

    Explanation:

    The table above is based on Census Data released last month and displays US states ranked for two different measures of poverty: a) the official measure of poverty and b) the Census Bureau’s recently introduced (2011) Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which accounts for each state’s cost-of-living including housing, energy costs and medical costs, and taxes. The SPM also considers non-cash government assistance as a form of income and is therefore considered a more accurate measure of poverty than the traditional, official rate. For the country as a whole, the percent of Americans in poverty using the SPM of 12.5% for the years 2017-2019 (averaged) is 1.0 percentage point higher than the percentage of Americans living in poverty (11.5%) using the official poverty measure.

    Somewhat surprised that we still look so good on the "supplemental" measure.


  • Most links above via Daniel J. Mitchell, who may like this stuff even more than I do: The Best and Worst States for Economic Policy?.

    P.S. I recently wrote about Chris Edwards’ Report Card on America’s Governors. So if we mesh those results (New Hampshire was in the top category while New Jersey was in the bottom category) with today’s results, the folks in the Granite State get the triple crown while the folks in the Garden State get a booby prize.

    Sorry, New Jersey.


Last Modified 2020-10-23 6:18 AM EST