URLs du Jour

2021-03-22

[Amazon Link]

  • Let's Start With Something Morose. Specifically, John Tierney on Death and Lockdowns.

    Now that the 2020 figures have been properly tallied, there’s still no convincing evidence that strict lockdowns reduced the death toll from Covid-19. But one effect is clear: more deaths from other causes, especially among the young and middle-aged, minorities, and the less affluent.

    The best gauge of the pandemic’s impact is what statisticians call “excess mortality,” which compares the overall number of deaths with the total in previous years. That measure rose among older Americans because of Covid-19, but it rose at an even sharper rate among people aged 15 to 54, and most of those excess deaths were not attributed to the virus.

    My meager thoughts: living in society means a continuing reality check for your brain. Cutting off your social ties makes you live in your own head to a greater extent, and that can result in a toxic, dysfunctional buildup tough for some to handle.

    That's not science, just speculation. But plausible, don't you think?


  • From the 'Indisputably True' Department. Nick Gillespie says Government Censorship Is the Worst Cancel Culture of All.

    Almost a year to the day that Louisville police officers killed Breonna Taylor during a no-knock raid, the Kentucky Senate passed a bill which makes it a crime to insult and taunt cops. If S.B. 211 becomes law, you could get up to three months in jail and a $250 fine if you flip off the fuzz in a way "that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person."

    It's just one example of a slew of proposed new laws that are chilling free speech. While freethinkers are rightly worried that private online platforms such as Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook are increasingly—and often arbitrarily—cracking down on speech for political reasons, the much graver threat comes from governments at all levels seeking to ban or compel speech.

    Let's avoid the idea that Big Government can save us from the Woke. We have to save ourselves.


  • Or… We Could Pass a Law Making This Illegal. Fox Business reports Monopoly getting 'long overdue' socially conscious makeover, Hasbro says.

    The board game “Monopoly” will be the next classic entertainment brand to receive a socially conscious makeover, publisher Hasbro announced this week.

    Hasbro will change all 16 of Monopoly’s “community chest” cards to remove outdated concepts. The company said the classic versions of the cards, which included prompts referencing beauty contests and holiday funds, were “long overdue for a refresh.”

    You can go here to vote on your preferred new cards. For example, you can choose between "You pass out umbrellas to people standing at a bus stop on a rainy Monday morning" or "You organize a block party so people on your street can get to know each other."

    Either choice will net you 10 Monopoly bucks. What ever happened to virtue being its own reward?

    And is all this supposed to make you forget that the friggin' point of Monopoly is to grind your opponents into penury? Before they do the same to you?

    Sure, I guess you can given them an umbrella at your block party — funded with the cash you extracted from them via your extortionist rents!


  • A Brief Visit to Optimism… James Lindsay outlines The Values of a Post-Woke World.

    The fight against the ideology called Wokeness is gaining ground for the first time in a decade, if not decades. People increasingly understand what it is and why it is a terrible, inhuman, and inhumane ideology that has no place governing our societies. They also increasingly and rightly see it as a puritanical religious movement built upon a perverse faith, which they are starting to reject. They also increasingly understand it to be a takeover ideology with profound roots in totalitarian, racist, and communist thought that should not be empowered and must be fought. Certainly, we have a great deal of work still to do, especially practically, to fight this ideology and its remarkable bid to take over our society and culture, but people are waking up. Though I may look a bit far down the road in saying so, now we need somewhere to go.

    If we continue fighting back—for pushing back is no longer enough—intelligently and firmly against the ideology of Critical Social Justice and the Woke movement it has spawned, we will find ourselves on the road to a post-Woke world, and it is not yet clear what that might look like. It is therefore necessary now, even this early in this ideological war, to set the values that should guide us into a post-Woke era so that we might enter a new era of flourishing and prosperity after this diabolical attempt to snuff out the light of Western civilization and human freedom. These values must be comprehended and asserted starting now as we begin the next phase in the fight to leave Woke ideology behind us, hopefully in the dustbin of history. Here, I offer four cardinal values to orient ourselves toward for the establishment of a post-Woke world that’s full of promise and prosperity. These are truth, beauty, liberty, and merit.

    Lindsay discourses on each value. Worthwhile.


  • They Don't Call Him 'Uncle Stupid' For Nothing. Brad Polumbo of the Foundation for Economic Education claims: Federal Government Lost 5x More to COVID Stimulus Fraud Than It Spent on Vaccine Development, New Report Reveals.

    Whenever the government spends money, a significant portion is lost to bureaucracy, waste, and fraud. But the sheer speed, haste, and unprecedented scope of federal spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic—an astounding $6 trillion total—has led to truly unthinkable levels of fraud. Indeed, a new report shows that the feds potentially lost $200 billion in unemployment fraud alone.

    “More than $200 billion of unemployment benefits distributed in the pandemic may have been pocketed by thieves, according to ID.me, a computer security service that 19 states — accounting for 75% of the national population — use to verify worker identities,” Yahoo Money reports. “That's more than triple the official government estimate of $63 billion based on the 10% pre-pandemic fraud rate.”

    In contrast, Uncle spent a "mere" $37 billion on vaccine and treatment development.


  • And my Google LFOD News Alert rang for an article from the (Madison WI) Capital Times by Dave Zweifel, claiming Wisconsin's progressive income tax lessened COVID-19 financial blow. Specifically, it lessened the damage to the state government's cash flow. I'm sure that will cheer up the (as I type) 7,241 dead Wisconsinites.

    Zeifel is leaning heavily on this article by Harold Meyerson (one we mentioned here last month). Which (in turn) leans heavily on this WaPo story.

    Got all that? So let's skip down to the LFOD bit. Zweifel is scornful of "those states that proudly point to the fact that they don't have income taxes — a selling point they use to convince people to move there to 'escape' high taxes."

    In fact, according to Meyerson, Texas and its Republican-controlled legislative cousins in Florida have seen their revenues drop by 10% this past year. New Hampshire, of "Live Free or Die" fame — another of the no income tax states — has had to lay off 26% of its public workers because revenues have plunged so drastically.

    Well, that last bit is simply untrue. NH state government revenues didn't plunge. The WaPo article itself says that they dipped by 1% over the time period in question.

    As I said last month: I don't know whether that reported 26% drop in state government employment is factual, or some statistical/reporting glitch. But it wasn't caused by "plunging revenues".

    In fact recent news shows the budget picture as pretty healthy.