URLs du Jour

2021-03-26

[Amazon Link]

  • It's Bad Idea Day at Pun Salad. And despite our Amazon Product du Jour, we do not advocate acting upon them. Kevin D. Williamson too. When it comes to banning scary-looking guns, he says Don’t Waste Our Time.

    Our politicians often exhibit too much creativity, inventing new problems to be solved by highly paid staff administering big budgets instead of figuring out how to get government to do the ordinary boring things with a reasonable degree of competence. But sometimes they do not exhibit enough imagination, as with Democratic demands for gun-control measures, renewed in the aftermath of two horrible massacres only a few days apart.

    The firearms used in these crimes were, as far as the evidence indicates, legally acquired from federally licensed and regulated firearms dealers. That means that the killers passed background checks. The demand that other people pass background checks in other circumstances (for example, if you give someone a firearm as a gift) is completely irrelevant to these crimes. It is not even entirely clear that the federal government has the constitutional authority to regulate private transfers that take place within a single state and therefore do not constitute interstate commerce. But even if it did, such measures would not prevent crimes such as the ones in Atlanta and Denver, nor would they do much to prevent other kinds of crimes, because criminals most often come by their weapons by means of straw purchasers (people with clean criminal records who buy guns on behalf of felons who cannot pass a background check), by buying stolen guns, or by stealing the guns themselves.

    If you only had an NRPLUS subscription, you could click over and learn what a lousy job Federal, State, and local authorities are already doing in enforcing existing laws against illegal gun buys.


  • But He Has a Pretty Good Shot at Being a Woodrow Wilson. Charles C. W. Cooke provides President Wheezy some bad news: Joe Biden, you're no FDR or LBJ.

    Axios reports that President Biden has been consulting with historians in his quest to figure out who he is — and that, right on cue, those historians have suggested that Biden is a Great Man who has been sent to completely overhaul the United States.

    Among the ideas with which the president’s consultants apparently agreed are that now is the time for Biden to “jam through once-in-a-lifetime historic changes to America,” that he must “go even bigger and faster than anyone expected,” and that it would be a good idea for him to “jam through what could amount to a $5 trillion overhaul of America, and vast changes to voting, immigration and inequality.”

    Evidently, the Biden years are set to involve a lot of “jamming.”

    Let us mince no words: This advice is deranged. FDR and LBJ, to whom the historians apparently have compared Biden, were both swept into office in landslide victories, alongside large congressional majorities — often large supermajorities — that were on board with their agenda. Joe Biden, by contrast, won the Electoral College by 45,000 votes, enjoys no majority in the Senate, and has a House majority so thin that the Democratic Party is trying to steal a House seat in Iowa that has already been certified for the GOP.

    It's been almost two years since Wheezy started his campaign promising a return to normalcy, Shame on those who believed him. Your penance is to repeat this as many times as necessary:


  • Our next terrible idea is excoriated by Veronique de Rugy: Elizabeth Warren’s and Bernie Sanders’ ‘Wealth Tax’ Would Be Terrible for Low-Income Workers.

    With Democrats now in control of the House, Senate, and White House, many of the most significant policy battles of the next two years will be determined by intraparty fights within the Democratic Party's various factions.

    Although not a moderate in any meaningful sense, President Joe Biden has always positioned himself strategically at the center of his party. Nevertheless, his defeat of the party's left wing in the last presidential primary won't be the end of a populist insurgence. Sadly, one fight will be between those, such as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who want to raise taxes significantly, and those who, like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), want to raise taxes even more significantly.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) would prefer the latter and has reintroduced her proposal for destructive wealth taxation. Her tax would impose a 2 percent annual levy on wealth over $50 million, going up to 3 percent for wealth over $1 billion. This purely class-warfare scheme is advertised as a way to close the U.S. wealth gap.

    Vero notes this terrible idea has been tried elsewhere, and mostly abandoned. More on that (and the other foreseeable repercussions) at the Tax Foundation.


  • Hipsters Making a Comeback? Also a Terrible Idea. Ryan Bourne and Erin Partin at Cato note: New Brandeis "Hipster" Antitrust Comes to Washington.

    Two of the Biden administration’s recent nominees – Lina Khan, tapped to serve as a member of the Federal Trade Commission and Timothy Wu, awaiting appointment to the National Economic Council as a special assistant on technology and competition policy – signal a troubling shift towards the adoption of retrograde and economically‐damaging approaches to antitrust.

    Khan came to prominence in 2017 with the publication of “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” which argued that antitrust’s narrow focus on “consumer welfare” led to a permissive attitude to anticompetitive behaviors by companies such as Amazon. Features of modern platform’s business models, she said, incentivized these companies to prioritize growth over profits, making “predatory pricing” rational. Meanwhile, the fact that Amazon acted both as a seller and the provider of what she deemed “essential” infrastructure meant the company was able to “exploit” product information for anticompetitive ends.

    Guess what happens when a "narrow focus on consumer welfare" is abandoned? That's right: consumers wind up worse off.

    Bourne and Partin also point to a Hipster advocate's 2018 article in the Yale Law Journal. The author derides the "apolitical" character of the consumer welfare standard. and proclaims: "the goals of antitrust are unavoidably political."

    If that sounds ominous to you: congratulations, you're at the right blog.


  • Making Asian Americans Into a Victim Class is also a terrible idea. Heather Mac Donald writes at Quillette on Race and False Hate Crime Narratives.

    The reaction to the mass shootings in Boulder, Colorado, and Atlanta, Georgia, over the last week has revealed how invested the Democratic establishment is in one all-powerful narrative. Both shootings produced an immediate response from the media, Democratic politicians, and activists—that the slaughters were the result of white supremacy and that white Americans are the biggest threat facing the US. That interpretation was reached, in the case of the Boulder shooting, on the slimmest of evidence, and in the case of the Atlanta shooting, in the face of contradictory facts.

    After the Boulder supermarket attacks, social media lit up with gloating pronouncements that the shooter was a violent white male and part of what Vice President Kamala Harris’s niece declared (in a since-deleted tweet) to be the “greatest terrorist threat to our country.” (Video of the handcuffed shooter being led away by the police appeared to show a white male.) Now that the shooter’s identity has been revealed as Syrian-American and his tirades against the “Islamophobia industry” unearthed, that line of thought has been quietly retired and replaced with the stand-by Democratic response to mass shootings—demands for gun control.

    But the false narrative about the Atlanta spa shootings still has legs. It represents a double lie—first, that the massacre was the product of Trump-inspired xenophobic hatred, and second, that whites are the biggest perpetrators of violence against Asians. The most striking aspect of these untruths is the fact that they were fabricated in plain sight and in open defiance of reality. Given the enduring hold of the Atlanta story on mainstream discourse, it is worth examining in some detail.

    Conveniently neglected is an area where Asians (including Asian Americans) are arguably victimized: admissions to elite schools.