URLs du Jour

2021-04-15

[Amazon Link]

  • My Guess: Because It Springs From Socialist Premises. But let's see what Andrea O'Sullivan has to say about Why Biden’s Broadband Bonanza Is Likely to Fail anyway. First some facts:

    You can look at connectivity from a few different angles: speeds, prices, and access. The FCC tracks internet speeds across OECD countries; its most recent report finds that the U.S. ranked 10th among developed nations in 2016. New America has some handy international data on average internet costs; the U.S. falls a bit higher in monthly costs than the international average, but it's far from the most expensive. The FCC has tracked the digital divide in its annual "Broadband Deployment Report" for several years; its most recent publication finds that the number of Americans living without access to acceptable internet has dropped to around 14.5 million in 2019—a fall of about 4 million from the previous year.

    So if we want to improve America's digital infrastructure, closing the digital gap in terms of access should be a top priority. You would think you could easily do that with $100 billion on the table. Unfortunately, the broadband funds will almost certainly not be wisely spent. From the looks of it, the Biden-Harris administration's plans to expand broadband access will be a big waste. The reason is that the massive spending plan mostly doubles down on policies that have already failed in the past.

    One of the biggest problems is that the plan "prioritizes support for broadband networks owned, operated by, or affiliated with local governments, non-profits, and co-operatives"—a long way to say "funds government-run internet." The plan fact sheet claims that these providers have "less pressure to turn profits" and therefore more of a "commitment to [serve] entire communities."

    More at the link, but a good summary is the line we've used before: When Uncle Stupid makes it rain, there will be no shortage of well-connected folks waiting around with buckets.


  • But It's Not Just Wasteful Spending on Broadband. In fact, as Iain Murray describes, the entire bill is shot though with it.

    Then there’s the cost. President Biden boastfully claimed that the bill would create 19 million jobs “that pay well.” That could possibly represent value for money at $118,000 a job. However, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg had to contradict his boss, recognizing that this figure included over 16 million jobs that would be created anyway. As Reason’s Eric Boehm calculated, that puts the dollar figure per job created at over $800,000. It’s not quite the $2 million per job created by Los Angeles after the Obama stimulus act, but it’s getting there, and on a much bigger scale.

    Part of the reason is that the bill doesn’t help make the building of real infrastructure projects quicker or more affordable. In fact, it doubles down on policies such as project labor agreements and “Buy American” requirements, while failing to do anything about the plague of permits. Perhaps the president’s old boss could remind him how those affected his stimulus bill’s supposedly shovel-ready projects.

    Of course, it's not "waste" if you're one of the folks getting the money. For the rest of us, well…

    Not for the first time, I quote Robert Frost ( "Pod of the Milkweed"):

    But waste was of the essence of the scheme.


  • Love goes out the door when money comes innuendo. Matt Taibbi notes the rush to judgment based on anonymous sources and innuendo. Which decent folks should, but don't, avoid when the accused is a political enemy: Due Process Is Good, He Said Controversially.

    With Gaetz, the Republican congressman from Florida, you’re not voting for the guy or raising money for his re-election campaign by asking for more to go on than an anonymously sourced New York Times report. The paper cites “three people with knowledge of the encounters” in claiming Gaetz “had sex” with “multiple women,” while also claiming officials are examining “whether” he had sex with a 17-year-old and “whether” she was compensated for it. That means the possibilities run from Gaetz having consensual encounters with adults to consensual encounters with sex workers to, possibly, an encounter with a 17-year-old.

    I don’t like stories like this because the Times gets to use a report of one kind of encounter to sell the possibility of another kind, for which they have less evidence. This is the same device that led to all sorts of problems in the story of Democratic congressional candidate Alex Morse, whose consensual adult encounters were spun into allegations of abuse and predation, and calls for his resignation. The Gaetz case is different in multiple ways, not the least being that his friend Joel Greenberg has already been federally indicted on 33 serious offenses, but from a reporting standpoint there’s almost nothing concrete in view yet with Gaetz himself.

    Gaetz is (probably) a sleaze, but let's by all means rout all the sleazes from Congress. Then with the 52 remaining members…


  • Safe Bet. Jennifer Huddleston is not a hipster: A Return of the Trustbusters Could Harm Consumers.

    The original trustbusters of the late 19th and early 20th century created a system that was not always clear and could be abused by regulators subjectively determining what was and was not anti-competitive behavior. The result was that, in this earlier era, businesses and consumers could never be certain what behaviors would be considered violations.

    The shift to the consumer welfare standard helped fixed that problem by providing an objective framework using economic analysis to weigh the risk and benefits of behavior and judging it based on its impact on consumers and not specific competitors. Unfortunately, these new proposals would shift away from this objective focus and return to a presumption that big is bad. This shift would be bad news not only for big business but for smaller businesses and consumers as well. Small businesses would lose an important exit strategy option with the presumptive ban on mergers with large companies, and consumers would miss out on benefits such as price reductions, improvements, and innovations that these mergers could bring.

    Never mind Big Tech. If Major League Baseball's antitrust exemption were repealed, would "consumer welfare" be helped?


  • Mister, We Could Use A Man Like Calvin Coolidge Again. Campus Reform has the latest news about Professor Aaron Kindsvatter of the University of The State To Our Left. (Previous Pun Salad posts on him here and here.)

    After a University of Vermont professor criticized the notion of “whiteness,” administrators denounced his comments and students called for his resignation. The professor refuses to resign.

    In a YouTube video entitled “Racism and the Secular Religion at the University of Vermont,” education professor Aaron Kindsvatter said that “whiteness falls under the umbrella… of critical social justice, and the thinking that informs it is so crude and so lacking in falsifiability.”

    The article notes that a petition demanding Kindsvatter's resignation has 3,400 signatures.

    And there's a rival petition asking that that Kindsvatter assume control of all diversity measures at the University of Vermont. Which has 4,400 signatures.