URLs du Jour

2021-04-16

[Amazon Link]

  • I Knew That, But It's Good To Be Reminded. David Harsanyi observes: Unions Need Coercion to Survive.

    It was heartening, though not particularly surprising, to see workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., decisively reject unionization efforts last week. When employees are afforded a choice, they usually snub organized labor. In fact, without coercive policies and interference from the National Labor Relations Board, any substantive union membership in this country would have evaporated long ago.

    That certainly goes for public-sector unions, tax-funded monopolies that compel workers to pay dues that are then used to fund more political advocacy to perpetuate their monopoly. In any other sphere of American life, this is called “racketeering.” Janus v. AFSCME — a case in which Mark Janus, a non-union child-support specialist in Illinois, argued that his First Amendment rights were violated because he was forced to pay “agency fees” to a public-sector union — was supposed to put an end to this kind of coercion, but many unions simply ignore the law.

    Our fair state is considering a "right to work" law; the group New Hampshire Families for Freedom [sic] is well-funded enough to pay for a TV ad running on our local news show (and I assume other places too) urging opposition.

    The ad (viewable at the link) has an earnest veteran claim that "some Concord politicians are trying to get between us and our paychecks."

    I expected him to follow with: "… that's the union's job!" But no.


  • We'll Let You Know Afterwards. At Persuasion, David Bernstein wonders: Who Decides What's Racist?.

    Growing out of the Critical Race Theory (CRT) movement, a culture of censorship has taken root in many of our institutions.

    CRT makes two basic observations: First, that bias and prejudice exist not just in the hearts and minds of individuals, but also in society’s social structures and systems. And second, that bias embedded in systems is frequently invisible to the dominant class but perfectly perceptible to its victims. “Minority status,” explain Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, the authors of Critical Race Theory, “brings with it a presumed competence to speak about race and racism.”

    Both of these observations are true at least some of the time. The problem is that the second—sometimes referred to as “standpoint epistemology”—contends that only minorities have standing to articulate a view on race and racism. In her book What Does It Mean to Be White?, Robin DiAngelo puts it this way: “Sometimes I am asked, ‘But what if the person of color is wrong and what they think is racism isn’t racism at all?’ To this I say that people of color are much more qualified than we are to make this determination. My not being able to see racism is unrelated to its reality.” Anyone who proffers an alternative perspective can be accused of “privilege.” In addition to being stifling and punitive, this demand for adherence will almost certainly make it more difficult to overcome the racial divide.

    CRT advocates uniformly resist "objectivity". Which allows them to evade defining "racism" objectively.


  • It's a Pre-Existing Condition. George Will draws a useful distinction: Technologies give velocity to stupidity, but they don't make people stupid. There's some good history there (unsurprising from Mr. Will) but let's skip to the bottom line:

    Today, the Internet and social media enable instantaneous dissemination of stupidity, thereby creating the sense that there is an increasing quantity of stupidity relative to the population’s size. This might be true, but blame it on animate, hence blameworthy, things — blowhards with big megaphones, incompetent educators, etc. — not technologies. Technologies are giving velocity to stupidity, but are not making people stupid. On Jan. 6, the Capitol was stormed by primitives wielding smartphones that, with social media, facilitated the assembling and exciting of the mob. But mobs predate mankind’s mastery of electricity.

    Humanity is perpetually belabored by theories that human agency is, if not a chimera, substantially attenuated by the bombardment of individuals by promptings from culture, government propaganda and other forces supposedly capable of conscripting the public’s consciousnesses. A new version of such theorizing is today’s postulate that digital technologies are uniquely autonomous forces in need of supervision or even rearrangement by government because they rewire the brains of their users.

    Like railroads and the telegraph, today’s technologies have consequences about how and what we think. They do not relieve anyone of responsibility for either.

    I keep coming back to that dictionary definition of fetish: "a material object regarded with superstitious or extravagant trust or reverence".

    I'd add: "or fear."

    Exhibit B: the Internet. (Exhibit A: guns.)


  • In Fact, It's Safer To Bet The Other Way. Veronique de Rugy advises, wisely: Just Because It's Said by Joe Doesn't Make It So.

    While President Joe Biden's administration doesn't seem to need an excuse to spend money, two recurring arguments for his gigantic $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal are that our roads and bridges are "crumbling" and that modernization would generate economic growth and jobs — hence its name, the American Jobs Plan. But none of this clever marketing makes any of these claims true.

    Let me start by pointing out that, to the extent that people think about roads and bridges when they hear the word "infrastructure," they should know that only $621 billion of the $2.3 trillion is for transportation — and of that sum, only $115 billion is for repairing roads and bridges. The rest of the bill is mostly a handout to private companies that already invest heavily in infrastructure. These subsidies will come with federal red tape and regulation and hinder job creation, not bolster it.

    Joe's got a literal bridge he wants to sell you.


  • Sometimes It Seems Like A Suicide Pact With The GOP. Charles C. W. Cooke trumpets what sounds like good news: The Democrats Are Flirting with Suicide in the Midterms.

    Had Joe Biden been what he pretended to be during last year’s presidential election, he could have represented a real threat to the GOP. If he wanted to, Biden could have pocketed the Democrats’ gains among the affluent, picked off some of the working-class voters that Donald Trump attracted, and tamped down the activist energy that tends to hurt presidents in the midterms.

    But he and his party have not done this. Yes, yes, yes, Biden is currently doing fine in opinion polls. And yes, he’s managed to get away with pretending that his expensive progressive wish-list was “COVID relief.” But that won’t last forever, and, even if it does, the Democratic Party is assiduously building up precisely the sort of brief that Republicans need to make the case against unified control — irrespective of the president’s popularity.

    In the space of a month, the Democrats have proposed blowing up the Supreme Court, sloppily federalizing the entire election system, passing a slavery reparations bill, resuscitating the Green New Deal, and prioritizing strict gun control — all while the crisis on the border worsens and the president’s approval rating on that high-salience question hits disaster levels. Not only is this likely to prove toxic to the party next time people get to vote — the most likely outcome of the call to pack the Supreme Court will be to pack the House with Republicans — it’s also likely to hurt its capacity to get anything substantial done.

    Interesting factoid about that slavery reparations bill: the House version has 180 cosponsors, including Annie Kuster of New Hampshire. But my Congresscritier, Chris Pappas, is absent.

    I think this means he realizes he could be in trouble.

    (Neither of New Hampshire's senators are cosponsors on the Senate version.)


  • And Finally… You probably saw some version of this story. Here's the headline I noticed first: Police try to identify driver accused of jumping Daytona Beach drawbridge.

    And my first thought was: Why? To give him a medal?


Last Modified 2021-04-17 4:50 AM EDT