URLs du Jour

2021-04-29

  • Why, No, I Did Not Watch Biden's Speech. At my cranky age, I have to avoid watching anything that might make me throw things at the TV. But Michael Ramirez encapsulates my view:

    [Other People's Money]


  • But If You Prefer Text… Eric Boehm has some, but it's the same story: Joe Biden Just Outlined the Most Expensive Agenda in Modern History. Progressives Want More..

    In a joint address to Congress on Wednesday night, President Joe Biden outlined what can accurately be described as the most expensive and expansive agenda in modern American history.

    Biden has proposed $6 trillion in new spending since taking office and has already signed $1.9 trillion in emergency spending related (loosely) to the COVID-19 pandemic. He wants to follow that with a huge infrastructure bill, a $15 national minimum wage, Buy American rules that offer protectionism for unions, and new entitlement programs—including a new child subsidy program for parents and a permanent expansion of Obamacare health insurance subsidies. He promised to raise taxes on the wealthy and to sic the IRS on rich people who don't pay "their fair share."

    Yeah, it was a good idea for me to miss that "fair share" thing. Looking at the transcript, there were three occurrences of "fair share". I assume that plays well in the sticks, but nobody who prattles on about "fair shares" shows their work on how they determined that.

    I assume this Heritage article is accurate; it says the "top 1%" earned a 21% share of income and paid 40% of all federal income taxes.

    So here are the questions you never get straight answers to: (1) Is that "fair"?; (2) What would those numbers be instead to make them "fair"?

    And don't hold your breath. When Biden and his ilk say they want some people to pay their "fair share", they mean nothing more or less than "more".


  • Jimmy Carter Said It Was A Disgrace To The Human Race. Biden also promised the IRS would "crack down on millionaires and billionaires who cheat on their taxes."

    Of course, he will throw more money at the IRS to get them to do their jobs. That always works.

    Kevin D. Williamson throws some cold water on that notion (in an NRPLUS article: The Trouble with the Tax Code Is the Tax Code.

    If you are reading this, President Biden, I’d like to make a bet with you: If the IRS does get that $80 billion bump in its enforcement budget you’re asking for, I’ll wager that the agency still won’t manage to collect that $700 billion in illegally dodged taxes you promise it will. The main change would be a much nicer charcuterie tray at the next IRS senior-staff retreat.

    But even if the IRS hits that number, it won’t amount to much — which is a truly weird thing to write about $700 billion.

    In one sense, spending $80 billion to collect $700 billion worth of taxes due looks like a good investment. But as the Wall Street Journal reports, that $700 billion — over a decade — would represent just a 10 percent reduction in the officially estimated “tax gap,” the difference between what the IRS actually collects and what it believes it is legally entitled to collect. Which is to say, Biden’s proposal would mean — at best — a 10 percent improvement in exchange for a funding increase of more than 50 percent. Spending 50 percent more to get 10 percent better performance is fine if you’re building race cars, but not great if you’re running an agency in an already-bloated federal government.

    The "disgrace to the human race", something accurately observed nearly 45 years ago, is still pretty disgraceful,


  • A Conveniently Vague Concept Wielded As A Weapon To Gain Power. Bari Weiss hosts a diverse set of replies to a burning question: What Is Systemic Racism?. Let's skip down to the answer from a Pun Salad fave, John McWhorter:

    Systemic racism — or its alternate term, institutional racism — became common coin as a designation in the late 1960s, just as the expression of overt personal prejudice was increasingly proscribed and such prejudice itself waned ever more, leaving behind subtler kinds of bias less easily addressed. The idea behind the phrase is that inequities between whites and blacks on the societal level, such as in scholastic achievement, wages, wealth, quality of housing and health outcomes, are due to racist bias of some kind, exercising its influence in abstract but decisive ways. As such, the existence of these inequities represent a sort of “racism” that must be battled with the same urgency and even indignation that personal “prejudice” requires.

    '

    The problem is that sociology and social history are more complex than this interpretation of “systemic racism” allows. All race-based inequities are not due to “prejudice.” Moreover, all race-based inequities do not lend themselves to the kind of solutions that eliminating “prejudice” do. For example, to attribute black students’ lesser performance on standardized tests to “racism” is an extremely fragile proposition. To simply eliminate the tests as “racist” because black students underperform on them is an anti-intellectual and even destructive idea.

    I find the term “systemic racism” to be the most nettlesome term in the English language at present.

    Two big thumbs way up for that. But you might want to see what other folks think.

    I was interested enough to check Google Ngram Viewer; it shows a (relative) trickle of usages, and very slow growth, between 1960 and 1985; a faster rate of increase 1985-2012; and a much faster increase 2012-2019.

    I don't know what that means. Intellectual fad or useful meaningful concept? I know which way I'd bet.


  • I Thought He Was Gonna Say 'Circular Firing Squad'. On that topic, Ben Shapiro writes: The Circular Logic of Systemic Racism. Seen through the lens of the George Floyd/Derek Chauvin trauma:

    Multiple studies, from Harvard’s Roland Fryer to professor Peter Moskos of John Jay College of Criminal Justice at City University of New York, show that police officers are less likely to kill black Americans than white Americans in similar circumstances.

    But to ask for evidence of systemic racism beyond mere inequality of outcome is to be complicit in systemic racism, according to the circular logic of systemic racism. Any incident of white cop-on-black suspect violence must be chalked up to the racist system; the evidence of the racist system is the presence of such violence in the first place; to deny that race lies at the root of such incidents makes you a cog in the racist system.

    The circular logic, protected by an enormous so-called Kafka trap—in which protestations of innocence are treated as proof of guilt—means that systemic racism is subject to no falsification.

    And that’s precisely the point. Systemic racism is a fundamentalist religious belief. It posits original sin; it posits saints and prophets; it posits its own malevolent god of the gaps.

    Most of all, it persecutes heretics in the name of a supposedly higher good. To be saved is to declare fealty to radical racial polarization; to be damned is to deny such fealty.


  • [Amazon Link]
    I Did Not Expect This. The University Near Here apparently owns a bot which scoops up mentions of its name on "news" sites and dumps links to them on the UNH Today page.

    Which is how I got to an article from December 2020 titled: Introduction to The New York Times’ 1619 Project and the Racialist Falsification of History.

    And the source is wsws.org, the World Socialist Web Site. Hm.

    It is the introduction to the titled book (Amazon link at right), written by David North ("presently the chairperson of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site and the national chairperson of the Socialist Equality Party (United States)")

    Trotsky fans, I think. Hope there are no ice axes in their future.

    Anyway:

    As a business venture the 1619 Project clambers on, but as an effort at historical revision it has been, to a great extent, discredited. This outcome is owed in large measure to the intervention of the World Socialist Web Site, with the support of a number of distinguished and courageous historians, which exposed the 1619 Project for what it is: a combination of shoddy journalism, careless and dishonest research, and a false, politically-motivated narrative that makes racism and racial conflict the central driving forces of American history.

    In support of its claim that American history can be understood only when viewed through the prism of racial conflict, the 1619 Project sought to discredit American history’s two foundational events: The Revolution of 1775–83, and the Civil War of 1861–65. This could only be achieved by a series of distortions, omissions, half-truths, and false statements—deceptions that are catalogued and refuted in this book.

    Well, good for them. I'm pretty sure there were some non-socialists pointing this out too. But UNH comes in further down (footnotes elided):

    Academic journals covering virtually every field of study are exploding with ignorant rubbish of this sort. Even physics has not escaped the onslaught of racial theorizing. In a recent essay, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, assistant physics professor at the University of New Hampshire, proclaims that “race and ethnicity impact epistemic outcomes in physics,” and introduces the concept of “white empiricism” (italics in the original), which “comes to dominate empirical discourse in physics because whiteness powerfully shapes the predominant arbiters of who is a valid observer of physical and social phenomena.”

    Prescod-Weinstein asserts that “knowledge production in physics is contingent on the ascribed identities of the physicists,” the racial and gender background of scientists affects the way scientific research is conducted, and, therefore, the observations and experiments conducted by African-American and female physicists will produce results different than those conducted by white males. Prescod-Weinstein identifies with the contingentists who “challenge any assumption that scientific decision making is purely objective.”

    A lengthy, and well-deserved, takedown of Professor Prescod-Weinstein's views follow.

    So the amusing bottom line here is: UNH sent me to an article that reveals the inexcusably sloppy thinking of one of its faculty members. ("She doesn't even make sense to socialists!")