URLs du Jour


  • Who's less crazy? Liberty-loving New Hampshire folks might be interested in the recent Soho Forum Debate, held during PorcFest ("Porcupine Freedom Festival") in Lancaster a couple months back. The debate was between Angela McArdle (candidate for Libertarian Party national chair) and Jeremy Kauffman, (Board Member of the Free State Project). And the resolution under debate was "The Free State Project is a more realistic path to liberty than the Libertarian Party."

    The FSP was founded in 2001, to encourage libertarian-minded people to move to NH. In 2001, I'd been living here for 20 years. Mission accomplished! No further action necessary!

    And I usually vote for the Libertarian Party candidate on my ballot when that choice is available. Again, mission accomplished!

    The debate was cordial. Jeremy and Angela both made some interesting and valid points. But Angela made a couple of disturbing points;

    • She argued that governments tended to seek out and destroy dissenters, intimating that this could be the ultimate fate of FSPers. Her examples: Ruby Ridge, Waco, and … Fort Sumter.

      Fort Sumter. Really?

      I didn't hear any pushback on this point from either Jeremy or the Q&A at the end.

    • Angela also bemoaned what she considered to be the weak response of some LP higher-ups to Covid lockdown policies. No worries, though. "Those people are gone and they're not coming back."

      Cheering when people leave the Libertarian Party is not a recipe for success.

    I was not encouraged much to join either the FSP or the LP. Maybe I'm just lazy, but I'm also pessimistic. A necessary condition for the country to take a libertarian turn is for—duh—a large enough fraction of the citizenry to deeply value liberty. That's not the case today, and it's not likely to be in the near future.

  • We don't want your fancy-schmancy Asian tacos 'round here, Bobby. Drew Cline bemoans another defeat for Portsmouth (NH) foodies and property rights: Zoning and Portsmouth's 'cursed' gas station.

    In May, Foster’s Daily Democrat reported the exciting news that celebrity chef Bobby Marcotte planned to convert an abandoned Portsmouth gas station into a unique Asian-Spanish fusion restaurant. 

    Portsmouth has a certain cachet, cultivated by its inhabitants as well as its government. One might think that a super-fashionable, high-concept restaurant helmed by a local celebrity chef would be just the sort of thing to sail through the city’s approval process.

    One might also be unfamiliar with just how absurd local zoning restrictions can be.

    On August 17th, the restaurant concept that was met with such fanfare in May was rejected by a 4-3 vote of the Zoning Board of Adjustment. The Portsmouth Herald report can be read here.

    Congrats, Portsmouth. You're stuck with an abandoned gas station.

  • Fear sells… but who's buyin'? John Tierney strongly suspects the motives: is it as simple as Keeping Fear Alive?

    Throughout the pandemic, American political and public-health leaders have been following Rahm Emanuel’s classic dictum for power-seeking officials: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Now they’ve adopted a corollary: you never want a crisis to end.

    So they are prolonging the national misery instead of easing it, which could be done with a few simple strategies. Explain to the public that the virus will never disappear but is no longer a mortal threat to the vast majority of Americans. Encourage the minority still at risk to get vaccinated by honestly discussing who is in jeopardy and what scientists have learned about infections. Promote treatments proven to prevent infection and speed recovery while avoiding unproven treatments and mandates that cause collateral damage and generate mistrust. Above all, make it clear to Americans that we finally have reason to celebrate: what once seemed an unprecedented danger is now just one of many pathogens that we know how to live with.

    But the nation’s crisismongers aren’t about to relinquish their hold over the public, so they’ve set new goals that are as unachievable as they are unnecessary and harmful. Making vaccines available to every American adult is no longer sufficient; now the crisis cannot end until the entire population has been vaccinated. Instead of focusing efforts on vaccinating the vulnerable, officials obsess on compelling universal obedience, even if that means squandering vaccines on people who already have acquired natural immunity or are at minimal risk of serious illness.

    I've said this before, but seemingly way too many people among the citizenry prefer to be in the crisis mentality.

  • A continuing Pun Salad theme: it depends on what you mean by "works", Apoorva. A New York Times Reporter Claims Americans Distrust the Government’s COVID-19 Advice Because They Don’t Understand How Science Works.

    New York Times health and science reporter Apoorva Mandavilli thinks she has identified the problem: Americans do not understand how the scientific process works. "To frustrated Americans unfamiliar with the circuitous and often contentious path to scientific discovery, public health officials have seemed at times to be moving the goal posts and flip-flopping, or misleading, even lying to, the country," she writes in a "news analysis."

    To the extent that government messaging can be blamed for the lack of public trust, Mandavilli argues, it is because officials have failed to clearly explain that COVID-19 science is constantly evolving, justifying changes in policy that might seem arbitrary and confusing. "Health officials have not acknowledged clearly or often enough that their recommendations may—and very probably would—change as the virus, and their knowledge of it, evolved," she says. "Is it really so surprising, then, that Americans feel bewildered and bamboozled, even enraged, by rapidly changing rules that have profound implications for their lives?"

    There is some truth to this. Emerging evidence concerning the especially contagious delta variant and the possibility that vaccine effectiveness wanes over time, for example, has given rise to lively debates about the merits of new masking guidelines and booster shots. Evidence that face masks play an important role in reducing virus transmission, which was pretty meager early in the pandemic, has been reinforced by more recent studies, although it is still not strong enough to persuade many skeptics, including some who are familiar with the scientific literature.

    Jacob is, as always, a voice for sanity and liberty. May his tribe increase.