URLs du Jour

2021-10-08

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  • Some? Veronique de Rugy points out the obvious: For Some Politicians, Enough Spending Will Never Be Enough.

    Back in 2005, I wrote that when it comes to spending, "Congressional Republicans Make French Socialists Look Like Ronald Reagan." Looking back now, from the perspective of fiscal prudence, those were the good old days. Yet, as irresponsible as Republicans have been with our finances since then, today's Democrats seem committed to making the spendaholic GOP look like Uncle Scrooge.

    Let's recap: The worst of the COVID-19 emergency is hopefully behind us, meaning the country should focus on recovery, fully reopening the economy and returning to work. Government should focus on scaling back emergency programs and reducing the deficit. It's not just the prudent thing to do, it's also what Americans want. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, 72% of Americans view the federal budget deficit as a "very big" or "moderately big" problem. This concern is more pronounced than that surrounding any issues politicians are focusing on these days, including illegal immigration and crime.

    Let's not exempt the voters that elected these folks from blame.


  • Paying your fair share? How about paying what you owe? Neal McCluskey examines the latest Bidenesque legerdemain to tilt the financial tables in favor of our betters: Bypass the Constitution to Forgive the Debts of Our “Servants”?

    Today, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it will make sweeping changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which offers student loan cancellation for people who work in most nonprofit—especially government—jobs. The program is a sort of taxpayer thanks to “public servants,” whether taxpayers want to give thanks or not. It is based on the assumption that working for government or a nonprofit organization is a big sacrifice for the greater good. Indeed, it is so important that people holding degrees get their debts canceled that the Biden administration is violating the Constitution to get it done, bypassing Congress to de facto rewrite law. Not that federal student loans were ever constitutional.

    This is pen-and-phone lawmaking, subverting the legislative process to shower financial goodies on a Democrat-heavy sector. ("Other than that, though, it's fine.")


  • Amused by incoherence? Me too. Alan Reynolds describes How Lina Khan Debunked the DOJ Antitrust Case against Google.

    As a law student in 2017, Federal Trade Commission chairwoman Lina Khan quickly gained notoriety for a “note” in the Yale Law Journal titled, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox.” Her focus was on protecting rivals from Amazon’s low — “predatory” — prices, suggesting that we either “forc[e] it to split up its retail and Marketplace operations” or hobble it with “public utility regulations and common carrier duties.” The article had only ancillary grumbles about Google and offered no suggestions that Facebook was a monopoly either. (Khan, however, has recently tried to make that case at the FTC without much success.)

    Yet just four pages into that 2017 essay, Ms. Khan stumbled on something important. She astutely observed that, “Close to half of all online buyers go directly to Amazon first to search for products.” Think about that for a minute: If half of all searches for consumer products start with Amazon, how can the Justice Department now claim, as it does, that “Google has accounted for almost 90 percent of all search queries in the United States”?

    Why, it's almost as if most savvy consumers have figured out how to use the Internet for their own benefit! But never fear: Lina will fix that.


  • And will soon be blaterhing about divisiveness. Matt Welch, in more sorrow than anger, notes the latest rhetoric. Biden to GOP: ‘Get Out of the Way, So You Don’t Destroy’ the Country.

    President Joe Biden Monday accused Republicans of wanting to "destroy" the country. No really, that's what he said, then tweeted out the video for emphasis:

    Such apocalyptic, condemnatory rhetoric has become increasingly common for a president whose inaugural-address theme was "unity, not division." Last month, for example, Biden accused Republican governors of "playing politics with the lives of their citizens, especially children," and "doing everything they can to undermine the public health requirements that keep people safe" from COVID-19.

    In contravention of his inaugural promise to "stop the shouting, and lower the temperature," the president this week is hyperbolizing his twin infrastructure/social-spending bills on Capitol Hill as nothing short of an "inflection point" in "world history," after which—if we don't choose correctly, and fast—America as we know it may soon be lapped by China and Russia.

    `

    Biden's "mandate" was: don't be Trump. And that's all. Not a hard thing to do, but he's botching it.

    (To be fair, Trump's "mandate" was: don't be Hillary. Also botched.)


  • And don't get them started on the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Keene State Professor Emerita of Political Science Joan Roelofs pens a (I think it's fair to say) anti-military screed here: Addicted to Military Keynesianism: Why Can't Even Our Most Progressive Politicians Break with the Military Industrial Complex?

    New Hampshire, like many other states, is deeply penetrated by military culture, funding, and institutions. Yet its presence is hardly visible to many people. This is amazing, as the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about was a mere fragment of its scope today.

    Military contractor campaign donations, propaganda, and patriotism account for much of the support for our endless wars and preparation for them, costly in economic, environmental, and human ways. In addition, a multitude of interests sustains the military and its budget, and encourages silence about its wars of aggression and other activities.

    Well, that will give you the flavor of what's to come.

    Amusingly, I was directed to Prof Roelofs' article by a link on the "UNH in the news" section of the UNH Today web page (no longer available there). The UNH connection in Prof Roelofs' article:

    The University System of New Hampshire and Dartmouth participate in the DoD’s environmental research programs as well as others. Of the USNH contracts, one for nearly $2m, is to study “Seed dispersal networks and novel ecosystem functioning in Hawaii.” Dartmouth also receives grants for military medical research. The state’s universities and colleges are provided with tuition and fees for ROTC students.

    Seed dispersal in Hawaii! Ominous! Makes me want to bomb North Korea!

    Also amusingly, the article sits on a website calling itself CovertAction Magazine, which is pretty odd given its presence on the World Wide Web, kind of the opposite of "covert".


  • Time Zones? Yep, still stupid. Linux Weekly News has brought an article out from behind its paywall, and it's recommended for students of the free software movement, and how things can go dysfunctional all of a sudden: A fork for the time-zone database?

    A controversy about the handling of the Time Zone Database (tzdb) has been brewing since May, but has come to a head in recent weeks. Changes that were proposed to simplify the main database file have some consequences in terms of time-zone history and changes to the representation of some zones. Those changes have upset a number of users of the database—to the point where some have called for a fork. A September 25 release of tzdb with some, but not all, of the changes seems unlikely to resolve the conflict.

    The time-zone database is meant to track time-zone information worldwide for time periods starting at the Unix epoch of January 1, 1970. But, over the years, it has accumulated a lot of data on time zones and policies (e.g. daylight savings time) going back many years before the epoch. As with anything that governments and politicians get involved with, which time zone a country (or part of a larger country) is in, whether it participates in daylight savings time (DST), and when the DST switches are made, are arbitrary and subject to change, seemingly at whim. Tzdb has been keeping up with these changes so that computer programs can handle time correctly since 1986 or so, when it was often called the "Olson database" after its founder, Arthur David Olson.

    Key phrase: "seemingly at whim".

    Sample from last month's tzdb changelog.

    Rename Pacific/Enderbury to Pacific/Kanton. When we added Enderbury in 1993, we did not know that it is uninhabited and that Kanton (population two dozen) is the only inhabited location in that timezone. The old name is now a backward-compatility link.

    Well, disaster averted.


Last Modified 2021-10-09 7:55 AM EDT