A Belated Cartoon

But It's An Emergency, So It's OK

From Mr. Ramirez:


A good illustration for Eric Boehm's article at Reason: Biden Wants Another $56 Billion in 'Emergency' Spending.

Under the guise of responding to natural disasters, the White House is pushing Congress to approve $56 billion in additional borrowing to fund a wide range of nonemergency spending like broadband internet and humanitarian aid.

Less than half of the $56 billion requested by the Biden administration would be directed toward disaster relief—and only $9 billion would "address ongoing disaster response and recovery efforts," according to a breakdown published by the White House. The majority of the new spending would be aimed at what the White House calls "critical domestic priorities" like welfare programs, the war on drugs, and government-funded broadband internet.

In other words: nonemergency line items that could—and should—be decided as part of the regular budget process, not as a supplemental funding bill.

Yes, I know: we talked about this yesterday. I'm sorry, you didn't seem mad enough.

Also of note:

  • Alternate title: Taxachusetts 2: Electric Boogaloo. But the WSJ editorialists go for the relatively staid: The Return of Taxachusetts.

    ‘Affordable housing” is a noble goal and the mother of endless dim policies. The latest counterproductive effort is a push in Massachusetts to fund home construction by taxing home sales.

    Gov. Maura Healey recently gave her blessing to Bay State towns and cities that want to tax home sales. The Affordable Homes Act she announced this month would let municipalities place a 0.5% to 2% tax on the proceeds of sales above $1 million. Instead of going into a general fund, the revenue would be set aside to support housing that the state deems affordable.

    The $1 million sale threshold may sound forgiving, but not in today’s Massachusetts. Fifty-three percent of homes on the market in Boston in July were asking more than that amount, according to a study from real-estate company Point2. On a home selling for $1.3 million, the new tax could be the equivalent of a 43% property-tax increase.

    I think this means New Hampshire should brace for another wave of Massachusetts tax refugees. And it will probably be quick, as those folks will want to sell their homes before the tax increase.

    (Not that it matters, but the Wikipedia page for Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo notes "The subtitle "Electric Boogaloo" has entered the popular culture lexicon as a snowclone nickname to denote an archetypal sequel.")

  • Politicians love misleading labels. Travis Fisher suggests a more accurate name for a proposed "carbon tariff": A Carbon Tariff Is a Carbon Tax for Protectionists.

    Senator Bill Cassidy (R‑LA) wants to slap a tariff on carbon‐intensive imports. Last week he told reporters: “What we’re proposing is not a domestic carbon tax, and it is not intended to lead to a domestic carbon tax.” In an article published by Foreign Affairs, Senator Cassidy referred to his carbon tariff policy as a “foreign pollution fee.” One may quibble with the labels, but three things are clear: 1) Senator Cassidy’s proposal is a carbon tax on imports, 2) it will hurt American consumers and some manufacturers, and 3) it lays the groundwork for a domestic carbon tax.

    "Other than that, though, it's fine."

    Bastiat is quoted later in the article:

    There is a fundamental antagonism between the seller and the buyer. The seller wants the goods on the market to be scarce, in short supply, and expensive. The latter wants them abundant, in plentiful supply, and cheap. Our [trade] laws, which should at least be neutral, take the side of the seller against the buyer, of the producer against the consumer, of high prices against low prices, of scarcity against abundance.

    And there's also the classic advice to keep in mind when reading the bafflegab that folks like Senator Cassidy deploy to push such measures: "Look around the poker table; if you can’t see the sucker, you’re it."

  • Can you trust the government not to mess this up? James Pethokoukis describes What's really at stake if we get AI regulation wrong. (It's partially-paywalled, but the public part is pretty good.)

    My view: Premature and rushed AI regulation risks stifling innovation and cementing dominant companies, especially as the major players have the resources and clout to deal with new rules and to influence the shaping of those rules to their advantage. Regulators should show GREAT humility, given the limited understanding of generative AI's risks.

    Sure, governments should prioritize establishing structures to study AI, encouraging collaboration among existing regulatory bodies. Voluntary codes of conduct for AI model-makers can help manage potential threats. And then we can take it from there, dealing with problems in an informed and targeted way. There’s no reason not to view the 1990s internet example as informative.

    By "the 1990s [I]nternet example", Pethokoukis is referring to Bill Clinton's decision to allow the Internet to develop relatively free of government strictures and plans. A key metaphor back then was implied by the term "Information Superhighway". Fortunately, we got something else.

  • Warning: R-rated (but very funny) language ahead. Jeff Maurer forwards a "guest column from Windex Customer Relations". Windex Ain’t Scared: Here’s Our Statement on Israel/Palestine.

    In recent years, it’s become common for companies and institutions to make statements in response to world events. Covid, the death of George Floyd, and the Supreme Court decisions on abortion and affirmative action all compelled companies, universities, and other organizations to go on-record.

    The horror in Israel and Gaza is the type of event that one would expect to prompt an avalanche of statements. And yet, many groups that previously spoke of a moral imperative to denounce injustice have fallen silent. Some have professed a newfound commitment to institutional neutrality, while others have been torn apart by internal dissent. They likely fear a misstep that could damage their standing.

    Let it be known: Windex — America’s #1 glass and surface cleaner — will not succumb to such institutional dicklessness. We are sickened by the cowardice of companies who strutted around like they were Nelson fucking Mandela after issuing pro-forma George Floyd statements but have now fallen silent on Israel-Palestine. Windex will not make that mistake. We are, after all, known for two things: 1) Being the multi-purpose cleaner that brings a streak-free sparkle to any surface, and 2) Big, pendulous balls. We would no sooner compromise our reputation as a cleanser with cojones más grandes than we would surrender in our eternal struggle against fingerprints, dirt, and grime.

    Therefore, here is our statement on Israel/Palestine:

    Windex believes that the collective lands of Israel/Palestine belong to the Natufian people, who lived in the region during the Late Epipaleolithic Era, circa 10,000 BCE. The Israelis and Palestinians — as well as the Druze, Bedouins, and other peoples of the region — are interlopers with no legitimate claim to the land.

    Not what you expected? Well, guess what: Windex don’t fuckin’ care. Windex doesn’t make statements to be popular; we make them because there are hard truths that people need to hear whether they like it or not. If you want someone to stroke your hair and whisper soft comforts in your ear, then we suggest you seek out a statement from a company that will pander to your oh-so-delicate sensibilities. Like Oreos, for example. What a pathetic bunch of cucks they are.

    You'll want to click through to read Windex's further thoughts on Ukraine, Quebec, the moon landing, abortion…

Last Modified 2024-01-28 3:00 AM EDT