The Competition Was Weak, But I'll Take the Win

[Freedom in the 50 States]

Our Eye Candy du Jour is from the Cato Institute's latest report on Freedom in the 50 States 2023. We're number one, baby, and it ain't close.

New Hampshire is once again the freest state in the Union and in 2022 set the record for the highest freedom score ever recorded in the 21st century. Governor Chris Sununu and the New Hampshire legislature have much to be proud of. In 2000, on the full index, Nevada was number one, just ahead of New Hampshire. New Hampshire briefly took over as number one in 2006, only to be dethroned by South Dakota. Today, the Granite State has held the crown since 2011. (In the fifth edition, Florida was number one, but the addition of new variables since then has made it so that Florida has now been number two in our data set since 2015. Obviously, there’s no shame in this for Florida, because the state has continued to gain on freedom on the variables we measure.) Historically, freedom in New Hampshire declined substantially with the legislatures elected in 2006 and 2008, then recovered all the ground it lost in those years in the legislature elected in 2010. The legislature elected in 2012 diminished freedom slightly, but the 2014-elected legislature then increased it again even more. And in the 2021 to 2022 period, New Hampshire saw the second-largest increase in freedom of all the states, behind only Connecticut.

Bringing up the rear: New York, Hawaii, California.

But there's much room for improvement even in the Granite State: Cato suggests a right-to-work law, implementing truly universal school choice (Klingons?), and local governments getting "a handle on school spending and taxes."

Also of note:

  • I think they call this "burying the lede." Federalist reporter Rebeka Zeljko provides a tale from the capital of Carjackia: The Gun Biden Doesn't Want You To Have Just Protected His Family.

    Secret Service reportedly opened fire Sunday night on three suspects attempting to break into an unmarked government vehicle parked in front of the Georgetown home of Naomi Biden, President Joe Biden’s granddaughter. Reports allege that the three offenders fled the scene after the gunfire started.

    These types of scenarios are exactly why Americans advocate for the Second Amendment, but unfortunately, not all citizens have the same protection the Biden family is afforded.

    Good point, of course, but I think the more interesting bits are that (a) the Secret Service literally has a "shoot first, ask questions later" policy for miscreants breaking into a government car; and (b) they are apparently poor shots.

  • Well, that's bad news. Also at the Federalist, Brian Hawkins ("the policy coordinator at the American Legislative Exchange Council") opines: Libertarianism Had Its Moment But Is Ill-Equipped For The Task Of Saving America.

    One item stood out at last week’s Republican presidential primary debate: There was not an explicitly nor implicitly identified libertarian candidate. Ron Paul represented the libertarian faction in Republican debates in 2008 and 2012, and his son Rand Paul assumed the mantle in 2016. Prior libertarian-leaning Republican primary candidates include Barry Goldwater in 1964, Jack Kemp in 1988, and Steve Forbes in 1996 and 2000, yet no such candidate can claim the position in this year’s Republican primary. The lack of a libertarian candidate is emblematic of the right’s shift away from free-market fundamentalism and toward a more robust social conservatism.

    My own ideological evolution is demonstrative of the right’s shift away from libertarianism. Eight years ago, The Federalist published my essay making the Christian case for libertarianism. At the time, libertarianism seemed ascendant in contemporary politics. The New York Times wondered aloud if America’s “libertarian moment” had arrived, and Time Magazine featured Sen. Rand Paul on its cover describing him as “The Most Interesting Man in Politics.” But libertarianism’s political triumph was short-lived.

    There are many possible reasons for this shift away from libertarianism, but among the most decisive were the disruptive events of the Covid-19 pandemic. America’s response to the pandemic exposed two fundamental truths that libertarianism was ill-equipped to answer: First, our institutions have been seized by ideological activists who have weaponized them against core American values; second, the left is on an evangelizing mission to impose its values across society unless resisted.

    I'm pretty dismayed, liberty-wise, with the GOP candidates this time around. Even Nikki Haley, my favorite, is only good in comparison with the others; she recently floated a weird and obviously unconstitutional proposal requiring verification on social media.

    Hawkins says some smart and correct things. I think he overstates the ability of governmental action to (as he puts it) "assert virtue throughout society", specifically by "retaking institutions, restoring social virtue, and rebuilding the family." And that's even if you win elections, which neither conservatives nor libertarians have shown much recent talent for.

  • She bet on one horse to win, and I bet on another to show. (Almost) every Sunday, we take a look at the Election Betting Odds site run by Maxim Lott and John Stossel to see what the betting odds are on the 2024 presidential election. Pierre Lemieux examines The Statocrats' Fears about this unvirtuous behavior. And the nannies are pretty powerful:

    The reasons given last Summer by a group of Democratic senators, including Dianne Feinstein and Elizabeth Warren, to oppose political prediction markets betray their strange democratic mystique. They fear that the bad superrich would wage “extraordinary bets” on the same party to which they contribute (presumably through Political Action Committees). It’s not clear what exactly this would change, but the letter seems to assume that voters are so clueless enough about politics as to be influenced by mere electoral predictions. This last possibility is not incompatible with the individual voter’s well-known rational ignorance of politics (because he has practically zero influence on election results), but it does not exactly glorify democratic politics.

    The angelic conception of democracy that the senators try to project is not consistent with their poor opinion of voters. They speak about “the sanctity and democratic value of elections,” as if a prediction market was blasphemy. They claim that “introducing financial incentives into the elections process fundamentally changes the motivations behind each vote, potentially replacing political convictions with financial calculations.” As if politicians did not introduce “financial calculations” in their electoral promises and their trillion-dollar deficits. As if they did not buy votes with taxpayers’ money.

    As I believe the Bonzo Dog Band observed: "No matter who you vote for, the government always gets in".

  • "This is socialsm for the rich." Via Power Line: the Committee to Unleash Prosperity alleges EV Battery Recharging Costs the Equivalent of $17 a Gallon

    Let’s see if we have this straight: Uncle Sam pays the automakers billions of dollars to produce EVs. Then they write a check for $7,500 to consumers who buy an EV and many states kick in up to another $5,000. Now, the government is paying to charge the batteries for the rich people who buy EVs.

    On the pages of the NY Post and on the air of Fox Business, CTUP economist EJ Antoni had this alert:

    Including the charging equipment, subsidies from governments and utilities and other frequently excluded expenses, the true cost of charging an EV is equivalent to $17.33-per-gallon gasoline — but the EV owner pays less than 7% of that.

    Over 10 years, almost $12,000 of costs per EV are transferred to utility ratepayers and taxpayers, effectively socializing the price of recharging an EV while keeping the benefits private.

    This is socialism for the rich: a transfer of costs from higher net-worth individuals to middle- and lower-income taxpayers.

Recently on the book blog:

Last Modified 2024-01-28 3:21 AM EDT

The Secret

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

Well, good news: another Reacher novel, co-written by Lee Child and his brother Andrew. This is set in Reacher's MP days. (His brother Joe is still alive.) Reacher is fresh off a relatively easy investigation involving a scheme to steal and sell M16 full-auto lower receivers to the general public. (Presumably, buyers would include gun enthusiasts, criminals, and homicidal maniacs.) His new assignment is with a team trying to thwart a pair of murderous women who are picking off elderly scientists, Roberta and Veronica. They seem eager to find out the names of people involved in some secret project in India in 1969. (That's a Chapter One spoiler.)

Reacher's team is realistic and cynical, quickly realizing they've been set up to fail, and to be eventually scapegoated for that failure. Fortunately, they're also pretty good at thinking outside the bureaucratic box, breaking the rules, entering forbidden territories, etc. And if some violence needs to be wreaked, Reacher's on hand.

But Roberta and Veronica are impressive in their abilities to evade detection while tracking down and dispatching their targets. In fact, their abilities seem almost Reacher-like. Has Jack met his match?

(Well, no. Why are you even asking?)

Do we have the stylistic trademarks of Child-style here? Sure thing! Thanks to Kindle's search function: Eight occurrences of "Reacher said nothing." Six "That was for damn sure." Five "That was clear."

Last Modified 2024-01-09 6:48 PM EDT