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March 3, 2015

All Hail Taranto!

taranto150303.gif


March 1, 2015

Review Corner

Their calculations are at odds with those of businessmen, their market counterparts . Whereas the latter asks how much people want something, the equivalent of asking what they are willing to pay, the politician asks how many people want something. [...] Legislating tax policy is a process of give and take, but those being taken from are seldom part of the conversation.
Public Choice Theory marries the consequentialist and rights-based argument for libertarianism. And Randy T. Simmons's Beyond Politics: The Roots of Government Failure bakes the cake and puts the handsome couple on top.

Simmons uses just enough economics to ensure a factual underpinning. I don't think any interested reader would feel overwhelmed with theory and charts. Yet there is enough for a serious reader to see the projected and actual effects of previous policies. And it raises the work above polemics.

Despite the importance of individual preferences in democracies, a number of otherwise attractive political features have the unhappy facility of violating Paretian efficiency. The two most prominent involve redistribution of income. Redistributive gains dominate efficiency considerations in policy discussions, and democratic institutions encourage this redistributive propensity. In addition, democracy has an unfortunate but a distinct penchant for enacting inefficient proposals-- proposals that make some better off but at the expense of others or even worse, making everyone worse off in the long run.

Ruminations on Pareto efficiency always gets you invited back to the best cocktail parties. But for a non-strident, non-polemical book, Beyond Politics advocates for a vastly limited government. All the popular arguments for government interdiction for labor, safety, alleviation of poverty, and imposition of medical code standards are comprehensively dismantled. Society as a whole will be worse off and the solutions will be less innovative and less effective than those subject to the trial of market competition.
The great accomplishment of modern public choice has been to demonstrate the pernicious workings of the visible hand of politics. The same decision makers operating under market and political rules produce quite different results.
[...]
Judges force the redesign of everyday tools and airplanes. They decide if surgeons in operating rooms were acting appropriately or if CEOs ran their financial firms appropriately. They are the most powerful regulators in the American system. And with each new , groundbreaking decision a judge's status in the legal , media, and academic communities increases.

Simons does not come up with many public goods better provided by government. Protect property rights, adjudicate disagreements and let free exchange handle the rest. He quotes both Coase and Bryan Caplan extensively. You cannot compensate for thee failures by invoking democracy or popular consent -- the system has many misplaced incentives built into it.
In Latin "votum" or vote means "ardent wish." But obviously many American voters are not terribly ardent and are, in fact, highly frustrated, which explains why the right to vote is not regularly exploited by many citizens.

Accessible but serious: five stars.


Boulder Rejects 'Net Neutrality!'

The so-called Net Neutrality rules imposed on service providers for the "information superhighway" last week were sold as essential to prevent companies from restricting internet access for those who can't afford to pay higher tolls on the "fast lanes."

Today I read opposition to this point of view from, of all places, Boulder, Colorado.

"In my view, (the tolls) make a lot of sense if we want to use this efficiently, and I think we have to," Nuzzi said.

You see, "When roads and parking lots are free, he said, they tend to become overused."

Oh, "the internet is different than roads and parking lots" you say? I will admit that is true - when government prohibits the allocation of limited capacity by price, and the capacity is overused, it's much harder for voters to see slow internet connections than traffic jams and packed parking lots.


February 27, 2015

Contribution envy

Now we find out the truth to why representative Godzilla (D-tool) has targeted the barely-detectable donations that Dr's Soon and Pielke might have obtained: they weren't properly weighted (a NASA trademark) or processed... er, whatever....

Dr. James Hansen’s financial scandal, now over a million dollars.

This is actually against the law; 18 U.S.C. 209. and 5 CFR 6901.103(d) if anyone's keeping track, which I imagine the nefarious representative of shadowy interests and dubious causes isn't.

I'd always considered Dr. Hansen a piece of Mannly slime, and now we are getting the proof. I imagine he'll get a bit more than a suspension:

failures to report often elegant air and hotel/resort accommodations received on his SF278 as required by law (the amount of direct cash income received from the party providing him travel, as well, is in parentheses):

Blue Planet Prize ($500,000), travel for Hansen and his wife to Tokyo, Japan, 2010

Dan David Prize ($500,000), travel to Paris, 2007

Sophie Prize ($100,000), Oslo Norway, travel for Hansen and his wife, 2010


Some are noting the problems with the witch hunt against Dr. Pielke, notably the AMS.

Go Science!

But nanobrewer thinks:

And representative Grijalva made the mistake of including in his Magnificent 7 list the man who could earn PowerLine's Mark Steyn award (if there were one) for pugnaciousness: Steven Hayward, PhD (source of one of my favorite features on the web "This week in Pictures")

Not sure how/when/where but Dr. Hayward fully intends on making hay from this accusation, unlike Dr. Pielke who has decided quietly to cease to study climate change. Hopefully, that's the extent of his muzzling.... Dr. Pielks was in the local news recently: covered mostly fairly by the Daily Camera (the printed version contained the classic sub rosa accusatory sub-headline: "Professor denies...") and quite fairly by local news, as noted on Pielke's own blog.

Posted by: nanobrewer at March 2, 2015 12:54 PM
But jk thinks:

Very fair treatment by The Camera. End times...

Posted by: jk at March 2, 2015 2:35 PM

All Hail Jonah!

This is why the "Jobs for Jihadists" thing has been so dismaying. It works on the assumption that the Islamic State doesn't really believe what it believes -- it's just venting its frustrations with a bad job market, political corruption, and the cancellation of Firefly. -- Jonah Goldberg [subscribe]
Posted by John Kranz at 1:54 PM | What do you think? [3 comments]
But johngalt thinks:

I wrote the following comment on a FB post, then didn't post it. I thought it should get first public airing here on our humble blog:

It has been said that Iran is the epicenter of the anti-life Islamist philosophy, but it could never have grown and advanced as far or as fast as it has without the philosophical aid and comfort of multiculturalism, embodied in the philosophy of moral relativism. The epicenter of the anti-life relativistic philosophies is - western colleges and universities.


The accelerating growth of Islamism that we see today represents western academia's chickens coming home to roost.

And they probably wouldn't wait until last to murder those academics, if given a chance.

Posted by: johngalt at February 28, 2015 3:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Not a scholar nor a big Iran cheerleader. Looking at the other choices, I question their sitting at the epicenter.

This is not to contradict or impede your making a statement about multiculturalism and academic fellow travelers. The administration is making hard choices about choosing sides between ISIS/ISIL and Iran (Kissinger was of course right on this -- shame they can't both lose).

Posted by: jk at March 1, 2015 11:37 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Gots to love Jonah...

The epicenter of the anti-life relativistic philosophies is - western colleges and universities.

Camille Paglia - a joyous and refreshing voice from the left with whom TS'ers would mostly agree, IMO - refers to this as
Post Structuralism

a system of literary and social analysis that flared up and vanished in France in the 1960s but that became anachronistically entrenched in British and American academe from the 1970s on. Based on the outmoded linguistics of .. Saussure ... Derrida, Jacques Lacan, and Michel Foucault, it absurdly asserts that we experience or process reality only through language and that, because language is inherently unstable, nothing can be known. By undermining meaning, history and personal will, post-structuralism has done incalculable damage to education and contemporary thought.

She should know this sort of lingo; it's one of the reasons she only teaches the arts, b/c she is surrounded by "Practitioners." Aka, people who can still actually do something.

Posted by: nanobrewer at March 2, 2015 1:09 PM

No Template Record for "Ebola"

I linked to Jeffrey Singer's WSJ Editorial on electronic records, highlighting stupidity and Public Choice theory.

Here's an intersting interview with Dr. Singer:

~14:00 Discusses the escape from concierge medicine and the coming two-tiered health care system.

But jk thinks:

Makes me want to eat the Bisque at Shucks in Lafayette, LA.

Posted by: jk at February 27, 2015 1:18 PM

Quote of the Day

This is especially true in disputes between the political branches; the judiciary thus provides the ultimate safeguard of the separation of powers. Or, as Justice Robert Jackson put it in the famous Youngstown case of 1952 that rebuked President Truman's unilateral seizure of steel mills: "With all its defects, delays and inconveniences, men have discovered no technique for long preserving free government except that the Executive be under the law, and that the law be made by parliamentary deliberations. Such institutions may be destined to pass away. But it is the duty of the Court to be last, not first, to give them up." -- Ilya Somin
Non-paywall link.

Move that State Line

I think we can safely say that Colorado's 51st State, secessionist movement has fizzled. A better metaphor is drowned -- 100 year floods both captured the media's attention and forced moderates to cling to existing security institutions.

Well, it was a good time and it highlighted the urban-rural divide in State politics. I had warm thoughts as I read a WSJ editorial reporting that 15 New York towns want to trade the Empire State for neighboring, fracking-friendly Pennsylvania.

That part of Pennsylvania is booming. Upstate New York, as anyone who drives through it can attest, is an economic bummer.

James Finch, town supervisor in Conklin, New York, described to a local TV station the difference in life on either side of the state line. "Everybody over the border has new cars, new four-wheelers, new snowmobiles," he said. "They have new roofs, new siding." Life in New York's Southern Tier towns is "desolate."

Governor Cuomo has created an American version of the Cold War's East Berlin--with economic life booming on one side of the divide, while an anti-economic ideology stifles it on the other.


We might have to update the photo:

north_south_korea_lights.gif


February 26, 2015

Wins the Internet

I am negotiating with the genius who created this to see if he prefers attribution or privacy. I'll let you know (I don't know him). But, in the meantime, bwaaahahahhahahaha!

fcc_smartphone.jpg

But johngalt thinks:

A pretty good summary of today's event can be found in this KOA summary of a Daily Caller article, including a link to the details of the plan. (I guess we plebes can see it, now that they've approved it.) Here's the silver lining:

Service providers including Verizon and AT&T have already vowed to challenged the FCC’s aggressive regulations in court. The agency lost a federal court battle with service providers last year precisely for regulating ISPs similarly to public utilities under the Clinton-era act.
Posted by: johngalt at February 26, 2015 6:13 PM
But jk thinks:

Nick Gillespie has an informative read on it as well -- opening with the same good news:

There will now be a long process of what exactly any of this means, followed by inevitable court battles (the FCC is 0 for 2 in recent attempts to expand its authority over the Internet and is hoping this third time will be the charm)

Posted by: jk at February 26, 2015 6:51 PM

And Now for an Opposing Viewpoint

Wow:

If racial internment isn't enough to engender skepticism of government, I pretty much give up.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:45 PM | What do you think? [3 comments]
But johngalt thinks:

Don't get your racial internment remark. Are you reflecting on decades past, or did I miss something?

It's mighty swell of Captain Sulu to be such a champion of giving away other people's property at no charge. Let's try this:

"Big television and movie companies should not be allowed to restrict access to DVDs of old Star Trek episodes for those who can't afford to pay for them."

Or any other copyrighted material that someone, somewhere, created for profit. Or medical treatment. Or whatever it is that YOU make - for profit. Where is the grocery store that lets me trade public service credits for my family groceries?

Posted by: johngalt at February 26, 2015 4:23 PM
But jk thinks:

It's not one of my abstruse jokes this time -- Takei was actually in two Japanese internment camps as a child and now his "legacy project" is the Musical "Allegiance."

"My life mission has been to raise the awareness of the internment of innocent American citizens, who happened to be of Japanese ancestry, during the Second World War," said Takei, chairman emeritus and a trustee of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

If that doesn't make you a libertarian, I quit!

Posted by: jk at February 26, 2015 5:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

If that didn't make Takei a libertarian, nothing will. Is that about the size of it?

But you see, what happened then, and what happened in other countries in the past, that could never happen again, here, in our lifetimes. Because... why, exactly?

You say, "Come on, Williams, there will never be the kind of socialist oppression seen elsewhere here!" You might be right because Americans have become very compliant with unconstitutional and immoral congressional edicts. But what do you think would happen if some Americans began to rise up and heed Thomas Jefferson's admonition "Whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force." and decided to disobey unconstitutional congressional edicts?

Or presidential edicts.

Posted by: johngalt at February 26, 2015 6:19 PM

Will there be an Internet tomorrow?

Or will the 'net be neutered?

The American people deserve--and have requested--an open and transparent FCC process. Recent polls show that 73 percent of Americans want greater disclosure of the details of the FCC's proposal to regulate the Internet, and nearly eight in ten favor public disclosure of the exact wording and details of the proposal before the FCC votes on it. Indeed, Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly just today called for exactly this--the public release of the 332-page order and a temporary delay of the vote. Nonetheless, citing past Commission practice, you refused to publicly release the text of the 332-page draft order. In a past rulemaking of similar magnitude, however, the Chairman did publicly release the rule prior to a vote. This was done in response to congressional requests, including calls from then-Senator Barack Obama . -- House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (HOSS - UT)

But johngalt thinks:

"We have to enact the incomprehensible overbearing nanny state restriction on human freedom before we read what's in it."

Posted by: johngalt at February 26, 2015 4:02 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Investors

This is part of a long-term project by America's self-described "progressive" movement to erode the Constitution and give greater power to left-leaning government elites and bureaucrats.

Americans should be alarmed and angry at this assault on their basic rights. Only when they're gone will they be missed.

And read at the link how, not just the Obama administration, but the U.N., is getting in on the act of "government action to restrict."

Posted by: johngalt at February 26, 2015 4:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It is not, and never was, net "neutrality." It's net egalitarianism, or the short form, Net Equality.

At least, that is my prediction. We'll see how close I am once the reviews of what it actually says start coming out. If they ever make it public. (My prior suggestion of a link to the content was oversold and underverified.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 26, 2015 6:41 PM

February 25, 2015

Votes for Walker

I'm not issuing my endorsement anytime soon, and neither is Noah Millman over at TAC, but he puts up a solid argument in the unfortunately titled "I Killed Latin: You?"

Scott Walker picked a high-profile battle over a core issue that both the establishment and more insurgent types care about -- the status and position of public sector unions. His opponents rose to the challenge, and threw everything they had into the battle to defeat him -- to the point of trying to get him recalled before the next scheduled election. The showdown went down in a purple-to-blue state. And Walker won, unequivocally.

This should warm some hearts here:

Jindal and Perry can point to very conservative things they did as governors -- but Louisiana and Texas are very conservative states. Could they do the same in Washington? Ted Cruz can tout his purism -- but he's accomplished literally less than nothing, with his antics having demonstrably backfired in multiple instances.

Certainly that Walker is taking Flak means he's over the target.

2016 Posted by nanobrewer at 11:47 PM | What do you think? [6 comments]
But jk thinks:

At some point, you have to appreciate people for the enemies they make. I'd say I am still considering Gov. Walker; I've heard some things that concern me, but his enemies list is truly top notch!

Posted by: jk at February 26, 2015 10:08 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm ready to endorse Walker. I'm ready to vote for Walker. In the primary and the general. I don't even care which way he comes down on immigramnesty (because I think it's a complex issue that will be worked out by the body politic as a whole, provided the current POTUS can be restrained from granting citizenship and back tax return refunds to everyone with a "dry foot" on the North American continent before the next POTUS is even sworn in.)

I hope that someone will start an(other) "immigramnesty" conversation here soon because I see a lot of confusion about what "amnesty" means: legally remain here and work, pay taxes, and be subject to local laws, OR have access to all of the rights and benefits of American citizens, i.e. assistance of every sort and, the VOTE. Tancredo says we can't have the first without, eventually, the latter. Okay, but when we question candidates about this issue we had best be clear about the distinction.

Posted by: johngalt at February 26, 2015 11:50 AM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I didn't used to big as big on Walker as I've become (and I point to this as evidence of my open-mindedness). He may not be a doctrinaire conservative - like Br'er JK, there are some sticky points - but there are two things right now that have moved him up in my eyes:

(1) He's proven that it's possible to successfully sell small-government policy in a blue state. All of us here believe that, as long as reason governs and not feel-goodism, this is possible, but Walker has successfully done it. As Nano quotes, Jindal and Perry have sold conservatism to a customer base that's already buying it; Walker is persuading customers who are shopping at the competition. If coffee is for closers, Walker right now would be one of the few guys entitled to a cup. ("Always Be Closing.")

(2) Walker is the one candidate who, like Reagan before him, has been able to deny a beachhead to a hostile press. He's recently given then a beatdown on two attempts at a "gotcha" moment, putting them on notice that he isn't afraid of them and won't be manipulated by them, and he's done it without offending the viewing public. That's an accomplishment. It tells me he's not likely to fall victim in the debate phase of the campaign to a partisan moderator -- as we've seen before on more than one occasion.

A friend of mine has made a persuasive case for a Walker/Cruz ticket, assuming Mr. Cruz would be willing to take the #2 position. Cruz would become the frontrunner to succeed Walker, and he'd be free to be the attack dog in a Walker administration, a role he'd fit into neatly. Besides, as the President of the Senate, Cruz was be in a position to give McConnell heartburn, and I'd pay good money to see that.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 26, 2015 1:04 PM
But jk thinks:

Sounds like we've a frontrunner. (I'd much prefer Sen. Rand Paul as the VP.)

Posted by: jk at February 26, 2015 1:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And I thought I was the one getting ahead of myself! KA cites two of my reasons for supporting Walker, so I'm on board that far, but I don't see any current POTUS contenders ever signing on as the number two to any of the others. Each sees himself as presidential material. How can he or she play second fiddle? And "the frontrunner to succeed Walker...?" If I'm an optimist you're a, what, paranoid kook hayseed? (Or are you going to deny that you ordered more ammo today?)

Posted by: johngalt at February 26, 2015 4:00 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Were I dependent on AR-15 ammo, then yes, I'd have already been shopping. 7.62x54r has a slightly different supply chain.

"Paranoid kook hayseed"? This, from a guy who posts on Facebook about arming up to protect the virtue of his daughters? I guess I can count myself in good company.

Finally, do note that the reference to "frontrunner to succeed Walker" wasn't my position, but that of "a friend of mine" who made the case for the Walker/Cruz pairing. I will admit the idea is intriguing, but it's still only February of 2015; a lot can happen in the months ahead of us. I've got sort of a preference tree right now, with Walker, Cruz, and Perry at the top, and Jindal in the next tier along with some others (I'm also hearing some fans of a Walker/Haley ticket, by the way) -- and of course, I trust I don't have to repeat any of the four names that would see me sitting the election out. They'll be selling lift tickets in Hell before I vote for some of these guys...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 26, 2015 4:45 PM

Otequay of the Ayday

"When 'witch hunts' are deemed legitimate in the context of popular causes, we will have fully turned science into just another arena for the exercise of power politics," Pielke wrote. "The result is a big loss for both science and politics."

University of Colorado climate scientist Roger Pielke, on the news that Arizona U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-Hypocrisy) has targeted him for congressional investigation into corporate funding of global warming research.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D- Ariz.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, sent requests to seven universities asking for detailed records on the funding sources for affiliated researchers who have opposed the scientific consensus on man-made global warming. Grijalva cited concerns over possible conflicts of interest involving scientists who have sought to influence the public debate on climate.

But these researchers, Pielke at least, are producing and citing peer reviewed papers that are published in the respected scientific journals. Does Rep. Grijalva suggest that the source of the funding might taint that established, objective process? If so he should also send a memo to his boss in the White House asking for a complete accounting of all of the federal money that has been spent on investigating climate. After all, nobody has a greater conflict of interest regarding climate taxes, regulations, mandates, etcetera, etcetera than does the federal government.


All Hail Paglia!

We really don't have a theology category? I'mma gonna start one.

It's not theology qua theology, but blog friend sugarchuck shared this jewel of an interview with Camille Paglia: "The Catholic Pagan: 10 Questions for Camille Paglia."

You'll want to read the whole thing, but here's a taste:

Identifying yourself as a "dissident feminist," you often seem more at home with classical Greek and Roman paganism than with postmodern academia. How has this reality affected your public and professional relationships?

I feel lucky to have taught primarily at art schools, where the faculty are active practitioners of the arts and crafts. I have very little contact with American academics, who are pitifully trapped in a sterile career system that has become paralyzed by political correctness. University faculties nationwide have lost power to an ever-expanding bureaucracy of administrators, whose primary concern is the institution's contractual relationship with tuition-paying parents. You can cut the demoralized faculty atmosphere with a knife when you step foot on any elite campus. With a few stellar exceptions, the only substantive discourse that I ever have these days is with academics, intellectuals, and journalists abroad.


She's not known for pulling punches and this is a superb overview. Now that we've lost Christopher Hitchens, Paglia is one of that last great iconoclasts.


Government Which was Wrong for 50 Years on Diet Might Not Be Completely Correct on E-Cigs

Bad Government advice? Harmful Unintended Consequences? I'll wait for y'all to put on your shocked faces.

Review Corner this Sunday will address Randy T. Simmons's "Beyond Politics." [Spoiler alert -- it will do pretty well...] Simmons provides a trenchant economic case for the superiority of market solutions to government, even into some areas generally considered "public goods." One of Brother Bryan's many reading groups is slated to read and discuss for Public Choice theory in general. I already posted this Simpson meme to his timeline with "Randy T. Simmons, Call your Office!"

simpsons_public_choice.jpg

I know it is not news to ThreeSourcers, but spending a few hours with Simmons makes you hyper aware of all the things government does badly that it should not do at all. Four out of five stories I read could be put on Bryan's timeline with the same tag.

To choose just one: Michael B. Siegel is an anti-smoking advocate. A big-time anti-smoker. He takes to the WSJ Ed Page today to suggest that attacks on E-cigs and vapers are misguided.

But as I talked to many e-cigarette users, known as “vapers,” conducted research (Journal of Public Health Policy, 2011) and reviewed a growing body of scientific evidence, I became convinced that e-cigarettes have dramatic potential for reducing disease and death caused by smoking.

Yet many in the antismoking movement--in which I have been involved for decades--are conducting a misleading campaign against these products. And this campaign may be doing harm to public health.


Now, even Greeley Colorado -- the County seat for liberty-lovin' Weld -- a ban was passed, shutting down an existing business. (John Caldara did a great show but a link escapes me at present [see update]).

In short, people will not be allowed to choose whether this alternative is better for them -- government is. What could possible go wrong?

UPDATE: Jon Caldara and Chris Guaman, owner of Smokeless CG Vapors

But johngalt thinks:

But electing the correct people to control those things is easy - pick the one that looks the best on television (or the intertubes.)

We can't eat what looks best on television; that causes global warming (and cancer.)

We can't drink what looks best on television; that raises the national health care cost (and causes cancer.)

We can't smoke what looks best on television; there's no smoking on television. Why? It causes cancer.

We can't marry who looks good on television; we'd be jailed as stalkers.

We can't choose a job or a salary that looks good on television; it takes talent to be a professional athlete. (And it may not cause cancer but it does cause brain damage.)

So yeah, "we" aren't smart enough. "We" need well-meaning overlords - even if they're not efficacious.

Posted by: johngalt at February 25, 2015 3:12 PM

Don't click this. Comments (2)