URLs du Jour


Proverbs 19:17 has good news for the charitably generous:

17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,
    and he will reward them for what they have done.

He'll pay you back with interest. Or not, because usury.

■ Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry shares another one of his uncomfortable truths about American health care: We’re Too Afraid to Die.

About 1 percent of the U.S. population accounts for roughly 20 to 30 percent of health spending, and 5 percent for more than 50 percent, a finding that holds over time. These patients tend to be either newborns with catastrophic issues or the elderly. A 2004 study found that 10 percent of Medicare spending happens in the last trimester of life, and 30 percent in the last year of life. Since then, there has been a lot of gesticulation about doing less aggressive medicine in the last year of life, but “pull up the curtain on these statistics, and the drama that unfolds tells a very different story,” a 2013 summary by Kaiser Health News argued. “End-of-life care continues to be characterized by aggressive medical intervention and runaway costs.” And in the policy debates over health care, KHN noted, end-of-life care is the “third rail.”

I don't know if I'll have the guts (or ability, frankly) to forego "aggressive medical intervention" to prolong my life by a handful of days. That is uncomfortable. In fact, I'm squirming in my otherwise comfy chair just from typing that.

■ More on a powerful pol demanding that private companies do what the government cannot, from Scott Shackford at Reason: Sen. Feinstein's Threat to 'Do Something' to Social Media Companies Is a Bigger Danger to Democracy Than Russia

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) took the opportunity this week to remind social media companies that she's as authoritarian as President Donald Trump and isn't afraid to try to push people around.

<voice imitation="natasha_fatale">Dollink, who is needing fake Facebook ads to fool stoopid Americanskis, when their own politicians do it for us?</voice>

■ Megan McArdle argues that Republicans Turned the Tax Code Into a Weapon. Although she has some nice things to say:

Well, there is the aforementioned budget problem of paying for all this reforming. But there is also the political problem of doing so. It is hard not to notice that this bill is designed to spread benefits among Trump supporters, particularly the Republican donor class, while laying most of the costs on a single group of people: six-figure professionals living in blue states, a group known as the HENRYs (High Earning, Not Rich Yet). One can make a principled justification for levying high taxes on the rich, who can most easily spare the money. One can make a principled justification for taxing everyone equally, share and share alike. But what is the principle by which almost all of the pain of this tax bill should be borne by affluent, but not rich, people who happen to live on the coasts? Other than “we don’t like them.”

I don't disagree, at least not strongly, but the headline implies that the "tax code as weapon" started with this particular tax bill? For example, this noted philosopher demanded a "heavy progressive or graduated income tax" as one of the means to…

… wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible.

To a certain extent, the GOP's "tax reform" is a defense against this type of weaponization.

■ Don't forget to do … something, I forget … to your clocks before settling in for the night tonight. Mr Lileks warns naysayers: Don't even think of getting rid of the 'fall back' hour.

Twice a year we pretend we’re going to have a conversation about doing away with daylight saving time. If it actually happens anywhere, it goes like this:

“It’s unnatural. It’s an archaic holdover from our agrarian days, when children were sent to the fields to gather sheaves, but under modern labor laws ... Mffffff!”

He didn’t finish the sentence because someone stuck a sock in his mouth. We don’t want to hear about changing DST because it gives us that wondrous extra hour of daylight on summer evenings to gambol about in the tenebrous glow of endless June.

It should be noted that Mr. Lileks lives in a town at 93.2650° west latitude. For those of us at 70.8254°, it's not quite as salubrious.

■ Arianna Reyes writes in The Scarlet, the student newspaper at Clark University (Worcester, MA), and triggered our Google LFOD alert: Should Gun Control be Reformed?

Gun control has always been a controversial topic with many points of view. Some groups have always advocated for the right to bear arms. Coming from the state of New Hampshire, this has constantly been a part of my life.

People regularly talked about the importance of the right to bear arms, but personally, I never saw what the big deal was. However, with a state slogan like “live free or die” it’s hard to argue with one another over what people are allowed to do. If you were to ask most of the population of New Hampshire if better gun control laws were needed, it is likely that they would blatantly answer no.

Goodness, that's some … pretty terrible writing. It doesn't get better, click over and read for yourself.

Contra Arianna: If you word your polling questions innocuously enough (like: "do you want better laws"), you can get a comfy majority of NH respondees to agree.

I've also left the following comment on the website:

If your argument were valid, NH’s easy gun availability should make it be a hotbed of murderous violence. But it’s not. Look at state firearm death rates (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firearm_death_rates_in_the_United_States_by_state), NH is in 44th place.

Suggestion: base your advocacy more on facts, less on your childhood fears and traumas.

■ And I liked this xkcd, to which I will hotlink: [Also,
    my lack of blog readers]