URLs du Jour

2021-10-21

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer] Our Amazon Product du Jour is a symbol of what Philip Greenspun calls "our new religion". There is an amazing array of merch at Amazon featuring the motto/creed, but this one is the most appropriate for the True Believers.

  • Instapundit seems to be… going downhill. Stephen "Should Know Better" Green is inordinately impressed with a statistical factoid:

    I’VE SEEN THE LOCKDOWNS AND THE DAMAGE DONE: Goodbye Middle Class: 50 Percent Of All U.S. Workers Made $34,612.04 Or Less Last Year.

    Income for the lower 50% was sharply up under Trump, which is a solid indicator of an incumbent president winning reelection.

    The lockdowns changed that — even more more [sic] sharply — which, as far as I’m concerned, explains the lockdowns.

    Well, that's garbage.

    Clicking the link brings you to one of those "Aieee, we're dooomed!" articles, by a guy named Michael Snyder. My impression is that he's kind of a self-promoting religious nut, attempting to make a buck off people who like to buy the latest forecast of imminent apocalypse.

    It all began with a very unusual series of dreams. Night after night, Michael Snyder kept having the same extremely vivid dream about the future, but at first he had no idea what those dreams meant. In a search for answers, Michael was led down some very deep rabbit holes which resulted in a chain of discoveries which will absolutely shock Christians all over the world.

    That's fine, this is America, people have been doing this a long time.

    Going a bit further down this "rabbit hole": the $34,612.04 statistic is from the Social Security Administration. From Green's description, you'd expect this to have been a drastic decline from previous years.

    Guess what? It isn't. It's up about a percent from 2019, and it's at the highest level ever. (Caveat: the SSA says it's "estimated". Which doesn't stop them from reporting it down to the penny.)

    This is not to say that American citizens don't have Real Big Financial Problems. We'd all like that number to be higher, and growing more strongly. (Inflation for 2020 (CPI-U) was a tad more than that (1.4%).)

    But you won't get much insight by highlighting out-of-context numbers from religious nuts. Do better, Instapundit.


  • But how are we going to careen down the Road to Serfdom without it? Ronald Bailey notes at Reason that Biden’s ‘Climate-Resilient Economy’ Roadmap Is Largely Superfluous.

    The Biden administration believes that private companies and markets are not effectively pricing into their calculations the effects of man-made climate change on housing, stocks and bonds, physical assets, crop yields, and fire risks. Consequently, President Joe Biden has issued Executive Order 14030 on Climate-Related Financial Risk.

    Pursuant to that executive order, Biden's National Economic Council published A Roadmap to Build a Climate-Resilient Economy. The Roadmap is necessary, asserts the council, because "Wall Street financial models and investment portfolios that manage the assets of millions of Americans continue to rely on the basic assumption that climate will be stable." The report outlines a "climate risk accountability framework" with the aim of "safeguarding the U.S. financial system against climate-related financial risk by holding financial institutions accountable for properly measuring, disclosing, managing, and mitigating climate-related financial risks." That emphasis is in the original.

    But are Wall Street and other investors blithely assuming a stable climate? Actually, no. There is plenty of evidence that portfolio managers, bond markets, businesses, farmers, and shareholders are taking the effects of climate change into account when planning their investments. On the other hand, government interference in markets is slowing financial and infrastructure adaptation to the risks of climate change.

    It's part of the general progressive ideology that governments will be able to spend dollars more wisely than the private sector; that's how they justify sucking more taxes from private pockets into their own.

    Don't bother asking for evidence. It's a faith-based belief.


  • Weren't we just talking about rabbit holes? According to Charles C. W. Cooke, our President has gone down one: Biden in Wonderland.

    ‘If I had a world of my own,” said Alice, “everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrariwise, what it is, it wouldn’t be, and what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”

    Rumor has it that Alice is preparing to apply for a job in the White House press office.

    And not a moment too soon, either, for, having offered himself up as the savior of the American way, President Biden now finds himself in something of a pickle. The jobs reports are lackluster. The border is a mess. Gas prices are sky-high. Our supply chains are broken. Inflation, which was supposed to be “transitory,” looks more persistent by the day. Americans remain stranded in Afghanistan. China’s testing space-nukes. COVID is not only still with us; it’s making its way into the Good States. And, despite its having been given a jolly, catchy name — the “Build Back Better agenda” — all the public seems to know about the president’s gargantuan spending plan is that it will cost trillions upon trillions of dollars.

    Down the rabbit hole, though, everything is still peachy. Indeed, insofar as America has any problems to speak of, they’re held to be either non-existent, inconsequential, or somehow your fault. You may think you watched in horror a few months ago as a generational debacle unfolded in Kabul, but what you actually saw was “the largest U.S. airlift in history.” Hurrah! You may believe that the southern border has been in a perpetual state of crisis from the moment President Biden took office, but this is merely the sort of quotidian “circumstance” that could have happened under any president and is only happening now due to the inexplicable vagaries of climate change. How unfair! On first glance, you might think it more than a little startling that the Chinese Communist Party has managed to contrive a cache of hypersonic nuclear weapons that, if deployed correctly, would zip right past our defenses, but what you’re for some reason missing is that when it comes to the prospect of a nuclear apocalypse, “stiff competition” between nations is “welcome.” Natch.

    It's an NRPLUS article, and I encourage you to subscribe.


  • A stunningly good example of skepticism, honesty, and curiousity… is provided at Astral Codex Ten: Chilling Effects.

    On the recent global warming post, a commenter argued that at least fewer people would die of cold. I was prepared to dismiss this on the grounds that it couldn’t possibly be enough people to matter, but, um:

    … and goes on to quote a study. found via Googling:

    The study found that extreme heat and cold killed 5.08 million people on an average every year from 2000-2019. Of this, 4.6 million deaths on an average occurred annually due to extreme cold while 0.48 million deaths occurred due to extreme heat. This means close to nine out of every 100 deaths in the world in this period were due to cold temperatures, according to the study.

    Astral goes on to muse: "That sounds…extremely untrue, right?"

    Maybe. What follows is Scott's attempt to chase down the truth on his own. It's impressive, check it out.


  • Breaking news from … well, probably centuries past. Jonah Goldberg has the data on his side: People Love Big Spending Packages. Until They Have to Pay for Them.

    In 2016, Vox polled Bernie Sanders’ proposals for nationalized health care and free college tuition. They didn’t poll the general public; they polled Bernie Sanders’ own supporters. Not surprisingly, respondents favored single-payer health care. But when asked if they’d be willing to personally pay more for it, support dropped. Two-thirds said the most they’d be willing to pay in additional taxes for “free” health care was $1,000 per year, about $83 per month. This number includes the 8 percent of Sanders supporters who said they wouldn’t be willing to pay anything for universal health care.

    Cheap socialists aren’t the story here. Americans in general don’t want to pay much of anything—out of their own pocket—for the stuff progressives constantly say America is demanding.

    A Washington Post poll in 2019 found that 68 percent of Americans supported taxing “wealthy families” to pay for fighting climate change. But when asked if they would agree to pay an extra $2 a month on their electric bills, support fell to less than 47 percent. That same year, an AP-NORC poll asked people if they’d be willing to spend $10 more a month on their energy bills to fight climate change. Some 68 percent of respondents said nope.

    The only way they can sell this is by promulgating the myth that higher government spending can come out of some despised minority's pockets (the ones not "paying their fair share").


  • Euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. That was Orwell's famous description. of political language. George F. Will discusses recent confirming trends:

    In June, when Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra testified to a Senate committee about “birthing people,” a.k.a. mothers, he was already falling behind the swift evolution of progressive nomenclature. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s revised “lactation-related language” respects mothers by identifying them as “human milk-feeding individuals.”

    Almost nothing infuriates people as much as inflation — government’s failure to preserve the currency as a store of value. Even more infuriating, however, is a pervasive sense of arrogance and disorder, which now includes public officials and others propounding aggressively, insultingly strange vocabularies. Next November, there might be a cymbal-crash response to all this.

    Saying "stop the madness" can work. Unfortunately, it's been bringing us simply a different breed of madness.


Last Modified 2021-10-22 6:04 AM EST