So long to the 2021 dumpster fire. But, as Kevin D. Williamson notes (in an NRPlus article), Things Could Be Worse. And he starts off with some good advice I think I'll follow:
This year, I will celebrate New Year’s Eve by keeping an earlier New Year’s resolution and going to bed at 9 p.m. I recommend it.
New Year’s Eve is the worst, anyway — even worse than Valentine’s Day when it comes to people desperately pretending to be having a good time. Spare yourself. I’m not saying you have to be a fuddy-duddy on the level I am (if you ever need a quick explainer on how to read lute tablature, I can help) — in fact, I’m not saying you have to do anything — but most of you will be happier if you skip the $1,000 table at the Hilton in Chicago, even if it does come with Red Bull as well as champagne. You can get a pretty good bottle of champagne for $100, have a glass at 8 p.m., and then — here is the important part — go to bed.
There are personal benefits to this, of course, but also a related political aspect. I don’t know about you, but most of the worst decisions of my life have been made after 9 p.m. Even if you are living that Eisenhower-era life and starting in with Canadian Club whiskey sours at 5:00, you probably aren’t going to get into too much trouble before 9:00. And as it goes for the citizen, so goes it for the nation. You know who liked to stay up all night dreaming of terrible policy ideas? Barack Obama. And, before him, Bill Clinton was famous for treating the presidency as though he were a college kid cramming for an exam, with all-night sessions powered by fast food and soda. Lyndon Johnson was a night owl.
As to that last bit: Tevi Troy reminds us "Bill Clinton had a tryst with Monica Lewinsky on New Year’s Eve 1995". 9pm? I might turn in even earlier.
Yet another retrospective. This one from Bari Weiss, using the royal pronoun: Our Favorite Essays of 2021. I can't say I've read them all, but here's a longish sample from Alana Newhouse at Tablet: Everything Is Broken.
Let’s say you believe the above to be hyperbolic. You never fell through the cracks of the medical system; as far as you understand it, there are plenty of ways for a resourceful person to buy a home in America these days; you easily met a mate and got married and had as many children as you wanted, at the age you wanted to have them; your child had a terrific time at college, where she experienced nothing at all oppressive or bizarre, got a first-class education that you could easily afford and which landed her a great job after graduation; you actually like the fact that you haven’t encountered one book or movie or piece of art that’s haunted you for months after; you enjoy druggily floating through one millennial pink space after another; it gives you pleasure to interact only with people who agree with you politically, and you feel filled with meaning and purpose after a day spent sending each other hysteria-inducing links; maybe you’ve heard that some kids are cosplaying Communism but that’s only because everyone is radical when they’re young, and Trump voters are just a bunch of racist troglodytes pining for the past, and it’s not at all that neither group can see their way to a future that looks remotely hopeful ... If this is you, congratulations. There’s no need to reach out and tell me any of this, because all you will be doing is revealing how insulated you are from the world inhabited by nearly everyone I know.
If, on the other hand, the idea of mass brokenness seems both excruciatingly correct and also paralyzing, come sit with me. Being on a ship nearly 4 million square miles in area along with 330 million other people and realizing the entire hull is pockmarked with holes is terrifying.
But being afraid to face this reality won’t make it less true. And this is the reality.
I hope she's wrong, I fear she's correct. Sorry to be such a downer, but if you see another "dumpster fire" picture here for December 31, 2022…
Or we could get off our lazy butts, … and take some advice from Veronique de Rugy: A Call To Fight Rising Authoritarianism, in 2022 and Beyond.
At the eve of a new year, it's traditional to make a resolution or two. I have no such list for myself or others, but I do have a wish. For 2022 and beyond, I wish that all of us who still cherish liberal values will band together to oppose the worrisome rise of authoritarianism around the world.
For decades, those inclined toward free markets have focused on authoritarianism coming from the political left. We have spared no energy denouncing and opposing it. We've rightfully been concerned about the push to centralize more power in the hands of federal governments and to increase the scope and size of all government. We have warned that these policies, pursued consistently, pave what the great F.A. Hayek called "the road to serfdom."
This fight should continue. However, it's time to be equally harsh toward those on the Right who want to use state power to control individuals' choices and destroy those with whom they disagree. In America, this illiberalism was visible in many of the policies pushed by former President Donald Trump, including industrial policies riddled with favoritism and hostility to foreign workers and immigrants. It peaked during the last months of his presidency with claims of stolen elections and other conspiracy theories.
It should have been unsurprising that when a bunch of conservatives adopted Alinskyite tactics, the Alinskyite goals would soon follow.
But let's have some good news too. Barry Brownstein (professor emeritus of economics and leadership at the University of Baltimore) says some nice things about my state: The Live Free or Die State Points the Way to Low Taxes and Freedom.
Once again, in the 2021 Cato Institute rankings of personal and economic freedom, Freedom in the 50 States, New Hampshire is ranked as the freest of the United States. Canada’s Fraser Institute gives New Hampshire the same freest state ranking. The state’s famous motto, “Live Free or Die,” is prominently imprinted on residents’ license plates.
When I share that New Hampshire has neither a sales tax nor income tax, I am often met with incredulous looks, a pregnant pause, and then the inevitable question: “But, how does the State get its money?” For some, it is self-evident that a large government is necessary to run a modern and prosperous society. New Hampshire should give pause to those who believe the big-government-is-necessary argument.
What about services in NH? A WalletHub survey rated state and local taxes with 30 metrics measuring education, health, safety, the economy, infrastructure, pollution and more. Once again, New Hampshire gave taxpayers their largest return for their tax dollars. New Hampshire residents “pay the second-lowest taxes in the country, roughly $2,700,” while benefiting from “one of the best” school systems, the lowest crime rate in the nation, very low health insurance premiums, as well as having the lowest in the nation “share of residents living in poverty, 7.6%, and the best work at home environment.”
Professor Brownstein notes one of our secrets: our low-paid, huge, House of Representatives ("the third-largest parliamentary body in the English-speaking world"). He recommends a radical strategy: enact the Congressional Apportionment Amendment, which would expand the US House of Representatives to more than 6000.
New Hampshire ratified this amendment in 1790. What's everyone else waiting for?
In our "Things That Could Have Been Brought To Voters' Attention Earlier" Department… Matt Welch at Reason sets a low bar: Joe Biden Would Be a Better President if He Stopped Saying Things That Aren't True.
"When I took office," President Joe Biden tweeted Monday, "our economy was on the brink of collapse."
This statement is false. As the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis reported one week after Biden was sworn into office, real Gross Domestic Product in the United States, after increasing by 33.4 percent in the third quarter of 2020, showed a preliminary increase of 4 percent for the last quarter of Donald Trump's presidency. "After a year in which a pandemic and politics posed challenges unlike the U.S. has seen in generations," CNBC reported, "the economy closed 2020 in fairly good shape."
By fabricating a then-imminent economic calamity, Biden could attempt to claim credit for averting it. Neat! But it's also the kind of political deception you would think that professional journalism, particularly in this age of heightened "moral clarity," would be sensitively attuned to detect and criticize.
Well, you would be wrong. A Google News search on the phrases "Biden," "economy," and "brink of collapse," produces zero mainstream news articles. There was a similar lack of evident interest when the president made another "brink of collapse" claim this May in Ohio.
Trump's battles with truth and reality were an ongoing media story for years. They're not interested in treating Biden the same.
Cranky libertarians say: welcome to the party, Bloomberg! The Bloomberg editors weigh in with good advice: Don’t Add to Amtrak’s Boondoggles.
For train enthusiasts, these are hopeful days. The infrastructure bill Congress passed in November allots $66 billion to rail, or about $4,000 for every passenger that Amtrak carried last year. Not coincidentally, the government-owned colossus recently unveiled a vast new expansion plan that would add 39 new routes and bring service to 160 new communities.
Encouraging as this may sound, it’s actually throwing good money after bad. Amtrak has been reliably bleeding cash since 1971. It requires some $2 billion in federal support each year. Even the relatively profitable Northeast Corridor line necessitates a government subsidy to cover capital costs, while most other routes are simply nonviable economically. In particular, long-distance trips account for 15% of Amtrak’s total ridership and 80% of its financial losses.
It’s hard to see how adding dozens of stops — to such modish locales as Rockland, Maine — will improve matters. All those new routes will need maintenance and repairs in perpetuity. Most will need more personnel (“an estimated 26,000 permanent jobs,” Amtrak says). All of them will likely require subsidies. The people of Rockland may welcome the train coming to town. Yet Congress could buy every local household an electric car for about $98 million, a comparative steal.
Ah, that last paragraph talks about the Downeaster line, that runs through my little town. (If I'm walking the dog on Main Street when it goes by, I can usually get the driver to toot his horn by waving.)
Still, it's a waste.