URLs du Jour

2022-02-11

  • Jackass is taken. How about an ostrich?

    [Rewriting History]

    It's almost as if they're trying to lose.


  • Americans distrusting their government? You don't say. Tsk. George F. Will invites us to Witness how progressives in government forfeit the public’s trust.

    The transportation secretary has spoken, illuminating why, early in this third pandemic year, Americans by the many millions are ignoring government’s supervision. “Zero,” Pete Buttigieg recently proclaimed, “is the only acceptable number of deaths and serious injuries on our roadways.” He larded this fatuity with dollops of the usual rhetorical fat that greases governmental grandstanding — references to the “unacceptable” status quo, the wonders that will be worked in conjunction with “our stakeholders” hither and yon, through “sustained, urgent, yet lasting commitment,” etc.

    Buttigieg actually is going to have to “accept” many vehicular deaths and injuries because the road to zero is paved with pipedreams: Banning vehicles that move faster than 5 mph might not suffice, so vehicles must be banned. His policy applesauce is harmless. The implications of George W. Bush’s second inaugural address — remember the commitment to “ending tyranny in our world”? — were not. And neither is the excessive pursuit of safety from life’s dangers, of which viruses and their permutations are just one of many categories.

    GFW notes that this is just one example of the totalitarianism inherent in "transforming risk aversion into a supreme virtue." It's not clear how cynical adherents are. Do they really believe in the nonsensical and unattainable goals they demand, or is that just an excuse to accumulate power?


  • Unfortunately, statists never let a little detail like "high implausibility" stop them before. Ronald Bailey highlights something that should be good news: Worst-Case Climate Change Scenarios Are Highly Implausible, Argues New Study.

    Back in the bad old days of the 2010s, folks like David Wallace-Wells, author of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming (2019) warned, "The UN says we're on track to get to about 4 degrees or 4.3 degrees of warming by the end of the century if we continue as we are." Or you may remember author Gaia Vince asserting in 2019 in The Guardian that "experts agree that global heating of 4C by 2100 is a real possibility."

    Before rushing to kit out your climate prepper bunker, you might want to take a look at the new study by University of Colorado climate change policy researcher Roger Pielke that confirms what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found in August 2021, namely that the worst-case climate scenario is increasingly unlikely, and that while our future will be warmer, it will not be catastrophically so.

    In the meantime, build nuclear power plants, and work on artificial photosynthesis for pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere. You're welcome.


  • A bully pulpit indeed. Jerry Coyne invites us to come see the claptrap: Time Magazine tries bullying its readers into Wokeness. He looks at a recent article, titled (hey kids what time is it?) It's Time For White People to Have Tough Conversations. It's by one Savala Nolan, "Executive Director of the Center for Social Justice at UC Berkeley School of Law". And (as noted), Coyne deems it "about the most offensive and authoritarian piece of Woke claptrap I’ve ever read."

    He's not wrong. Nolan looks at her white progressive acquaintances (remember, she's at Berkeley) and despairs. Yes, they've got their BLM yard signs, they've read and nodded along to Kendi and DiAngelo, they voted for Obama!

    But:

    They disappoint and frustrate and sadden me because their work—as earnest and crucial as it is—frequently fails to demand the participation of the white people with whom they have the tightest, most honest, most intimate relationships. Their husbands, their parents, their wives, their children, their best friends. The people with whom they have the most currency, the most likelihood of creating a long-term trajectory of change. The people who are most exposed and connected to their (racialized) desires and fears, their conscious and unconscious beliefs, their choices and preferences—the heartwood of the very racial hierarchy they say they want to address. Time and again, I’ve observed white people approach “the work” with heartfelt intensity—but no clear, persistent will to spread it to the most significant white people in their lives.

    Shorter: they don't nag their friends and family enough. They fail to proselytize! At every opportunity!

    Thought experiment: imagine you are a devout Christian. And you're concerned that the country isn't Christian enough. Make the appropriate substitutions in Nolan's argument about how your fellow Christians should confront the inadequately religious.

    And then try to convince me that Wokism isn't a religion.


  • More of a "scam" than a "loophole", but… Steven Taylor looks at the latest on the student debt front: The Giant ‘Gainful Employment’ Loophole

    Colleges and universities proudly flaunt their “nonprofit” status while many of their graduates are mired in debt and their highest-paid employee is their football coach. Why, then, are they getting a pass on accountability standards?

    That should be the central question this month as Department of Education regulators gather to revive an Obama-era rule called “gainful employment.” The original goal and underlying principle were laudable: Federal funding ought to be cut off from colleges that leave graduates with underpaying jobs and mountains of debt.

    The rules, however, were lopsided and insulated degree programs with similar or worse outcomes at public and nonprofit institutions from meaningful scrutiny. With very few exceptions, they applied only to students enrolled in educational programs at for-profit colleges and nondegree programs (e.g., certificate and diploma programs) at public and nonprofit institutions. In other words, the same protections weren’t afforded to the roughly 12 million undergraduate students enrolled in degree programs at public and nonprofit schools.

    [Amazon Link, See Disclaimer] An opening paragraph from a recent WaPo article is quoted:

    A bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Ithaca College costs $132,656, on average, and two years later, graduates are earning $19,227. A philosophy degree from Oberlin costs $142,220 and graduates two years later make $18,154, on average. At Syracuse, a bachelor’s degree in studio and fine arts costs $137,888; two years later students who got one are earning an average of $17,624.

    I don't suppose it would help to airdrop a few hundred copies of Bryan Caplan's The Case Against Education (link at right) into that gathering of DOE regulators. Fun to imagine though.


  • I'm not cheering at all. But at AEI, Kevin R. Kosar manages 1 cheer for postal reform. He looks at the legislation recently passed in the House, finds it mostly inoffensive. However, it moves the USPS further away from being self-supporting. And:

    Concerningly, the bill’s Section 202 would demand the USPS “maintain an integrated network for the delivery of market-dominant and competitive products” and to deliver “at least six days a week.” Translated into non-legalese, this provision would force the USPS to maintain enough people, sorting machines, etc. to deliver both paper mail and parcels regardless of demand. This seems imprudent seeing as the future demand for paper mail and parcels is anything but clear. The former has plunged 40 percent over the past 15 years, and the USPS regularly warns that parcel volumes will plunge should big shippers (like Amazon) divert volume to other delivery channels. Section 202 also might make it harder to accurately price postage as the costs of this “integrated network” may not be readily attributable to any particular class of mail or parcel. (A few years ago, I found the USPS fails to attribute more than 40 percent of its costs to any particular products.)

    It also, Kosar notes, fails to consider the Big Question: "For what purposes do we need a Postal Service for in the 21st century?"