URLs du Jour


  • Multiply our Eye Candy du Jour by… about 1.5 trillion. The WSJ editorialists describe this year's carnage: Government Gives Itself a Big Raise.

    The House on Wednesday passed a $1.5 trillion, 2,727-page bill to fund the government this year, and at least the Members don’t have to worry about inflation. They’ve got the government covered.

    Perhaps the best that can be said about the spending bill is it could have been worse. Republicans and Democrats agreed to $730 billion in discretionary spending (6.7% increase over last year) and $782 billion for defense (5.6% increase). The bill also includes $13.6 billion in humanitarian and military assistance for Ukraine.

    The Internal Revenue "Service" is being rewarded for its ongoing incompetence with a 5.6% increase. Nobody will check to see if that bump improved anything.

  • It ain't just Democrats. The above editorial notes that the Defense Department also got a 5.6% bump, at the insistence of the GOP. Veronique de Rugy is dubious: More Defense Spending Does Not Equal More Safety

    Providing military defense is a valid function of the federal government. However, that doesn't give license to Congress to simply pile on more spending, even when there are dangers out there. Nor does it mean that more spending will result in a completely safe world for us Americans. That's in part because that world doesn't exist. There's only so much safety money can buy.

    While I certainly don't pretend to know what the optimal budget for our military is, we are already spending a large amount on national security and on the Pentagon. In fiscal year 2023, the United States is expected to spend more than $770 billion on national defense, with $729 billion of this amount being for the Department of Defense's military operations. This enormous sum is more than the next 10 countries spend combined. Russia, for instance, spends close to $62 billion. France and Germany spend almost $53 billion each. Assuming China's numbers are accurate, it spends $252 billion.

    And the current Commander in Chief doesn't seem to want that expensive military sector to actually do anything that might irk Putin. If we can't employ it to counter naked aggression, what is it actually good for?

  • "Unintelligible" is a too-polite way to say it. How about "Fundamentally Dishonest"? Alan Reynolds at Cato writes on The Unintelligible Psaki-Biden Theory of Oil Prices.

    Just as Congress was poised to ban imports of Russian oil, President Biden got the jump on them with an executive order. Despite the delay, it was the right thing to do as a national expression of moral outrage over Russian military atrocities.

    The White House repeatedly explained its two‐​week inaction by suggesting that U.S. gasoline prices depend on how much oil we buy from this one minor source of imports.

    In late February Reuters reported, “As the White House developed the sanctions package… [officials] were concerned about the possible impacts of a loss of Russian oil supply at a time of rising U.S. gasoline prices … I want to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump. This is critical to me,” Biden said.”

    Reynolds supports the ban as the "right thing to do" (as do I); he just thinks the rhetoric emitted from the White House about it was bonkers.

  • Government: unable to get out of its own way. Adam Thierer and Christopher M. Kaiser discourse (at Discourse, naturally) on The Contradictions and Confusion of Getting Americans To Buy Electric Cars.

    With one hand the government giveth; with the other it taketh away. That’s the way electric vehicle policy works in much of America today. States shower electric vehicle makers with subsidies to boost the technology or persuade them to build factories there. States also entice drivers to go electric with tax credits, rebates and other handouts. At the same time, many states limit the ability of manufacturers to sell vehicles directly to consumers in an effort to protect local car dealerships.

    The conflicting policies come at the public’s expense. Not only is there no  economic rationale for them, but the argument that electric vehicles help the environment is unpersuasive. Instead of putting their thumbs down on both sides of the scale, politicians would do better to let innovation arise from market competition. Alas, they seem to be driving in the wrong direction.

    We'll drop a flag for "Unnecessary Metaphorizing" in that last sentence.

    Does anyone out there have a handy calculator to tell me if buying an EV for my next vehicle would save me money?

  • Kamala Harris is an airhead. There, I said it. David Harsanyi drops the latest bit of evidence: Let Them Drive Teslas.

    “Well, you all imagined it,” Vice President Kamala Harris commented during a so-called clean-transit event, where she appeared with her fellow tautologist, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. “That’s why we’re here today—because we have the ability to see what can be, unburdened by what has been, and then to make the possible actually happen.”

    When Harris and Buttigieg get together, it’s Platitudicon. As it was this week, when, as the reality of imminent historic gas price spikes was hitting Americans, the duo spent the day promoting electric cars, the Green New Deal, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s soon-to-be-tightened emissions standards.

    More mush from the Kackler: