URLs du Jour

2022-03-24

[Red Tape]

  • Our Eye Candy du Jour by Michael Ramirez… illustrates some recent under-reported news. The WSJ editorialists haven't missed it though: Gary Gensler Stages a Climate Coup

    Russia’s assault on Ukraine is changing the world—except Washington, D.C., where the Biden Administration is continuing its war on fossil fuels as if energy security doesn’t matter.

    The latest strike came Monday when the Securities and Exchange Commission voted 3-1 to advance a proposed rule requiring public companies to disclose climate risks. The proposal, which was issued with only Democratic votes, is contrary to SEC history, securities law, and sound regulatory practice.

    Public companies are already required to report “material” events and risks, which the SEC defines as information a reasonable person would consider important. SEC Chairman Gary Gensler is redefining materiality as whatever BlackRock and progressive investors want to know. The 510-page proposal will require the public disclosure of risks to physical assets from climate change as well as from government anti-carbon policies.

    As the editorial notes, a similar SEC mandate was rejected in the courts back in 2014 as unconstitutional "compelled speech". Didn't stop the SEC, though.


  • But look for more of the same. Eric Boehm notes some fondness for the Imperial Presidency: Progressive Lawmakers Ask Joe Biden To Do Their Jobs for Them With Executive Orders.

    From banning gas and oil drilling on federal lands to fixing problems with the Affordable Care Act and overhauling the immigration system, a group of congressional Democrats is pushing the Biden administration to take executive action on a host of issues that Congress apparently can't or won't deal with.

    Someone might want to remind them that Democrats have a majority in both chambers.

    But why go through the effort to pass legislation when you can have a president do it with the mere stroke of a pen? That's the energy emanating from the seven-page "Recommendations for Executive Action" memo published last week by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a coalition of about 100 left-wing lawmakers.

    Democracy is fine until it stops you from getting your way. Then you start demanding that the president assume dictatorial powers. It's the "Progressive" thing to do!


  • Cheap stunts turn out to be not that cheap. Drew Cline of the Josiah Bartlett Center says: A gas tax holiday is just a holiday from reality. Some local pols have suggested New Hampshire suspend the state's (23.8¢/gallon) gas sales tax. But:

    Because the gas tax is a user fee, a holiday would stop charging people for use of the public roads for its duration. But it wouldn’t stop the wear and tear on the roads. If that funding is not made up later, the state would have to forego repairs and maintenance, replace the lost revenue with higher taxes or transfers from somewhere else, or find some way to reduce costs.

    Other gimmicks have been proposed, but they are hopelessly costly and/or deliver relatively little "relief".


  • On the other hand… Elizabeth Nolan Brown details The Right and the Wrong Way To Address High Gas Prices. Her point is that gas tax holidays are probably the least bad way to address gas prices. But still:

    [A gas tax holiday] is arguably the good side of government action to reduce fuel prices—saving consumers money by temporarily forgoing taking some of their money.

    Gas taxes are relatively targeted at transportation and road-related spending, however, so decreasing that tax revenue without decreasing spending just means making up for it somewhere else. Drivers may save a little at the pump, but end up having to pay higher taxes later to close the deficit created by these tax holidays.

    There's also something inherently gimmicky about temporarily suspending gas taxes in response to political pressure. (And it's a bit ironic that Democrats want to reduce gas prices now after arguing for years that higher gas prices were good for environmental reasons.) But saving consumers money by temporarily forgoing taking some of their money is arguably a better plan than simply handing out cash in hopes of stopping inflation.

    I have zero confidence in either federal or state governments getting this right in the short or long term.


  • Maybe I guy I can vote for? Well, we'll see. Haley Byrd Wilt seems to be a fan: Will Hurd, Unfiltered

    Former congressman and Central Intelligence Agency officer Will Hurd is acting like a man who wants to run for president. 

    When asked directly about running in 2024, he won’t rule it out. “If the opportunity is there, I’ll evaluate it and see if I can pull it off,” he tells me in a phone interview.

    The Texas Republican’s slick website, explainer videos about current events, and speaking engagements have kept him in the political fray, despite wrapping up his time in Congress at the end of 2020. That’s why readers might be tempted to see Hurd’s new book, American Reboot, as part of a larger campaign strategy, neatly fitting into the conventional Here’s-Why-I-Should-Be-President genre.

    I've put American Reboot on my get-at-library list; no hurry, there's still 700 days or so until the 2024 New Hampshire Presidential Primary. One warning flag: Hurd calls climate change an "existential crisis". Assuming he knows what "existential" means… well, it's just not. People who say that sort of thing are scaremongers.

    Ms. Witt points to Hurd's "slick website", but (according to Google) there's nothing there about climate.


Last Modified 2022-03-25 10:39 AM EDT

Big Sky

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

This is the fifth entry in Kate Atkinson's "Jackson Brodie" series. (And so far the last, but I hope to see more someday.) It shares characteristics of previous books: Jackson, a private investigator, is absent in large swaths of the text; there are multiple points-of-view centering on different characters (sometimes the same scene is described from a different point-of-view); stream-of-consciousness narration; time jumps (without the courtesy of dates, you just have to pay attention and figure it out).

And extremely sordid behavior, specifically a sex-trafficking ring preying on young girls brought into the UK from abroad. And despite the dark and perverse goings-on, there's much humor in Ms. Atkinson's descriptions and dialog.

I'm not exactly sure if all the loose ends were eventually tied up. As noted, Ms. Atkinson demands close attention, and I may have missed something. But enough of them were.