URLs du Jour

2022-04-02

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  • Warning: belated item. A sobering announcement from Drew Cline: Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy becomes Woodrow Wilson Center for State Planning

    CONCORD — The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy today announces its transformation into the Woodrow Wilson Center for State Planning.

    After a quarter century offering market-based policy solutions that promoted opportunity, prosperity and liberty for all Granite Staters, the Bartlett Center board concluded that the people don’t really want to be left alone, they just want to rule others with an iron fist forever.

    “Turns out the little guy doesn’t really want freedom,” said Drew Cline, the center’s president. “He wants to crush his enemies, drive heretics into the sea, and plunder the rich. So, like everyone else, we’ve decided to exploit those primitive instincts to obtain power and wealth for ourselves and our friends.”

    Calm down. It was from yesterday. Repeat: yesterday. Look at the calendar.

    (Then click over and be further amused.)


  • Pun Salad fact check: true, very true. Kevin D. Williamson makes a claim that should not be that controversial: We Have Enough Taxes.

    Some people think taxes are too high. Some people think taxes are too low. But I wonder whether most of us could agree that we have enough individual taxes — and maybe too many taxes — irrespective of the question of tax rates.

    President Joe Biden, who is and always has been a political coward, is talking about a new “billionaires’ tax” that he pretends he wants to see enacted. The tax would be economically destructive, would produce little revenue, and is almost certainly unconstitutional in that it would tax imaginary income, treating investment gains as actual income: Imagine being taxed on the notional increase in the value of your house over the past few years irrespective of whether you have sold your house and made the money, and you’ll get the general idea. President Biden is intellectually lazy and very well may be somewhere in the general vicinity of positively stupid, but he has enough self-preserving animal cleverness to know that this is unlikely to ever be anything more than a talking point. Senator Joe Manchin has already put his name on its death warrant.

    Which is, of course, the point.

    I note that Biden's just-released budget for FY2023 says that (Historical Tables, Table 1.2) Uncle Stupid took in revenue of 18.1% of GDP in FY2021 and is estimated to grab 18.3% of GDP in FY2022.

    And that's higher than it's been since 2001.

    Your Federal Government is not starved for cash. It's currently taking in a historically large cut of the pie.


  • Another very true item. Abigail Hall Blanco and Christopher Coyne write: Government Propaganda Threatens Democratic Self-Governance. (Illustrated with the "Vintage British WWI propaganda poster" at your right.)

    Propaganda and war go together like guns and ammunition. Throughout history, governments have employed propaganda to rally people around war efforts. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, propaganda is again at the forefront of discussion. In a recent statement, Emily Horne, spokesperson for the National Security Council, emphasized that “The United States firmly believes that the best way to … [to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms] is to hold accountable the propaganda media and disinformation proxies that disseminate Putin’s lies.” The Russian government’s propaganda campaign is taking place through both traditional media and social media.

    With events unfolding in real time and with a multitude of media outlets and platforms, information is disseminated rapidly. It is hard to know what is accurate and what is not. Given this, appreciating the realities and dangers of propaganda is of utmost importance. But it isn’t just propaganda by the Russian government that we should discuss, although that is certainly relevant and concerning. American citizens should also be aware of the propaganda put forth by their own government.

    It's not realistic to expect governments to stop emitting propaganda. The authors' advice is to turn your skepticism filter up to nine or so when listening to government pronouncements that just happen to support its own narratives.


  • And you may ask yourself: "Do we need to become more like Putin to Contain Him?" Well, Matt Welch has the answer to that stupid question: No, We Don't Need To Become More Like Putin To Contain Him.

    Anne Applebaum, an author whose Central European perspective and longtime aversion to Russian revanchism I share, has an almost comically pessimistic piece in The Atlantic positing that, "Unless democracies defend themselves, the forces of autocracy will destroy them."

    The essay serves as a useful reminder that civilizational apocalypticism is hardly limited to the right-populist Flight 93 Election set and that the centrist/interventionist fun-house-mirror image has not learned the post-9/11 lesson that wise policy does not automatically tumble forth from mashing the Do Something button.

    I will probably steal Matt's adage there: "Wise policy does not automatically tumble forth from mashing the Do Something button." And probably add: "In fact, that's not the way to bet."

    The current situation is perilous sure. But compared to the mid-20th century? Get a grip, Anne.


  • Time has come today. An old post from Tim Urban has come to my attention: Putting Time In Perspective

    Humans are good at a lot of things, but putting time in perspective is not one of them. It’s not our fault—the spans of time in human history, and even more so in natural history, are so vast compared to the span of our life and recent history that it’s almost impossible to get a handle on it. If the Earth formed at midnight and the present moment is the next midnight, 24 hours later, modern humans have been around since 11:59:59pm—1 second. And if human history itself spans 24 hours from one midnight to the next, 14 minutes represents the time since Christ.

    To try to grasp some perspective, I mapped out the history of time as a series of growing timelines—each timeline contains all the previous timelines (colors will help you see which timelines are which). All timeline lengths are exactly accurate to the amount of time they’re expressing.

    Educational and PG-13 funny. (It's from 2013 so you have to make some mental adjustments for that.)