URLs du Jour

2022-04-04

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  • Our Amazon Product du Jour is (probably) conspiracist junk. But for a more level-headed criticism, here's David R. Henderson's essay: The Fed Is a Failed Central Planner

    Almost all the mainstream discussion of monetary policy in the United States today and for a number of decades is and has been about what kind of monetary policy the Federal Reserve should carry out. Should the Fed target interest rates and, if so, how? For example, should it follow the Taylor Rule, named after Stanford economist and Hoover senior fellow John Taylor? Should the Fed target nominal gross domestic product, as Mercatus Center economist Scott Sumner advocates? Should the Fed give up on inflation and make sure that unemployment doesn’t spike? Should the Fed give up on unemployment and make sure the inflation rate stays low or, given today’s data, decreases to a low rate?

    All these questions are worth asking. But notice that these questions are about how the Fed should engage in central planning of the money supply. Few Americans, and even a lower percent of economists, think it’s a good idea for the federal government to centrally plan the number of cars that should be produced in the United States. Economists don’t typically call for the federal government to decide how much steel should be produced. Why, then, do the vast majority of economists think that the Fed should centrally plan the money supply? It must be because monetary policy before the Federal Reserve existed led to much worse results than after the Fed started operating in 1914.

    Yet it turns out that we got better results on inflation and roughly equivalent results on business cycles prior to 1914. Moreover, our monetary institutions prior to the Fed had serious deficiencies due to damaging regulation. Without those regulations, monetary policy prior to the Fed would have been even better.

    Henderson's fun fact: From 1790-1913 (i.e., pre-Fed) total inflation was approximately 8%. Not 8% per year. Total.

    Since the Fed's been in control, 1914-2022, the consumer price index has risen by 2737%.


  • "What do I have to do to get these screaming lunatics out of my office?" I've often speculated that's the thought flitting through the mind of a university administrator at times. Aron Ravin says that's not the way to go: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Universities Shouldn’t Yield to Revolutionary Minority of Students.

    Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. These three words are now the holy trinity of woke activists seeking to impose their ideology on institutions across the country. It’s worst at — though by no means exclusive to — universities. Ever since DEI-inspired protests at the University of Missouri caused that school’s president to resign in 2015 despite an absence of any wrongdoing, raging students, working hand-in-hand with activist administrators and sympathetic faculty members, have only grown more ambitious. Just this past November, at Coastal Carolina University, Steven Earnest was, at the behest of the school’s DEI committee, temporarily removed from teaching duties for uttering the following heresy (***Content Warning***): “I’m just sad people get their feelings hurt so easily.”

    Based on such stories, it’s easy to assume that university administrators have lost their minds. The now-commonplace and well-funded DEI departments on campuses, which are consistent sources of identity-based propaganda, certainly give that impression. But in reality, the vast majority of statements and initiatives from such departments are half-baked, designed to quell the shrieks of a frothing, vocal minority — the one that’s actually in charge.

    My go-to example on this is the "open letter" issued last year by "UNH Lecturers United" which demanded that UNH administrators get behind their efforts to "actively oppose any political position structured around inequality." (That letter is apparently no longer available on their website but my reproduction and its fisking is here.)


  • I've always wondered about the seven dwarfs.

    Well, not always. Never, in fact. But I bet the live-action remake of Snow White is going to have a new and interesting take on their racial/sexual diversity. I say that after reading Christopher F. Rufo's report in City Journal on Disney’s Ideological Capture.

    In the wake of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education legislation, which prevents public schools from promoting gender ideology in kindergarten through third grade but which critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Disney executives organized an all-hands meeting, called the “Reimagine Tomorrow Conversation Series,” and pledged to mobilize the entire corporation in service of the “LGBTQIA+ community.” Executives recruited the company’s most intersectional employees, including a “black, queer, and trans person,” a “bi-romantic asexual,” and “the mother [of] one transgender child and one pansexual child,” and announced ambitious new initiatives—seeking to change everything from gender pronouns at the company’s theme parks to the sexual orientation of background characters in the company’s films.

    In a featured presentation at the meeting, executive producer Latoya Raveneau laid out Disney’s ideology in blunt terms. She said her team was implementing a “not-at-all-secret gay agenda” and regularly “adding queerness” to children’s programming. Another speaker, production coordinator Allen Martsch, said his team has created a “tracker” to ensure that they are creating enough “canonical trans characters, canonical asexual characters, [and] canonical bisexual characters.” Corporate president Karey Burke said she supported having “many, many, many LGBTQIA characters in our stories” and reaffirmed the company’s pledge to make at least 50 percent of its on-screen characters sexual and racial minorities.

    Look for a lot more same-sex smoochers in your Disney future.


  • Just so you know the rules. Glenn Greenwald lets us know them: Your Top Priority is The Emotional Comfort of the Most Powerful Elites, Which You Fulfill by Never Criticizing Them. It's a case study:

    It is almost impossible to envision a single individual in whom power, privilege and elite prerogative reside more abundantly than Taylor Lorenz. Using the metrics of elite liberal culture, the word “privilege” was practically invented for her: a rich straight white woman from a wealthy family raised in Greenwich, Connecticut and educated in actual Swiss boarding schools who now writes about people's lives, often casually destroying those lives, on the front pages of the most powerful East Coast newspapers on the planet. And yet, in the eyes of her fellow media and political elites, there is virtually no person more victimized, more deserving of your sympathy and attention, more vulnerable, marginalized and abused than she.

    That is because — like Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren and Labour MPs and columnists from The Independent and The Guardian and The New York Times who pioneered these paths of elite victimhood before her — Taylor Lorenz must sometimes hear criticisms of her work and her views. Virtually alone among journalists — who are famously universally beloved and never subjected to any form of real abuse: as Julian Assange will be happy to tell you if you can visit him in his high-security prison cell in the UK, or as these Sri Lankan journalists will explain from their hospital beds after being physically brutalized by the police for covering an anti-government protest on Thursday — Lorenz hears criticisms of her work, sometimes in the form of very angry and even profane or threatening tweets from anonymous people online. This not only means that she deserves your sympathy and concern but, more importantly, that you should heap scorn and recrimination on those who criticize her work because they are responsible for the trauma she endures. Most of all, you must never criticize her publicly for fear of what you might unleash against her.

    In other words, Lorenz — like all employees of large media corporations or powerful establishment politicians in Washington and London — is and always should be completely free to continue to publish articles or social media posts that destroy the reputations of powerless people, often with outright lies. But you must never criticize her because she suffers from PTSD and other trauma as a result of the mean tweets that are unleashed by her critics. If you believe that is some sort of straw man exaggeration of what political and media elites are trying to do — create a shield of immunity around them while they retain the right to target, attack, insult, malign and destroy anyone they want — then it means you did not see the Emmy-worthy performances of Lorenz and various NBC News personalities on Friday afternoon during their five-minute segment on Chuck Todd's Meet the Press Daily designed to fortify this warped, inverted standard of morality and power.

    Greenwald is pissed, man. I don't blame him.