URLs du Jour

2022-04-11

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  • Or very tasty. The WSJ editorialists check out progressive dietary suggestions and find them wanting: Eat the Rich? They’re Not Even Filling.

    Forbes is out with its annual billionaires list, so it’s time for a reminder that even if progressive politicians ate the rich, it would barely take the edge off their hunger. President Biden’s recent budget plan includes a disguised wealth tax on centimillionaires, and he’s always whispering into the microphone that folks need to pay their “fair share.”

    Well, the U.S. has 735 billionaires, according to Forbes. Their combined assets come to $4.7 trillion. That’s based on stock values as of March 11. It also factors in “a variety of assets, including private companies, real estate, art and more.” One caveat is that Forbes doesn’t “pretend to know each billionaire’s private balance sheet,” so we can’t say how many stingray tanks and volcano lairs are missing.

    What could the U.S. buy for $4.7 trillion? To start, it’s barely enough to cover the Build Back Better agenda that Mr. Biden pitched last year. The BBB bill tried to game Congress’s budget rules by phasing out programs early to lower the price. But if everything were made permanent, as Democrats intended, the cost would be $4.6 trillion over 10 years, according to an estimate by the Penn Wharton Budget Model.

    Our Amazon Product du Jour is by the late great P. J. O'Rourke who didn't actually believe you should eat the rich. But searching for "eat the rich" at Amazon brings up a lot of products from people who are more serious about it.


  • Also the last refuge of a scoundrel. And probably several more refuges along the way. Kevin D. Williamson notes that Samuel Johnson's famous adage needs to be updated. Patriotism is now The First Refuge of a Scoundrel. The lead example is Pakistan's ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan, but KDW applies the lesson widely.

    There are many competing definitions of patriotism, but the simple one will do here: Patriotism is the willingness to put the interests of one’s country above one’s own interests. It is adherence to the motto of the Union League: Amor Patriae Ducit — the love of my country leads me. Pakistan is suffering a kind of slow-motion nervous breakdown as the world leaves it behind: Pakistan’s estranged twin sister, India, though far from being a rich country, now has a GDP per capita nearly twice that of Pakistan, and it has become if not a great power then at least a respected player in world affairs. Pakistan is today slightly poorer than Haiti, but what Imran Khan cares about is holding on to power — country is thought of second, if at all. He claims to be motivated by love of his country and argues that his political difficulties are the result of foreign plotting — but, as anybody with eyes can see, that is the opposite of patriotism: It is using one’s country as a human shield and its people as hostages for one’s own self-interest.

    Patriot is one of those words that has a warm glow around it, a glow that is partly tribal and partly moral. Dr. Johnson famously observed that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” and he was correct for a couple of centuries, until patriotism became the scoundrels’ refuge of first resort. The worst people in this country call themselves patriots when they are at their most criminal and most unpatriotic, hiding behind red-white-and-blue camouflage. The most dramatic recent examples of this were the so-called patriots who attempted to overthrow the government of the United States after Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, but they are not alone.

    It used to be that questioning someone's patriotism was a heinous sin. That was before everyone started doing it.


  • Other than that, though, it's fine. Hans Bader notes some downsides about a recent vote-buying policy change: Biden's suspension of student loan payments will raise inflation & rob the poor to enrich the privileged.

    Joe Biden has provided billions of dollars in handouts to high-income people. The most recent example is his administration’s decision last week to suspend student loan repayments yet again, through August 31. It did that even though people with big student loans tend to be people with high incomes, like lawyers and doctors. Most people can afford to make payments on their student loans, because the unemployment rate is only 2 percent for college graduates, and less than 5 percent for recent graduates.

    Matt Yglesias is quoted, because he's been mugged by reality:

    Between canceled interest and the erosion of principal due to inflation, the prolonged pause has already saved student debtors a bunch of money. But the benefits are awfully lopsided. As Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget shows, medical doctors have received $48,500 in relief versus $29,500 for people with law degrees, $4,500 for people with bachelor’s degrees, and a measly $2,000 for those who didn’t finish their degree and are objectively most in need of help.

    As noted above, I'm not an "eat the rich" guy. On the other hand, the Rest Of Us bailing out their finances should be assigned a zero priority.


  • It needs to be said. Paul Graham writes on the problem with secular religions: Heresy.

    There are an ever-increasing number of opinions you can be fired for. Those doing the firing don't use the word "heresy" to describe them, but structurally they're equivalent. Structurally there are two distinctive things about heresy: (1) that it takes priority over the question of truth or falsity, and (2) that it outweighs everything else the speaker has done.

    For example, when someone calls a statement "x-ist," they're also implicitly saying that this is the end of the discussion. They do not, having said this, go on to consider whether the statement is true or not. Using such labels is the conversational equivalent of signalling an exception. That's one of the reasons they're used: to end a discussion.

    That's just an excerpt, but Graham's essay rates a solid 10 on the ReadTheWholeThing metric.

    Which reminds me: over on the "Books" side of the blog is my report on John McWhorter's Woke Racism. It's another exploration of ideology-as-religion, and heartily recommended.


  • Going overboard. I think David Horowitz's essay, reproduced at Power Line, goes too far: Progressivism As Criminal Enterprise.

    In a previous article, I explained that “progressivism is a criminal mentality.” By progressivism, I mean every political philosophy that regards itself as “revolutionary,” or “transformative,” that describes itself as socialist, communist, fascist or jihadist – or that believes “the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice.” The belief that history is marching towards justice is a cult ideology refuted by the mass genocides of the modern era, which were carried out by Marxists and Nazis. The belief that the world is marching towards justice, that progressives are “on the right side of history” is a delusion that will justify any atrocity and already has.

    That is why today’s progressives are advancing the same genocidal agendas that the West defeated in World War II and the Cold War. Led by the 98-member “Progressive Caucus” in Congress, and its racist leaders – Jamila Prayapal, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, AOC and Ayanna Presley – progressives are in full-throated support of the 75-year genocidal campaign conducted by the terrorist dictatorships in Gaza and the West Bank. The stated goal of Hamas and the Palestine Authority is the destruction of the Jewish state and the expulsion of its Jews. Even Hitler hid his plans for the Final Solution. But Hamas, the PLO and the Iranian mullahs trumpet their goal of ethnically cleansing a conquered Israel and rendering it Judenrein – Jew free. Nor is the hatred of these neo-Nazis confined to the Jews. “Death to America” is the preferred chant of their Iranian missile providers as well.

    I agree that progressivism has evil results. But it, quite simply, ain't against the law (and shouldn't be).