URLs du Jour

2022-08-08

[Make Mill Great Again]

  • I want one of those hats. [As pictured. Hope the WSJ doesn't sue.]

    Tunku Varadarajan interviews Nadine Strossen, who thinks the US should Make Freedom of Speech Liberal Again. Specifically:

    Old-fashioned liberalism doesn’t get much respect these days, and Nadine Strossen illustrates the point by pulling out a hat. “I have to show you this gift that somebody gave me, which is such a hoot,” she says, producing a red baseball cap that bears the slogan MAKE J.S. MILL GREAT AGAIN. “Which looks like a MAGA cap,” she adds, as if to help me narrate the scene.

    As she dons it, I observe that if she walked around town in her bright-blue home state, angry onlookers would think it was a MAGA hat. “And,” she continues, “I can’t tell you how many educated friends of mine have said, ‘Who is J.S. Mill?’ So we really do have to make him great again.”

    Ms. Strossen, 71, has made a career as a legal and scholarly defender of classical liberal ideals, most notably as president of the American Civil Liberties Union from 1991 through 2008. She brings up John Stuart Mill (1806-73), the British philosopher and parliamentarian, by way of citing his view, as she puts it, “that everything should be subject to re-examination,” including “our most cherished ideas.” For her, that means “I continue to re-examine my longstanding belief about the mutually reinforcing relationship between free speech and equality, and I continue to be completely convinced that these are two mutually reinforcing values.”

    Just a note for you Amazonian entrepreneurs: if you produce that cap in a size 8 for my melon head, you might have a customer. Can it make any 71-year-old look as good as Ms. Strossen?


  • Hey, wait a minute, I'm a well-off American! So why am I so enraged by this Peter Suderman article? Biden's Giveaways Largely Benefit Well-Off Americans.

    During his campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Joe Biden repeatedly insisted that his primary goal as president would be to help the struggling American middle class. "Ordinary middle-class Americans built America," he declared during a June 2019 Democratic primary debate. Under President Donald Trump's policies, he said, "too many people who are in the middle class and who are poor have the bottom fall out."

    In defining the "middle class" and the "poor," a good place to start is the median household income. In 2020, the year before Biden became president, the U.S. median was about $67,000, down from about $69,000 the previous year. The poor presumably make less than that, and people in the "middle" class, particularly those who feel the economic bottom falling out beneath them, presumably don't make much more.

    As president, Biden's attention has often been elsewhere. Under Biden, Democrats consistently have focused their energies on policies designed to benefit households with stable employment and six-figure annual incomes—not the super rich, but the affluent upper-middle class.

    I appreciate Suderman's diplomatic phrasing of "Biden's attention has often been elsewhere," implying that the concept of "Biden's attention" refers to an actually-existing thing.


  • The more you tighten your grip, Senator Manchin, the more prosperity will slip through your fingers. David Harsanyi is pretty tired of a perennial bit of political rhetoric: It's Not a Loophole Just Because Democrats Don't Like It.

    While peddling the ludicrously named Inflation Reduction Act on CNN this past week, Sen. Joe Manchin claimed that Democrats were merely trying to “close the loopholes and collect the taxes that are owed to the Treasury and the United States people.”

    In Washington, a “loophole” is a euphemism for a perfectly legal policy that Democrats have decided they want to regulate or tax. The word “loophole” suggests that some ambiguous wording or omissions in the text of a bill have allowed people to exploit the law. Few of the Democrats’ “loopholes” meet this definition. Indeed, in most cases, the “loopholes” they’re talking about were deliberately written to exist in their present form.

    Take the “carried-interest loophole,” which intentionally functions in tax code as a means of incentivizing investment, risk, and “sweat equity”—ownership stakes generated through work rather than just capital investment.

    Manchin, D-W.Va., might be looking for ways to raise “revenue” so he can tell constituents his bill won’t add to the deficit. And those who subscribe to zero-sum populist economics might want to punish private equity and redistribute wealth (though the American Investment Council says more than 74% of private equity investment went to small businesses in 2021).

    The latest news stories indicate that the "carried interest loophole" remains in the passed version of the so-called "Inflation Reduction Act". The WSJ editorialists are cynical: "This is the old Washington political game of threatening an industry with policy harm, extorting it for campaign cash, then failing to impose the harm. The threat lingers into the next campaign season, the industry keeps paying protection money and the cycle repeats."

    [Yes, that's a slightly altered classic quote in the headline. I miss Carrie Fisher!]


  • Of course there is. David French maintains There Is a Secular Case for Life. Although it's convenient for baby-killers to maintain that opposition to abortion is based solely on woo-woo superstition. And he quotes the atheist Nat Hentoff:

    Once the sperm and the egg meet, and they find a sort of nesting place in the uterus, you now have a developing human being. It’s not a kangaroo. It’s not a giraffe. It’s a human being. And that development in the womb until the person comes out is a continuing process. Therefore, if you kill it at any stage–first three weeks, first three months—you’re killing a developing human being.

    Yes. I left a comment pointing to Kevin D. Williamson's article from last December making the same point slightly more tersely: "What we believe is that you don’t kill children who haven’t been born for the same reason you don’t kill children who have been born."


  • Something to show anyone who understands graphs. Speaking of Kevin D. Williamson, he brings up some bad news to go with that rosy jobs report from last week: Inflation Causing Real Wage Decline.

    […] Americans’ real incomes (“real” is econo-speak for “adjusted for inflation”) have been declining significantly for some time.

    Here's the embedded graph he references from the St. Louis Fed:

    I'd say it's declining "alarmingly" instead of "significantly", but that's me.


Last Modified 2022-08-08 3:55 PM EDT