URLs du Jour


  • Which is worse? Karen Townsend reads Twitter so you don't have to: Bezos slams Biden for "misdirection" and "misunderstanding" of markets in gas price tweet. At issue is an autocratic demand from President Wheezy:

    Ms. Townsend points out what anyone interested in the issue already knows: gas station owners operate on tiny margins and engage in heavy price competition. They very often have convenience stores attached to them to sell high-margin items to stay afloat.

    You know who else knows this?

    In less diplomatic language: either (1) Biden is an idiot, or (2) he thinks you are.

  • Democracy dies in dumbness. The WSJ editorialists also have a takedown of (free link) Bidenomics 101. With the helpful callout: "The President doesn't seem to know anything about markets." Thereby going with option (1) above.

    Business leaders have chalked up President Biden’s attacks on oil companies to political cynicism, but maybe they’re too generous. His tweet over the weekend ordering gas stations to lower prices betrayed a willful ignorance about the private economy.

    It’s embarrassing for the leader of the free world to sound like he’s channeling Hugo Chávez. A Chinese state media flack praised Mr. Biden’s tweet: “Now US President finally realized that capitalism is all about exploitation. He didn’t believe this before.” Or maybe he did, and nobody wanted to believe it.

    Commenting (however) on the Bezos characterization of the Biden tweet as "either straight ahead misdirection or a deep misunderstanding of basic market dynamics”, the editorialists note "They aren't mutually exclusive".

    So, yeah, let me amend the above. It's possible that (1) Biden is an idiot, and (2) he thinks you are.

  • Some things shouldn't be said. Kevin D. Williamson notes that Larry Arnn Is Right about Education Majors.

    A local CBS affiliate in Nashville thinks it has uncovered a scandal: Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, has been exposed — via “hidden-camera video” no less! — saying things in private that Larry Arnn often says in public, in this case that the people who become public-school teachers tend to come from low-performing academic backgrounds. From News 5 Nashville:

    Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Michigan’s ultra-conservative Hillsdale College, also takes aim at diversity efforts in higher education, claiming people in those positions have education degrees because they are “easy” and “you don’t have to know anything.”

    . . .“The teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country.”

    The thing is, Larry Arnn is right about this. Our friends from CBS should check out . . . CBS, which notes a strange outcome: Education majors enter college with the lowest standardized-test scores, but they finish college with the highest grades. Students majoring in math and science enter with relatively high test scores and finish up with relatively low grades. Why? Because education programs are not very academically rigorous. Drop a 3.9 GPA education major into a physics program and chances are that he isn’t going to finish at all. “Dr.” Jill Biden probably would have had a tough timing earning a doctorate in, say, mathematics.

    KDW goes on to note that "ultra-conservative" Hillsdale has been admitting African Americans as students since its founding by abolitionists in 1844, and was the second U.S. college to grant four-year degrees to women.

  • On the McCloskey Watch. In an Independence Day-related essay, Pun Salad's favorite transgender economist writes about how Slavery Enriched White Slave Owners But Robbed America, Not Just African Americans.

    It is scandalous that Thomas Jefferson, the man who penned the immortal declaration of July 4, 1776, that “all men are created equal”(and women, dear!) did not liberate his slaves even at his death, or free even his own slave children by Sally Hemings—who, by the way, was his deceased wife’s half sister. It’s a miserable historical muddle.

    But it is every bit as muddled to believe that American prosperity depended on slavery, as some authors of the 1619 project do when they equate the Southern plantation with capitalism. They are not alone. Slavery and wealth are linked in American lore: In his second inaugural address, on March 4, 1865, another great if flawed president, Abraham Lincoln, declared, “If God wills that [the Civil War] continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, ... as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said, ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’”

    It is a creditable sentiment, nobly expressed by our poet president. Would that he had lived and fulfilled the promise to the freedmen of 40 acres and a mule. Yet Lincoln’s lyricism can mislead. The “piled” plunder of the crime of slavery is dwarfed by the returns of the honest commerce that might have been; Jefferson’s declaration is an economic opportunity sadly missed. Free and equal Black Americans would have generated far more wealth in America than enslaved ones did. Economic history is unequivocal: Jefferson’s slavery wasn’t the basis of America’s prosperity; Jefferson’s liberalism, so beautifully expressed in the document we celebrate today, was.

    McCloskey goes on to rebut the slavery-capitalism slur.

  • And on the LFOD Watch… the Google News Alert rang for an ill-tempered screed in the Daily News of Newburyport (MA) from a guy named Jack Garvey: Live free or freeload. He's pretty put out by our fair state:

    Not to moon you with the butt of an old joke, but I can see New Hampshire from my Plum Island home.

    Note: realtor.com reports the median home listing price on Plum Island is $979.9K.

    Where else? New Hampshire puts all of its sprawling fireworks outlets right on our border, liquor stores, too, so it makes sense that the biggest bang of all, should it happen, be closer to our capital of Boston than to theirs of Concord.

    Evacuation plans? Plum Island’s only road to the mainland is about 2.5 miles that go mostly toward Seabrook, but I guess that’s our problem, not theirs.

    Fireworks sales are worth noting when twirlers, crackers and pops are fresh in our ears. Though all these explosives are illegal in Massachusetts, they are advertised on Boston airwaves, making a mockery of state laws, common sense and any concept of being a “good neighbor.”

    I’ve wondered if another neighbor, Maine, could sue New Hampshire for its tolls on the 19-mile stretch of I-95 between the Mass and Maine borders.

    Given that this is their only realistic connection to all centers of American commerce, the Interstate Commerce Clause may well support a claim that the New Hampshire tolls constitute “de facto piracy.”

    Hoping to prompt such a suit, one Mainiac historian invoked the 1786 Treaty of Tripoli aimed at ending piracy in the Mediterranean when he asked: “Where’s John Adams when we need him?”

    No matter. Adams could still be home with Abigail in Quincy listening to fireworks ads on the radio, and capitalism would still trump the interstate clause and everything else in the Constitution he helped craft.

    Every. Time.

    Wow, Jack really has a bee in his bonnet about all things Granite. And "capitalism". If you're wondering what "capitalism" has to do with Interstate tolls… well, so am I.

    But here's some math about I-95 in NH: the toll is $2.00 cash at the Hampton tollbooth, or $1.40 if you have an E-ZPass. According to Wikipedia, its border-to-border length is 16.131 miles, not 19. The cost per mile is tricky, depends on where you get on and off, but assuming a Mass-to-Maine trip (or vice-versa), it works out to be 12.4 ¢/mile cash, 8.7 ¢/mile E-ZPass.

    In comparison, if you drive up the Maine Turnpike, and don't have an E-ZPass, the York tollbooths will demand $4.00. And beware, if you're getting off 12 miles later in Wells there are no refunds; that works out to be 21 ¢/mile. (Don't do this without an E-ZPass.)

    If you're going all the way to Augusta, the cash total is $8.00, which comes to 7.3 ¢/mile. (E-ZPass: $6.70, 6.1 ¢/mile).

    So, yes, New Hampshire's tolls are (in some cases) slightly pricier than Maine's. Enough to be called "de facto piracy"? Uh, no.

    And (by the way) when it comes to the Most Expensive Toll Roads in America (on a cost per mile basis) neither NH or ME make the list.

    But let's get past the math, and get to the insults:

    Ethics in advertising? I’d call that a contradiction in terms, but in a country where anything goes, there’s no such thing as contradiction.

    New Hampshire’s only other neighbor is Vermont. True, there’s a short Canadian border, but it’s all wilderness, and so New Hampshire doesn’t pose the menace to Quebec that it does to Maine and Mass.

    Luckily for the Green Mountain State, no major commercial centers require its residents to cross the Connecticut River the way that Metro Boston draws people from southern Maine.

    Hence, Vermonters can avoid tolls that have nothing to do with transportation, but everything to do with commerce.

    This is incoherent. I can't make enough sense out of it to even criticize.

    For all of its “Live Free or Die!” sound and fury, New Hampshire prohibits any sale of hard liquor anywhere except for state liquor stores.

    And where are these liquor stores located? The busiest are on the two interstates, close to the two tolls.

    To buy liquor in New Hampshire – “tax free” as they like to entice us here in what they ridicule as “Taxachusetts” – you pay a toll whether north- or southbound.

    And if you’re just on a packy run, they got you coming and going.

    What can I say? Except "We appreciate your business."

    I agree that NH should privatize liquor sales. And I've noted in the past that "tax free" is certainly misleading. When you buy a bottle of rotgut, whether in Maine, Massachusetts, or New Hampshire, some of your cash winds up in state coffers, OK?

    If states had descriptive names a la, say, the Seven Dwarfs, New Hampshire would be Sleazy.

    If it had a flag to represent its chosen role in the American union, it would fly an invoice.

    Its state bird would be a vulture, its mascot a hyena, its flower a parasitic weed, its anthem “Give Me Money!”

    That’s all they want. Even their “first in the nation” primary is a cash cow they milk through three years until they butcher it every fourth.

    And pay no attention to the unwarranted influence on our national elections by one of America’s smallest and least representative states.

    Its two largest cities combined are the size of Akron, the fifth-largest city in Ohio, a state with at least 10 times the farmland of New Hampshire.

    As I sit here looking north, I laugh at the motto on their license plates as they commute to Massachusetts jobs without paying a cent in tolls.

    When I think too much about it, as I just have, I wish the whole state would take the second option.

    But in my better moods, I’d simply change the last word to something honest.

    Whoa, "I wish the whole state would take the second option"? Hate speech, much? Eliminationist rhetoric?

    I'm more amused than disgusted by the NH Primary. Jack's right about the cash cow thing, I suppose, but I never see any of the cash. Sad.

    Summarizing some points I've made before: we do a lousy job of picking the eventual president.

    • In the 2020, Joe Biden did not win. In fact, he came in fifth. Behind Bernie, Mayor Pete, Amy Klobuchar, and Fauxcahontas.
    • The last time the Democrat winner of a contested New Hampshire Primary went on to win the general election was 1976 (Jimmy Carter).
    • Republican primary voters can congratulate themselves on a slightly better record. In the last seriously-contested GOP-side primary in 2016, Trump soundly beat the field, and (as you know) went on to win. (Whether that was a wise choice for GOP voters… well, longtime readers know my opinion there. Probably also short-time readers.)
    • But before that, to find an NH GOP primary winner who went on to become President, you have to go back to 1988 when George H. W. Bush beat Bob Dole.

    But speaking of "parasites", I'm reminded that Massachusetts successfully extracted income taxes from NH residents even when they were working at home during the height of the pandemic. "Give me money!" indeed