Promises, Promises

[False Promise]

My apologies for linking to a paywalled article in the current print issue of National Review. But I just loved that cover art; it's by Roberto Parada. Beautiful, right?

Anyway, the cover article is by Andrew Stuttaford: The False Promise of Electric Cars. Excerpt:

‘The more the state ‘plans,’” wrote Hayek, “the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.” This may resonate with the driver of an electric vehicle (EV) who has pulled up at a charging station in the middle of nowhere, only to find it broken.

In January last year, Carlos Tavares, the CEO of Stellantis, the world’s fifth-largest carmaker (it was formed by the merger of Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot), described electrification as “a technology chosen by politicians” and said it was “imposed” on the auto sector. By contrast, the triumph of the internal-combustion engine (ICE) over a century ago was organic. Human ingenuity and the power of markets led to a product that swept almost everything else off the road. EVs (which first had a moment around 1900) were not banned, and neither was the horse. In due course, ICE horseless carriages for the Astors were followed by the Model T and its kin. The automotive age had truly arrived.

The surge in demand for EVs (albeit from a low base) in Europe and the U.S. could be seen as evidence that, with the assistance of some taxpayer cash and nudges from government, EV technology could flourish without state interventions to either close down or hobble its wicked rival. But some policy-makers, faced with what they claim (and some may even believe) is a climate “crisis,” have clearly not been persuaded that EVs, for all their loudly touted wonders, should be relied on to overtake conventional autos. That has left coercion, and with it the opportunity to redesign much of everyday life in ways more in keeping with the standards of those who know best. The switch to EVs will lead, in the end, to a shrunken role for the car, a machine long resented by a certain type of authoritarian for the untidiness it creates, for the space it takes up, and for the autonomy it offers.

Unfortunately, it seems NR policy is to leave paywalled articles behind the paywall for eternity.

To reinforce the Hayekian observation about "state 'plans'" Stuttaford quotes, see a recent WSJ editorial bemoaning Biden’s Green-Energy Mineral Lockup.

The Biden Administration is heavily subsidizing electric vehicles, but at the same time it is blocking mineral projects needed to produce them. Another example of this head-scratching contradiction came Thursday when Interior Secretary Deb Haaland walled off much of Minnesota’s Superior National Forest from mining.

Minnesota’s Duluth Complex has one of the world’s largest undeveloped mineral deposits, including copper, nickel and cobalt that are needed in vast quantities for EV batteries. Ms. Haaland is assuring the deposit stays undeveloped by signing an order withdrawing more than 225,000 acres in the Superior National Forest from mining for two decades.

Not only do government "plans" make it more difficult for individuals to plan, it seems that government planners can't seem to get out of their own way.

The WSJ further notes that "if minerals aren’t mined in the U.S., they will be extracted in countries with far less stringent environmental and labor standards." No way that could go wrong.

Briefly noted:

  • Michael Graham is amused by a report from Commie New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) and the political reaction thereto: NH Parents Use Ed Money to Educate Kids, Democrats Pounce!

    NHPR reported on publicly-available data released by the New Hampshire Department of Education showing “participants spent a total of about $805,000 at and approximately $2.76 million at private schools last year.”

    Given that Amazon is both the world’s largest marketplace and the biggest online bookseller (with more than 1,000 items under the “homeschooling materials — 1st grade” category alone), it’s hardly a surprise that parents buy education supplies there. And spending education money at private schools is a no-brainer as well.

    NHPR also specifically noted that “Among the program’s biggest supporters in the legislature is House Majority Leader Jason Osborne. According to records, a homeschooling company run by his wife received $28,750 last year in Education Freedom Account funding.”


    As Graham points out: nobody shouts "corruption" when Democrat pols with spouses and other relatives employed by government schools support more spending on government schools.

    And in a later article, Graham points out that State Senator Debra Altschiller, A Private School Parent, Wants to Force EFA Kids Into Public Schools. She is, of course, a Democrat. Corruption might not be rife in the New Hampshire statehouse, but they've got plenty of hypocrisy to make up for it.

  • Kevin D. Williamson refutes a recent Nicholas Kristof piece in the New York Times headlined A Smarter Way to Reduce Gun Deaths.

    Smarter? Perhaps in the sense that Kristof thinks it would be "smarter" if gun-grabbers soft-sell their proposals as promoting "safety" instead of prohibition, making it easier to sell legislation to the public. Who could be against "safety"?

    KDW isn't having it: ‘Gun Safety’ Isn’t the Issue. He describes Kristof's article as "full of sloppiness bordering on intellectual dishonesty."

    Kristof’s argument is that we can use “gun safety measures” to reduce violent crime in the United States. But most guns sold in the U.S. market are not lacking in safety features—the problem is not “gun safety” but the fact that people point perfectly functional, well-designed firearms at other people and then pull the trigger for the purpose of killing them. “Gun safety” is not the issue. Murder is the issue. Suicide is, by the numbers, an even greater issue.

    I don't see one of those annoying paywall-indicating padlocks on KDW's article, so get thee hence and readeth the entirety.

  • The latest AP Stylebook misfire was a few days back, but AEI's Joshua T. Katz has something to say about The Associated Press vs. the French. (As Henry Kissinger said in a much different context: "It's a pity they both can't lose.")

    On Thursday, the Associated Press Stylebook issued the following statement: “We recommend avoiding general and often dehumanizing ‘the’ labels such as the poor, the mentally ill, the French, the disabled, the college-educated. Instead, use wording such as people with mental illnesses. And use these descriptions only when clearly relevant.” A hilarious backlash ensued, especially about “the French”: The French Embassy suggested that it might now be “Embassy of Frenchness in the US,” and many French people were up in arms, not just nationalistic figures like Éric Zemmour, who tweeted simply, “We are the French.” By the next day, the AP had deleted the original tweet, while still doubling down: “Writing French people, French citizens, etc., is good. But ‘the’ terms for any people can sound dehumanizing and imply a monolith rather than diverse individuals.”

    You'd think someone at the AP might have noticed the infelicitous sandwiching of "the French" in between "the mentally ill" and "the disabled".

    But it's nice to see that someone in the French Embassy has a bon sens de l'humour.

  • In Pun Salad's "What Did You Expect?" Department, Phillip W. Magness notes a small streaming problem: Hulu’s 1619 Project Docuseries Peddles False History. Specifically, from the series' first episode:

    The scene opens in Williamsburg on the grounds of its reconstructed colonial Governor's Palace, where Hannah-Jones joins University of South Carolina professor Woody Holton—one of a handful of heterodox historians who defended the 1619 Project's original narrative. As the cameras pan across streets filled with historical re-enactors and tourists in front of restored colonial buildings, the pair take another stab at resurrecting the 1619 Project's narrative about the American Revolution. The evidence that a British threat to slavery impelled Virginians—or perhaps "the colonists" at large, in Hannah-Jones' imprecise phrasing—to revolt may be found in the November 1775 decree of John Murray, fourth earl of Dunmore, Virginia's last Royalist governor. Facing the collapse of British rule, Dunmore announced that any enslaved male from a household in rebellion would be granted freedom in exchange for military service on the British side.

    Dunmore's decree made him the author of an "Emancipation Proclamation" of sorts, both Hannah-Jones and Holton contend. Their language intentionally evokes parallels to President Abraham Lincoln's famous order freeing the slaves of the rebellious Confederacy in 1863. Prompted by Hannah-Jones' questioning, Holton then recounts his version of the lesser-known events of some four score and eight years prior. "Dunmore issued that Emancipation Proclamation November 1775," he explains, "and that Emancipation Proclamation infuriated white southerners."

    We see the visual power of the Hulu production at this moment as Holton lifts his finger, pointing at the Governor's Palace, the centerpiece of the Colonial Williamsburg historical park. The camera quickly shifts to the recreated structure as he begins to speak. "Because this building is supposed to symbolize white rule over blacks, and now the guy inhabiting that building," Dunmore, "has turned things upside down and is leading blacks against whites." Hannah-Jones interjects, "So you have this situation where many Virginians and other southern colonists—they're not really convinced that they want to side with the patriots. And this turns many of them towards the revolution. Is that right?" Holton answers without a flinch. "If you ask them, it did. The record is absolutely clear."

    The scene is an authoritatively delivered pronouncement set to stunning cinematography, but it's also false history.

    Click through for a truer history. I envision Professor Magness doing a Homer Simpson imitation: "Stupid TV! Be more honest!"

Last Modified 2024-01-30 6:49 AM EDT

Debunking Howard Zinn

Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation against America

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

I happened upon an article from Michael Huemer while reading this book. Huemer asks: Can Teaching the Truth Be Racist? He proposes a thought experiment:

Suppose you learned that there was a school staffed mainly by right-leaning teachers and administrators. And at this school, an oddly large number of lessons touch upon, or perhaps center on, bad things that have been done by Jews throughout history. None of the lessons are factually false – all the incidents related are things that genuinely happened and all were actually done by Jewish people. For example, murders that Jews committed, times when Jews started wars, times when Jews robbed or exploited people. (I assume that you know that it’s possible to fill up quite a lot of lessons with bad things done by members of whatever ethnic group you pick.) The lessons for some reason omit or downplay good things done by Jews, and omit bad things done by other (non-Jewish) people. What would you think about this school?

I hope you agree with me that this is a story of a blatantly racist and shitty school. It would be fair to describe the school as promoting hatred toward Jewish people, even if none of the lessons explicitly stated that one should hate Jews. I hope you also agree that no parent or voter should tolerate a public school that operated like this.

Now, what if the school’s right-wing defenders explained that there was actually nothing the slightest bit racist or otherwise objectionable about the school, because it was only teaching facts of history? All these things happened. You don’t want to lie or cover up the history, do you?

I hope you agree with me that this would be a pathetic defense.

Author Mary Grabar convinces me that Howard Zinn was up to that sort of thing throughout his career, especially in his famed book A People's History of America: presenting carefully selected "facts" that leave his readers seriously misinformed, some ready to man the barricades with pitchforks and tumbrels.

Except when it comes to the "facts" part. Zinn wasn't above making up his own as well. In addition, Grabar shows, his methods included out-of-context quoting, omitting relevant details if they complicated his narrative, plagiarism, and overall dishonesty in service of his primary thesis, namely the unsurpassed evil of the United States and free-market capitalism. Unsurprising, because Zinn was no traditional historian. Despite his academic positions over his lifetime, he was every inch the hard-left activist, preferring propaganda and advocacy over traditional scholarship.

And (boy) was he ever adored for it. Grabar notes his citation in the movie Good Will Hunting from writer/star Matt Damon where he tells Robin Williams that the People's History was a "real history book" that would "knock you on your ass".

Must be true, because Damon's playing a genius. And then he eventually moved on to plugging cryptocurrency in slick TV ads.

Grabar takes on the People's History chapter by chapter, providing her own counter-narratives to Zinn's on Christopher Columbus, Native Americans, civil rights, the Founding Fathers, World War II, Vietnam, and the "Red Scare". I'm pretty sure if Zinn had said somewhere that the sky was blue, Grabar would respond "Of course, Zinn conveniently forgets to mention the nighttime sky, which is mostly black." But she scores enough points to (at least) convince the fair-minded reader that you get a story from Zinn, but not the whole story. And you should turn your skepticism filter up to eleven.

Unfortunately, at a number of spots, Grabar's rhetoric becomes sarcastic and strident. That's likely to turn off otherwise persuadable readers.

(FYI: I found Huemer's quoted article above via Bryan Caplan's Substack post on the "mainstream media", Worse Than Silence, also worth reading if you're interested in that.)

Last Modified 2024-01-14 4:37 AM EDT