A Good Title for an SF Book

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Kevin D. WIlliamson is writing non-fiction, however: An Invitation to Chaos

“We cannot save the world by playing by the rules,” thunders Greta Thunberg, voicing the sentiment of practically every violent radical, terrorist, and concentration-camp builder throughout modern history. Here is a 21st-century question: Is the 20-year-old environmental campaigner old enough to know better? 

[PS: You'd think so. But…]

There was a time, not that long ago, when this would have been understood as a nonsensical question, the answer to which is: Of course. V.I. Lenin spent much of his 20th year translating The Communist Manifesto from German into Russian. This was an act of devotion, not an act of necessary scholarship, the work already having been translated by Mikhail Bakunin some years earlier. No copy of Lenin’s translation exists—it would have been of interest to compare it to other versions. Lenin, of course, was very much of Thunberg’s mind—no time for the rules, no time for niceties when you are saving humanity. The problem is, the thing radicals are always saving humanity from is humanity—hence the inhumanity typical of radical movements. When the other young idealists moved to abolish capital punishment in the utopia they were building, Lenin quashed the reform. “How can you make a revolution without executions?” he asked. He charged those pressing for a more humane approach with “impermissible weakness.” He summed up his strategy: “terror.” His version of “We cannot save the world by playing by the rules” was his call for “unrestricted power based on force, not law.”

KDW also takes on the popular saying "The time for debate is over."

Also of note:

  • Good luck with that. George F. Will writes on the obvious and provocative: A fiscal crisis awaits. Here’s a provocative idea for heading it off.

    When astrophysicist Arthur Eddington (1882-1944) was told that some people believed that only three scientists understood Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, he quietly said: “I’m just wondering who the third might be.” At the opposite end of the intelligibility spectrum, there is broad understanding of the obvious: This nation is slouching into the most predictable fiscal crisis in its history.

    There is no mystery about what the crisis is; there is clarity about what broadly must be done. There is, however, fatalism about the political system’s inability to do it. The fatalism is refutable, but with a mechanism that should make constitutionalists queasy: Should we protect the nation’s fiscal future by further diminishing Congress, which would exacerbate the braided problems of a rampant executive and an unaccountable administrative state?

    It's popular to talk of "black swan events": unexpected, thought to be very unlikely, with vast negative consequences. ("Didn't see that comin'!") The fiscal crisis is (on the other hand): one that anyone can see coming, but is nevertheless being ignored.

    The "provocative idea" GFW is touting is "a BRAC-like Fiscal Commission". Which worked (once upon a time) to close down some unneeded military bases.

    I'd say go for it, but note that the AARP has already freaked out about Mitt Romney's efforts in this direction. (Thanks to AARP—-see the freak out link—you don't actually have to know anything about the proposal in order to demand that your CongressCritters oppose it.)

  • Owning up to a mistake, 46 years too late. At Reason: Stuck Behind an SUV? Blame a Carter Administration Economist. Specifically, blame Bruce Yandle:

    I recently pulled into a store parking lot and noticed a woman with only a small bag of groceries heading to her car. She slipped behind the steering wheel of a 5,000-pound SUV, quickly cranked the turbocharged 200-horsepower engine, and drove away. Recognizing an engineering masterpiece that had evolved in a highly regulated world, I couldn't help but think about the front-row seat I had to the events that accidentally spurred the rise of these vehicles. As the White House moves to subsidize the domestic manufacture of electric vehicles and their batteries, and as it writes regulations calling for tougher fuel economy standards, it's worth remembering how we got to this point.

    The White House has promised that this will all have a positive impact on global climate change and save us money when fueling our SUVs. Hopefully that's true, but no one in government is systematically keeping score and reporting. The industry has become so overloaded with subsidies and regulations that it's hard to tell what policies, if any, would reduce production costs and save consumers money, let alone help solve climate change.

    Back in 1977, as a senior economist on President Jimmy Carter's Council on Wage and Price Stability, I participated in Department of Transportation (DOT) proceedings that set the first fuel economy standards for the U.S. fleet. What transpired is a great example of what can happen when federal regulations become completely entangled with a major economic sector. The forces at play help to explain why a woman happily drives a 5,000-pound SUV to transport 10 pounds of groceries.

    I can assure readers that no one in those proceedings thought the Ford F-150 pickup, beginning in 1982, would top the all-vehicle bestseller list for 41 consecutive years. And we could have never guessed that truck-like SUVs would become vehicles of choice for U.S. consumers. We couldn't have; SUVs did not exist at the time.

    We can only guess which Biden Administration policy wonk will be writing in the August/September 2069 issue of Reason about what he or she didn't see coming. Maybe Lina Khan?

  • On the LFOD front… A guy named Stephen Robinson, writing at a substack titled "Wonkette", wonders: Is Kelly Ayotte Trying To Become New Hampshire’s Next Top DeSantis? I have no idea what that means, even after reading the article. Click through if you'd like to check out a partisan diatribe about Republicans in general, Ayotte in particular. But here's the bit that rang the Google LFOD Alert:

    An NBC News feature claimed that “live free or die” is a motto that “New Hampshire voters take to heart,” which makes them sound unhinged or least insufferable.

    Robinson deems freedom to be "a nebulous concept". Except when you are "denying freedom" to "marginalized groups". That's the only thing you have to worry about, Wonkette readers!

Last Modified 2024-01-11 2:54 PM EDT