Maybe the world is ThreeSources -- add a #3src hashtag to post your tweets
May 24, 2016
NYTimes's Token Conservative
Gotta love David Brooks. The NYTimes's idea of a conservative. One of my favorite memes begins with "Even the NYTimes conservative columnist David Brooks says...
Neither Jonah Goldberg nor James Taranto could lay off his recent column. Gosh, darn it, Mister Conservative just cannot see why people do not like Sec. Hillary Clinton. "She works too hard, perhaps. She doesn't have enough hobbies." Gosh I just can't figure it...
Jonah gets first blood:
With all due respect to Brooks, this is some mighty weak sauce. Frankly, the idea that someone as smart as Brooks could think Clinton's unpopularity is a deep and impenetrable mystery is the real mystery here. And the suggestion that if she had more hobbies, people would like her more is pretty hilarious. Break out the Hummel collection! Brooks even notes that we know Obama's hobbies -- has that helped his popularity? Do his poll numbers go up after every golf outing?
James's publishing schedule postpones his response, but he is on point
To summarize, she's unpopular because she doesn't have any hobbies. It follows that if she hadn't deleted those yoga emails, she would be all but universally beloved.
That's gotta sting a bit.
Hillary Clinton is the very embodiment of every man's worst fear for a mother-in-law. Can you imagine that cackle in your castle? There would never be a happy Thanksgiving again!
Government denies existence of problems
First, allow me to quote American Thinker's Rick Moran:
"Oh. My. God."
Does Disneyland measure wait times? Does Disneyland measure wait times!! You clueless bureaucrat, Disneyland knows the wait time for every major attraction in every park to the minute - in real-time. And, much more importantly, Disneyland, like every private-sector business, does everything in their power to reduce their wait times. Even going so far as to accept appointments for the highest demand attractions, as is done with great efficiency in industries such as, for instance, with no specific reason for mentioning it, MEDICINE! Unless government is in charge. You clowns can screw up anything. Perhaps because, since your job doesn't depend on it, you really don't care about your "customers."
Market Forces Repair Problem?
My illustrious Senator, Michael Bennet (BackBencher - CO), is on TV every night with a message he has approved about student debt. "Everyone deserves an education, no one should have to have a lifetime of debt, bla bla bla..." Very gauzy lines with no proposals or policy, but I don't think I am wrong to infer a promise to millennials of more subsidies and debt forgiveness. As much as I dislike it, I imagine forgiveness will be a successful Democratic theme this year.
The Wall Street Journal news pages (not those right wing wackos on the Ed Page) dares to mention that maybe things ain't so bad...
Many Americans are struggling under huge monthly student-debt bills. But they are a sizeable minority, not the norm.
That's the conclusion of research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. The typical borrower between ages 20 and 30 pays $203 a month toward student debt. Three-quarters of borrowers pay no more than $400 a month, the study shows.
Crisis! Crisis! Chrisis! Needs us some more government right away please! Oh, wait...
Many activists and elected leaders say huge bills are preventing Americans from saving for retirement and buying a home.
Yet for most, monthly bills are still quite manageable, roughly in line with what people pay on a car loan. Several factors are tamping down monthly student-debt bills, not all of them benign.
More borrowers, longer terms (that's the not-benign bit) but I posit a trend of wisening up. I am sorry that so many millennials were sold a predatory package of worthless goods from left-wing academia, but you still read and signed a contract. My youthful fiscal indiscretion was a wholesale buyers' club. I grumbled for two years to pay it off, but was fortunate to escape without an advanced degree.
I'm think some of Glenn Reynolds's wisdom [Review Corner] has filtered down and hope some 17-year olds are looking at five and six digit debt with more skepticism.
In addition to Glenn Reynolds' take of the education bubble (with which I heartily agree):
I'm not opposed to student loans, per se -- but there are a number of anomalies when compared to the rest of the finance industry that just make me wonder.
First, anywhere other than student loans, the lender examines the prospective borrower's ability to repay. A home-loan broker, for example, looks at the borrower's income, before lending the money to buy the house.
Second, the lender looks at what the loan is going to be used for. That same home-loan broker is going to do an appraisal of the house you're planning to buy, if for no other reason than to make sure that, if they have to foreclose, the resale of the property is likely to recoup the loss they take on the loan.
The student loan business ignores the ideas of creditworthiness and collateral, if you follow my metaphor.
If I were a student-loan broker and a prospect came to me with a 3.92 GPA, and had a raft of honors and advance-placement classes under his belt, asking for a $100,000 loan at 3% for college, that might be a smart investment. If the next student walked in with a 2.41 GPA and barely squeaked by in woodshop and remedial English, I'd probably take a pass. That's sort of an analogue to creditworthiness.
You're planning on getting your degree in Computer Science, or Engineering, or Architecture? That's good collateral, especially if you've got the academic background that points to success. Gender Studies? Maybe not as good in the ol' collateral department.
It would be interesting to see what would happen if government weren't pouring buckets of dollars into every kid that wanted to stay out of the job market for four (or more) years and party at Santa Cruz, and let banks and lenders make lending decisions on good moneylending criteria. Do I foresee a lot of unqualified kids going to Vinnie Down At The Wharf? No; fortunately, borrowing a hundred bucks for a good tip on a horse in the sixth is one thing, but seeing Vinnie collecting the vig for four years and waiting for the long-term payoff is quite another.
Somehow, I don't see a lot of baristas getting their legs broken for welching on their tuition loans anytime soon.
Government has distorted education.
Government has distorted retail credit.
And in case that wasn't enough, government created targeted distortions of retail credit for education.
In this case, rather than "what could go wrong" the question is - how could anything go right?
Jonah has a bone to pick with McCloskey
Jonah Goldberg opens his column with high praise, but suggests Professor McCloskey [Review Corner] may have missed one.
She always endeavors to distribute her whacks evenly, like every libertarian should. But Goldberg catches her attributing eugenics to "the right," when two of his books [Review] [Corner] have documented progressives' complicity:
The sainted liberal jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote the infamous Buck v. Bell decision which made forced sterilizations of "imbeciles" constitutional (Buck was not an imbecile for the record). The liberals on the court voted with him, while the sole dissenter was a conservative, Pierce Butler. In Britain, The Catholic conservative G.K. Chesterton fought eugenics with every fiber of his being, while progressives and socialists like H.G. Wells, the Webbs and George Bernard Shaw believed it was the heart of socialist or progressive reform.
I don't think any of this undermines any of McCloskey's larger argument. But it's frustrating to see someone so committed to the cause of liberty repeat a slander popularized by liberty's enemies.
May 23, 2016
Life Imitates ThreeSources
Brother JohnGalt called it right out of the chute: Paris Conference over -- climate change fixed! Next topic?
Seems even the Aussie Labour Party is in.
Aussie academic David Holmes, of the University of Melbourne, suggests that Politicians are using the Paris Agreement to defuse climate concerns, by claiming Paris "solved" the climate crisis -- and he's not happy about it.
Sorry, mate! Obama fixed that already. Now we can focus 100% on who pees where.
Who Says There's No Good News?
AG drops climate change subpoena against libertarian think tank
The Virgin Islands attorney general has withdrawn a controversial subpoena against a prominent libertarian D.C. think tank, after being accused of bullying the group as part of a broader probe into whether ExxonMobil misled the public about global warming.
Attorney General Claude Walker had issued the subpoena, demanding the Competitive Enterprise Institute hand over 10 years' worth of its communications related to climate change, in April.
CEI fired back with a lawsuit of its own, seeking to fine Walker for what the group called a breach of their First Amendment rights.
Walker's office dropped the subpoena Friday, according to court documents. The office did not respond to a request for comment from FoxNews.com.
CEI said it would still seek sanctions against Walker -- noting that while this subpoena has been dropped, a more expansive subpoena against ExxonMobil still stands.
May 22, 2016
In an almost vacant coffee shop in Moscow in 2013 a customer asked politely that the loud rock music, pleasant to the young staff but irritating to old folk, be turned down. The waitress was shocked that a customer would have an opinion. She indignantly refused. Thus was made evident the seventy years of changing the nature of man under socialism.
Ideas and style are highly regarded at Review Corner. Reading Deirdre N. McCloskey's Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World
forced me to note that I undervalue scholarship. Professor McCloskey has finished her "Bourgeois" trilogy. (The second book alone scored two [Review] [Corners]
She had originally planned for more books.
Over twenty years of imagining and ten years of writing, the projected scale of the series has varied from one to six volumes. In a bad moment I thought of calling a six-volume version a "sexology," achieving thereby large sales through fraud and a tasteless mix of Latin and Greek. The thought did not meet the test of bourgeois virtue. I settle here for a trilogy, and modest sales, and say at its end, laus Deo.
To squish it all in, the third book is "robust" to choose an adjective beloved of software developers and coffee drinkers. It is neither univiting nor turgid; McCloskey exhibits great wit and clear prose. But I am a goal-oriented reader. I'll fly by most footnotes with a perfunctory "I'll take your word for it." McCloskey, like Popper, puts important information (and great verve) into them. Beyond the length, you have to stop and read every footnote. I even highlighted a few.
20. David Landes 1969, 1965. This is a good place to acknowledge that I spent the first half of my historical career disagreeing with David on the role of the entrepreneur. I seem to be doomed to spend the second half agreeing with him. En partie seulement.
I have been
sharing some of my favorite quotes with the Kindle Twitter feature and hope that some ThreeSourcers may have enjoyed one or two. There is no way to cover this book in a Review Corner. I'll share some personal and philisophical thoughts, and direct people to several better resources for encapsulation:
McCloskey looks to language, literature, art, anthropology, psychology, and economics to trace the change in attitudes toward the bourgeoisie and the idea of birthright equality. In Shakespeare's time and reflected in his work, the words "honor" and "honest" referred to a person of high birth, not his or her character.
In other words, the new liberty and dignity for commoners was a sociological event, not a psychological one, and originated in a changing conversation in the society, not at first in psychological self-monitoring by the individual. People in Holland and then England didn't suddenly start alertly attending to profit. They suddenly started admiring such alertness, and stopped calling it sinful greed. 17
ThreeSourcers know too well my appreciation for McCloskey, and it is only enhanced by this book. One can enjoy it as a cudgel (the 750-page hardcopy better than the Kindle version) for bashing the Left and the Luddite Right: Thomas Piketty is singled out for disapprobation several times. Go Deirdre! But - as mentioned in previous reviews she has opprobrium left over for some of my favorites. Several writers who have been given Five Stars on these pages have their theories questioned.
Niall Ferguson scored 4.75 stars and a direct comparison to McCloskey in a previous [Review Corner]. His "Killer Apps" and attention to institutions are immensely compelling. "Balderdash!" claims McCloskey (well, she doesn't use the B-word...) history is replete with societies with superb institutions, no Industrial Revolution, no Great Enrichment, no 9900% increase in consumption.
She has some kind words for Matt Ridley, but at the end of the day, his "ideas having sex" which won him five stars and the coveted Editor's Choice award in [Review Corner] she finds lacking. Great idea, Lord R, but why not in Song China or Timbuktu? You want property rights, it was said that a young girl could walk the breadth of Genghis Khan's kingdom with a handful of gold and not fear for her safety. Where is the Mongol Enlightenment?
Science? Private Property? Freedom?
The trilogy, in other words, argues against the prudence-only obsessions of the economists and of their enemies. Within economics it argues against the factually dubious assertion from the political right that technological betterment comes automatically from private property. 25 And it argues against the logically dubious assertion from the political left that the betterment comes automatically from artificially high wages. 26 Both are what the economists Friedrich Hayek and Vernon Smith, among others practicing a humanomics, call "constructivist," as against "ecological." 27
She calls herself a libertarian in the interviews linked above, and her ideas are friendly to liberty in many ways. But she has some inconvenient truths. She doesn't see much difference between the US, UK, Norway and Sweden. On her scale there isn't much difference, and the per-capita consumption is close. She recognizes the danger to prosperity in a USSR or Venezuelan attack on liberty, but like Adam Smith, she accepts a differential from "perfect liberty."
New Zealand, for example, is well governed. Italy is not. New Zealand has honest and efficient governmental institutions. Italy, strikingly, does not. In ease of doing business-- which is low when the government vigorously obstructs private dealings or when its officials demand bribes-- New Zealand ranked in 2010 and 2012 (among 183 or 185 countries) third from the top. Italy in 2010 ranked eightieth, slightly below Vietnam, and in 2012 seventy-third, slightly below the Kyrgyz Republic. In 2012, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International, New Zealand was tied for first, the most honestly governed among 173 ranked countries. Italy was seventy-second. 8
Yet in real GDP per person New Zealand and Italy, in 2010, were nearly identical, at $ 88.20 and $ 86.80 a day, a little above Hans Rosling's Washing Line. One could argue that there is anyway an international correlation between income and governance. But the causation is in part the other way around-- rich people demand better governance, which is certainly the story of more honest governance in American cities, 1900 to the present.
Some of your favorite theories will be besmirched in this great book. The data and scholarship which support her premises are so significant, it is difficult to push back.
One thing I do appreciate is her belief in modernity and her fulsome opposition to any who would push us back. That, great scholarship, literary allusions to TS Eliot, Ghostbusters, and Monty Python. I'm in! There is much to appreciate in post-1800 development:
the fine quality of the inexpensive book you now hold, the ease of access to the Kindle edition if you were too cheap to buy the book, the contact lenses that allow you to read it, the computer on which you take admiring notes about it, the college sheepskin on the wall, the acquiring of which allows you to grasp the book's profundity, and even the better aluminum studs behind the wall, preventing the better wallboard painted with better paint and affixed with better cordless screwdrivers from caving in when you punch it out of sadly misled vexation at some of the more irritating factual claims in the book.
Five Stars and an Editor's Choice Award.
Kidding! That isn't the most important thing I take from this review. The power of ideas, is. They come in good and bad, of course, but the ultimate good idea according to McCloskey seems to be - rather than private property ownership - private self ownership. Free individuals, free to choose as it were, in a free world. That's a great idea.
And yet it is famously understood, that "Freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction." I take comfort in the greater population and faster communication of our time relative to the dark ages, that such extinction might be local and temporary. But fear of tyranny does still exist, even in the good ol' US of A.
To me, that is the real measure of "progress" - not the amount of wealth or the percentage of people enjoying it worldwide, but the amount of confidence in personal liberty and the percentage of people enjoying that worldwide.
On Ideas good and bad: missing from my review is her preference for the term "trade tested betterment" to capitalism. You try to serve your fellow man with an idea or service -- and if that service is found to be of value you prosper, if not you try something else. The opportunity for failure eliminates the sclerosis in communism and answers "why wasn't there a Great Enrichment sooner?" People were smart in 1500 or 5000 BCE but only the chief's or emperor's ideas were good.
She enumerates the threats from the right and left and concedes the power of "the clerisy" to muck things up. On the plus side, she points out that every success creates its own interest group. All the people that make money driving Uber are incentivized to fight the taxi cartels' regulatory attempts.
So she's in optimist, a'la Matt Ridley. She mentions in one of the linked interviews "Of course I'm an optimist. You have to be an optimist to change genders."
Also missing is an idea it came up in a slightly different form on Econtalk today: the benfits of Capit -- I mean "trade tested betterment" have a long latency. We had DIckensian factories and the Triangle Shirtwaist fire before we saw most of the gains. That gave the Dickenses, Shaws, and Roosevelts a great foundation to oppose it.
May 20, 2016
Sen. Smoot and Rep. Hawley could not be reached for comment
Oh, deary me.
Trump touted his proposal for a 35 percent tariff on imports into the United States from the American companies that have outsourced to Mexico.
"At least the United States is going to make a hell of a lot of money," Trump said at a fundraiser for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. "And these dummies say, 'Oh well that's a trade war.'"
"Trade war? We're losing $500 billion in trade with China. Who the hell cares if there's a trade war?" Trump continued. "$500 billion and they're telling me about a trade war."
Trump quickly added, "You're not going to have a trade war," predicting "China will behave" and "respect our country again" after slamming the country's currency manipulation.
There seems a substantial, if not exculpatory, difference between the Trump Tariff (TM) and Smoot Hawley. Trump proposes, in this quote at least, to levy only imports from "American Companies that have outsourced." So it wouldn't prompt a trade war with foreign governments as much as it would slash the advantages of moving factories to lower tax, lower regulation, lower wage locales outside of the U.S.
Just an extension of "The Wall," then. Companies with factories will will not be allowed to expand abroad and workers abroad will not pursue opportunities here.
A bit less awful than his 45% tariff on China, I suppose. But the part I highlight is the insane locution of "We are 'losing' $______ to ________." Now coupled with "who the hell cares if there's a trade war?" This man does not understand trade, liberty, or the source of global prosperity -- I am hesitant to entrust him with any of them.
You and me both, brother, but democracy means we only get two choices and they both suck. We must all choose whom to vote against carefully.
May 19, 2016
All Hail Taranto!
Rather than admit to some effective anti-#nevertrump punditry from my buddy James Taranto, I'll share some wit:
Grouchy, and quite possibly racist
I have told my Conservative buddies to chillax before about Google Doodles. Insty gets into a lather when they fail to recognize American holidays. Bing® is guaranteed to do a nice photo on Veterans' Day or Memorial Day. Google: not. so. much. "But really, lads," sez I, "aren't there bigger fish to fry?" Well, today I have developed a taste for small fried fish.
I generally have Bing/IE on one computer and Google/Chrome on another for testing. Today I switched both to Bing because I became tired of
Yoko Ono Yuri Kochiyama glowering at me (told you it might be racist). My biggest objection is the celebration of activism. The way to fix things in these people's minds is to get a microphone and fulminate. There's a place for that, but more frequently, those seeking change in a moderately free society with mechanisms for self rule should do a little work crafting and promoting a solution.
The glorification of Community Organizing is tiresome.Bing has a pretty picture.
UPDATE: The Yoko Comparison was perhaps too kind.
Kochiyama then appeared to endorse "freedom fighters" who "revere" bin Laden and "join him in battle."
"I do not care what the U.S. government or Americans feel--I think it's shameful what this government has done from the beginning of its racist, loathsome history," she stated later.
"When I think what the U.S. military is doing, brazenly bombing country after country, to take oil resources, bringing about coups, assassinating leaders of other countries, and pitting neighbor nations against each other, and demonizing anyone who disagrees with U.S. policy, and detaining and deporting countless immigrants from all over the world, I thank Islam for bin Laden," she said. "America's greed, aggressiveness, and self-righteous arrogance must be stopped. War and weaponry must be abolished."
UPDATE II: The Internet is frequently its own antidote:
Reverb.com is an eBay for musical instruments. They sell some inexpensive commodity items in their own brand and have a great social media presence with pictures of cool guitars, jokes, and some independant journalism on the company blog.
Peter Schu posts an exceptional piece on guitar pricing. He takes four popular models and tracks their cost in inflation-adjusted dollars. It's quite a smart piece of research.
His conclusions mirror mine (toldja he was smart) but he backs his assertions with data. I inflation-adjusted my new Epiphone Gold Top. He goes broader and further;
In 1960, one of the most popular and affordable entry-level, two-pickup solid-body electric guitars was the Silvertone Stratotone, aka the Harmony H-46. At the time, it cost $54.95 brand new without a case. In 2016 buying power, determined using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' online inflation calculator, that would be $442.07, more than double what some entry-level electric guitars cost today.
Granted, it was made in the United States. At the time, China was in the midst of Mao's so-called Great Leap Forward. It would be decades before modern Plek machines would help Chinese workers crank out low-cost guitar bodies and necks.
The trends of constant dollar pricing for the Gibson Les Paul and ES-355, Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster and reasons for their diversion are worth the click.
Hardcopies of my book project are in. We got paperbacks first, there is a hardcover and a Kindle version soon to follow. There was a signing last week. I'll be able to hook ThreeSourcers up as needed.
In deference to Marketing and PR, I will not use the name, please do not. I cannot have Google searches pointing to this site, especially before whatever official release activities they plan. But, among friends, here's the cover (click on either to enlarge):
And a website in progress
Did Hick actually read it?
There were a few levels of indirection between me and the Governor; I cannot be certain. He received an early copy and we addressed an additional topic based on a suggestion. Someone in his office read it.
I can only infer charitably from his generous blurb.
However, the hippie, guitar-player, Sci-Fi author blurber is my friend and I can assure you that he read it.
May 18, 2016
I was looking for a grand slam: "I'm going to nominate Randy Barnett to the Supreme Court!" says a defiant Donald Trump, wearing a Lysander Spooner T-shirt and a "Make Trade Free Again" ball cap!
Instead, the presumptive is showing bunt.
I don't know these guys and hope a Eugene Volukh or Ilya Somin (picks two and three in a Kranz Administration) will help me out. But my first glance sees authoritarianism.
The list is notable, Vladeck said, in part because there are no surprises. "I would not have been surprised to see this exact list from almost any of the other Republican candidates," he said. "These people tend to be more into strict interpretation of the Constitution who are more skeptical of unenumerated rights like privacy and who are more likely to side with conservative social movements
At the risk of cherry-picking, the WSJ posts the list, and I looked first for our illustrious Centennial Stater. I feel this is representative:
In 2012, Judge [Allison] Eid wrote the majority opinion ruling that the University of Colorado's policy to ban students from carrying handguns on campus was unlawful. She also wrote a decision last year that said companies in Colorado, which has decriminalized most marijuana use, can fire employees for using marijuana outside of work because the activity still violates federal law.
Now, a bunt can bring home a run, and all my critiques could be leveled against Justice Scalia, peace be ever upon his holy name. Trump is looking for Scalias and not Thomases, he asked Heritage and not Cato for guidance. Got it, but of course Sec. Clinton is beating the gender studies department for a list of Sotomayors.
These are dark days. But my hope for the grand slam has passed.
Blog brothers are advised to attempt Second Amendment arguments to persuade.
Argument number one: Donald Trump is not an ideologue. Hillary Clinton is the ideologue's ideologue.
Huh. (And I realize I'm sounding argumentative just for sport, But:)
My largest gripe is that he is not ideological. He is truly the Bill O'Reilly of politics. He doesn't know what he believes in, but at this very instant he believes it FERVENTLY!
I think you're a bit unfair. He clearly believes in American Exceptionalism. He wants America to be great - again - a thinly-veiled shot at the current president and his policies. He believes in the American Dream.
We may mostly agree that he doesn't consciously know the ideological reason why America was once greater than it is today, but he does seem to know it subconsciously, and expresses it in his latest slogan: "America First." That means, collectively at least, if not individually, that Americans should act in their rational self-interest. That's a good first step. And, it's a principle.
But the reason his ideological void is a feature and not a bug is that it makes him a blank screen onto which voters can project their own vision of a great America. Ask Ted Cruz how successful a liberty ideologue can be in politics.
Crackdown on Dogs at Brewpubs!
War is Peace, Meat is Murder, and Beer is Food.
Denver breweries may have to turn away some of their friendliest customers now that city inspectors have begun to crack down on allowing dogs in breweries throughout the metro area.
An incident this week at Prost Brewing Company sparked confusion for Denver brewers when city inspectors said the brewery was in violation of a city law stating dogs cannot be in an establishment that serves food.
And, in blues news: "Grits ain't groceries, eggs ain't poultry, and Mona Lisa was a Man."
Squaring the Clinton Circle
I so wish that I wanted the Republican to win this year. What great fun it is to watch Sec. Clinton step in it, again and again. "Oh, my Husband is going to run the economy! I'm just going to do Women's empowerment and let the men handle all the important stuff" is a good measure of her campaigning chops. But the WSJ Ed Page recognizes a deeper contradiction: 21st Century Democrats do not want 42's trade, tax, regualtion and labor policies.
The Clinton contradiction is that she claims she'll produce economic results like her husband did with economic policies like Mr. Obama's. For the record, let's lay out the differences between the agenda that helped drive the prosperity of 1993-2001, when the U.S. economy expanded by 3.8% annually on average, and what Mrs. Clinton is proposing to close out the 2010s, when GDP growth has failed to exceed 2.5% in a single year.
Well, at least she has that charisma thing going for her...