Sunday, April 17, 2016

Link Madness

Here are some things of interest that THC has recently read about current events:

30 years ago when THC lived in Massachusetts, if you had told him that thirty years down the road Connecticut would be an economic and fiscal basket case and "Taxachusetts" would be thriving with lower taxes and sounder state finances than its neighbor to the south he would have said you were crazy.  Here is a fond remembrance of the person who helped make the Massachusetts turnaround possible - Barbara Anderson - who recently passed away.  Derided by the liberal state establishment of the time, she showed what can be accomplished by persistence, wit and civility.

What caused Haiti's recent cholera epidemic that killed nearly 10,000 and made more than three quarters of a million ill?   Answer:  The United Nations, which has been feverishly trying to cover up the facts with the assistance of the US Centers for Disease Control (don't ever think that the CDC is not a political organization), according to this article at Slate.  Wouldn't want to embarrass the UN, would we?

THC has usually been pessimistic about the prospects of peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.  Here's at least a little bit of good news, involving Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia - a complicated deal which resulted in the Saudis making a written pledge to Israel that they would abide by the terms of the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty, which the Saudis denounced at the time and have never formally recognized.  There have been a couple of other small events which also send some hopeful signals.  Read more about it in this article from Commentary.

On the other side of the ledger regarding the Saudis is the completely redacted 28-pages of the 911 Commission report touching on possible involvement of Saudi officials in 911.  This has been a point of contention in the US for many years.  In this article, Andrew McCarthy of National Review Online, takes to task both the Bush and Obama administrations for blocking the release of these pages with a devastating summary of what we already know about Saudi involvement.  McCarthy speaks with authority, as the lead prosecutor of the 1994 World Trade Center bombers, an experience which led him to immerse himself in the world of jihadism out of which he produced an outstanding account in his book Willful Blindness.

Another "non-partisan" DC watchdog group is infiltrated and taken over by progressives. Citizens for Responsibility for Ethics in Washington (CREW) had been much respected for its investigations and publicizing of unethical behavior by members of both parties.  However, a couple of years ago, David Brock, Hillary Clinton's pet poodle, took over the reins of the group and since then it has focused almost exclusively on the misdeeds of Republicans.  To find out how it was done read this article from Bloomberg Politics.  A reminder to listen and read carefully when the media describes public interest groups.  If they lean even the tiniest bit Right, they will be labeled as Conservative, but if they don't lean Right they won't be labeled.

And from Arnold Kling's askblog, we'll excerpt this observation:
Zac Townsend writes,
San Francisco’s policies are out-of-line with building almost anywhere else. For example, nowhere in San Francisco do you get density bonuses for affordability (like in New York City) and nowhere in San Francisco can you build as of right (like in almost every other municipality). And, perhaps most importantly, no where else is there a belief that you can solve a housing affordability crisis without encouraging the building of more housing.
Read the whole thing.

In my view, the way to look at public policy in food, health care, education, and housing is that it seeks to stimulate demand and restrict supply. It makes no sense from the standpoint of economic theory, but it makes perfect sense from the standpoint of public choice.
As background, "public choice" economists make the assumption that although people acting in the political marketplace have some concern for others, their main motive, whether they are voters, politicians, lobbyists, or bureaucrats, is self-interest.  You know what?  They're correct in that assumption.

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