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Current Affairs

October 20, 2014

"Rachel Carson's Deadly Fantasies"

Thanks to the rank bias of teachers of "environmental science" today's high schools students are unlikely to know the enormous damage Silent Spring did. Show them this.

"Culture Wars All the Way Down"

Jonah Goldberg at the top of his form. Half funny, half original, insightful analysis. Even though this column depreciates economics a bit, it's a good argument. And I really like his discussion of "wedge issues".

So the other day I was on Fox talking about the minimum wage, or rather I was on Fox to talk about the politics of the minimum wage. I made the point I’m about to make right now. The reason Democrats are always trying to raise the minimum wage is so they can get Republicans to vote against the minimum wage, a point others have made in the past (including, I recently learned, Kevin Williamson in this excellent primer on the issue). More broadly, the minimum wage is a wedge issue for Democrats. The fact that it is at best an insignificant and silly idea and at worst really terrible economics is entirely beside the point.

When I first started following politics in a serious way, “wedge issues” were terrible, no good, very bad things. David Broder, Tom Edsall, Eleanor Clift, and others would decry the use of wedge issues — race, abortion, patriotism, etc. — because they “divided” Americans. What this really meant was they divided the enduring Democratic coalition, separating out working-class whites and other constituencies moving rightward with Reagan. Looking through the hundreds of stories on Nexis from the late 1980s and early 1990s on the sinister exploitation of such issues is really a lot of fun. Here’s a headline from a 1989 Edsall piece in the Washington Post: “GOP Honing Wedges for Next Campaign; Party Aims for Partisan Advantage by Making Corruption, Drugs and Crime Divisive Issues.”

Good lord! Will those Republicans stop at nothing to win elections? 

"Ebola Comes to America: Krugman & Stiglitz Must Be Delighted"

This is mean, nasty, over the top, and I liked every word of it.

"Fed up with the GOP Establishment? That's no reason to stay home on Election Day"

I concur.

And don’t just vote, but make sure others cast the right vote as well. Here’s why:

First and foremost, the right to vote should never be taken for granted. It is a gift and one we should cherish. It should not be tossed aside. No matter how disappointed we feel about our choices, we must make the best possible choice among the options.

Apathy is a luxury we can’t afford. If we want to grumble about RINO’s, the RNC, and establishment Republicans, that shouldn’t stop us from voting. Grumbling and voting aren’t mutually exclusive. Should anyone decide to express some choice words in the voting booth, save the best for Harry Reid. (More on Harry later.)

Frustration and anger + withhold my vote = lesson learned by the GOP is not a realistic equation, satisfying as it may feel, emotionally.

"Amazon Must Be Stopped"

The editor of New Republic thinks Amazon is a monopoly.

Many people reply effectively. Here are three.

Annie Lowrey, New York: "Amazon is Not a Monopoly".

Joe Nocera, New York Times[!]: "Amazon Plays Rough. So What?"

Reihan Salam, Slate: "In Praise of Amazon".

 

"Shale Boom Has America Sitting Pretty"

As the kids used to say, "No duh!"

Cheap energy is key for economic growth, and a glut of natural gas is leading to a kind of small renaissance in American manufacturing, especially in energy-intensive industries. More fracking means more gas, lower prices, and growth potential for firms that use that gas.

"Emma Watson And The Chamber Of Feminist Conundrums"

I particularly like the suggestion that Ms. Watson "needed a giant “FIRST-WORLD PROBLEMS” sign behind her at this UN speech".

October 19, 2014

A new low for the mainstream mass media

The Washington Post, 10/16: "Want to feel better about Ebola? This (massive) chart should do the trick."

We wanted to come up with a way to represent the true scale of Ebola in the United States. So we made the graphic below, which depicts over 310 million tiny icons of people, three of whom are colored red to represent Duncan and the two people he infected. Our challenge to you: find the three people.

I'm not making this up. Click on the link if you don't believe me.

At least one writer and at least one editor at The Washington Post felt that to make the point that 2 is a really, really small percentage of 310,000,000, they needed to present a graphic

Do they think their readers are all five-year-olds?

"Unable to Meet the Deductible or the Doctor"

In the New York Times, no less.

Three cheers for Obamacare!

October 18, 2014

"$39,643,352 Worth of NIH Funding That Could Have Gone to the Ebola Vaccine"

Yes, I think that there are more important uses for the NIH's money than finding out "why fat girls have a tough time getting dates" and putting on "fruit and vegetable puppet shows for preschoolers".

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