Author Archive

September 2, 2020

NOT AN OVERSTATEMENT: Thank God for single-use plastic bags.

September 2, 2020

TANSTAAFL: The UK’s “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme where the government paid half of restaurant-goers meal tickets has been a success by its own lights, coaxing people to go out to eat again and even – mirabile dictu – being the rare example of a temporary government program that actually ended and came in under budget. However, the bill now has to be paid and the government is contemplating doubling corporation tax. Matt Kilcoyne explains why the program worked and how There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

August 26, 2020

AN AMERICA LAST POLICY: In a new video, my friend and colleague Mario Loyola lays out just how the Jones Act damages American industry and shipping, protects foreign competitors, and needs to be repealed to help in the economic recovery from the pandemic. More detail in Mario’s study on the topic here.

August 25, 2020

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SOCIALISM: In my interviews about The Socialist Temptation I am frequently asked whether Scandinavian countries are socialist. I cover this in the book, but I have added a few points about AOC’s assertions on the subject here at OpenMarket.

August 19, 2020

THERE’S A REASON WE CALL IT ALARMISM: In December, The Harris Poll found the thing that worried people the most was climate change. In its new poll it barely registers. The pollster is upset.

August 18, 2020

NEW FRONTS IN THE CULTURE WAR: If you’ve read The Socialist Temptation and enjoyed it (or are alarmed by it and want to know more about the threats), you might be interested in a new book by rising British star of the right, Marc Sidwell.

In The Long March: How the left won the culture war and what to do about it, Marc looks at the tangled history of the left’s long march through the institutions (see Chapter 38 of The Socialist Temptation,) in which active subversion runs alongside unintended consequences and missed opportunities, to uncover new possibilities for fighting back. Here’s Marc reading the first chapter on the New Culture Forum’s Youtube channel.

August 13, 2020

LEARNING FROM SWEDEN: But not in the way Bernie seems to believe – Allister Heath compares Sweden’s refusal to lock down compared with Britain’s rush to do so. Registration may be required to read.

August 12, 2020

THE POLITICS OF ENVY: Dan Mitchell asks what would happen if America introduced a wealth tax. I suspect you know the answer, but Dan has the analysis.

August 11, 2020

DO YOU PRONOUNCE IT KEYNES OR KEYNES?: Sam Gregg has an excellent review of a new book about John Maynard Keynes and his awful legacy. Key point at the end:

[W]hile good economics and good economic policy are important, they are not enough. The vision-thing matters. Keynes understood the importance of this and, I would argue, comprehensively outmatched his free market opponents in this area. As progressives understand better than most people, if you win the vision game, you likely win everything else. This is the lesson that Keynes offers to market liberals in our time. The bigger question is how many are willing to learn.

This echoes one of the main themes of The Socialist Temptation. RTWT.

August 7, 2020

THE “S” WORD: As I’ve mentioned before (once or twice), I have a new book out called The Socialist Temptation. Here’s an interview with me about it in The Epoch Times, an excerpt at National Review’s new Capital Matters site, and a webinar on the book with Kevin Williamson.

August 7, 2020

CANCEL CULTURE IS COMING FOR YOUR PICK-UP: Wall Street Journal news reporter has a close call with a pick-up truck in a parking lot, while another decides they are “deliberately designed to intimidate and kill pedestrians,” and demands (of course) European-style regulations. [Post edited for clarity]

August 6, 2020

I REJECT YOUR REALITY AND SUBSTITUTE MY OWN: There’s a petition at Chapman University to remove the busts of free-market heroes like Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Milton Friedman. The only reason given for removing Friedman is that he “inferred [sic] that Free Market Conservatism would solve racism.” Who would they put in their place? “Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Harvey Milk, Nelson Mandela, Princess Diana, John Lewis, Cesar Chavez, James Baldwin and Dolores Huerta.”

August 6, 2020

ALWAYS THE WAY AT THE EPA: Years ago, the EPA, true to form screwed up a study that found dairy farms responsible for pollution in the Yakima Valley region of Washington state but still used it to force consent decrees and that shut down many farms. It covered up the fact that the science in the study was awful for close to a decade.
The “smoking gun” emails have finally come to light after years of fighting. The EPA is claiming statute of limitations. If they get away with that, it will set the precedent that they can cover stuff up and wait it out. Letting things slide will also allow activist groups to continue to press claims in court against farmers based on the flawed study.
Gerald Baron of Save Family Farming has more (the story gets worse the more you learn) at the Washington Times. Or you can read more at SFF’s site here.

August 5, 2020

MAO-MAO’ED: I have a column up at Townhall on socialism and the current cultural revolution. It echoes many of the points I make in my new book, The Socialist Temptation. I’ll also be appearing on a CEI webinar at noon Eastern tomorrow talking about the book with Kevin Williamson. You can sign up for that here if you’d like.

August 3, 2020

LIEUTENANT KIJE, CALL YOUR OFFICE: Woke academia was heartbroken recently when the ASU LGBTQ Native American Anthropology professor who posted on Twitter as @sciencing_bi supposedly died of COVID, after being forced by her university to teach in person. ASU, however, has been unable to identify any such professor. Questions abound.

July 31, 2020

CANCELED: Loyola University has removed the name of Flannery O’Connor, the disabled Catholic woman writer of Southern Gothic stories, from a hall named after her because of a petition complaining about “recent letters and postcards” written by her that employed racist language.

Flannery O’Connor died in 1964.

July 29, 2020

INFLAMMATORY NORWEGIAN VEXILLOLOGY: The owners of a Michigan bed-and-breakfast have removed a flag after receiving hate mail that they were Confederate sympathizers. It was the Norwegian flag.

July 29, 2020

THE WOKE WAR ON RELIGION: Sam Gregg of the Acton Institute details the actual attacks on places of worship and symbols of Christian and Jewish faith in the Spectator US. This parallels what I say about socialism and religion in The Socialist Temptation.

July 28, 2020

SOCIALISM AND FAITH – THEY DON’T GET ON: As I mentioned earlier my new book The Socialist Temptation is out today. If you’d like to try before you buy, The Christian Post was kind enough to excerpt a section from the chapter on socialism and the divine. Spoiler alert: socialism doesn’t like religious faith.

July 28, 2020

WHY NOT SOCIALISM? HERE’S WHY: If you were wondering where I’ve been, I’ve been writing a book. The Socialist Temptation is out today. It attempts to answer the question why so many Americans these days are tempted by the idea of socialism. Glenn was kind enough to provide a blurb for the back cover. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

April 2, 2020

TRAINS TO NOWHERE: Predictably, the House Democrats have dusted off their long-standing plans for building more transit and are pushing it as essential for the inevitable Phase IV stimulus bill. Here’s my colleague Marc Scribner on why that’s a terrible idea.

March 24, 2020

DEATH BY REGULATION: Your periodic reminder that CAFE standards make cars death-traps comes from Debby Witt, the Corner’s “odd links” gal. Her 1996 Explorer got rear-ended by a modern compact. The photographic evidence is pretty telling.

March 19, 2020

#NEVERNEEDED: The number of regulations being undone or suspended by the federal or state governments is growing day by day. In most cases, people are realizing that these rules were never needed in the first place. There’s still plenty of regulations that need to be done away with. For more see here for CEI’s ideas and here for the R Street Institute’s.

But that’s just a start. Let’s crowdsource this. If you see a regulation that isn’t needed and is getting in the way of effective response and you’re on Twitter, post it with the hashtag #neverneeded so we can add it to our list. And if your governor or local assembly sees reason and gets rid of a rule, let us know too.

February 27, 2020

BILL BARR – MAINSTREAM CONSERVATIVE: Mario Loyola points out in The Atlantic that the President and Bill Barr both echo the mainstream conservative position on executive power. It was Obama and co that were abusing that power. I’ll just add that it’s astonishing this has to be said.

February 20, 2020

IT’S MORNING AGAIN IN AMERICA: The Economic Report of the President is out today (link is to PDF). Two really important findings: the booming economy isn’t simply a straight-line continuation of the Obama economy and the boom is also benefiting groups that have historically been excluded from economic benefit.

Another personally-gratifying finding is that deregulation will save American households $3,100 per household per annum over 5-10 years. As many of these deregulatory reforms are ones we’ve been campaigning for over the past decade or so at CEI, it’s wonderful to see the benefits being realized.

February 18, 2020

ONE LAW FOR THE RICH, LITERALLY: Any middle-class would-be investor knows it’s hard to find somewhere to let your money grow these days. The SEC could be just about to make it even harder. As John Berlau explains at the Washington Times:

If it goes into effect, the regulation would cripple investors’ ability to buy dozens of funds they can now purchase on American stock exchanges for zero-dollar commissions from discount brokerages and investing apps such as Robinhood. Under the regulation, investors could not purchase these funds unless they can answer an extensive questionnaire of highly personal questions about their investing knowledge and household assets to the SEC’s satisfaction. SEC Republican Commissioners Hester Peirce and Elad Roisman have blasted the regulation as a “blunt overly paternalistic approach to investor protection.”

While the Trump administration is still deregulating, independent agencies like the SEC can head in the other direction.

February 14, 2020

FROM “NOT REAL SOCIALISM” TO “NOT A SOCIALIST”: Ed’s post below is amusing to me given that I have a book about socialism in America coming out this summer. It’s astonishing how often socialists deny* socialism or being socialists.

In one example, socialists regularly says that actual existing examples of socialism aren’t and never were socialist. As Kristian Niemietz demonstrates in his brilliant book (unpriced download here) Socialism: The Failed Idea that Never Dies, the progression goes:

  1. Avowed socialists set up brave new socialist world
  2. The wheels start to come off. This is blamed on “wreckers” and foreign agents. The economy seizes up. Eventually people starve and the gulags get set up.
  3. Socialists explain this was never a real socialist system in the first place

Krugman’s intervention appears to be a different form of denial that I identify in the book:

  1. Socialists set out to win an election
  2. Recognizing the unpalatability of a socialist platform, socialists claim they actually only want to be “like Denmark or Sweden.”
  3. Socialists deny desirability of a thriving Nordic free market model that includes things like school choice in Sweden.
  4. Socialists unveil a platform that looks more like traditional socialism than anything currently on offer in Scandinavia.
  5. People who point out the discrepancy between 3 and 4 are vilified as supporting inequality, racism, etc.

If the socialists-but-not-socialists-really then win an election, expect things to progress as in the first progression.

Or, as Toby Young puts it, “socialism always begins with talk of the international brotherhood of man and ends with having to eat your own pets.”

*And of course, the only real “deniers” are climate deniers.

February 14, 2020

TURNING VIRGINIA INTO CALIFORNIA, PART II: At Bacon’s Rebellion, Hans Bader points out that the Old Dominion has passed the most extreme anti-discrimination statute in the South (the bill simply awaits reconciliation between the House and Senate versions):

For example, the Virginia Values Act contains no protections against groundless or unreasonable lawsuits: It doesn’t allow employers to obtain their attorneys fees when such lawsuits are brought to shake down an employer over a meritless claim…Another flaw of the Virginia Values Act is that it provides for unlimited punitive damages, “without limitation otherwise imposed by law.” This is troubling, because punitive damages are often imposed in a random, unpredictable, and arbitrary way, and limitations imposed by law are appropriate to constrain such abuses and provide greater consistency.

Virginia is fast becoming a very bad place to do business. When Northern Virginia turned blue, it turned deep blue. It is dragging the rest of the state with it to the depths.

February 14, 2020

TURNING VIRGINIA INTO CALIFORNIA, PART I: For a purple state, Virginia is sure turning blue real quick, thanks to an almost complete lack of public scrutiny about the revolution going on in Richmond. Here’s Vincent Vernuccio warning that the failure of the effort to repeal right-to-work is obscuring the effort to unionize government workers. A pretty extreme bill passed the House last week while a vaguer version passed the Senate this week. Bad things are afoot in the Old Dominion.

February 12, 2020

WE MUST DISMISS THE PEOPLE AND ELECT ANOTHER: Berthold Brecht’s famous line is usually used satirically. In Cambridge, England, the green extremist group Extinction Rebellion actually means it. They are threatening to “bring the city to a halt” unless authorities accede to their three demands: the University of Cambridge must divest from fossil fuels (here’s what happened when they made that demand in Oxford), the city and county councils come up with a plan to replace the transportation system, and the city of Cambridge holds a “citizens’ assembly” on climate justice. Here’s what they say about the citizens’ assembly:

To meet this demand, the City Council must:

Establish a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Justice.
Ensure that marginalised groups are well represented in the Assembly. This must include those without citizenship status in the UK.
Ensure that the expert panel includes: Climate scientists, Health professionals, Experts on decolonisation and climate justice, People who have lived on the front lines of the climate crisis
Exclude from the panel those who directly profit from the exploitation of workers, the Global South, or natural resources.
Ensure that the Citizens’ Assembly has significant decision-making powers and a binding mandate.
Act urgently on the decisions of the Citizens’ Assembly.

To me, this sounds less like an assembly, and more like a Committee of Public Safety. I expect they’ll erect the guillotines on The Backs.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): Proper response: “Sod off, Swampy!”

February 11, 2020

“SMELLING THE COFFEE IS ABLEIST”: British conservative polling guru Lord Ashcroft is out with his 2020 edition of “smell the coffee” – a warning to the defeated party (Labour in this case) of why they *really* lost the last British election. The Labour establishment has said it was all about Brexit. Lord Ashcroft’s findings:

[T]he feeling that the Labour Party was no longer for [former Labour voters] went beyond Brexit and the Corbyn leadership. While it had once been true that “they knew us, because they were part of us,” Labour today seemed to be mostly for students, the unemployed, and middle-class radicals. It seemed not to understand ordinary working people, to disdain what they considered mainstream views and to disapprove of success. The “pie in the sky” manifesto of 2019 completed the picture of a party that had separated itself from the reality of their lives.

As far as many of these former supporters were concerned, then, the Labour Party they rejected could not be trusted with the public finances, looked down on people who disagreed with it, was too left-wing, failed to understand or even listen to the people it was supposed to represent, was incompetent, appallingly divided, had no coherent priorities, did not understand aspiration or where prosperity comes from, disapproved of their values and treated them like fools.

I couldn’t possibly comment about possible parallels with American politics.


February 11, 2020

WHAT ARE WE BANNING TODAY?: In Canada, like in America, it’s single-use plastics, like grocery bags and straws. There’s a debate going on at the Toronto Star where they helpfully include the poll question in the middle of the “yes”argument for the question “should we ban them?” – which of course means most people who vote won’t yet have read the “no” argument by my friend Angela Logomasini… So, if you’d like to help even out the discrepancy, you know what to to.

Meanwhile, at the Skeptoid podcast, they point out that banning single-use plastic bags doesn’t make sense even under environmentalist assumptions.

Personal PS: I’ve been away writing a book and had an annoying problem with the Instapundit interface, so haven’t posted much. Expect that to pick up now the book is in editing and the glitch is fixed. With any luck you’ll be sick to death of hearing about The Socialist Temptation by the time it hits the shelves.

December 17, 2019

A CHARACTER JUDGMENT IS NO GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHMENT: That’s the (unsurprising) conclusion my friend and colleague Mario Loyola reaches in this piece in The Atlantic, of all places.

December 6, 2019

UK ELECTION UPDATE: The polls show a moderate to large lead for Boris Johnson and the Conservatives, but because the electoral calculus has changed it’s still difficult to predict what might happen next week. Nevertheless, this analysis is extremely interesting.

Key paragraphs:

The media conception of who the swing voter in the UK is much the same as in the US – the fiscally conservative, socially liberal suburbanites who like tax cuts, “responsible” spending decisions, and who would feel perfectly comfortable living in any major US or European city. The media conception of this as the swing makes sense – these voters are in most metro areas, and if one spends enough time in well off circles, with professionals – lawyers, doctors, accountants, bankers, et all – it’s a viewpoint one would see quite frequently. Consequently, this is the swing voter the media thinks of – as New York, DC, or London media would frequently encounter that view in their work – either in their private lives after hours or in the seemingly endless amounts of charity dinners, functions, and galas that occur. The problem is, that isn’t the swing voter anymore, at least not the one that swings UK elections. Labour could do even better with that voter and still lose this election worse than any since the Second World War.

The new swing voter in the UK is the reason the Tories are on track for a large majority government. The new swing voter is the fiscally liberal, socially conservative voter who wants more money spent on northern towns and health care in regional areas and less money spent on “elites”, which routinely means whoever that voter isn’t a fan of. They’re wary of immigrants, mad at the Blair-era broken promise of only 13000/year net immigration from the 2004 EU Accession states – 250000/year would come in the decade after – and is annoyed by social issues that grip the modern left. This class of voter was staunchly Labour for decades, especially in the aftermath of Margaret Thatcher’s term in office. These voters were tempted by Theresa May last time, but went home to Labour because Corbyn did enough to reassure that Brexit would happen. With Labour policy now being a second referendum with an option to Remain – and every senior Labour politician outside Corbyn saying no possible deal is better than staying in – their likelihood of repeating their 2017 trick is somewhere between small and non-existant.

The old certainties are as much dust in the UK as in the US. It is quite possible that the Tories will win Sedgefield, Tony Blair’s old Durham mining constituency. To even suggest that five years ago would have been to invite scorn and derision.


October 25, 2019

UNRULY BRITANNIA: A fascinating article by British conservative (and ex-libertarian) philosopher John Gray on the state of British politics. Lots of read-across for here as well. I thought this summary of the left especially accurate:

The technologists of power are today’s true rationalists. That superior intelligence is found among the practitioners of populism is a fact of our time. When liberals talk about reason they mean a mishmash of ideas they picked up at university. Scraps of Rawls, Dworkin and Thomas Piketty, together with a smattering of modish conspiracy theories, form the folk wisdom of the thinking classes. Rationality means deferring to this ragbag of ephemera and ignoring enduring truths about the deciding forces in politics.

Supporters of Brexit will be particularly pleased by Gray’s analysis of the Remainer alliance, and by his conclusion that Brexit will happen.

October 25, 2019

THE DEEP STATE GUIDE TO RESISTING EXECUTIVE ORDERS: President Trump has started tackling one of the biggest abuses of the administrative state – the use of guidance documents that effectively have the force of law. The deep state, of course, and its allies in the progressive movement are already looking for work arounds. My colleague Wayne Crews discusses that here, as well as why the orders are so desperately needed.

October 11, 2019

OF COURSE THAT WAS WHY: No other reason possible – Greta Thunberg snubbed for Nobel Peace Prize by committee run by Norway, one of the world’s biggest oil and natural gas exporters, screams Newsweek.

The prize was awarded to someone who actually stopped a war, so there must have been some nefarious plot involved.

October 11, 2019

PROUD OF MY COLLEAGUE: My colleague Patrick Hedger has been protesting in favor of the Hong Kong freedom movement this week. Here’s a nice Buzzfeed article (I can’t believe I just wrote those words) covering his activities.

(Sorry I haven’t been posting much recently – unresolved technical difficulties.)

September 13, 2019

THE FREE MARKET, CONSERVATIVES, AND WOKE CAPITALISM: A couple of weeks back I had an article (paywall, sorry) in the Wall Street Journal noting that free marketers have taken conservatives for granted, and that we should do something about that.

Erick Erickson has written a typically thoughtful response, noting the areas that need the most work. One of those areas is dealing with the issue of “woke capitalism.”

On that point, Liberty Fund philosopher Douglas Den Uyl has an excellent essay at Law & Liberty on “stakeholder capitalism.” As he notes, this movement, most recently embraced by the Business Roundtable of all things, socializes businesses – and “can only result in the obliteration of the private portion and thus of the essence of capitalism.” Woke Capitalism is in many ways just another, insidious form of socialism. Which means we have work to do.


August 30, 2019

GET A GRIP, BRITAIN: British “remainiacs” are having a fit of the vapors about Boris proroguing Parliament to get Brexit done, screaming about it being a coup or worse. As Oxford’s Vernon Bogdanor calmly points out, something like this was bound to happen thanks to David Cameron’s idiotic Fixed Term Parliament Act, which just doesn’t mesh with the British constitution.

August 15, 2019

DON’T HAVE A COW, MAN: Milking cows is “sexual abuse.”

I need to lie down in a darkened room…

August 15, 2019

WHEN THE DEFAULT ARGUMENT IS CRYING WOLF: Douglas Murray (no relation) at The Spectator on reactions to new parties in Europe:

Terms such as ‘fascist’, ‘far right’ and ‘white supremacist’ are serious. Such sinister forces certainly exist, both in Britain and on the continent. But in recent years — especially since the Brexit and Trump votes — there has been an acceleration in claimed sightings and a blurring of the definitions. This is wrong not just because it means that perfectly decent people are maligned, but also because distinctly dangerous groups are confused with harmless ones.

The fog began to descend earlier this decade. Campaign groups which used to oppose neo-Nazis realized that there weren’t sufficient Nazis to justify their business models. They decided that, henceforth, attacking parties such as Ukip should also come under their anti-fascist remit. Soon anybody who opposed supranational institutions or sought to restrict immigration found themselves labelled as beyond the pale. It meant that the views of the majority of the public — in Britain and elsewhere — effectively became defined as far right.

In recent years this terminological mission-creep has morphed from being annoying to being disturbing. For if everybody is a fascist, then nobody is. And anyone who knows the scene across Europe will understand that we may well have need of these terms.

RTWT (registration may be required).

August 2, 2019

I’LL GIVE THIS TO LEFTIST LUDDITES: They are great at neologisms. Apparently using restaurant delivery services is “convenience maximalism.”

August 2, 2019

QTWTAIN: Was July 2019 the hottest month on record? Nope.

July 26, 2019

REAPING THE WHIRLWIND: Readers of my old blog back in the paleolithic era of the web will remember I frequently wrote about Tony Blair’s dismantling of the British constitutional settlement. Two of the most radical experiments of the Blair era were regional devolution and the introduction of referenda. Fraser Nelson points out in the Spectator today that Boris Johnson’s way of governing is a child of these innovations:

Boris Johnson is different. He is the creature of two Blair-era inventions: devolution and referendums. The team he is building around him in No. 10 is from City Hall and Vote Leave, where he was able to pioneer a new style of politics and government…

The result of this will be to reject the old rules: that you govern, then at some stage switch to campaign mode. The Boris project is starting in campaign mode, and I doubt it will ever stop. This is one of Donald Trump’s innovations: never stop campaigning. To apply pressure to the insiders, appeal to the outside…

But Brexit or no, I suspect it will be the changes to government that will last. Boris’s team will apply the techniques of modern campaigning and a more modern system of governing to Westminster, pioneered in the labs of Tony Blair’s constitutional reform.

Hosea 8.7 applies.


July 25, 2019

REJOICE, REJOICE: James Delingpole correctly notes that Boris Johnson has picked a cabinet of all the talents – and on merit, to boot:

I’m particularly happy to see Priti Patel, Liz Truss and Theresa Villiers given top jobs – and for the right reasons.

Sure it will suit Boris’s spin doctors to note how diverse and gender balanced the new team is. But they didn’t get the jobs because they were women or because Priti is ‘Asian’: they got them because they’re bright, talented and, well there’s really no other word for it, sound.

One of the things Boris has always been exceptionally good at is picking the right team. He has, in British football parlance, played a blinder here.

July 10, 2019

ECO-PAGANISM?: Classical Liberal and classicist Helen Dale, who wrote the fascinating Kingdom of the Wicked books, looks at echoes of ancient pagan religion in modern societies at Law & Liberty. While she argues against progressivism itself as a reassertion of pagan morality, she is less sure about environmentalism:

Whether one scrutinizes James Lovelock’s historic Gaia Hypothesis or considers how activist outfit Extinction Rebellion advances autistic savant Greta Thunberg as a type of child seer, one perceives a blend of immanent pagan orientation with millenarian Christian eschatology. ‘Gaia’, incidentally, was a popular Roman girl’s name.

This is a fascinating topic, and Helen goes into more detail in her podcast.

June 28, 2019

DEREGULATION MATTERS: The Council of Economic Advisers has just released a new report summarizing and quantifying the effects of the President’s deregulatory agenda. It

…estimates that after 5 to 10 years, this new approach to Federal regulation will have raised real incomes by $3,100 per household per year. Twenty notable Federal deregulatory actions alone will be saving American consumers and businesses about $220 billion per year after they go into full effect. They will increase real (after-inflation) incomes by about 1.3 percent.

As the report also notes, “The ongoing introduction of costly regulations had previously been subtracting an additional 0.2 percent per year from real incomes, thereby giving the false impression that the American economy was fundamentally incapable of anything better than slow growth. Now, new regulations are budgeted and kept to a minimum.”

Turns out the new normal…wan’t.

June 19, 2019

BREXPLAINER: My friend Helen Dale provides the best summary I’ve seen yet of the Brexit mess. Key takeaway:

In days gone by, superannuated elites refusing to accept defeat on existential questions of this type finished up with their heads on pikes. Democracy put a stop to that by doing what democracy does best: facilitating the peaceful and orderly transfer of power. But democracy means you elect a new parliament, not a new people. That, in truth, is the only deal that matters.


June 7, 2019

NEWS YOU CAN CONSUME: It’s National Donut Day! Eat one for yourself, and one for freedom!

June 6, 2019

NEWS YOU CAN USE (CLIMATE ALARMISM EDITION): “Statements like the following are increasingly common in popular media, academic journals, and political discourse: “The evidence that anthropogenic climate change is an existential threat to our way of life is incontrovertible.” Not so—not even close.” Marlo Lewis explain why here.

June 5, 2019

GREEN NEW STEAL: My colleagues at CEI have a new video out explaining how the carbon tax – one of the cornerstones of the Green New Deal – will cost average American families a bundle.

They have much more on the subject here.

June 4, 2019

SECULAR RELIGION: The UK is up in arms over the idea that a trade deal with the US might include the National Health Service. Meanwhile, the NHS continues to produce tragedies like this.

May 30, 2019

ANOTHER REALLY INCONVENIENT TRUTH: Much of the plastic sent for “recycling” is simply dumped in the oceans. Environmentalists know this but are silent. So instead, we get plastic straw bans.

May 29, 2019

CHILLING: A District Court judge in England has allowed a private prosecution of Boris Johnson for the medieval crime of “misconduct in public office” to go forward, on the allegation that he lied during the Brexit Referendum.

Obviously, all political statements henceforth should be cleared with a competent body empowered to make determinations on matters of truth or falsehood. We could call it the Ministry of Truth. Nor should any mere politician head such a body. No sir! It should be headed by someone anyone could feel comfortable with, or love, like a family member. A big brother if you will.

Seriously, if you want a run-down of the English law involved in this case, click here.

May 22, 2019

GREEN IS THE DIRTIEST COLOR: An anti-Brexit front group has been revealed to have been set up by Greenpeace campaigners. Well I never.

May 22, 2019

DENIAL IS IN NO.10 DOWNING STREET: The last poll from YouGov before the European elections tomorrow puts Theresa May’s Conservatives on just 7 percent support, compared to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party at 37 percent.

Senior Ministers have asked to see the Prime Minister, which is normally a sign of impending defenestration. In response, Mrs. May shut the doors to her Downing Street bunker. Now Andrea Leadsom, probably the leading Leaver left in the Cabinet, has resigned.

Owing to the lack of free speech in the UK, political news reporting is banned over there tomorrow. It would be just like May to resign when a) it can’t be covered properly and b) it comes of no help to the party she’s supposed to be leading.


May 3, 2019

PRIVATE CHOKEPOINT: Leftist activists have forced a vote at the Mastercard AGM next month to establish an Orwellian “Human Rights Committee” aimed at cutting off the rights of anyone they disagree with. The initial aim is to choke off the income stream to right-wing activists. If this sounds familiar, it should.

ETA: Wrong first link, now fixed. My bad.

May 1, 2019

MOST USELESS PARLIAMENT SINCE THE RUMP: Not content with betraying Brexit voters, the British parliament has just passed a motion declaring a “climate emergency,” a key demand of the law-breaking Extinction Rebellion movement that has disrupted the lives of thousands of Londoners over the past couple of weeks. This pathetic shower will bow to Brussels bullying and climate clamor, but not to the democratically-expressed wishes of 17 million people. As someone once said, “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately… Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

April 26, 2019

BOOM NOT DOOM: The strong economic growth Glenn notes below is particularly interesting for a couple of reasons. First, the government shutdown only lowered growth by 0.3 percentage points (so much for all the cries of doom), and secondly there appears to be a lingering seasonality to the Q1 figures that the BEA hasn’t properly accounted for yet, suggesting that real growth could have been almost a full percentage point higher. Finally, inflation isn’t a worry at all. Here’s the upbeat CEA summary.

April 17, 2019

QTWTAIN: Should conservatives support a carbon tax? Of course, it’s a Question To Which The Answer Is No, but some people keep asking it – especially since the Green New Steal was floated. Marlo Lewis explains exactly why the idea is horsefeathers here.

April 11, 2019

REINING IN THE DEEP STATE: One of the ways the regulatory bureaucracy works is through issuing “guidance documents” that essentially have the force of law, without having to jump through the pesky hoops of getting a bill through congress or complying with the Administrative Procedure Act. Some good news today, though – the President is issuing an executive order aimed at curbing this practice.

The EO will also require agencies to comply with laws about submitting documents to Congress, something previous Presidents have let their agency heads ignore. It’s a few small steps along the road to dealing with the bigger problem, but it’s good they’re being taken.

The Executive Order is something my colleague Wayne Crews has been advocating for, so kudos to him.

April 10, 2019

THERESA MAY HEMORRHAGING SUPPORT: In the mid-90s UK I looked on in horror as John Major’s campaign people insisted that discontent with his government was temporary and voters would come back in the general election. They didn’t, Tony Blair won in a landslide, and he wrecked the constitution. This time a similar dynamic is in play, but May is losing the activists, not just the voters, and the Labour leader is an out-and-out Marxist. Mark Wallace relates the level of anger at May’s Brexit betrayal.

April 10, 2019

SHUT UP PEASANTS: Joel Kotkin on how green regulation has led to a decline in home ownership, the squeezing of the middle class and the return of feudalism. His book-length treatment of the problem is due early next year and promises to be the must-read of 2020.

March 28, 2019

THIS IS HOW YOU GET TRUMP BREXIT: The other day, the EU Parliament voted to destroy the Internet in Europe. Now it appears that several MEPs voted for the measures by accident. Although they have had their recorded votes changed, the result still stands.

Meanwhile in the country that voted to get away from such lunacy but can’t, the House of Commons upended the constitution (yes, there is one) yesterday to vote on eight different measures to find a consensus way forward. All eight measures failed. Moreover, the Cabinet abstained from the votes in protest at the unconstitutionality, meaning that they would all have failed by more than it looks.

In one last effort to get her awful-but-at-least-it-gets-us-legally-out deal through the House, Theresa May has promised to resign if it gets passed, which is a strange inversion of how things usually work. The power-mad Speaker of the House, however, may refuse to let it be put to a vote.

This will all probably have changed by the time you read this…

March 26, 2019

MASSIVE FRAUD AT DUKE: Glenn reported this earlier, but Steve Milloy notes further that some of the research grants to the Duke Medical School involved EPA grants for ozone and PM2.5 research and part of a $7.7m EPA grant for research on “environmental justice.” There’s a Green New Steal for you.

March 26, 2019

THE RIGHT TO EARN A LIVING: Does the Fourteenth Amendment’s “privileges or immunities” clause protect unenumerated rights, such as the right to earn a living (which labor and employment law violate)? My colleague Devin Watkins says it does over at Law & Liberty.

March 26, 2019

“EVERYONE IS WELCOME! EXCEPT YOU…”: San Antonio has decided to ban Chick-fil-A from its airport. Its bizarre reasoning is that “Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport,” so Chick-fil-A’s charitable donations to Christian groups disqualifies it from inclusion. As Hans Bader notes, this is a violation of the company’s First Amendment rights. David French, meanwhile, points out the Orwellian doublespeak involved.

March 13, 2019

GREEN NEW STEAL: Hans Bader finds that Americans are happy to support the Green New Deal – so long as others pay for it. Which reminds me of this classic Onion piece.

March 12, 2019

BREXIT BETRAYAL IMMINENT: Theresa May’s terrible deal that would put the UK in permanent bondage to the EU was voted down tonight by a huge margin. Tomorrow, the Mother of Parliaments will vote against “no deal,” because there are enough MPs scared of flights being grounded and borders clanging shut on March 29th. That means on Thursday the House will probably vote to delay Brexit. The EU has said it’s not going to negotiate further. The likelihood of a second referendum rigged to ensure remain wins (by pitting the May Deal against Remain, perhaps) has increased significantly.

It will be interesting to see if the weekend brings protests at the imminent betrayal of Brexit or whether (as I suspect) the British public are just so tired of the whole thing they’ll put up with remaining the way they put up with socialism for 40 years.

This will of course be touted as a win for “democracy.”

February 28, 2019

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL POLAR BEAR DAY!: A new report finds that there are more polar bears around today than at any time since they were protected by international treaty in 1973. As Guido Fawkes reports, the numbers are so high that Inuits have been pleading for their own protection from violent attacks by the not-so-cuddly critters.

February 27, 2019

HARD BREXIT > BRINO: The great Dan Mitchell sums up why a “hard” Brexit (I prefer “clean” Brexit myself) would be better than Brexit In Name Only. Of course, the New York Times is desperately trying to persuade its readers that prosperous Britain is already worse than Venezuela:

The scene that met Cockburn’s eyes upon exiting the terminal at Heathrow reminded him of his days as a foreign correspondent during the Lebanese civil war, or a night out in south London. A dog was eating the innards of a corpse, because supplies of Romanian dog food have broken down. A naked fat man had carved off a slice of his own buttock and was roasting it over a burning tyre, because imports of Bulgarian lamb are held up at Calais. A woman offered to prostitute herself for an avocado, and to sell both of her blank-eyed children for a packet of French butter. There were no black taxis either, because London’s notoriously pro-Brexit taxi drivers had all joined one nationalist militia or other. Finally, a black-market cheese dealer with a rocket launcher affixed to the back of his pickup agreed to take Cockburn into the city. They bribed their way through the checkpoints with wedges of brie. Or not.

All right, that was actually a Spectator columnist satirizing the Times’ coverage. But it’s not far off…

February 19, 2019

WHY THE COURTS WON’T SAVE CONGRESS FROM ITSELF: Or, why the President will win the wall fight – “Congress has been heading to hell for decades, and it is a bit late to complain about the destination.”

February 19, 2019

IT’S ALMOST LIKE AUTOMOBILITY IS CONVENIENT OR SOMETHING: Desperate handwringing in Cambridge, Mass., today as its residents just won’t do what they are supposed to do and give up their cars for public transport.

February 14, 2019

THE NEW DEAL ISN’T GREEN, IT’S RED: There’s only one word to describe the economic aspects of the Green New Steal, and that word is communism. I explain in a little more detail here as I examine each of the touted benefits of the scheme.

February 13, 2019

EVIL PLOT TO LET LEGISLATORS VOTE ON GREEN NEW DEAL: In a development I must admit I hadn’t seen coming, Sen. Ed Markey is objecting to the Senate Majority Leader’s plan for a vote on his Green New Steal bill:

You see, the idea that elected legislators in the national legislature’s premier debating chamber should debate and vote on an introduced resolution is actually a plot to sabotage a national debate on the legislation:


Got that? Good. 

February 12, 2019

THE GREEN NEW DEAL WILL MEAN TRASHING ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS: The Green New Steal…err…Deal envisages a massive and rapid transformation of society akin to mobilization for the Second World War. An under-appreciated aspect of what that means is that laws that delay projects in the name of assessing environmental impact will have to be ripped up. My colleague Myron Ebell explains:

One aspect of covering the landscape with hundreds of thousands of square miles of windmills and solar panels is that to do so would require suspending federal, state, and local environmental statutes, permitting procedures, and land use plans. Forget about the Endangered Species Act’s habitat protections and prohibitions on killing endangered birds and bats. The Clean Water Act’s wetlands protections will have to be overlooked. Environmental impact statements that now take years to prepare, years to move through the permitting process, and more years to litigate, are out the window. Wind and solar projects will have to be permitted in days.

There’s a lot more to complain about when it comes to The Great New Steal, but the duplicitous nature of the green environmental movement is on full display here.

February 5, 2019

LESS REGULATION AND LESS DEPENDENCY: That’s what Wayne Crews suggests should be the 5 word theme of tonight’s SOTU.

January 29, 2019

MEET THE CLIMATE RESISTANCE: On December 30th, NBC Meet the Press host Chuck Todd devoted an entire episode to promoting the views of climate change alarmists. He said, “the science is settled, even if political opinion is not.” Todd expressly banned dissenting views, which are rooted in real-world scientific data.

My group CEI is pushing back with an ad campaign centered on a TV spot and a full page ad in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. You can view the ads and help CEI push back here. [Updated with fixed link]

December 5, 2018

FEAR PROFITEERS: My colleague Michelle Minton has an extensive report out today detailing the links between public health advocacy groups and government agencies that result in unfounded public-private scare campaigns about vaping products:

Unfortunately, promoting public health is not the sole priority of health charities. Fundraising is also a primary objective for activist groups. The most effective way to raise revenue and influence is to sound the alarm in news headlines about an urgent health problem, whether real or exaggerated.

That problem is compounded by the fact that health charities and government agencies work together to raise one another’s influence and, ultimately, increase each other’s bottom line. Anti-smoking and health advocacy groups, like the American Cancer Society and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, seek taxpayer-funded grants from government agencies, like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health. In turn, the taxpayer-funded activists lobby Congress to increase funding for the government agencies that bestow grants on their organizations. These incentives can distort the debate around important public health issues like smoking cessation.

And students of the economics of regulation will not be surprised to hear that alongside these baptists is a bunch of bootleggers.

The result of this self-interested campaign is the FDA’s crackdown on products that have helped many thousands, including people in my own family, stop smoking. Read Michelle’s full report here.

December 3, 2018

LET THEM EAT CAKE: Spiked’s Brendan O’Neill on the Gilets Jaunes protests:

Most strikingly this is a people’s rebellion against the onerous consequences of climate-change policy, against the politics of environmentalism and its tendency to punish the little people for daring to live relatively modern, fossil-fuelled lives. This is new. This is unprecedented. We are witnessing perhaps the first mass uprising against eco-elitism and we should welcome it with open arms to the broader populist revolt that has been sweeping Europe for a few years now.

Jupiter’s response? To create a “High Council for the Climate.” It’s not as if there isn’t plenty of warning from French history about ignoring the true demands of the people.

October 23, 2018

NEW FROM THE WHITE HOUSE: A Council of Economic Advisers report on The Opportunity Costs of Socialism. As someone once said, they’re real, and they’re spectacular.

October 19, 2018

JUNK SCIENCE NEWS: My colleague Angela Logomasini has some potentially good news about a trial concerning the essential weedkiller Roundup, where the judge looks likely to toss an award of damages by a lower court that ignored the scientific evidence. Meanwhile, the Junkman himself, Steve Milloy, has a new report out that debunks false claims that the Trump administration plan to scale back government fuel efficiency mandates poses an offsetting risk of deaths from increased tailpipe emissions.

October 1, 2018

RESQUIESCAT IN PACE: I have just learned that my old friend Prof. David Henderson CMG has passed away at the good age of 91 (this is not the David Henderson of Econlog fame). David’s concept of the “Do It Yourself Economics” that politicians use was introduced in the BBC Reith Lectures in 1985 – well worth a listen. And at CEI we were privileged to publish an American version of his extended essay, The Role of Business in the Modern World, which critiqued the fashionable notion of “corporate social responsibility.” The world’s collective wisdom score just lowered slightly.

October 1, 2018

ALARMISTS GONNA ALARM: Some of the usual suspects used their perch in the Washington Post last week to allege that the administration’s new fuel economy rule (the SAFE rule) will lead to a post-apocalyptic hellscape. My colleague Marlo Lewis eviscerates this alarmist claptrap:

“Last month, deep in a 500-page draft environmental impact statement, the Trump administration made a startling assumption: On its current course, the planet will warm a disastrous 7 degrees by the end of this century,” [the authors] breathlessly report.

Actually, there is nothing startling about that assumption. It’s the same old catastrophe narrative begat by mating overheated climate models…with an emission scenario known as RCP8.5 that bizarrely assumes coal displaces gas as the world’s dominant electricity fuel throughout the 21st century…

The EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] finds that replacing the Obama mileage standards with the SAFE rule’s standards would have vanishingly small impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures, and sea levels.

Specifically, under the SAFE rule, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration would reach 789.76 parts per million in the year 2100 instead of 789.11 ppm—an 8/100th of a percent increase. That extra 0.65 part per million of carbon dioxide would increase global average annual temperature by 0.003°C and sea levels by 6 millimeters in 2100.

In fact, the new SAFE rule will save lives. Not that the Post would deign to let you know that. Read Marlo’s entire post.

September 12, 2018

WHAT CAN THE MARKET KNOW THAT THE FDA DOESN’T?: The FDA announces new restrictions on vaping products, and tobacco stocks trend upwards. Hmmm.

September 11, 2018

GOVERNMENT FOR RENT: My organization (the Competitive Enterprise Institute) released a new report this morning by our brilliant Senior Fellow Chris Horner, detailing a scheme in which governors’ offices are coordinating with environmental activists and donors, who in turn are underwriting a massive, off-the-books campaign to provide staff and other resources to elected officials. The report, titled “Government for Rent: How Special Interests Finance Governors to Pursue Their Climate Policy Agenda,” uses public documents to demonstrate how donors are funneling tens of millions of dollars to privately fund staff—public relations professionals, consultants, and what aides call “necessary support functions”—for climate advocacy work at the governors’ disposal. This report follows Horner’s recent analysis detailing how activist donors are paying to place prosecutors in state attorney general offices to pursue an expressly partisan climate change agenda.

Lifezette has more coverage here.

September 10, 2018

LET THEM EAT KALE: A few years ago it was fashionable to ask, “Are we Rome?” Martin Hutchinson suggests a far better parallel would be 18th Century France:

Today’s intellectual Ivy-educated elite is wandering around the Petit Trianon playing at being a shepherdess, not playing cricket and hunting with ordinary folk.

In its economic attitudes, the U.S. elite is also 18th Century French. It sees essentially no limit to its ability to make economically damaging regulations if some pet cause is at stake. It takes a far greater interest in the theoretical possibility of global warming a century hence and in theoretical dangers to the environment from coal extraction than in the practical problems of generating electricity from wind power on a calm day or from solar power on a cloudy day.

Bien sur.

September 7, 2018

CONGRESS WON’T ACT – TIME FOR SCOTUS: The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, better known as the CFPB, is blatantly unconstitutional, as Brett Kavanaugh wrote [PDF link] for the DC Circuit court (his verdict was overturned on review). Congress (more precisely, the Senate) has failed to pass the necessary reforms. So today my organization, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, filed for cert. with the Supreme Court in our case against the Bureau. You can read more about it here. I’ll try to keep you up to date.

September 6, 2018

DOUBLE WHAMMY: A few weeks ago I posted about New York City small business owner Eli Amsel, whose business was under threat from minimum wage laws. Now he is facing an even more existential threat to his plastic bag business thanks to a “who has the bigger Green credentials” fight between Andrew Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon. My colleague Angela Logomasini has the full story here.

September 6, 2018

A BIT LIKE HISTORY, THEN: The great Ron Bailey says most nutrition research is bunk.

September 5, 2018

DERANGED: That’s the only rational way to describe the reaction to this tweet by Zina Bash’s husband.

August 30, 2018

IF SOMETHING CANNOT GO ON FOREVER IT WILL STOP: Looks like Herb Stein’s maxim is being validated again in Germany, where its green energy policy is hitting the practical realities of Germany’s dependence on coal.

August 29, 2018

THE MODERN SPOILS SYSTEM: Further to Mark’s post this morning, I’d like to encourage you to check out my colleague Chris Horner’s new report Law Enforcement for Rent. It really is an appalling form of spoils system when a political office holder gives over some aspect of that office to donors in the form of privately-funded prosecutors. Chris says, “This mercenary use of state law enforcement power should be the subject of prompt legislative oversight.” Indeed.

August 28, 2018

NEXT IN THE RUSH TO FEDERALIZE EVERYTHING: My colleague Marc Scribner on why a Federal ban on texting-while-driving doesn’t make a lick of sense. For instance,

Earlier government studies have repeatedly found other distractions pose a far more serious problem than phone-related distraction. According to 2010 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, cellphone distraction has barely budged as a fatal crash factor, ranked behind drivers being “lost in thought.” This has not led to calls for nationwide prohibitions on daydreaming while driving.

Give them time…

August 28, 2018

IT’S ALL ABOUT TRANSACTION COSTS: How Obamacare and other regulations are leading to the demise of the independent doctor and the corporatization of healthcare. But I thought the left hated corporations? Oh, wait…

August 27, 2018

HONEST SOCIALISM AND DISHONEST SOCIALISM: I’ve always regarded the Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyns of the world as honest socialists – they are upfront about wanting workers’ control of the means of production, commodity, and exchange. Elizabeth Warren, on the other hand, appears to me to be a dishonest socialist – claiming that she believes in markets while actually wanting to control them. Peter Suderman has more on that theme.

August 24, 2018

POOR ECONOMICS: The left is trying to muddy the waters on global poverty (free registration may be required). Apparently capitalism lifting billions out of poverty is incompatible with their narrative, so it can’t have happened.

August 24, 2018

PETA 0 BALTIMORE 1: PETA put up a billboard in Baltimore urging Charm City residents not to eat crab. It didn’t go down too well.

My favorite reaction: “You evolved a shell and claws to protect your meat. I have hands and a mallet. LET’S DO THIS.” 

August 24, 2018

QTWTAIN: Manhattan Contrarian asks, “Can the New York Attorney General’s office be rescued?