Quotulatiousness

November 22, 2017

A damned odd canary in this particular coal mine

Filed under: Government, Media, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Megan McArdle on the imminent demise of the FCC’s “Net Neutrality”:

The internet will be filled today with denunciations of this move, threats of a dark future in which our access to content will be controlled by a few powerful companies. And sure, that may happen. But in fact, it may already have happened, led not by ISPs, but by the very companies that were fighting so hard for net neutrality.

Consider what happened to the Daily Stormer, the neo-Nazi publication, after Charlottesville. One by one, hosting companies refused to permit its content on their servers. The group was forced to effectively flee the country, and then other countries, too, shut it down.

Now of course, these are not nice people. Their website espoused vile hate. But the fact remains that what they were publishing was not illegal, merely immoral, and their immoral speech was effectively shut down by a small number of private companies who decided to exercise their considerable control over what we’re allowed to read. And what is to stop them from expanding this decision to other categories, forcing the rest of us to conform to Silicon Valley’s idea of what it is moral and right for us to see?

Fifteen years ago, when I started blogging, it was common to hear that “the internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” You don’t hear that so often anymore, because it’s not true. China has proven very effective at censoring the internet, and as market power has consolidated in the tech industry, so have private firms.

Meanwhile, our experience of the internet is increasingly controlled by a handful of firms, most especially Google and Facebook. The argument for regulating these companies as public utilities is arguably at least as strong as the argument for thus regulating ISPs, and very possibly much stronger; while cable monopolies may have local dominance, none of them has the ability that Google and Facebook have to unilaterally shape what Americans see, hear, and read.

In other words, we already live in the walled garden that activists worry about, and the walls are getting higher every day. Is this a problem? I think it is. But that doesn’t mean that the internet would get better if Google and Facebook and Apple and Amazon were required to make every decision with a regulator hanging over their shoulder to decide whether it was sufficiently “neutral.”

November 21, 2017

Scaling back the Imperial Presidency

Filed under: Government, Liberty, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

The US government was explicitly set up with clear separation of powers, to ensure that too many powers are not drawn together to create a potential tyranny. For over 100 years, the office of the President has been granted, or taken without challenge, more and more of the powers that the founders had intended to be kept separate. Many Democrats were horrified to discover just over a year ago that those powers could be inherited by a man they believed totally unfit for the job (and even some Republicans agreed). However, Donald Trump may be the first president in living memory to actually devolve power back to Congress:

Donald Trump did not campaign for president as the guy who would reverse the mostly unbroken, century-old trend of the executive power assuming more and more power in the face of an increasingly self-marginalizing Congress. If anything, the imperial presidency looked set to increase given Trump’s braggadocious personality and cavalier approach to constitutional restraints. “Nobody knows the system better than me,” he famously said during his worryingly authoritarian Republican National Convention speech, “which is why I alone can fix it.”

You wouldn’t know it from viewing policy through the prism of the president’s Twitter feed, which is filled with cajoling and insult toward the legislative branch, but Trump has on multiple occasions taken an executive-branch power-grab and kicked the issue back to Congress, where it belongs. As detailed here last month, the president has taken this approach on Iran sanctions, Obamacare subsidies, and the Deferred Action Against Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), at minimum. And notably, his one Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was most famous pre-appointment for rejecting the deference that courts have in recent decades given to executive-branch regulatory agencies interpreting the statutory language of legislators.

Are there any other examples? Sure — the 15 regulatory nullifications this year via the Congressional Review Act (14 more than all previous presidents combined) are definitionally power-transfers from the executive to legislative. And certainly, the sharp decreases in the enactment, proposal, and even page-count of regulations amount to the administration declining to exercise as much power as its predecessors.

Josh Blackman also looks at this unexpected phenomenon:

Our Constitution carefully separates the legislative, executive, and judicial powers into three separate branches of government: Congress enacts laws, which the president enforces and the courts review. However, when all of these powers are accumulated “in the same hands,” James Madison warned in Federalist No. 47, the government “may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” The rise of the administrative state over the last century has pushed us closer and closer to the brink. Today, Congress enacts vague laws, the executive branch aggrandizes unbounded discretion, and the courts defer to those dictates. For decades, presidents of both parties have celebrated this ongoing distortion of our constitutional order because it promotes their agenda. The Trump administration, however, is poised to disrupt this status quo.

In a series of significant speeches at the Federalist Society’s national convention, the president’s lawyers have begun to articulate a framework for restoring the separation of powers: First, Congress should cease delegating its legislative power to the executive branch; second, the executive branch will stop using informal “guidance documents” that deprive people of the due process of law without fair notice; and third, courts should stop rubber-stamping diktats that lack the force of law.

Executive power is often described as a one-way ratchet: Each president, Democrat or Republican, augments the authority his predecessor aggrandized. These three planks of the Trumpian Constitution — delegation, due process, and deference — are remarkable, because they do the exact opposite by ratcheting down the president’s authority. If Congress passes more precise statues, the president has less discretion. If federal agencies comply with the cumbersome regulatory process, the president has less latitude. If judges become more engaged and scrutinize federal regulations, the president receives less deference. Each of these actions would weaken the White House but strengthen the rule of law. To the extent that President Trump follows through with this platform, he can accomplish what few (myself included) thought possible: The inexorable creep of the administrative leviathan can be slowed down, if not forced into retreat.

November 18, 2017

QotD: A key drawback of a cashless society

Filed under: Economics, Government, Liberty, Quotations — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

When I was just starting out as a journalist, the State of New York swooped down and seized all the money out of one of my bank accounts. It turned out — much later, after a series of telephone calls — that they had lost my tax return for the year that I had resided in both Illinois and New York, discovered income on my federal tax return that had not appeared on my New York State tax return, sent some letters to that effect to an old address I hadn’t lived at for some time, and neatly lifted all the money out of my bank. It took months to get it back.

I didn’t starve, merely fretted. In our world of cash, friends and family can help out someone in a situation like that. In a cashless society, the government might intercept any transaction in which someone tried to lend money to the accused.

Unmonitored resources like cash create opportunities for criminals. But they also create a sort of cushion between ordinary people and a government with extraordinary powers. Removing that cushion leaves people who aren’t criminals vulnerable to intrusion into every remote corner of their lives.

We probably won’t notice how much this power grows every time we swipe a card instead of paying cash. The danger is that by the time we do notice, it will be too late. If we want to move toward a cashless society — and apparently we do — then we also need to think seriously about limiting the ability of the government to use the payments system as an instrument to control the behavior of its citizens.

Megan McArdle, “After Cash: All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses a Bank Account”, Bloomberg View, 2016-03-15.

November 12, 2017

QotD: Why politicians are all the same kind of people

Filed under: Government, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Why is it, then, that the virtues and decencies that we generally expect people to have in their private life are so manifestly absent in the people who succeed best in politics and government? The answer lies in the nature of government itself — at least, government as we currently know it all over the world, a system of imposed, involuntary, monopoly rule whereby the system’s kingpins use military and police power along with ideological enchantment to plunder and bully innocent people — and to get away with doing so year after year. Just as only physically tough, fearless, aggressive persons succeed as prize fighters, so only dishonest, slick, evasive, power-hungry, unscrupulous, and vicious persons have what it takes to succeed in a system whose very foundations — violence, aggression, extortion, and misrepresentation — are completely at odds with private standards of just and virtuous conduct.

If someone like me — elderly, small, weak, timid, and untrained — were put in the ring to fight for the heavyweight boxing championship, you would not expect me to survive more than a few seconds. Likewise, if someone like me — someone who respects other persons’ natural rights to life, liberty, and property and who abhors dishonesty, extortion, aggression, and unnecessary violence — were thrown into the political or governmental arena, I would scarcely last much longer. There’s a reason why today’s leading campaigners are such morally ugly individuals: they have a comparative advantage in taking the kinds of actions one must take in order to reach the pinnacle of government power.

Robert Higgs, “Why the Worst Get on Top: Comparative Advantage”, The Beacon, 2016-03-16.

November 8, 2017

Self-Driving Cars Will Make Most Auto Safety Regulations Unnecessary

Filed under: Business, Economics, Government, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

ReasonTV
Published on 6 Nov 2017

Cars are becoming computers on wheels, meaning software, not hardware, will soon be paramount for safety. This will eliminate the need for most federal vehicular safety regulations.

Federal auto safety regulations fill nearly 900 pages with standards that determine everything from rear-view mirror and steering wheel placement to the shape of vehicles and the exact placement of seats. Many of the rules don’t make sense in the coming era of self-driving cars. Autonomous vehicles don’t need rear-view mirrors, or (eventually) steering wheels. Their ideal physical form is still a work in progress.

But an even bigger rethink is in order. As motor vehicles become essentially computers on wheels, software, not hardware, will soon be paramount for safety. This will make most government regulation unnecessary, and, to the extent that it slows innovation, could even cost lives on the highway.

“Basically, the entire vehicle code can be boiled down to be safe and don’t unfairly get in the way of other people,” says Brad Templeton, an entrepreneur and software architect, who has worked as a consultant with Google on its self-driving car project. (He also blogs regularly on the topic.)

One difference between self-driving cars and traditional automobiles is that companies will have every incentive to fix safety problems immediately. With today’s cars, that hasn’t always been the case. Templeton cites General Motors’ 2014 recall of 800,000 cars with faulty ignition switches. The company knew about the safety flaw over a decade prior, but didn’t act on the information because recalls are so costly. The companies actions had dire consequences: One-hundred-and-twenty-four deaths were linked to the ignition defect.

But the safety problems of the future will primarily be bugs in software not hardware, so they’ll be fixed by sending ones and zeros over the internet without the need for customers to return hundreds of thousands of vehicles to the manufacturer. “Replacing software is free,” Templeton says, “so there’s no reason to hold back on fixing something.”

Another difference is that when hardware was all that mattered for safety, regulators could inspect a car and determine if it met safety standards. With software, scrutiny of this sort may be impossible because the leading self-driving car companies (including Waymo and Tesla) are developing their systems through a process called machine learning that “doesn’t mesh in with traditional methods of regulation,” Templeton says.

Machine learning is developed organically, so humans have limited understanding of how the system actually works. And that makes governments nervous. Regulations passed by the European Union last year ban so-called unknowable artificial intelligence. Templeton fears that our desire to understand and control the underlying system could lead regulators to prohibit the use of machine learning technologies.

“If it turns out that [machine learning systems] do a better job [on safety] but we don’t know why,” says Templeton, “we’ll be in a situation of deliberately deploying the thing that’s worse because we feel a little more comfortable that we understand it.”

For full text and links, go to: https://reason.com/archives/2017/11/06/self-driving-autonomous-regulation

Shot, written, edited, and produced by Jim Epstein. Filmed at the 2017 Automated Vehicles Symposium.

November 7, 2017

“Paying for” tax cuts

Filed under: Government, Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

In the latest issue of the Libertarian Enterprise, L. Neil Smith explains why he isn’t a fan of the notion that tax cuts need to be “paid for”:

I am not an economist, nor do I play one on TV, but I know a hand-job when I see one. The mindless mutants who are mangling Donald Trump’s tax plans are dragging this nation and the world into a Da-Daesque vortex we may never get out of. (Only a “progressive” Democrat would stomp a man’s legs, break them in a dozen places, and then make fun of him because he can’t walk.) While lowering almost everybody’s taxes, they want a special bracket appended to the deal to punish people with a million dollars or more to “pay for” everybody else’s tax relief. My question, in an era when government takes too much away from us already, why the bloody hell should it be allowed to steal more?

Even from people who are supposedly hated by the “masses”? (I seriously doubt it. “The Democrat Party masses, more likely. Most right-wing masses — if there is such a thing — aspire to become millionaires, themselves.)

Half a century ago, when I was a shiny new Objectivist warrior, jousting with various statist orcs and trolls on the left, a major concern of theirs seemed to be the big, luxurious houses that rich people built for themselves or bought and lived in. Somehow, there was something evil or sinful in that — “conspicuous consumption” one famous comtard called it — and it needed to be stopped. It didn’t ever seem to have occurred to these feeble-minded pickpockets (who had likely never done an honest day’s work in their worthless lives) that the construction of a big, luxurious house (today, we call them McMansions) requires the skilled services of dozens, if not hundreds, of earth-movers, concrete-workers, framers, finish carpenters, glazers, roofers, plumbers, sheet-rock guys, landscapers, etc., most of whom have families to feed, clothe, and house, themselves.

They need rich people to build big, luxurious houses for.

In general, there are few, if any, ways the most malign “malefactor of great wealth” can spend his money without benefitting someone who needs a job. Even cocaine has to be cultivated and processed by somebody. This lesson was learned the hard way back in 1990 when Idiot-in-Chief George 41 Bush broke his “read my lips” promise and allowed a punitive “luxury tax” to be levied on yachts, big, expensive cars, and assorted other keen stuff like that. Hundreds of jobs were lost. Thousands suffered. One company went from 220 workers to 50 overnight. Within two years those who had stirred up class envy the most energetically were calling for repeal of this “hate the rich” tax. In the same way, millionaires’ money would fly overseas in an instant and vanish from our struggling economy.

November 6, 2017

Oregon sets new standard in authoritarian oversight over teens

Filed under: Government, Law, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Amy Alkon reacts to a report about a new Oregon state law that goes a long way to remove agency and personal autonomy from teenagers in the state:

The latest is a story from Oregon, from The Daily Caller, where Eric Owen reports that public school teachers must now inform the government when they find out a teenager has had sex. No, we’re not talking about sex with some adult predator, but sex with another teen — consensual sex with another teen.

    Teachers in the Salem-Keizer school district face fines and can even lose their jobs if they fail to blow the whistle on teen students who are voluntarily having sex with each other, reports the Statesman Journal, the main newspaper in Salem.

    The draconian requirements also require teachers in the district to report teen students who might have had consensual sex.

    …The state law — ORS 163.315 — makes it illegal for anyone who is under 18 years of age to consent to a sex act.

The Statesman Journal story by Natalie Pate does say this:

    Another Oregon law, ORS 163.345, or the “three-year rule,” addresses when the individuals are similar in age and force and coercion are not present. This often is thought of as “consensual” activity.

    While this law can be applied in criminal proceedings, it does not apply to mandatory reporting.

The problem is that when laws are passed, laws can be used.

The government has no business telling people under 18 that they aren’t allowed autonomy over their own bodies.

So high school teachers are now legally required to report to state authorities even the suspicion that a teen in their classes has had sex. Police officers and social workers can then go to that school and investigate the student (one can easily imagine how traumatic that might be…). There’s no indication how long or under what conditions these “sex files” will be kept or accessed. Talk about fearing that something was going to go on your “permanent record”!

November 4, 2017

Desperate Mayors Compete for Amazon HQ2

Filed under: Business, Economics, Government, Humour, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

ReasonTV
Published on 3 Nov 2017

Local politicians clash as they try to lure Amazon’s new headquarters to their towns.
——–
Cities across the country want Amazon HQ2 and the 50,000 jobs promised to come with it. Some municipalities are offering big incentives. When New Jersey puts $7 billion in tax credits on the table, how can small-town mayors compete? By really screwing taxpayers.

Written and performed by Austin Bragg and Andrew Heaton. Produced and edited by Bragg.

October 31, 2017

How Sugar Subsidies Ruin Halloween

Filed under: Economics, Government, Health, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

ReasonTV
Published on 30 Oct 2017

This Halloween while you’re getting pudgy from candy, crony capitalists are getting rich off of sugar subsidies. The system is rigged through price controls, subsidies, and tariffs, all designed to protect the sugar industry from competition – and basic math. In the latest “Mostly Weekly” Andrew Heaton tears into the Willy Wonkas gaming the system, and shows why an open market can more than handle your sugar craving.

Yes Minister — The Five Standard Excuses

Filed under: Britain, Bureaucracy, Government, Humour — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Hostis Humani Generis
Published on 26 Sep 2015

Humphrey Appleby’s five standard excuses from S02E07.

October 25, 2017

QotD: Oligarchies and universal franchise democracy

Filed under: Government, History, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Fortunately the ideologues had a solution to overcome these minor imperfections of limited franchise democracy… universal franchise.

The more recent concept of Universal Franchise Democracy, is founded on the ridiculous, and incorrect, early 1900’s assumption that all Europe’s problems can be traced back to a limited voting Oligarchy.

Clearly if the ‘ruling classes’ in a state are the rich and powerful – i.e., the naturally conservative propertied elements who make the economy work and provide the productive jobs – then the chattering classes who want change will need to enfranchise the not-rich and not-powerful, so they can ride the wave of demand for change into their ideal world. In fact so they can direct it to provide taxpayer funding for non productive jobs… For people like them.

It is certainly no accident that the modern ‘ruling class’ is the nouveau-rich chattering classes – and the power base they have established in the completely unproductive taxpayer-supported lawyers and civil servants and union officials – who lead inevitably to ‘leaders’ who have the right and duty to lecture their stupid populace for not being politically correct enough… People like Merkel, Obama, and the European Union President. (Go on, name him? He has more practical power to interfere in his ‘citizens’ lives than either of the other two. Who is he?)

It is not just the Australian Union Movement of which we can say ‘they used to consist of the cream of the working class, now they consist of the dregs of the middle class’. All the petty tyrants who gorge in the taxpayers trough, and who try and force the ignorant peasants under their care down the correct path – whether medieval monks selling indulgences, or modern human rights lawyers banning free speech on issues they disapprove of – tend to be the dregs.

The dregs, of the intellectual fervor, of the previous generation, of wrong thinkers.

The dregs of any intellectual movement eventually have to accept that their ideal is hogwash. Even Marxists have started to admit that after a century of promoting Communism, they can no longer hide the hideous nature of Communism. Still, they are not going to give up their world-view just because the evidence against it is so overwhelming that continued attempts to argue in favour of it become ridiculous. Instead they move smoothly to supporting another, equally ridiculous ideology that they think will support their worldview. Say Environmentalism, or Multiculturalism.

Nigel Davies, “The Solution is… European Union/Multiculturalism/Communism… Name your poison!”, rethinking history, 2015-12-26.

October 24, 2017

More on Quebec’s niqab ban

Filed under: Cancon, Government, Law, Liberty — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Ted Campbell is emphatically against Quebec’s attempt to ban facial coverings for Islamic women:

These laws are stupid … but they are worse than stupid, they are an assault on individual liberty by a bunch of political nincompoops.

Now, there are a number of variants of head and face coverings, they are especially common among some Muslim women …

… and some restrictions on some of them in some situations are, pretty clearly, justified on common sense or security-identification grounds. We, most of us, can probably agree that a lady should not wear a burqa or chador or even a niqab when she’s driving a car (it might restrict her vision) or when she is applying for a driving licence, which is a pretty common form of recognized identification … and it seems pretty clear that airport security should insist that a burqa or chador must be removed for security screening (to permit positive facial recognition).

But, why the hell does the state ~ the BIG, collective, state ~ care what any individual wears when (s)he boards a bus. It ought to care that she deposits the correct fare, of course, or taps her card to pay, but why does the state care if her face is covered? It’s arrant nonsense, and it is an infringement on a fundamental right.

    Reminder: you (and I, and Muslim women, too) have lots of rights but four of them are quite fundamental: life, liberty and property as defined by John Locke in 17th century England and privacy, as defined by Brandies and Warren in 19th century America. These rights all accrue to all individuals, only, and they, those individuals, need to have their fundamental rights protected against constant threats from collectives including religions, societies and states, themselves. These new laws, passed by big, collectivist states, are threats to individual liberties and must be challenged and overturned. Liberals, like Justin Trudeau, will not do it because they are progressives, not liberals, and because people like Justin Trudeau cannot think about fundamental rights … only about partisan, short term, political advantage.

Let me be clear about my own position:

  • Women may wear whatever they want for their own (good or not so good) reasons; but
  • It is wrong for anyone (including any father or husband or rabbi or provincial premier) to force women to dress in some certain way for social (including political) or religious reasons.

Your religion is a wholly private matter between you and your gods … you may never try to impose your beliefs on others, including your wife and children.

QotD: Tax complexity

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Government, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

What’s interesting about this [IRS] scam is that it’s a departure from classic confidence schemes. Think about something like the Nigerian e-mail scams, and how they draw their victims in: greed for a lucrative finder’s fee in exchange for doing something that sounds maybe a little bit shady, but maybe sort of noble too. The victim is then strung along by playing to the greed, and kept from talking to others who might point out the scam by because they think they are complicit in something legally questionable.

The IRS scam, on the other hand, works entirely by fear. It takes people who haven’t done anything wrong, and makes them afraid that they have. That’s a pretty hefty achievement. Imagine trying to extort money from someone by, say, claiming that they had murdered someone. You might elicit laughter, or bewilderment, but you’d rarely elicit much cash.

Which raises the obvious question: How did we get into a situation where it’s so easy for people to believe that the IRS is about to arrest them for a crime they weren’t even aware of having committed?

You guessed it: The IRS is incredibly powerful, and the tax code is incredibly opaque.

Like many journalists, my husband and I pay someone to do our taxes. We have to. The year we married, I realized that with two journalists who both had salary and non-salary income, home offices, various business expenses, and a new home purchase, our taxes had finally passed the point at which I was even marginally competent to do them. Before then, I had always done my taxes myself, and filed them with a sort of wistful hope that I had done them correctly. At this point it seems worth pausing to note that:

  1. I have an MBA.
  2. I write about tax policy for a living.

These things are surprisingly little help. Filling out your taxes is not a matter of being good at math, or accounting, or even knowing how various provisions of the tax code interact in revenue projections. It is entirely a matter of knowing what can be deducted, and how. And because our tax code is so complex, that doesn’t mean “read the statute”; it means “read the statute, and the case law, and develop a sense over long experience of how agents are likely to interpret this or that during an audit.” The only people who can do that are tax professionals; the rest of us are too busy earning a living in our own professions.

There’s no perfect measure of tax complexity, but consider one quick-and-dirty metric: the number of lines on a typical tax form, and the length of the accompanying tax booklet. Quartz did just that a while back, and found that the complexity had been steadily increasing.

Legal complexity does not accumulate linearly; it accumulates exponentially. When you have one law on the books, and you add a second, the new law may (or may not) have some unexpected interaction with the old law. This would be one complexity point for regulators to manage. But with each new law, the number of potential interactions grows quickly, until it passes the ability of any layman to grasp it (and eventually, surpasses the professionals as well, which is why they’re increasingly specialized in narrow areas). We are long past that point with the tax code.

Megan McArdle, “Why We Fear the IRS”, Bloomberg View, 2016-01-04.

October 22, 2017

New Zealand’s PM-elect will save the country from the evils of capitalism

Filed under: Economics, Government, Pacific, Politics — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 05:00

At Catallaxy Files, Steve Kates views the statement of the next Prime Minister of New Zealand with disdain:

The stupidity of some people plumbs depths that are always hard to fathom. Is it really all that hard to learn from history? Jacinda Ardern: ‘Capitalism has failed New Zealanders’. Listen to this bewildering idiocy and marvel how someone can remain so ignorant in the midst of a world of socialist horrors.

    New Zealand prime-minister-elect Jacinda Ardern has described capitalism as a “blatant failure” in the country, nominating poverty and homelessness as her priorities when she takes office.

    Speaking in her first sit-down interview, on TV3’s The Nation, Ms Ardern said New Zealanders were not feeling the benefits of prosperity. Asked if capitalism had failed New Zealanders on low incomes, Ms Ardern was blunt: “If you have hundreds of thousands of children living in homes without enough to survive, that’s a blatant failure. What else could you describe it as?”

    “When you have a market economy, it all comes down to whether or not you acknowledge where the market has failed and where intervention is required. Has it failed our people in recent times? Yes.

    “Wages are not keeping up with inflation (and) and how can you claim you’ve been successful when you have growth at roughly 3 per cent, but you have the worst homelessness in the developed world?”

I personally had no idea that the economy was so terrible in New Zealand, with literally hundreds of thousands of New Zealand’s children living in starvation conditions. According to Wikipedia, there are less than five million people in all of New Zealand, and roughly 20% of the population are under the age of 15: that means at least two-hundred thousand children are starving right now! That’s nearly Venezuelan levels of privation. How has such a shocking humanitarian crisis engulfed a modern, first-world economy with no warning from the media or our political leaders? We must organize help immediately!

QotD: Lobbying

Filed under: Government, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Lobbying works, and here’s why. No senior public official could want to retire on a state pension, however large, when he can have more millions by playing the game well. Look at the “before” and “after” accounts of almost any prominent politician. He goes into office very charming, and comes out very rich. It is a far more lucrative trade than anything in business or finance — even in such specialized forms as bank robbery. Better, by modern methods of mutual back-scratching, for there is much less legal risk.

David Warren, “Latest from the death cult”, Essays in Idleness, 2015-12-01.

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