February 9, 2018

DicKtionary – C is for Car – Henry Ford

Filed under: Business, History, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

Published on 8 Feb 2018

C is for car – the automobiles
And nothing is cooler than a boss set of wheels,
From selling some cars, this man made a horde,
Mechanic and boss man, here’s Henry Ford.

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Based on a concept by Astrid Deinhard and Indy Neidell
Produced by: Spartacus Olsson
Executive Producers: Bodo Rittenauer, Astrid Deinhard, Indy Neidell, Spartacus Olsson
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Edited by: Bastian Beißwenger

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QotD: Canadian versus American forms of government

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

Canada does not bother with palaces; the closest thing we have is Rideau Hall, whose history, appearance, and location all serve to confirm the point. In Canada we pay relatively little heed to social class — a legacy of having been a colony, with its ultimate rulers (and, until 1949, its literal court of last resort) conveniently offshore. We have left formal titles mostly in the dust while Americans resurrect them frantically: the newspapers bow and scrape to “Sen. Clinton” and “Gov. Palin” long after their brief periods in office.

We manage not to admire displays of wealth in the whimpering, craving way that Americans do; our old money avoids ostentation, and our bankers are practically Spartan. (We have a few literal lords, but I suspect even my colleague Conrad Black would resist being addressed as anything but “Mr. Black” by a fellow Canadian in Canada.) We accept higher taxes in exchange for state provision of medical care, but when it comes to welfare we honour the Protestant work ethic more earnestly than the republic to the south does, with its food stamps and its endless disability rolls.

This all emerges partly from having an expatriate monarchy that we can drag onto the scene as needed, and can worship and scrutinize from afar. We get the best of both worlds. If we adopted a real republic, the long-term path to union with the U.S. would be that much shorter; how long could a squeal of “But we’re so much nicer than they are,” a bare assertion of mystical innate superiority, provide a moral basis for independence?

The Romans and the Tudors would perceive the Canadian genius quickly: they would discern more clearly than ourselves that we have pioneered a truly novel political system — an ultra-practical, constitutionally successful version of the old Jewish temple, with its invisible god secreted in a hidden sanctum. Our domestic political leaders can never be glory-hunting priest-emperor types, as long as there is someone above them, far away, who is called “Majesty” and possesses the regalia of state. This is why, when someone refers to the prime minister’s wife as “first lady,” they are really threatening the basis of our political existence, and should be chastised — even if, I hasten to add, they are writers or editors for other Postmedia newspapers.

Colby Cosh, “Why Canadians are better republicans”, National Post, 2016-05-30.

February 8, 2018

Dilbert’s Scott Adams Explains How He Knew Trump Would ‘Win Bigly’

Filed under: Books, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 06:00

Published on 7 Feb 2018

The cartoonist-turned-political-prognisticator talks about Trump, “master persuaders,” and winning arguments in a “world where facts don’t matter.”


In 2015, Scott Adams, the cartoonist behind the massively popular comic strip Dilbert, boldly predicted that Donald Trump would win the 2016 presidential election.

“The reason I can see it coming is because I have studied this field of persuasion,” says Adams. “I saw this Trump character and he had the full tool set.” The 60-year-old Bay Area resident doesn’t agree with Trump on many political issues, but his prediction was enough for his to receive death threats from embittered Hillary Clinton supporters.

Adam’s new book, Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter, is both a detailed analysis of how Trump reframed political rhetoric during the 2016 campaign and a guide to how all of us can communicate more effectively and persuasively.

Adams sat down with Reason‘s Nick Gillespie in front of a live audience in San Francisco to talk about his book, his “extreme liberal” views, the popularity of his live broadcasts with followers via Twitter, and why Trump is a “master persuader.”

Cameras by Zach Weismueller, Paul Detrick, and Justin Monticello. Edited by Ian Keyser.

The revenge of the return of the bride of rent control

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

Megan McArdle on the unexpected return of one of the very worst economic policies known to mankind, or as our beloved Prime Minister would insist “peoplekind”:

According to the Wall Street Journal, rent control seems to be making a retro comeback. Most forms of intelligent life could be forgiven for asking why.

Serial experimentation with this policy has repeatedly shown the same result. Initially, tenants rejoice, and rent control looks like a victory for the poor over the landlord class. But the stifling of price signals leads to problems. Rent control starts by producing some sort of redistribution, because the people with low rents at the time that controls are imposed tend to be relatively low-income.

But then incomes rise, and rents don’t. People with higher incomes have more resources to pursue access to artificially cheap real estate: friends who work for management companies, “key fees” or simply incomes that promise landlords they won’t have to worry about collecting the rent. (One of my favorite New York City stories involves an acquaintance who made $175,000 a year, and applied for a rent-controlled apartment. He asked the women taking the application if his income was going to be a problem; she looked at the application and said, “No, I think that ought to be high enough.”)

So the promise of economic justice erodes over time, as lucky insiders come to dominate rent-controlled apartments, especially because having gotten their hands on an absurdly cheap apartment, said elites are loathe to move and free up space for others.

The longer the rent-control policies remain, the more these imbalances grow. The gap between the rent that is charged, and the rent that could be charged in a competitive market, widens. Deprived of the ability to make a profit, landlords skimp on maintenance and refuse to build new housing. If you loosen the law to incentivize renovation, or new building, this only creates new forms of dysfunction: discrimination against tenants who might stay longer than a few years (limiting the ability to raise rents); a decontrolled market that has to absorb all of the excess demand created by locking up so much of the housing market in rent-controlled leases that rarely turn over; even landlords who renovate too often, the better to raise the rent. This arrangement is very good for the people who happen to have gotten their hands on a rent-controlled apartment, and very bad for everyone else, especially newcomers to the city.

February 6, 2018

Katie Roiphe on the new whisper network

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

She’s already taken a lot of heat from other women over this essay:

For years, women confined their complaints about sexual harassment to whisper networks for fear of reprisal from men. This is an ugly truth about our recent past that we are just now beginning to grapple with. But amid this welcome reckoning, it seems that many women still fear varieties of retribution (Twitter rage, damage to their reputations, professional repercussions, and vitriol from friends) for speaking out — this time, from other women. They are, in other words, inadvertently creating a new whisper network. Can this possibly be a good thing?

Most of the new whisperers feel as I do, exhilarated by the moment, by the long-overdue possibility of holding corrupt and bullying men such as Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, and Matt Lauer to account for their actions. They strongly share some of its broader goals: making it possible for women to work unbothered and unharassed even outside the bubble of Hollywood and the media, breaking down the structures that have historically protected powerful men. Yet they are also slightly uneasy at the weird energy behind this movement, a weird energy it is sometimes hard to pin down.

Here are some things these professional women said to me on the condition that their names be withheld:

    I think “believe all women” is silly. Women are unreliable narrators also. I understand how hard it is to come forward, but I just don’t buy it. It’s a sentimental view of women … I think there is more regretted consent than anyone is willing to say out loud.

    If someone had sent me the Media Men list ten years ago, when I was twenty-five, I would have called a harmlessly enamored guy a stalker and a sloppy drunken encounter sexual assault. I’d hate myself now for wrecking two lives.

    One thing people don’t say is that power is an aphrodisiac … To pretend otherwise is dishonest.

    What seems truly dangerous to me is the complete disregard the movement shows for a sacred principle of the American criminal justice system: the presumption of innocence. I come from Mexico, whose judicial system relied, until 2016, on the presumption of guilt, which translated into people spending decades, sometimes lifetimes, in jail before even seeing a judge.

    I have never felt sexually harassed. I said this to someone the other day, and she said, “I am sure you are wrong.”

    Al Franken asked for an investigation and he should have been allowed to have it; the facts are still ambiguous, the sources were sketchy.

    Why didn’t I get hit on? What’s wrong with me? #WhyNotMeToo

    I think #MeToo is a potentially valuable tool that is degraded when women appropriate it to encompass things like “creepy DMs” or “weird lunch ‘dates.’” And I do not think touching a woman’s back justifies a front page in the New York Times and the total annihilation of someone’s career.

I have a long history with this feeling of not being able to speak. In the early Nineties, death threats were phoned into Shakespeare and Company, an Upper West Side bookstore where I was scheduled to give a reading from my book The Morning After. That night, in front of a jittery crowd and a sprinkling of police, I read a passage comparing the language in the date-rape pamphlets given out on college campuses to Victorian guides to conduct for young ladies. When I read at universities, students who considered themselves feminists shouted me down. It was an early lesson in the chilling effect of feminist orthodoxy.

But social media has enabled a more elaborate intolerance of feminist dissenters, as I just personally experienced. Twitter, especially, has energized the angry extremes of feminism in the same way it has energized Trump and his supporters: the loudest, angriest, most simplifying voices are elevated and rendered normal or mainstream.

The “Socialist Caucus” of the US “Libertarian” Party

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

L. Neil Smith is unhappy with the US Libertarian Party, but this is nothing new — he’s been against the party’s long drift away from philosophical libertarian principles and policies for decades. However, after hearing that the party had turned down Ron Paul and Andrew Napolitano as speakers at the next national convention at the urging of a pack of drooling morons calling themselves the “Socialist Caucus of the Libertarian Party”:

The first article I read (in a movement publication) about the current situation wanted to claim that Ron started the libertarian movement, or at least the party, and maybe set the Moon and stars in the sky, but that’s not true, and I don’t believe that kindly Dr. Paul would ever make a claim like that for himself. It overlooks the lives and lifelong labor, decades earlier, of freedom-fighters like Leonard Reed, Ayn Rand, John Hospers, and Roger Lea MacBride (look them up) not to overlook Dave Nolan. Nevertheless, Ron has been an integral member of the tribe that calls itself “libertarian” for more than forty years, and was such a consistently libertarian member of Congress that his less-principled colleagues (when they weren’t asking him how to vote) called him “Dr. No”.

Thus, to proclaim with grand stupidity, as LP Convention Coordinator Daniel Hayes does (whoever he is), that the former Congressman has no idea what the Party stands for, speaks of abysmal ignorance and profound disrespect. The fact that this ass-clown is also an At Large member of the Libertarian Party National Committee, shows what massive trouble the Party is in. Trouble that it is very likely not to survive.

And now I’ll confess to some ignorance of my own. When I started this article, I thought I knew who Judge Andrew Napolitano is. I have always enjoyed seeing him on FOX, visiting with the ladies. However I followed my own advice and looked him up, in Wikipedia, because that’s easiest. This guy is an unapologetic, uncompromising libertarian on steroids. I urge you to look him up, yourself, you will be amazed.

Dr. Paul, it appears, is in trouble because he criticized the LP’s laughable 2016 campaign, an effort that only needed another 23 clowns and a tiny car to make the picture complete. Apparently, the Party is now run to cozy up to a vile creature named Mike Shipley, founder of an obscene excrescence called the Socialist Caucus of the Libertarian Party. If I weren’t already out of the Party, that, alone, would cause me to quit. Don’t the teachings of Murray Rothbard and Ludwig von Mises mean anything anymore? Socialism is the “philosophy” that murdered two hundred million people in the 20th century and there is no difference in principle between it and the blackest, most evil communism that ever existed. Besides a profound and willful historical blindness, what mental illness afflicts low, crawling organisms like this Shipley? Or those who tolerate him and welcome him into the ideological home that others (and betters) built?

This is what comes of claiming in the lilting rich and fruity falsetto voice of Political Correctness, that there are “right” libertarians and “left” libertarians, What bloody nonsense. There are, in fact, only libertarians, those governed by the Principle of Non-Aggression (which the LP has tried to toss overboard every minute of the past twenty years), and those non-libertarians who are not. There is also, apparently, a creature called Nicholas Sarwark, the National Chairman who, according to the article I read, thinks Bernie Sanders is a libertarian. I looked him up, too; he’s a typical product of the confused Arizona politics that gave us John McCain, Jeff Flake, and Jan Brewer. He is on record having called the Ludwig von Mises Institute a Nazi organization and wouldn’t know a real libertarian if it walked up to him and pissed in his ear. The fact that he’s been “embedded” in the LP for so long (look him up, too) is a further symptom of its dire distress.

Years ago, when the LP nominated a candidate of dubious integrity who handed out over a million dollars in campaign contributions to his cronies and family as “consultant fees”, I ran against him in one state (Arizona, again) to deprive the LP of 50-state ballot status, something they seemed to think was important. It wasn’t much, and many people still hate me for it, but a statement had to be made against corruption. I made it and I will never regret it.

This current disaster is the direct result of tolerating Political Correctness even a little bit. It is no different, in principle, from inviting Anti-Fa into your living room. The LP needs a purge, and then the system of internal education I proposed almost 40 years ago. Until then, Hayes, Shipley. Sarwark, and others of your collectivist ilk, watch your ballots for something called “The Real Libertarian Party” — and see the LP vote split right down the middle.

QotD: The original goal of the minimum wage

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

For progressives, a legal minimum wage had the useful property of sorting the unfit, who would lose their jobs, from the deserving workers, who would retain their jobs. Royal Meeker, a Princeton economist who served as Woodrow Wilson’s U.S. Commissioner of Labor, opposed a proposal to subsidize the wages of poor workers for this reason. Meeker preferred a wage floor because it would disemploy unfit workers and thereby enable their culling from the work force.

Thomas Leonard, “Eugenics and Economics in the Progressive Era”, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2005-09.

February 3, 2018

Arizona’s legally protected blow-drying cartel

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

Eric Boehm reports on the fantastic lengths protected businesses will go to to protect themselves from “unlicensed” competitors, even in such areas as hair drying:

Brandy Wells never anticipated the amount of vitriolic abuse she would receive over — of all things — her public support of a proposal to let people blow-dry hair without a state-issued license.

“I’ve been called a cunt, a bitch, an ass, trashy, a puppet, a pawn, repugnant,” Wells says. “And my favorite: ‘your logic on deregulation of cosmetology is much like your hair, dull and flat.'”

Wells says she’s received several attacks from cosmetologists on social media accusing her of being “uneducated” or “clueless” about cosmetology because she doesn’t work in the industry. It’s true that Wells isn’t a licensed cosmetologist (though she does, in fact, know how to use a blow-dryer, she confirmed to Reason), but that’s actually the precise reason why she’s speaking up.

Wells serves as the lone “public member” of the Arizona State Board of Cosmetology. That means she is the only member of the seven-person board who does not work in some capacity as a cosmetologist or with a connection to a cosmetology school. Last month, she voiced her support for House Bill 2011, which would removing blow-drying from the state’s cosmetology licensing requirements. Under current law, using a blow-dryer on someone else’s hair, for money, requires more than 1,000 hours of training and an expensive state-issued license. Blow-drying hair without a license could — incredibly — land you in jail for up to six months.

In response, Wells says, members of the cosmetology profession have sent messages to her employer, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, suggesting that she should be fired — fired because she thinks people can safely blow-dry hair without 1,000 hours of training!

The cosmetology board is “a group of special interest bullies,” said Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, in his recent State of the State address. The board, Ducey said, “is going after people who simply want to make a living blow-drying hair. No scissors involved.”

This week, the fight over the so-called “blow-dry bill” spilled into the state legislature. The state House Military, Veterans, and Regulatory Affairs Committee held its first hearing on the bill, and licensed cosmetologists packed the room to speak one-by-one about the potential dangers of letting unlicensed professionals blow-dry hair

February 2, 2018

Trump Diminishes the Power of the State in Our Heads: Wired Co-Founder Louis Rossetto

Filed under: Books, Liberty, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

Published on 1 Feb 2018

Louis Rossetto, co-founder of Wired magazine, on politics, the dot-com bubble, and his new novel, Change Is Good: A Story of the Heroic Era of the Internet.
“Trump is a refreshing reminder that the guy that’s in the White House is another human being,” says Louis Rossetto, the co-founder of Wired and author of the new book Change Is Good: A Story of the Heroic Era of the Internet. “The power of the state is way too exalted [and] bringing that power back to human scale is an important part of what needs to be done to correct the insanity that’s been going on in the post-war era.”

In 2013, Rossetto was the co-recipient of Reason‘s very first Lanny Friedlander Prize, an award named after the magazine’s founder that’s handed out annually to an individual or group who has created a publication, medium, or distribution platform that vastly expands human freedom. Rossetto is also a longtime libertarian who knew Friedlander personally.

While still an undergraduate at Columbia University, Rossetto co-authored a 1971 cover story in the New York Times Magazine titled “The New Right Credo — Libertarianism,” writing that “[l]iberalism, conservatism, and leftist radicalism are all bankrupt philosophies,” and “refugees from the Old Right, the Old Left and the New Left, they are organizing independently under the New Right banner of libertarianism.”

Reason‘s Nick Gillespie sat down with Rossetto to talk about his new book (the paper version was lavishly designed and crowdfunded on Kickstarter), the 1990s tech boom, and why Trump “diminishes the power of the state” in our heads.

Interview by Nick Gillespie. Edited by Ian Keyser. Cameras by Paul Detrick, Justin Monticello, Zach Weissmueller.
Machinery by Kai Engel is used under a Creative Commons license.
Photo Credits: Chris Kleponis/ZUMA Press/Newscom – Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/Newscom – Abaca Press/Douliery Olivier/Abaca/Sipa USA/Newscom

“Europeans like the U.S. to be a great St. Bernard dog that takes the risks and does the work, while they hold the leash and give the orders”

Filed under: Britain, Europe, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Conrad Black on how the European press in general — and the British press in particular — view the United States:

A week in England has enabled me to see more clearly the absurdity of the depths and length that the political scandal-mongering in the United States has achieved. Most of the British media are anti-American anyway, and, like most of America’s so-called allies, Britain likes weak American presidents who are fluent and courteous, other than when they are themselves in mortal peril, at which point strong American presidents suddenly are appreciated. Generally, the Western European attitude toward the U.S. evolved from fervent and almost worshipful hope for rescue by Roosevelt, to appreciative, even grateful recognition for Truman and Marshall’s military and economic support of non-Communist Europe, while fretting whether America would “stay the course” (Mr. Churchill’s concern), to complacent patronization in the post-Suez Eisenhower-Dulles era. Europe, like most of the world, swooned over John F. Kennedy and genuinely mourned his tragic death, but it has been slim pickings since. Johnson was regarded as a boor and an amateur, and, on the left, a war criminal. Richard Nixon was regarded with suspicion and then the customary orchestrated opprobrium, though with grudging respect for his strategic talents. Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush were regarded as dolts, though Reagan, whose anti-missile defense plan was regarded with shrieks of derision and fear, was seen, long after he left office, as possibly useful. Clinton was likeable but déclassé, and Obama was greatly welcomed but ultimately a disappointment. The Europeans like the U.S. to be a great St. Bernard dog that takes the risks and does the work, while they hold the leash and give the orders.

With Donald Trump, the British and most Western Europeans have the coruscation of their dreams that the United States is a vulgar, completely materialistic, cultureless Darwinian contest of the most tasteless and unsavory elements, elevating people in their public life who excel at the country’s least attractive national characteristics. In the British national media there is almost never a remotely insightful or fair commentary on anything to do with President Trump. At one point last week, Ambassador John Bolton had what amounted to a debate with some academic British supporter of the Paris climate accord, and of feeble responses to all international crises, from Ukraine to Syria to North Korea. Both participants were speaking from remote locations and were on large screens, and the moderator’s questions were posed in such a provoking and tendentious manner to John Bolton that he began his last several responses with the stated assumption that the management of Britain’s national television network presumably approved of framing questions on such serious subjects in a deliberately dishonest way, and then answered effectively. The BBC correspondent in Washington uniformly referred to “Donald Trump” or just “Trump” and never to “President Trump” or to “the president,” as normal professional usage requires. The Economist, a distinguished magazine for many decades, follows the same route, referring to Mr. Trump as a “bad” or “poor” president, as if this were an indisputable and universally agreed fact.

The British, and to a large degree the major continental powers, slavishly repeat the Trumpophobic feed from the American national media and justify “Trump’s” view that most of the media propagate lies as a matter of policy, and that America’s allies are largely freeloaders — passengers of the Pentagon with no loyalty to the country that liberated them from Nazism and protected them from Soviet Communism. Senator McCain’s editorial criticism of the president in the New York Times two weeks ago, that his attacks on the press weakened democracy by demeaning a free press, is bunk. The president was closer, though, as is his wont, was slightly carried away, when he called the primal-scream newscasters and writers “enemies of the people.” They are even worse abroad.

QotD: Infrastructural sclerosis

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

I have an op-ed in the Boston Globe today on infrastructure, addressing the issue of quality rather than quantity of investment. Rachel Lipson, a graduate student at Harvard, and I describe the fiasco that has emerged from what should have been a routine maintenance project on the Anderson Memorial Bridge over the Charles River next to my office in Cambridge. Though the bridge took only 11 months to build in 1912, it will take close to five years to repair today at a huge cost in dollars and mass delays.

Investigating the reasons behind the bridge blunders have helped to illuminate an aspect of American sclerosis — a gaggle of regulators and veto players, each with the power to block or to delay, and each with their own parochial concerns. All the actors — the historical commission, the contractor, the environmental agencies, the advocacy groups, the state transportation department — are reasonable in their own terms, but the final result is wildly unreasonable.

At one level this explains why, despite the overwhelming case for infrastructure investment, there is so much resistance from those who think it will be carried out ineptly. The right response is to advocate for reforms in procurement policies, regulatory policies and government procedures to make the investment process more efficient and effective. This is all clear enough.

At another level, though, our story may illustrate phenomena that go way beyond infrastructure. I’m a progressive, but it seems plausible to wonder if government can build a nation abroad, fight social decay, run schools, mandate the design of cars, run health insurance exchanges, or set proper sexual harassment policies on college campuses, if it can’t even fix a 232-foot bridge competently. Waiting in traffic over the Anderson Bridge, I’ve empathized with the two-thirds of Americans who distrust government.

Larry Summers, “Why Americans don’t trust government”, Washington Post, 2016-05-26.

February 1, 2018

The Government is Going to Shut Down Again (And That’s Bad)

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Government, Humour, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

Published on 31 Jan 2018

System failures are a false path to limited government.


Libertarians want to shrink the government, but a shutdown is little cause for celebration. Hitting a giant “pause” button on federal agencies won’t end the drug war or reform entitlements. A government shutdown doesn’t even save money. Back pay to furloughed federal employees ensures that taxpayers pay just as much as they would have if the government had proceeded as normal. But during a shutdown taxpayers don’t receive the government services they’re paying for, and the economy takes a hit from the disruption.

In the latest “Mostly Weekly,” Andrew Heaton explains why libertarians should be against the next government shutdown.

Mostly Weekly is hosted by Andrew Heaton with headwriter Sarah Rose Siskind. Special appearance by Brian Sack.

Script by Andrew Heaton with writing assistance from Sarah Rose Siskind and Brian Sack
Edited by Austin Bragg and Sarah Rose Siskind.
Produced by Meredith and Austin Bragg.
Theme Song: “Frozen” by Surfer Blood.

Penn and Teller on Vaccinations

Filed under: Health, Science, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 20 Aug 2010

January 31, 2018

How the Vikings plundered Minnesota

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

By all accounts, the Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium in Minneapolis is a wonderful structure and fans have been very happy with the amenities provided. However, as Steven Malanga explains, the non-fan taxpayers in the city and the state have a right to feel plundered by the Vikings:

Fans of the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles will travel to the frigid northern city this week because the NFL granted a Super Bowl to Minnesota as a reward for stepping up with more than half a billion dollars in subsidies for the home-state Vikings’ U.S. Bank Stadium, which opened in 2016. For a city whose mayor recently described it as a “shining beacon of progressive light and accomplishment,” this is some feat, and a reminder that the NFL, whatever its troubles, maintains a firm hold on the taxpayer’s purse in many places.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, a New Jersey real estate developer, began pushing for a new stadium soon after purchasing the team in 2005. His supplications became more earnest after the roof of the Vikings’ old home, the Metrodome, collapsed in December 2010. Wilf originally proposed contributing just one quarter of the new stadium’s $1 billion cost, a spectacularly low-ball offer in an era when backlash against stadium subsidies for professional teams increasingly force owners to pony up a bigger share of construction costs. Wilf claimed that he couldn’t afford more, but he wouldn’t release the financial details of his real estate empire. A Minnesota state investigation, undertaken after a New Jersey judge ruled that the Wilf family had defrauded real estate partners in a local project and had to pay them $84.5 million, determined that the family could afford to pay up to $500 million for the stadium.

Even after Wilf upped his offer, the road to the stadium deal was paved with controversy. Minnesota financed a portion of its share of the costs by introducing a state-licensed electronic-gambling game to generate construction revenues, but the game proved a clunker with local residents; to fill the financing hole, Minnesota drew on revenues from its tobacco tax and increased corporate taxes. Then Wilf announced that he’d help finance his part of the deal by charging season ticketholders a seat license fee — prompting a threat from Minnesota governor Mark Dayton to pull government financing. Dayton soon changed his tune, explaining that sports financing has its own ineffable logic. “I’m not one to defend the economics of professional sports,” he said. “Any deal you make in that world doesn’t make sense from the way the rest of us look at it.”

Though it lent its balance sheet to the deal, the city of Minneapolis, according to critics — including one former city councilman — has been “hosed” by the Vikings. The city officially contributed $150 million to stadium construction, but these observers contend that that figure doesn’t include expensive infrastructure improvements that Minneapolis was forced to make. As part of the stadium package, Minneapolis also agreed to send $7.5 million a year in operating subsidies to the authority running the facility, which amounts to $225 million over the course of the deal. City taxpayers also apparently remain on the hook for any shortfalls in the revenues that back the bonds used to build the surrounding infrastructure. Residents understand little of this financing because, as the Minneapolis Star Tribune noted, the stadium deal “was as transparent as the Berlin wall.”

I’m a (very) long-term fan of the team, but that doesn’t mean I approve of the taxpayers being robbed blind so local fans of the team get to watch the game in a corporate welfare palace. Reason has posted several videos exposing the crony capitalist roots of stadium financing, including most recently this one. I first heard of “seat licenses” in 2014 and they sounded like a bad idea to me then. Back in 2012, when the public support was announced, I was not happy about it.

January 30, 2018

DicKtionary – A is for Air Force – Curtis LeMay

Filed under: History, Military, USA, WW2 — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 17 Jan 2018

A is for Air Force, you know that of course
And we turn to the states to look at the dates
When the man in command, that some couldn’t stand
Is our hero today, General Curtis LeMay.

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