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More evidence for the limited government argument (2)

January 9, 2016

Moe Lane writes at RedState:

Washington Post admits that, no: electric cars were NOT worth it.

At least, if you use the rule of thumb that any time you ask a question in a headline then the answer is always going to be ‘no:’ “The government has spent a lot on electric cars, but was it worth it?” And the answer to the question is no in this case, too. There are three ways that the Washington Post (note that I am not criticizing WaPo article author Charles Lane, here: he’s obviously figured it all out already) could have worked that out ahead of time, in fact; all it had to do was look more closely at the title. […]

Read the whole thing; it’s brief. Better yet, follow the link the to WaPo article.

When electric cars get charged from solar cells or from zero point energy (assuming that’s practical), then I’ll buy one.

But to buy an electric vehicle which is charged by coal-fired generation (as mine would be) is just adding another step, with its particular inefficiencies, to the total energy use. TANSTAAFL applies to engineering as well as to politics. That’s why engineers won’t shut up about it.

It’s tough to beat the energy density in petroleum. Unless you’re willing to burn hyrdrogen or natural gas, or you’re willing to use nuclear sources, then you should burn petroleum. You don’t have to be an engineer to look this stuff up.

My view is that people should convert their vehicles to natural gas. It’s cheaper and it’s better in terms of emissions. If you’re one who worries about catastrophic warming, look at what the switch from coal to natural gas has done for US carbon emissions. They’ve fallen since 2007.

I always think that the example of places like Cuba, Venezuela, the Soviet Union, North Korea, the old ‘Eastern Bloc’ in Europe, und so weiter, would be enough to convince anyone that governments have no business trying to run markets.

But I’m learning not to be surprised when those examples aren’t convincing.

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What she said

January 5, 2016

Mollie Hemingway vents about the Trump phenomenon. She makes some good points and is fairly amusing, so RTWT.

When It Comes To Donald Trump, I Hate Everyone
I hate Donald Trump, people who love Donald Trump, people who hate Donald Trump, and media who cover Donald Trump.

We’re now in month eight or so of Trumpmania. He has a core of support, and the media can’t get enough of him. The effect he has on people is fascinating. But it’s also remarkably annoying. Every casual utterance by Trump leads the news cycle until the subsequent outrage. And everyone flips out. Trump flips out. His fans flip out. His enemies flip out. The media flip out.

It’s enough to make you hate everyone. In fact, it does make me hate everyone. That probably includes you. Here’s a list of everyone in the Trump saga who is awful. […]

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Busted for Intent to Garden

December 29, 2015

Radley Balko writes about the surveillance state again.

Paul sends the link along with the comment, "This has to stop."

Federal judge: Drinking tea, shopping at a gardening store is probable cause for a SWAT raid on your home

In April 2012, a Kansas SWAT team raided the home of Robert and Addie Harte, their 7-year-old daughter and their 13-year-old son. The couple, both former CIA analysts, awoke to pounding at the door. When Robert Harte answered, SWAT agents flooded the home. He was told to lie on the floor. When Addie Harte came out to see what was going on, she saw her husband on his stomach as SWAT cop stood over him with a gun. The family was then held at gunpoint for more than two hours while the police searched their home. Though they claimed to be looking for evidence of a major marijuana growing operation, they later stated that they knew within about 20 minutes that they wouldn’t find any such operation. So they switched to search for evidence of “personal use.” They found no evidence of any criminal activity.

The investigation leading to the raid began at least seven months earlier, when Robert Harte and his son went to a gardening store to purchase supplies to grow hydroponic tomatoes for a school project. A state trooper had been positioned in the store parking lot to collect the license plate numbers of customers, compile them into a spreadsheet, then send the spreadsheets to local sheriff’s departments for further investigation. Yes, merely shopping at a gardening store could make you the target of a criminal drug investigation.

More than half a year later, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department began investigating the Hartes as part of “Operation Constant Gardener,” basically a PR stunt in which the agency conducts multiple pot raids on April 20, or “4/20.” On several occasions, the Sheriff’s Department sent deputies out to sort through the family’s garbage. (The police don’t need a warrant to sift through your trash.) The deputies repeatedly found “saturated plant material” that they thought could possibly be marijuana. On two occasions, a drug testing field kit inexplicably indicated the presence of THC, the active drug in marijuana. It was on the basis of those tests and Harte’s patronage of a gardening store that the police obtained the warrant for the SWAT raid.

But, of course, they found nothing. Lab tests would later reveal that the “saturated plant material” was actually loose-leaf tea, which Addie Harte drinks on a regular basis. […]

DEA delenda est.


Update:

Orin Kerr (at the Volokh Conspiracy blog) writes a follow-up to Balko’s column. No, a federal judge did not rule that drinking tea and shopping at a gardening store amounts to probable cause.

Since I took Balko’s headline as hyperbole and since his column never mentioned such a ruling explicitly, so this isn’t too much of a surprise. But Mr. Kerr is keeping the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed for us.

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What he said (7)

December 24, 2015

Here’s a good article by John Stossel. RTWT.

Politicians Without Borders
Today’s politicians seem to have few limits.

When driving on treacherous roads, guardrails are useful. If you fall asleep or maybe you’re just a bad driver, guardrails may prevent you from going off a cliff.

Recently, The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel used the phrase “no political guardrails” to point out how many of today’s politicians seem to lack any constraints, any safeguards against their use of power. She’s onto something.

“Mr. Obama wants what he wants. If ObamaCare is problematic, he unilaterally alters the law,” Strassel writes. “If the nation won’t support laws to fight climate change, he creates one with regulation. If the Senate won’t confirm his nominees, he declares it in recess and installs them anyway.”

Hillary Clinton does it too. In fact, she promises that once she becomes president, that is how she will govern. If Congress won’t give her gun control laws she wants, she says she’ll unilaterally impose them. Likewise, if Congress rejects her proposed new tax on corporations , “then I will ask the Treasury Department, when I’m there, to use its regulatory authority, if that’s what it takes.”

Whatever it takes. So far, the public doesn’t seem to mind.

Donald Trump’s poll numbers go up after he promises “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” says that “there’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am,” says that he’ll make Mexico “pay for that wall” and so on.

Apparently lots of people like the idea of a big, strong mommy or daddy who will take control of life and make everything better. Constitutional restraints? They’re for sissies. We want “leadership”—someone “strong” to run America.

I don’t. I’m an adult. I don’t want to be “led.” I will run my own life. Also, a president doesn’t “run America.” The president presides over just one of three branches of government, and there are strict limits on what he can and should do.

The Constitution was written to limit political authority. Those limits left individual Americans mostly to our own devices, which helped create the freest and most prosperous country in the history of the world.

Now, advocates for both parties are off the rails. Some Republicans demand that the IRS audit the Clinton Foundation. Part of me wishes that it would. I suspect their foundation is largely a scam, a pretend charity that props up the Clintons’ egos and pays Hillary’s political flunkies. Heck, in 2013, it raised $144 million but spent only $8.8 million on charity!

Shut it down! But where are the guardrails here? As Strassel put it, “When did conservatives go from wanting to abolish the IRS to wanting to use it against rivals?”

Today, politicians act as if guardrails are just an annoyance. And they get rewarded for that. […]

I think Mr. Stossel nails it with the last two sentences above. Constitutional limits? Who needs ’em?

This article reminds me of Gene Healy’s Cult of the Presidency.


Update:
Here’s something John tweeted today. “What he said” for Mr. Read too.
stossel-quotes-read

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Equality for obsolescence

December 22, 2015

A very amusing video by the Australian Taxpayers Alliance.

The Coalition of Obsolete Industries is taking a stand against progress to save our jobs!

Since the NSW Government is considering a multi-million dollar bailout to the Taxi industry for being unable to compete with modern alternatives like Uber, we believe the government should also be compensating and subsidising ALL obsolete industries!

Via Carpe Diem

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Repeal the First?

December 20, 2015

Here’s a clip making the rounds this week.

I usually take this kind of thing with many grains of salt. After all, you can talk strangers into signing almost any petition in the right circumstances. They’ll even sign a petition to ban water.

But the reasons this one struck me were, first, that I’d hoped that Yale students would know what rights the First Amendment protects — one of those being the right to petition government for redress of grievances. (Pretty heavy irony, idn’t it?)

And second, what leads to this nonsense? People with the I’m-not-responsible-if-you-offend-me attitude and their demands for trivial trigger warnings and for safe spaces.

Since we’re talking about being offended, what offends me is the attitude that I should give a damn about your opinion of what I say. Samuel Johnson said it better: Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it.

So I’ll do another thing I don’t usually do. Here’s a little visual snark about this topic that I also came across this week.

18-year-olds

</rant>

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Ouch!

December 10, 2015

Yep… I think we should rename it the Screw-Me State.

Nick Gillespie at Reason writes about a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Show-Me State Suckers Shell Out Super-Subsidies For NFL Rams

Let’s say you want to build a new house for yourself. Otherwise, you tell your neighbors and your city council, you’ll leave town, taking your money, tax payments, jobs, and prestige elsewhere.

What are the odds that legislators will cover at least 40 percent of your new house’s costs?

And maybe throw another 15 percent your way too on naming rights to your deluxe manor and also let you collect all revenue from nights when you rent out the house to strangers for parties or other accomodations?

The odds are pretty low in most cities in America.

But if you own the NFL’s Rams (who started out in Cleveland before heading to Los Angeles and then to St. Louis), you’re in luck. Despite generally sucking—the Rams won two NFL titles back in the old days and just one Super Bowl, in 1999—St. Louis and the entire state of Missouri is so desperate to keep the team that they are ponying up at least 40 percent of the $1 billion-plus cost of a new stadium. […]

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