Friday, June 25, 2021

revisiting police unions

A useful article from Adam Serwer in The Atlantic on police unions as a threat...

A big caveat to open this discussion: "The police problem" (such as it is) is grossly over-rated next to other threats to society in general and Blacks in particular (e.g., welfare policies, K-12 govt monopoly power, FICA and Social Security, etc.).

That said, when you combine the force of govt with the inherent force of police services and the coercive element of a labor market cartel (unions), it's difficult not to expect trouble with the overuse of force.

To the extent that "police" should be reformed, recent efforts have too often been vague laments ("it should be better"), rather than dealing with more substantial matters (e.g., qualified immunity, unions, the over-militarization of police activity and police responses). Here, the article is similar to Balko's useful book on this topic.

We're often told that the Left is smarter. (We're also told they're more into science, but we know that's a load.) Why can't they see this point and marshal their resources accordingly?

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Happy Anniversary to the LP! But...

A good article in the Denver Post... Two big (and related) limitations so far-- and for the foreseeable future.

1.) Ethically and practically, many people are quite fond of using the force on government on others (or even, themselves)-- in matters economic, social, and/or military.
2.) "Rational ignorance/apathy" from Public Choice economics predicts the norm we observe: the 99% who only invest a smidgen to think about political philosophy and public policy. As such, most folks settle for policy analysis that focuses on the obvious over the larger subtle consequences of govt policy-- and end up at support for one of the two prominent political tribes (or ironically, often-more-rational disengagement).
Difficult to imagine the LP overcoming either or both. But we soldier on...

Monday, June 14, 2021

on Obama as terrible...

In response to someone asking why I would say President Obama was terrible (along with Bush II and Trump). The questioner also got semi-excited about the ACA and complained about GOP opposition...

...Beyond that, the "GOP opposition" angle is oversold. (He had full control for two years. And he had workable minorities after that. See: Bill Clinton with a militant GOP Congress, probably tied for second-best president in terms of policy back to Coolidge.) And "opposition" is mostly a tired partisan excuse. (E.g., Trump, the next terrible president, could easily say the same thing, yes?). Bigger picture: we need to call our politicians to something beyond partisanship and excuse-making, esp. these days. Consider the example of Reagan working with the Dems to accomplish a ton of stuff.

For Obama, I'd say it was a lack of significant accomplishments and a number of policy sins. Other than that, he was fine. (He is a polished speaker and a strong family man. He certainly seemed smart enough. And so on. My preferred thesis: it was his lack of experience as an executive that was the key here.)

Expanding on the sins of omission and commission, I'd offer three points. 1.) The ACA is probably his most significant legislative accomplishment. And because it dealt with symptoms instead of root causes, it could not be more than a band-aid on a gaping wound. Beyond that, there are other critiques, including yours. (But again, why make so many excuses for such a "smart" guy with majorities in the House and Senate?) When your signature achievement is mostly a hot and busy mess, that's a really bad sign. 2.) By any objective standards, by theory and the data, his damage to the macroeconomy/recovery was historically terrible. 3.) He was given a Nobel Peace Prize and proceeded to become the first president to have us at war for eight years. I know there are few people who are really "liberal" anymore, but that really bugs those of us who are.

We've had three, going on four, terrible presidents in a row-- and that's with a low bar. Hopefully, we'll do better in 2024. And thankfully, there can be much more to life than political hacks, partisan enablers, and power-mongering whores.