A judge has overruled Mayor Bloomberg's soda ban, calling it "arbitrary and capricious." So New York City's ban on large sugary beverages, meaning more than 16 oz. servings, is basically dead. This is a big win for Big Gulp Libertarianism, which derided the government soda ban as Nanny State tyranny, taking away individual's freedom to make their own rational choices. But you know what else is arbitrary, capricious, and erodes individual freedom of choice? Marketing. Every food package you will ever encounter was designed to limit the exercise of your free will. Selling someone else a 64-ounce cola may be a rational individual decision. [Read more]
Libertarians tend to be very interested in the government's monopoly on legitimate violence. It's true. It's a major issue. I think I get where Rand Paul was coming from last week and I even support it. The government can take your life, your property and your freedom.
But, you know, it usually doesn't. You are unlikely, my friends, to ever find yourself in combat with government agents. That's a good thing. The government will largely not restrict your freedoms. The government largely doesn't care. [Read more]
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama banned the controversial drone program here today, and reaction to the move was swift, as every other country on the planet immediately announced they would do the same, even France, which has a well-earned reputation of being a pain in the ass on these types of matters.
The move to ban drones was met by complete bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, with even staunch defense supporters like warmongering angry white guy Sen. John McCain giving it a thumbs up. [Read more]
I was baptized Catholic though, at that point in my life, I was too young to have much say in the matter. As I grew older (not much older, it turns out) and more into a wise ass, I found myself in frequent conflict with my catechism teachers over the issues of where babies come from (I did not, in fact, have any real idea though I was pretty sure that Jesus was not magic). [Read more]
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama – in an attempt to ease tensions with Senate Republicans – bought a dozen GOP senators dinner last night, in what all have said was a pleasant evening. The dinner was held at the Jefferson Hotel, with Obama picking up the tab out of his own pocket. [Read more]
One of the things that's always bothered me about the debt ceiling and about the sequester is that they've been touted as some sophisticated form of "game theory" that can somehow force Congress to make responsible decisions. It's just not so.
Today in Esquire I was given some space on Charles Pierce's blog to make that very point. We'll find out, over the next month or so, just how important the Sequester is, or isn't. I think that it's a sideshow and that the real issue is the debt ceiling, which should be repealed immediately. [Read more]
Back during the debates about the Affordable Care Act, I complained quite loudly and often that the legislation did not do enough good for people who already have health insurance, particularly through their employers.
I argued, quite strenuously, my belief that middle class tax payers are getting fleeced on premiums and not getting enough effective medical treatment for what they pay. I don't recall many people around here disputing it, but I do remember Teresa McCarthy's frequent retort which, borrowing from Carly Simon, went something like, "You're so vain, you probably think this legislation's about you." [Read more]
Once there was a young Washington Post reporter named Bob Woodward who became a celebrity almost overnight by joining with another reporter named Carl Bernstein (remember him?) to expose the inner workings of a seemingly minor break-in at the Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington. D.C.
For Reuters today, I've decided to argue that the whole question about whether or not a bank is solvent, or what it's worth, is something that we'd all be better off without. And, in a world where you can get the daily net asset value of more than $13 trillion in mutual funds and $2 trillion in exchange traded funds, there's really no excuse for not forcing banks to become more radically transparent.
You can read my argument over at Reuters. But if you want to tell me why I'm wrong here, I'm always listening.
In March, 2012, just six months after their franchise had been bought up by Bread of Life, a company owned by Manna Development, a former McDonald's franchisee, 18 bakers at six Panera Bakery and Cafes along the I-94 corridor in Southwestern Michigan decided to join a union.
The bakers take the midnight shift, working raw dough into the artisan breads Panera has grown famous for. Their training is extensive--a seven-week "boot camp" with exams and skill demonstrations, a 90-day assessment period, and sometimes as much as a year's worth of kitchen work before the comfort level reaches "artisan" stage.
The Manhattan Institute is a conservative, somewhat libertarian think tank here in New York, probably best known for pushing the "broken windows policing," that has defined law enforcement in the city since the Giuliani era. They are generally free marketers and pro-law enforcement conservatives. They very often, like the contributors to Reason magazine or CATO classic, come up with some novel ideas and are worth checking in with every now and then, even by lefties. [Read more]
This morning, David Brooks gives us what's been a truism about American life since I was born -- that we are a bunch of selfish short-termers, unwilling to make sacrifices for future generations in the manner of the nobler Americans who came before us. This criticism has been lobbed at every generation since the Baby Boomers came of age.
The evidence is the usual litany -- public company executives and stock investors looking for quarterly rather than long term results; pension funds (private and public) draining resources from future investment; debt driven consumption; a lack of infrastructure spending.
Brooks argues: [Read more]
You have to hand it to those Republican legislators in Michigan, my beautiful, besieged state. I swear, they must stay awake nights trying to think up ways to protect our wicked womanly bodies from the fools who happen to own them. (That would be us, ladies.) In late December, Gov. [Read more]
Premise 1: Killer Knows Best
What makes one gun more lethal than another? Ever since Sandy Hook, the media has bombarded us with gun jargon. We've learned about flash suppressors and high-capacity magazines, threaded barrels and pistol grips. We've heard that these features are bad features, dangerous to children and other living things. The expired federal assault weapons law used to ban any gun with two or more of them. The new New York law bans them all.
But we've also heard that gunmakers find ways to skirt these constraints. For instance, some manufacturers evaded California's quick-reload restriction with a "bullet button" that allows shooters to release a magazine with a bullet tip instead of a fingertip. It's hard for plodding legislatures to keep up with eager manufacturers, who have every incentive to invent the most lethal legal weapon possible.
So if not the legislators, who should determine which guns are too deadly? Who in America most appreciates a gun's killing potential? [Read more]
I whole-heartedly agree with Atrios. The left needs to change the Social Security discussion by pointing out the obvious, loudly and often: Social Security, as currently constituted, is not adequate for the needs of most of America's citizens and that benefits should be increased. Atrios suggests an across the board 20% hike. If done for present recipients who get an average $1,100 a month, that's only a $220 a month increase. But that would certainly help a lot of people who lost retirement savings, particularly through home values but also in the stock market or to zero interest rate policies. [Read more]
Josh Marshall flagged this Walter Kirn article already, so my guess is that some of you have read it. I'm a big Kirn fan, and have been ever since he published the interesting and underappreciated novel, The Unbinding, in Slate.
Kirn is a gunowner, of the type that I think many of you will relate to. He has actually pointed guns at two people in self defense, though he seems to have no illusions of the risks he's taking by having such weapons available. He's a hunter. He's willing to give up the AR-15 in exchange for a revolver and legitimate hunting rifles. [Read more]
Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords appeared at the Senate judiciary hearing on gun violence yesterday to try and convince lawmakers that we have a major problem with guns in this country and gun control must be addressed. This is what she said, in its entirety: [Read more]
When I worry about the future of my chosen profession, which I do too often these days, I take bleak consolation from the fact that every other profession I considered during my early years is also in crisis. Was it a mistake to become a university professor just as the job market for professors collapsed? Maybe. But if the original question was, "Should I become a professor, a lawyer, or a newspaper journalist?" then maybe not. Lawyers are having a hard time finding jobs; newspapers are laying off. And I can't say I would have been better off staying a high school teacher, as wave after wave of "reforms" make that job harder and worse.
Workers are repairing the facade of the building where we rent our winter apartment. They started on the 17th floor on January 2 and today they've finally made it to the fourth floor, and right now they're drilling and chiseling and scraping away the old finish right outside the window next to my desk.