I ignore the news, in part, because I deem it unreliable. That’s right, “I don’t trust the media.” But what exactly do I mean by this seemingly conspiratorial statement?
“Most voters in six 2020 swing states,” an early September CNBC/Change Research poll finds, “do not consider either President Donald Trump or Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden mentally fit to be president.”
If Avengers: Endgame had been released a week later, coronavirus would have never happened; the movie grossed $614M in China, so it must have indirectly changed the space-time positions of a bunch of people in Wuhan. If something alters which humans are born, it can also easily alter which pathogens are born.
Politics forces everyone along the same path. Legislation dictates things only our ethics and morals should determine. To understand the anger, notice how politics makes a difference of opinion into a life and death struggle. An unnecessary one.
On June 22 and 23, Russian and American diplomats met in Vienna to discuss New START, a nuclear arms reduction treaty which expires next year. The treaty provides for an optional five-year extension. Alternatively, the parties could negotiate a new agreement as has happened several times in the past. A third possibility involves one or both parties playing silly games like insisting that China be brought into the negotiations despite Beijing’s complete lack of interest in participating. Which is exactly what happened.
On May 28, US president Donald Trump signed an executive order on “Preventing Online Censorship.” From the title and the document respectively we can draw to two lessons. First: Never, ever, ever believe the title of a government document.
Over the last half century or so, regulators and activists have regularly invoked the precautionary principle versus industrial and commercial concerns: Will this new car wash ruin the nesting grounds of the Great Purple-Crested Bandersnatch? Could construction of that pipeline conceivably pollute a river? Might the noise from a proposed refinery disturb the sleep of some nearby Mrs. Nimby? Then came COVID-19.
Futurists seem to miss the fact that old things contain worthwhile wisdom and usefulness. Traditionalism seems to miss the fact that static institutions become corrupt without change. Meanwhile, the modernists are so tied up in the recent past as to be blind to both tradition and innovation.
The jury is still out on which of two things — COVID-19 or the panic over COVID-19 — will cost more lives and do more damage to the global economy. My money’s still on the latter. In the meantime, I’ve developed a surefire, Groundhog Day type test for whether the emergency is over: Watch for Nobel laureate economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman to start trying to convince us it was, all in all, actually a GOOD thing.
Economics textbooks are full of clever-and-appealing policy proposals. Proposals like: “Let’s redistribute money to the desperately poor” and “Let’s tax goods with negative externalities.” They’re so clever and so appealing that it’s hard to understand how any smart, well-meaning person could demur. When you look at the real world, though, you see something strange: Almost no one actually pushes for the textbooks’ clever-and-appealing policy proposals.