Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Viewpoint Discrimination

Teach the children quietly
For some day sons and daughters
Will rise up and fight while we stand still
--Mike & the Mechanics

Judge Nap discusses Cal Berkeley's recent cancellation of a speech to be given by Ann Coulter. Coulter had been invited to speak on-campus by a Republican student organization.

Because it is a state institution, Berkeley is obligated to respect the First Amendment. It cannot discriminate against viewpoints that fall beyond the campus political orthodoxy.

"She [Coulter] has the right to speak there because she has been lawfully invited by a group that has the right to invite her. That triggers an affirmative obligation on the part of the school to make sure that the people who want to listen to her can do so."

Berkeley cannot permit opponents to drown her out (known as the 'Heckler's Veto'). They cannot permit adversaries to scare her away. The school cannot stop her from speaking because it does not like her message.

Students groups in a public university have the right to bring whom they want to speak on campus. Campus administrators are obligated to provide a forum that permits students to listen to the speaker. Universities have to "bend over backwards to allow this to happen."

If violence ensues, and it is not commanded by the speaker, then the school is responsible. If a speech causes haters of a speech to interfere with the proceedings, it is not the speaker's fault that the haters are there. It is the university's fault for allowing the haters to interfere.

Despite the school's cancellation of the event, Coulter has indicated that she will speak to the group on-campus anyway later this week.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Unearned Prosperity

I bought a toothbrush, some toothpaste
A flannel for my face
Pajamas, a hairbrush
New shoes and a case
I said to my reflection
Let's get out of this place

Dan Mitchell discusses the unearned prosperity enveloping Washington DC. Unearned in that burgeoning household incomes of DC residents come not from their own production, but from forcible wealth transfer.

In some cases the wealth transfer is direct in the form of tax payments lining the pockets of Washington bureaucrats. In other cases it is indirect in the form of lucrative privileges going to cronyist principals and their lobbyist agents.

The thing about such unearned prosperity is that it is never permanent. Forcible wealth transfer lasts only until the system breaks (which can happen in various ways).

DC's gilded class should enjoy the spoils while they last.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Never Settled

Fantasy and microchips
Shooting from the hip
--Oingo Bingo

A motto of the global warming crowd is that 'the science is settled.' As noted here, those who think scientifically know that science is never settled.

Whether due to the uncertainty associated with probabilistic analysis, blatant manipulation of data, or new discoveries that smash old paradigms, science is always on the move.

I heard it said recently that if the global warming thesis were presented in a courtroom, then the case would lose miserably on its merits. It should come as no surprise that partisans have not presented global warming 'science' to the public at large as many would not find it credible. Instead, they trot out 'experts' who merely endorse the concept in order to lend an air of legitimacy to the cause.

When science is claimed to be settled, be wary--particularly when the proposed solution is more government power and less liberty.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Academic Victimology and Snowflake Culture

I'll be your savior, steadfast and true
I'll come to your emotional rescue
--Rolling Stones

Heather Mac Donald argues that the soft totalitarianism aimed at silencing dissenting views on college campuses is not a psychological disorder as some have diagnosed. Instead, it is merely aggression inspired by perceived threat to a dominant institutional ideology.

Steps that many institutions have been taking to preserve that ideology, such as establishment of 'safe spaces,' policies against 'microaggressions,' and diversity oaths, reinforce a culture of academic victimology where sensitive students, i.e., 'snowflakes,' see themselves as the ones being aggressed upon.

This is nonsense. Because people can generally avoid speech that they do not like by walking away or tuning it out, speech cannot be considered aggression. People have no right not to be offended. Mature human beings are capable of controlling their feelings.

On the other hand, when speech that challenges dominant institutional ideology is chased off campus thru violence or threat of violence, then that is physical aggression being employed by individuals who rationalize themselves as victims.

School administrators who enact policies aimed at preserving dominant institutional ideology through the establishment of a culture of academic victimology are partners in crime. In fact, it seems straightforward to craft a sociological model that specifies school administrators as principals who contract with snowflake students as strong-armed agents in order to preserve institutional sameness.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Buyers of Last Resort

Jump back, got to get out of here
Been too long this time
Jump back, got to get out of here
When will, when will we fall down?
--Toad the Wet Sprocket

Extending our recent thoughts, ZeroHedge cribs from a recent BofA report to observe that asset prices are being supported by central bank buying.

In Q1, central banks, primarily BOJ and ECB, bought nearly $1 trillion of assets ($3.6 trillion annualized).

Bulls (and policymakers) better hope that these buyers of last resort to keep buying.

no positions

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Income Tax Slaves

'Cause I'm the taxman
Yeah, I'm the taxman
And you're working for one but me
--The Beatles

Yes, as Judge Nap states, income taxes can be viewed as theft.

But a situation in which a perpetrator routinely takes production (income) Iin a forcible manner is more appropriately called slavery.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Discriminatory Shakedown

Don't ask me what I want it for
If you don't want to pay some more
--The Beatles

The deadline to file federal income taxes was yesterday. Many, however, are not subject to the annual shakedown. Studies estimate that about 44% of US households will not pay any taxes to the feds this year.

Less than one in six of non-payers earns no income. Most of the rest do but take advantage of legal tax breaks.

Of course, all is not equitable in the 56% of households that pay taxes. Those earning more than $500,000/yr, which amounts to 1-2% of all US households, pay about 45% of all federal income tax.

The tax man chooses his targets with discrimination.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Few Lifting Many

Nights in white satin
Never reaching the end
Letters I've written
Never meaning to send
--Moody Blues

WSJ article observes that over one third of SPX gains so far this year come from 10 large cap stocks.

The article fails to mention that stock market gains on narrowing breadth is a common characteristic of late stage bull markets.

no positions

Monday, April 17, 2017

IP Laws

With a little perserverance you can get things done
Without the blind adherence that has conquered some
--Corey Hart

One argument for intellectual property laws is that, without them, innovation would be curtailed. But doesn't this position--that patents, copyrights, etc. need legal protection--admit the opposite? That, absent legal protection, these ideas will form and/or be put to use elsewhere?

In fact, there seems a strong argument for the opposite proposition: The stronger the intellectual property regime, the lower the innovation.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

He Has Risen

Judah Ben-Hur: He gave me water, and the heart to live. What has he done to merit this?
Balthasar: He has taken the world of our sins onto himself. To this end he said he was born, in that stable, where I first saw him. For this cause, he came into this world.
Judah Ben-Hur: For this death?
Balthasar: For this beginning.

Once again, He has given us life.

Happy Easter.