Be True to Your Scene

by Ted on June 1, 2006

It’s probably long since time that I hang up my blogging spurs. This isn’t a result of any sort of bad news; mostly, it’s just a matter of time. I’ve been increasingly unable or unwilling to carve it out, and that’s not likely to change any time soon.

I don’t want to write a “whither blogging?” bit any more than you want to read it, so I’ll spare you. Suffice it to say that I believe that Sturgeon’s Law (“Ninety percent of everything is crap”) has proven to be much more supportable than each and every rah-rah slogan about how “the blogosphere is self-correcting” or whatnot. I still believe that there are plenty of jewels in the political blogosphere making the world a slightly better place, including (but certainly not limited to) Obsidian Wings, Radley Balko, Kevin Drum, The Editors, Jim Henley, Brad DeLong, Tim Lambert… And that Matt Welch’s old article has held up better than most anything I’d have written.

It was an act of extraordinary generosity for the brilliant folks here at Crooked Timber to give me a platform and lend me some of their credibility. I hope that I haven’t tarnished it too badly. It’s been a great pleasure and honor to be part of the crew here, and I wish them nothing but continued success and good luck.

So, are you ready for a rave review of Charles Murray’s latest book, In Our Hands, on Crooked Timber (yes, that Charles Murray)? Its a book that just about anyone interested in policy ideas ought to be read; I recommend it highly and without reservation. There, that’s that out of the way.

So here goes. Before writing about it I did a quick google search, and was glad to see it being attacked by some of his colleagues on the right; it confirmed my sense that there’s a lot of good stuff in it, and that the wool is not being pulled over my eyes. More than that, I found that some of the criticisms seemed dead on as comments, but not as criticisms. One blogger points out that whereas “flat tax” reform builds in a constituency that will always press to keep taxes as low as possible, a universal basic income grant of the kind Murray proposes builds in a constituency that will always pressure to make the benefit as large as possible. That sounds right, and good, to me. Liberals also attack it, but my sense of all those criticisms is that they are simply ad hominem. I’ll suggest a way to avoid ad hominem responses later. But, I’m running ahead of myself.

The central proposal is for a basic income grant of $10,000 per year for every citizen aged 21 and above.

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Yet more hackery

by John Quiggin on June 1, 2006

Brad DeLong and Matt McIrvin are annoyed by this Joel Achenbach piece on global warming sceptics. On the contrary, I think it’s a great instance of how the truth can be told while sticking to the much-criticised rules of journalistic objectivity (not the same thing as ‘balance’).

Achenbach reports the scientific evidence on global warming then investigates the “parallel Earth” (his words) of the soi-disant “sceptics”. As he says

It is a planet where global warming isn’t happening — or, if it is happening, isn’t happening because of human beings. Or, if it is happening because of human beings, isn’t going to be a big problem. And, even if it is a big problem, we can’t realistically do anything about it other than adapt.

Achenbach then proceeds to interview the sceptics, lets them speak for themselves, and lets the readers draw their own conclusion.

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Kieran thinks that’s bad? (And that?) Jonah Goldberg gets letters, one of whose authors he adjudges “ain’t altogether crazy.” From the mailbag:

and it hit me…Holy cow. The global warming alarmists KNOW the earth is going to begin cooling in a few years – and their alarm is that they have to have Kyoto-like programs in place that they can point to as the cause of the cooling.

If they can succeed at this – they effectively control the world. In a few decades they can revive the “earth is cooling and there’s an ice age coming” alarmism – and prescribe policies that ensure they have the power they want to manage that impending climate disaster.

You must now fill the comment box with your best Hollywood pitch/screenplay treatment for this sophisticated conspiracy flick. Bonus style points for Ludlumesque title.