The Equation Group hack underscores the fact that the NSA is not a perfect fortress. A future leak like the Shadow Brokers’ could lead to even more harmful security vulnerabilities being made public. Or perhaps disclosure won’t happen publicly online: powerful nation-states may hack into NSA systems to steal this information–or offer significant financial compensation to insiders willing to pass on secrets–and then use it secretly. Even if that doesn’t happen, without public data on the so-called rate of “bug collision”, we have to take the NSA’s word that the security vulnerabilities it uncovers will never be discovered by an unfriendly government and used for spying, or by criminals and used for malicious hacking.
– Rainey Reitman
Class increasingly defines America’s new Culture Wars, pitting the rising power of well-educated, and self-regarding, supermen (or should I say super-people), against those they regard as less cognitively gifted. This clerisy – the media, academia, the well-funded progressive non-profits – is now waging what the Atlantic recently called ‘a war on stupid people’, which, of course, extends particularly to those who back the loutish Trump. As a group, this educated caste shares increasingly uniformly progressive social views and are almost 50 per cent more likely to be Democrats than Republicans.
There are good reasons for the new cognitive class to like the progressive status quo. Along with the corporate aristocracy who fund the Democratic Party, the hyper-educated have thrived under Obama. In contrast, the bulk of the working and middle class have seen their incomes stagnate or decline.
The new class has little stake in the traditional economy – agribusiness, energy, manufacturing, suburban home-building – that has traditionally provided decent employment to the working and middle classes. Some among them, notably the environmental zealots, even decry rising living standards for ordinary Americans as the primary threat to the environment. The entire progressive agenda increasingly constitutes an attempt to drive poverty out of the centre of cities and into the middle class. And in Trumpian fashion, they want to make the middle class, with their tax dollars, pay for the privilege.
– Joel Kotkin
Private businesses very seldom mount a principled defence of their behaviour. This is why libertarians like to stress that they are pro-market and not pro-business. Business people, being self-interested like anybody else, will attempt to make the most of the circumstances and the majority of them won’t hesitate in accepting legal privilege; indeed many lobby aggressively for it.
– Alberto Mingardi
But the idea that the human rights we have today represent the culmination of centuries of popular struggle is nonsense. The international system of human-rights law we have today has little in common with the freedoms that were fought for by the radicals of the past. In the 17th and 18th centuries, radicals sought to assert the rights of the citizen against the power of the state. Today’s human-rights courts, by contrast, embolden unelected judges to determine the scope of our liberty.
– Luke Gittos
And the idea that is the bedrock of all economics is the understanding that complex economic order emerges spontaneously, without central design or guidance, when private property is secure and markets are at least reasonably free – when, in short, there reigns what Adam Smith called the “the obvious and simple system of natural liberty.”
Too many economists today, busy mastering mathematical technique or striving to make their work relevant for current holders of political power, lamentably never learn – much less master – these and other foundational ideas. But no amount of mastery of the idea of the likes of Nash equilibrium or of the Stolper-Samuelson theorem is worth a damn without a mastery of these older, less sexy, yet foundational ideas.
– Donald Boudreaux
Whenever dismal scientists agree so passionately about the impact of a complex, one-off and multi-faceted event, alarm bells deserve to go off
– Allister Heath
What those who instinctively reach for more state regulation of companies such as Uber assume is that a few laws and rules can “perfect” perceived failures of markets without unintended consequences. In other words, they assume markets are “imperfect” but “perfectable”. They judge markets by anecdotal failings and interventions to correct them by intentions.
Those of us who believe that markets tend to work well have more humility about our judgement. We recognise that achieving a perfect market by design is impossible. In life, things go wrong. What we think examples such as the above show is that markets work better than government regulators in developing innovations and institutions for dealing with problems, because that is in fact part of the service customers want. And the best bit? Over time, these new innovations, by enhancing competition, raise the game of everyone else too.
– Ryan Bourne
If that sounds familiar, it’s because this amounts to Mr. Corbyn’s People’s Quantitative Easing concept in all but name. The idea much derided last year is becoming so mainstream that even a leadership candidate for Britain’s Conservative Party, Stephen Crabb, could recently propose a £100 billion ($130 billion) public-works investment fund that wasn’t so different from PQE. Mr. Corbyn’s PQE is essentially indistinguishable from the suggested 50-year Japanese bonds.
This probably says more about the central bankers’ desperation than Mr. Corbyn’s prescience. With government spending and borrowing constrained by slow growth and high debt, and supply-side reforms still politically far off in many economies, the pressure is mounting on central bankers to act as magicians pulling rabbits out of their hats. The longer this continues, the deeper they’ll have to rummage around for the next rabbit. It’s enough to make one wonder what will be the next extreme idea to follow the journey from crank to orthodoxy.
– John Phelan
It is widely recognised that today’s generation of so-called snowflakes – with their Safe Spaces, microaggressions and ‘that’s offensive!’ tantrums – has its roots in an educational system governed by therapeutic norms. The same was true of the London riots. They emerged from the same assertive grievance culture, the same well of victimhood and entitlement, the same sense that it’s all someone else’s fault. One young rioter even justified his trashing of a local branch of Comet on the grounds he didn’t get a job there. Other kids gloated about how ‘we can do what we want’, a dismissive attitude to adult authority they no doubt picked up at school.
Now, five years on from the London riots, some commentators argue that welfare cuts and widening inequality mean that ‘many of the conditions that created the riots are still in place’. London’s Time Out magazine went further by arguing that the Brexit vote means that racism has acquired a new-found respectability, which will lead to greater poverty for, and ill-treament of, London’s ethnic minorities.
These cheap anti-Brexit jibes raise a question: why are marginalised rioters viewed with sympathy, while poor, marginalised Brexit voters are viewed with contempt? Why are the violent actions of looters and arsonists interpreted as a legitimate protest, while voting to leave the EU is seen as an exercise in brainwashed stupidity?
– Neil Davenport
Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners
– George Carlin
For those that already have, Mark Carney is the gift that keeps on giving. Borrowed imprudently and struggling to make those interest payments ? Worry not; the Bank of England has your back. For those that don’t have, the Bank of England is taking away your chance of ever realistically saving anything, now that interest rates have been driven down to new historic lows of 0.25%, and may go lower yet. For the asset-rich, for the 1%, for property speculators, and for zombie companies and banks, Carney is your man. For the asset poor, or for savers, or pensioners, or insurance companies, or pension funds, the Bank of England has morphed from being anti-inflationary fireman to monetary arsonist.
– Tim Price
Of all the shallow, conceited and pernicious phrases to have emerged in political discourse in recent years, the term ‘post-truth politics’ takes some beating. Forget ‘unwitting racism’. Bin ‘glass ceiling’. Be gone ‘check your privilege’. ‘Post-truth politics’ surpasses them all in the stakes for fraudulent and fatuous self-importance
– Patrick West