Occasional Notes: Stuff I Too Easily Agree With
By my lights, they’re in descending order of plausibility.
James Joyner shares my view of sanctions and adds another reason to mistrust them:
Sanctions almost never work, since the ruling class is the last to feel the pain and there are always state and non-state actors willing to circumvent the sanctions regime for a price. As a general rule, sanctions make those enacting them feel like they’re doing something but wind up hurting the very people we’re ostensibly trying to help, the ordinary citizens suffering under repressive regimes.
What’s less widely understood, as Damon Wilson, the Atlantic Council vice president and International Security Program director, noted in introducing the panel, is how incredibly hard sanctions are to undo. Years after we toppled Saddam Hussein and replaced his regime with one friendlier to the United States, a myriad of sanctions remain in place.
James Hanley doubts the doubters of charter schools. I’m sympathetic, but the school choice debate here at the League is one I’ve chosen to stay out of. There are only so many hours I can spend on blogging:
There is a persistent tendency among educators, and left-leaning folks in general, to claim that education is a distinct type of good, so that unlike other goods, a competitive market is an inferior way to produce it. I once had a college prof tell me that all monopolies were bad, except the state’s education monopoly. But I have yet to hear one of these folks make an argument for why education is so distinct. It’s rather remarkable how persuasive they find the words, “it’s just different,” to be.
And education is different in some ways. Quality assurance is just really damned hard (and standardized testing doesn’t do it). And it is primarily a private good, but one with substantial positive externalities. But neither of those make it peculiarly appropriate for monopoly production, or even for wholly (as opposed to partially) public production.
Ditto all that to health care.
Theodore H. Frank notes a curiosity in the Toyota recalls:
The Los Angeles Times recently did a story detailing all of the NHTSA reports of Toyota “sudden acceleration” fatalities, and, though the Times did not mention it, the ages of the drivers involved were striking.
In the 24 cases where driver age was reported or readily inferred, the drivers included those of the ages 60, 61, 63, 66, 68, 71, 72, 72, 77, 79, 83, 85, 89—and I’m leaving out the son whose age wasn’t identified, but whose 94-year-old father died as a passenger.
These “electronic defects” apparently discriminate against the elderly.
Further considerations here. Were it not for the magic of the state, which makes all action seem public and impartial, we might suspect something fishy. But I am sure our regulators only have our best interests in mind, and not the welfare of their GM subdivision.
Finally, does the advent of GPS mean we’ll no longer need signs? The answer seems “yes” to me.
In former times, buildings located on city streets didn’t have numbers. You’d just go to King’s Street and look up and down it for the sign of Saint Jerome. (Woe to you if you don’t know that Saint Jerome’s attributes include an owl, a lion, a skull, a trumpet, a cross, and a book.) There was a better way, we found it, and we used it. The same principle applies here.
Note, however, that while we may achieve a world where signs are unneeded, achieving a world where they do not exist is another question.