Wednesday, June 28, 2017


"We are the friends of liberty everywhere but custodians only of our own."--John Adams

Ed Whiting is director of policy and chief of staff at Wellcome, a biomedical research charity based in London. He notes that much of the progress in the field is yet to be made: We urgently need new antibiotics. No new classes of antibiotics have been approved since the early 1980s. Between 1940 and 1962 about 20 classes were produced, but industry backing has decreased significantly since that golden age. The pipeline of new treatments is all but dry, the void fast exploited by resistant bacteria. A concerning number are now resistant to drugs reserved as the last line of defense, and the most vulnerable are in greatest danger -- the young, old and critically ill. Blood infections caused by drug-resistant microbes kill more than 200,000 newborn babies each year. The reason for the lack of interest from the pharmaceutical industry is simple: the economics don't add up. Developing new antibiotics is scientifically challenging, time-consuming and costly. The medicines we so badly need cannot be allowed to be sold in volume; they must be conserved for real need, with fair access guaranteed. This limits their retail value. Many early-stage projects will fail, making them a risky bet. Even those that are successful will take at least a decade to produce medicines that are safe for human use.

Nichols writing on the decline of experts, has a good point. Expertise implies a hierarchy and we  "cannot endure even the slightest hint of inequality of any kind." Unfortunately, Nichols notes, "specialization is necessarily exclusive." 
So expertise is "an affront" to our culture.

China Miéville, an author of very bizarre science fiction, has written a history of the Russian Revolution.

"Americans have placed vast military power at the discretion of this mind, a presidential discretion that is largely immune to restraint by the Madisonian system of institutional checks and balances. So, it is up to the public to quarantine this presidency by insistently communicating to its elected representatives a steady, rational fear of this man whose combination of impulsivity and credulity render him uniquely unfit to take the nation into a military conflict."--Will

One of New York’ Success Academy, a public charter school in New York,  now has an 11th grade whose students have just taken their SATs. These are kids from tough New York City neighborhoods, chosen by lottery.
Their mean SAT score was 1230.
None scored below 1000; one hit 1440.
That put the class in the 84th percentile nationally and in the 94th for students of color. 

Deirdre McCloskey argues that Marx was the greatest social scientist of the 19th century. There is much to support this view, and in promulgating it, she alienates many of her friends on the right. Likewise, she alienates many of her friends on the left by pointing out that Marx was wrong about everything. --Carden
Who is ....Bret Stephens?

We daily see men do for their party, for their sect, for their country, for their favourite schemes of political and social reform, what they would not do to enrich or to avenge themselves.  At a temptation directly addressed to our private cupidity or to our private animosity, whatever virtue we have takes the alarm.  But virtue itself may contribute to the fall of him who imagines that it is in his power, by violating some general rule of morality, to confer an important benefit on a church, on a commonwealth, on mankind.  He silences the remonstrances of conscience, and hardens his heart against the most touching spectacles of misery, by repeating to himself that his interventions are pure, that his objects are noble, that he is doing a little evil for the sake of a great good.  By degrees he comes altogether to forget the turpitude of the means in the excellence of the end, and at length perpetrates without one internal twinge acts which would shock a buccaneer.--Macaulay

Consider Jimmy Kimmel‘s appeal for “free” medical care. No decent person can help feeling sympathy for Kimmel and his ill child. But emotion should not cloud our judgment. When he says that no one should be denied medical care because he or she can’t afford it, he means that other people ought to be forced to pay for those services whenever the need is thought—by whom?—great enough. Why not say that openly? There’s no common pool of medical services or money to be drawn from.--Richman

It is so inconvenient to discuss and debate because value judgments are involved. This is partly the legacy of Marx.

"Much of the intellectual legacy of Marx is an anti-intellectual legacy. It has been said that you cannot refute a sneer. Marxism has taught many – inside and outside its ranks – to sneer at capitalism, at inconvenient facts or contrary interpretations, and thus to sneer at the intellectual process itself. This has been one of the sources of its enduring strength as a political doctrine, and as a means of acquiring and using political power in unbridled ways."--Sowell

Golden oldie:
There has been a lot of talk about the value of education, how it is the path to the middle class and how American citizens are suffering o...

Our view of human history is often biased by a historical effect of position, a kind of 21st-century glasses, undoubtedly amplified by the persistent myth of a precapitalist golden age, populated by cheerful people, eating their fill and living free, healthy, and long lives.  In reality, the daily life of an average person before the advent of capitalism was much crueler than even the images evoked by Balzac of the 19th-century industrial age, which have haunted our conscience since adolescence.--Jean-Philippe Delsol

It is curious that Venezuela is economically failing--and people are suffering--without much international comment. It is as if it has no significance. Just recently people who are thinkers--or claimed to be--were praising Venezuela to the sky. Perhaps these people truly do not know what they are praising. Bernie Sanders ran in the U.S. as a self-declared socialist. Historically, socialism has broadly been defined as the elimination of the private ownership of the means of production and the substitution of common or public ownership and economic planning for what Marx called the “anarchy of production” of the market. Socialism, at least historically, did not simply mean “a large welfare state” as in Scandinavia. In fact, the only way countries can afford larger welfare states is to have economies productive enough to produce the wealth that can be taxed away to support such programs. This is why the Scandinavian countries deregulated (and lowered tax rates) so much in the last decade or two: only through freer markets could they afford their transfer programs. 

The NYT has hired Bret Stephens away from the WSJ. He is a conservative guy who hates Trump and finds fault with a lot of the conclusions of the current climate science. His hiring has caused a lot of cancellations from the Times. Heresy cannot be abided.

1. Effusive; lavish.
2. Excessive to the point of being offensive.
"Fulsome" started out in mid 13th century as a straightforward, unambiguous word to describe abundance. By the 17th century, it had acquired a deprecatory sense, as in the second sense listed above. Then, in the 20th century, the positive sense of the word became more common. Language purists continue to stick with the second sense, while others use the word in its first sense. What to do? Avoid it, unless context is clear.

Forbidding insurers to discriminate among people according to their health condition (e.g., according to what types of illnesses, injuries, and risk factors they have had in the past or have currently) flies in the face of the insurance principle. Insurance is a means of pooling risks. The ACA actually reversed the process, charging the young and healthy more than people with known illness. That is not insurance. I am unsure what it is, but talking as if it were insurance only muddies the discussion.

One might hope, in any case, that people could find ways to feel whole without having to sacrifice themselves to anybody’s grandiose social causes.  To me, the great virtue of Americans is their diversity.  These United States are living proof that a nation need not be very united in order to be great. --Lavoie

An economist and a non-economist are strolling in Manhattan.  When they pass Carnegie Hall, the non-economist says wistfully to the economist, “You know, I’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano.”  The economist replies “Obviously not.”

Here's some bad news: "To summarize, the question of whether tight money or financial distress causes deep slumps might seem almost unsolvable, if you simply focus on the Great Recession. But those with a deep knowledge of economic history know that causation clearly runs from tight money to falling NGDP to financial distress. Unfortunately, economic history is no longer widely taught in our graduate programs, so we now have an entire generation of economists who are ignorant of this subject, and who keep developing business cycle models that are easily refuted by the historical record." --Sumner

The hacking group known as 'The Shadow Brokers' is pushing a monthly subscription service offering members top secret information including "compromised network data" from the nuclear and ballistic missile programs of Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.

 AAAAAaaaaannnnnndddddd.........a chart:
Chart of the Day

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