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Showing posts from October, 2020

Friday Special: The Left’s New Fear of Speech

As we said there in rejecting Virginia's claim that the only way it could enable its citizens to find their self-interest was to deny them information that is neither false nor misleading: "There is… an alternative to this highly paternalistic approach. That alternative is to assume that this information is not in itself harmful, that people will perceive their own best interests if only they are well enough informed, and that the best means to that end is to open the channels of communication rather than to close them. - Thurgood Marshall, Linmark Associates, Inc. v. Township Of Willingboro , 431 U.S. 85 (1977) With 2020 being such a caustic year, many novel innovations will be forgotten. Does anyone remember that the global shutdown was supposed to last three weeks to “flatten the curve?” The phrase probably rings a bell now that you hear it, but I bet you haven’t thought of it lately. We took for granted that something had to be done. We blithely accepted that lockdowns wer

Lies We Tell in Government, and Our Debts to Truth

HBO’s mini-series,  Chernobyl ,  is a drama depicting  the disastrous  1986  explosion ,  and  hero ic efforts to control the  resulting  meltdown ,  of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine  (then part of the Soviet Union ).  A flawed man, but true hero,  Valery  Alexeyvich   Legasov , worked tirelessly to ameliorate the disaster’s consequences and  chiefly  investigated its cause. He was  Deputy Director of the  Kurchatov  Institute of Atomic Energ y , a Soviet elite, who  is portrayed at the end of  the  series making a dramatic speech at a trial about how the nuclear reactor exploded, when  such an explosion in that type of reactor  should not have been possible. In the course of the series, the audience  learns  that the reactor had a design flaw that had been covered up by the Soviet State (true).  The audience also learns  that  Legasov  knew about the flaw before the explosion (true). The official  position   before the disaster  was that all was well  and k nowledge of

Stopping a Judicial Power Grab Before it Upends Oklahoma

A case is pending at the Oklahoma Supreme Court that will have lasting consequences for governance of the state. You wouldn’t know it from the way the case has been reported, but at stake is a principle no less fundamental than whether Oklahomans will continue to be in charge of their government or whether it will be the other way around. That’s the argument of the amicus brief I filed in the case last week (joined by law professor Andy Spiropoulos and the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs). According to the Plaintiff (Oklahoma’s Attorney General), State of Oklahoma v. Johnson & Johnson, et al. is about the costs the state has and will incur as a result of the abuse of opioid drugs. He filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of these legal drugs, claiming that they created a “public nuisance” in the state. All the defendants settled except one, and after a bench trial (no jury), a Cleveland County judge levied a $465 million judgment against J&J to “abate” the public nuisa

A Plan to Put Teachers in Charge, Give Parents Choices, and Benefit Children

How much confidence would you have in a law firm that was managed and run by legal secretaries and paralegals? Probably not a lot. Legal support staff constitute a vital part of their firms. A good paralegal can free an attorney to focus on the things only she can do. A bad paralegal can be worse than no paralegal at all. But even the best paralegal lacks the training and experience to formulate and execute a litigation strategy. You don’t want a paraprofessional running the show - their proper role is in support of the professional. So why aren’t teachers running our schools?   The prevailing education model in this country is puzzling when compared to other industries. But it’s been this way so long it’s difficult to imagine anything else. We group children by age, not by knowledge or ability. We send them to schools based on address, not teaching methodology. Parents, except for the wealthy, have very little say over which school their children can attend. And teachers, the practiti

A Reminder of the Ineffectiveness of Covid-19 Lockdowns

Since the beginning of this pandemic, the 1889 Institute has argued against lockdowns even as “experts” advocated for them. Now, months after the weeks-long lockdowns were supposed to end, there are still states in various levels of lockdown. State and local governments have devastated their economies with shutdowns in the name of public health. Yet some politicians, including presidential candidate Joe Biden, have stated a willingness to lockdown the economy again on a national scale to eliminate COVID-19, in a "virus first, economy later" approach. Even as some lawmakers in Oklahoma urge governor Stitt to take more extreme action, it is essential to remember that lockdowns are not very effective. A group of epidemiologists have released a declaration denoting the harmful effects of lockdowns. These include; lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings, and deteriorating mental health. These consequences are more

Dictatorship in the City: The Conceit of the Aesthetic Elite

  Throughout modern history, the "enlightened" few have sought to define the ideal city. Whether the brainchild of a visionary architect or a commission of prominent residents, the various means of comprehensive urban planning lead to the same end – the chosen few dictating how you live, where you work, what you see, and how you experience your city.   This dictatorship of the aesthetic elite burdens all within a city's limits with an arbitrary, artistic interpretation of the city. Individuals, neighborhoods, and corporations are forced into a utopian vision of perfection. Ironically, "Utopia" means "no place" – which is precisely where comprehensive city planning leads us: nowhere. The reality is, cities are complex. They are the product of innumerable interactions that shape a community to satisfy its residents' needs and wants. Local governments today are consumed with meeting those needs and wants in the most efficient way possible. The modern

The Unfairness of Concentrated Wealth is NOTHING Compared to the Unfairness of Redistributing It

Socialist types like to accuse rich corporate types of having “too much” wealth. Simple fairness, they claim, dictates that one person should not have so much when so many have so little. But if we’re going to talk about fairness, let’s really give it fair consideration. That means looking beyond the petty jealousy and thinking about the fairness of seizing wealth from those who earned it and giving it to those who did not.   How did the wealthy get that way? The socialist types claim that the greedy capitalists exploit their workers and their consumers. Is that true? Let’s start with the workers. Jeff Bezos may be greedy. I wouldn’t know, I’ve never met him. But I did work for him - in fact I hired other people to work for him. So I can say with reasonable certainty that he hasn’t created his enormous wealth by exploiting his workers. They were all there voluntarily.   Before attending law school, I spent several months working for the temp agency that hires seasonal workers for Amazo