Introducing an idea I stole from everyone else.

Danielle once heard someone say that the next thing to come back in style would be something we’ve never seen before. This is not that, because you have seen it before. Almost every blogger has adopted a link-filled post of quick hits to fill in the spaces. Those resting outside of “almost” include me. No longer! Today, I’m stealing copying from everyone else. It’s just links I’ve found that interest me, but either I don’t have time or enough to say to write a full post.

LINK: The only political idea worse than Hillary Clinton at State is for New York Gov. David Paterson to give Bill Clinton the soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat. I’m not interested in occupying Bill Clinton “full time, with senatorial duties” because he can’t keep his mouth or his zipper closed. If “today’s unusual circumstances, surely beyond the imagination of any novelist” are so important, why would we want a preening megalomaniac drawing attention away from those already in place?

On second thought, maybe it’s not a terrible idea… Gridlock from egos, not from political parties? It could work.

LINK: With the inevitable “the bailout was about this before it was about that” we’re currently learning, Arnold Kling offers a succinct analysis:

I think it is important to understand the theory [that government should insure toxic assets rather than throw money around], if for no other reason than to understand the limits of the “root of the problem” approach.

Right. The government claims to understand what’s going on. Ask every politician. His favorite target is to blame. But we’re just throwing money around. How many more decades of that do we need to try before we learn that government usually creates problems with its solutions?

LINK: Julian Sanchez writes about anti-benchmarking and EULAs at Law & Disorder. His analysis that discussing a product’s performance is interesting, but I particularly the entry, and this statement specifically, in the context of my recent post on insider trading:

Throttling the flow of information just makes markets less efficient.

There are more nuances to both topics than a simple slogan could convey, but that is the starting point, not demonization of the users of information the government likes to push.

LINK: Greg Mankiw reminds us that incentives matter when you use qualifiers to any policy, in this case President-elect Obama’s call to end subsidies to farmers who make more than $2.5 million per year:

But why would you want to use taxpayer funds to encourage large, efficient, profitable farms to break up into smaller, less efficient, less profitable farms? Isn’t that precisely what you do if you maintain subsidies only for small farmers?

My own question: Is that earns $2.5 million in profits or generates $2.5 million in revenue? The difference in productivity could matter.

LINK: Bob Torres has a thought-provoking argument in favor of certain, limited animal rights. He makes a compelling case¹ using reason that knows where the boundary between logic and nonsense exists. This is the excellently stated foundation:

When it comes down to it, the case for animal rights is really a case for adopting a thorough moral and ethical stance in favor of treating like cases alike.

Dedicated readers of this blog know that I advocate exactly that in expecting equal protection of male and female children from unnecessary genital surgery². Mr. Torres explains the approach to principle quickly and directly. “Potential benefits”, whether from eating animals or modifying children, is not a principle.

If we applied a standard of “treating like cases alike” to animals in our society, we’d probably end up at something akin to the humanely-raised meat on a mass scale that is a niche industry in the U.S. Of course that’s better than the disgusting factory farm mess we’ve developed, but it’s little different than saying it’s okay to remove foreskins as long as we provide pain control techniques. Nope, sorry, that misses the point. For animals, cutting short a better life is an improvement over cutting short a miserable life, but the killing still matters.

¹ My only criticism is the aside about externalities caused by capitalist industrial production. It’s too blunt. For example, externalities exist when producing the computers we use to have this debate. Who should pay for this? Will the solution solve the problem? Capitalists understand this at least as well as the politicians who propose clumsy solutions catered more often to feel-good policies than to common sense. (i.e. Cap and Trade vs. Pigou Tax) A capitalist rejecting the existence of an externality, a common occurrence, is no worse than a politician who thinks we need to stop progress to prevent the smallest externality.

² You didn’t think I’d finish my first linkfest without a genital mutilation reference, did you?