Links for 6-17-2018

  • Selena Zito taught 20 Harvard students what the rest of American looks like:

    On a blustery afternoon in April, I filed into a van along with 10 students from Harvard. We had just spent the last two days in Chicopee, Mass., where we had chatted with the police chief and his force, the mayor and his staff, small-business owners, waitresses and firemen about their struggles living in small-town America.

    The undergrads were buzzing with their impressions. Chicopee is about 90 miles west of their prestigious university in Cambridge, but when it comes to shared experience, it might as well have been 1,000 light years away.

    As they settled in, I looked at them.

    “So,” I said, “who do you think most of the people you just got to know voted for president?”

    None of the students had an answer. It hadn’t come up in their conversations and they didn’t know I had privately asked each person who they’d voted for.

    So, I let a minute pass and told them.

    “Nearly every one of them voted for Trump.”

    My students looked stunned, at first. But then a recognition crossed their faces.

  • Kevin Williamson wrote an excellent article on asymmetrical capitalism, the perverse results that emerge when governments over-regulate industries like airlines, banks, credit card companies, and health insurers.

    This pokes people right in their sense of fairness. Fairness is an almost infinitely plastic standard in the wrong hands, but it is nonetheless a big part of the real world’s moral architecture. Progressives look at these situations and conclude that the answer is — more regulation. They believe that the way to achieve fairness is to simply mandate it. This represents some pretty primitive thinking, but primitive thinking dominates politics. Progressives are not alone in their frequent blindness to the ways in which regulation itself is a driving force behind these problems. (It is not the only force, to be sure.) A better answer is more-robust competition, but it is not always clear how to go about achieving that.

    These deficiencies represent what amounts to an enormous tax on Americans. Some of those are direct costs: We pay more for health insurance, mortgage insurance, and Internet services than we probably would in a stronger market. But many of those are invisible taxes, too: American businesses waste billions of dollars a year on unnecessary travel expenses because they cannot count on U.S. airlines to keep to anything like their published schedules, which means they end up having to tack hotel expenses and 48 hours of diminished productivity onto the bill for a two-hour meeting. Many of those costs end up getting passed along to consumers and providers of business services — and to employees, too, to the extent that attaching $200,000 a year in expenses to a $75,000-a-year employee may put downward pressure on wages.

  • Barack Obama’s presidential library is going to cost Illinois taxpayers at least $200 million.

  • The U.S. and South Korea will reportedly suspend “large scale” military drills, which aligns with Donald Trump’s discussions with Kim Jong Un.

  • A car bomb killed at least 26 people at a gathering of Afghan and Taliban troops in Afghanistan. ISIS claimed responsibility. Afghanistan’s President extended the country’s unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban by 10 days.

  • A shootout and a fire in Nicaragua killed eight people and broke the truce between the government and opposition groups. Talks between the two sides are continuing anyway.

  • Cambodia’s Prince Norodom Ranariddh was injured and his wife was killed in a car crash.

Links for 4-16-2018

Links for 3-10-2018

Links for 1-12-2018

Links for 10-12-2017

Links for 9-29-2017

Links for 7-16-2017

  • Tim Arango writes for The New York Times that Iran stepped into the void the U.S. created in Iraq:

    When the United States invaded Iraq 14 years ago to topple Saddam Hussein, it saw Iraq as a potential cornerstone of a democratic and Western-facing Middle East, and vast amounts of blood and treasure — about 4,500 American lives lost, more than $1 trillion spent — were poured into the cause.

    From Day 1, Iran saw something else: a chance to make a client state of Iraq, a former enemy against which it fought a war in the 1980s so brutal, with chemical weapons and trench warfare, that historians look to World War I for analogies. If it succeeded, Iraq would never again pose a threat, and it could serve as a jumping-off point to spread Iranian influence around the region.

    In that contest, Iran won, and the United States lost.

    Later:

    Perhaps most crucial, Parliament passed a law last year that effectively made the constellation of Shiite militias a permanent fixture of Iraq’s security forces. This ensures Iraqi funding for the groups while effectively maintaining Iran’s control over some of the most powerful units.

    Now, with new parliamentary elections on the horizon, Shiite militias have begun organizing themselves politically for a contest that could secure even more dominance for Iran over Iraq’s political system.

  • Israel’s government opposes the ceasefire the U.S. and Russia implemented in southern Syria because it empowers Iran.

  • Among this weekend’s shooting victims in Chicago: an anti-violence activist named William Cooper. A nine year old boy died in a shooting this weekend, too.

  • Four Pakistani soldiers died when Indian forces shelled their vehicle in Kashmir.

  • Two Chinese coast guard ships entered Japanese waters near two islands off Kyushu.

  • Students in Washington, D.C. support socialism but can’t define it: