Sobering Thoughts

Comments on politics, the culture, economics, and sports by Paul Tuns. I am editor-in-chief of "The Interim," Canada's life and family newspaper, and author of "Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal" (2004) and "The Dauphin: The Truth about Justin Trudeau" (2015). I am some combination of conservative/libertarian, standing athwart history yelling "bullshit!" You can follow me on Twitter (@ptuns).

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Sunday, July 14, 2019
Market failure
Donald Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek:
They [market failures] are mirages created by Progressives’ habit of assuming that everyone has the same tastes and preferences as those of Progressives.
I think there are market failures,* but many of so-called market failures are simply the name slightly economically literate progressives give to outcomes that they, the Left, don't like.
* It is folly to believe that the exchange mechanisms of buying and selling would always produce beneficent results.

Porn is bad for the environment
New Scientist reports:
The transmission and viewing of online videos generates 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, or nearly 1 per cent of global emissions. On-demand video services such as Netflix account for a third of this, with online pornographic videos generating another third.
This means the watching of pornographic videos generates as much CO2 per year as is emitted by countries such as Belgium, Bangladesh and Nigeria.
That’s the conclusion of a French think tank called The Shift Project. Earlier this year, it estimated that digital technologies produce 4 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and that this figure could soar to 8 per cent by 2025.

Qu'ils mangent de la brioche (2019 edition)
The (Sunday) Times reports on the opulent lifestyle of President Emmanuel Macron's Environment Minister, François de Rugy, and his wife, Séverine Servat, following revelations by Mediapart and other French outlets. de Rugy, who used to serve as president of the National Assembly (like the Speaker in a parliament), spent tens of thousands of dollars on lavish parties and renovations of his official residence. The salacious highlight is a gold-leaf encrusted hair dryer for Lady Gala (Servat), but two other details warrant greater attention:
Ouest-France, alleged he had held an “informal” dinner in March for energy industry lobbyists and insisted it not be included in public records.
In a further twist, Mediapart managed to get hold of de Rugy’s financial records, which showed he had managed, through the use of allowances, legally to avoid paying any income tax for 2014.
The first allegation indicates an attempt to avoid accountability, while the second story illustrates the problems of tax codes that allow comfortable politicians to avoid taxes that are foisted upon the commoners.
For now, Macron is backing de Rugy, technically the second most senior official in the administration. Peter Conradi, The Times Paris correspondent, writes, the allegations "threaten to revive the old trope of an overprivileged Parisian political elite highlighted by the gilets jaunes." The trope of the overprivileged Parisian political elite is a not so charming French tradition.

Saturday, July 06, 2019
Hope to return to blogging on or around July 13.

Thursday, July 04, 2019
The joy of flying?
I love the comment by "Faze" at Marginal Revolution on the joy(s) of flying:
I find flying so stimulating that I can't focus on reading - at the airport or in the air. Mostly I look out the window and agree with Joan Didion, who once said, "The most beautiful things I've ever seen have all been from planes.
Everything about flying is too marvelous to read through.
I don't necessarily enjoy the TSA lines, but it's an opportunity to observe fellow human beings in their various clothing, classes, occupations and relationships. I appreciate it as a kind of spiritually beneficial leveling activity - people taking off their shoes, as they do at the door to a mosque.
I love studying the passengers in the waiting area who will soon be joining me in the big tube, and once I'm on the plane, I love their solemn, anticipatory faces as they board. As we taxi and take off, I think about what a privilege it is to experience this amazing thrill being rocketed off the earth. And once we're in the sky, I am exhilarated by the whole Louis C.K. shtick: "Sitting in a chair. In the air!" - something that my heroes from Da Vinci and Samuel Johnson fantasized about.
Zooming along at cruising altitude, I snuggle inside myself, contemplating the fact that statistically, even though I am 40,000 feet in the air, I am in one of the safest environments on or off the planet. Even the turbulence is comforting, inasmuch as it demonstrates the miracle of the aircraft's engineering and resilience.
As the sun slants through the windows, I look around at my fellow passengers, seated in rows like people in a church sharing a temporary communion high up over the earth -- a large, random group of strangers elevated above the clouds.
All of this holds true even when there is a crying child - or as on a recent flight to Florida - a whole kindergarten full of joyously noisy children in the back of the plane. A baby crying! Halfway to space!
All of this is made more poignant by my suspicion that this age of popular air travel will curtailed at some point in my lifetime, probably for environmental reasons or as environmentalist or anti-elitist theater.
We fly in a privileged historical moment, where cheap air travel is available to almost everybody. Much as I love reading, I can't bear to miss a minute of it.
We should all appreciate the wonders and miracles in our lives.

Monday, July 01, 2019
Best. Headline. Eva.
From PJ Media: "Thanks, HGTV: Americans VASTLY Overestimate the Gay Population in U.S., Gallup Finds." Good story, too.
PJ Media's Paula Bolyard's article begins by rehearsing the origins of the propaganda campaign to normalize homosexual behaviour, which Bolyard says has been fantastically successful. For as Gallup finds, "Americans Still Greatly Overestimate U.S. Gay Population." Gallup reports:
U.S. adults estimate that nearly one in four Americans (23.6%) are gay or lesbian. Gallup has previously found that Americans have greatly overestimated the U.S. gay population, recording similar average estimates of 24.6% in 2011 and 23.2% in 2015. In each of the three polls in which Gallup has asked this question, a majority of Americans estimated this population to be 20% or greater.
Americans' estimate of the proportion of gay people in the U.S. is more than five times Gallup's more encompassing 2017 estimate that 4.5% of Americans are LGBT, based on respondents' self-identification as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Happy Birthday Canada
Mark Wegierski has an essay, "In Search of Canadian Identity," online at The Interim. His argument is that Canada has a pre-1967 history, a story that predates the two Trudeaus. Here's a snippet:
In the last 40 years, Canada has experienced a massive repudiation of traditional notions of national identity, which had flourished for hundreds of years before. The English-Canadian and French-Canadian nations had indeed existed long before the formal establishment of the Dominion of Canada in 1867. However, today Canada is a cultural laboratory, having severed its roots – in history, Christianity, and the countryside. While it may not be surprising that British identification has melted away since the collapse of the British Empire in the 1950s, there has been little attempt to construct a more positive identity for English-speaking Canadians.