Thursday, April 13, 2023

Thursday Night Links

  • There are only two things you need to know about inflation today: 1) without the Owners' Equivalent Rent component (which makes up about one-third of the CPI), the CPI would have declined at a -1.6% annualized rate in March, and 2) OER inflation has peaked and will almost surely decline significantly in coming months. In short, our national inflation nightmare is over. If the economists at the Fed can't understand this, they should be fired. There is absolutely no reason the Fed needs to raise rates further, and every reason they should begin cutting rates—beginning with the May 3rd FOMC meeting if not sooner. [Scott Grannis]
  • California made a stunning decision last year—that by 2035 all new cars sold in the state must have at least 2½ times as much copper as conventional cars today. That’s not literally what the mandate said, of course, but it’s the practical effect of ordering all cars to be electric in the next 12 years. “Big Shovel” will compete with “Big Oil” as mining ramps up to supply the vast increase in a wide range of minerals that energy transition requires. But getting everything that will be needed will be tough. [Daniel Yergin]
  • Musk inserted himself into critical spaces necessary to support US economic and geo-strategic competition with China. It’s very clear that he’s intimately involved in these companies, and if the government pushed him out somehow, these companies would badly slow their pace of innovation and likely stumble. By occupying these strategic points, Musk created leverage for himself. Now, there are certainly a lot of left ideologues who would rather lose a nuclear war with China than see any rollback or threat to their politics. But most of our leaders are more sane than that. They want to make sure we stay in the lead in these critical strategic technologies. Musk shows that establishing a key position in strategic sectors, fabric of the economy businesses, or truly essential services creates leverage. [Aaron Renn]
  • The Washington state Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the state’s capital gains tax, cementing a long-sought victory for state Democrats and nudging the state’s tax system in a more progressive direction. The court ruled 7-2 Friday morning to uphold the tax. The court declined to revisit its nearly century-old precedent, which bars a progressive income tax, but instead ruled the capital gains tax is constitutional because it is an excise tax, which is a tax on a good or service, and not a property tax. Democrats passed the measure in 2021, with plans to spend the revenue on early childhood education programs. It applies a 7% tax on the sale of financial assets such as stocks and bonds. The tax applies only to profits over $250,000 and does not apply to real estate or retirement accounts. [Seattle Times]
  • Today, the ideas of postmodern progressives such as Foucault, Derrida, and Marcuse seem to have prevailed in our society. But the idea that Foucault and friends possessed some unstoppable mental force that bowled over all other thinkers in their path just seems mind-bogglingly hard to believe. I think it’s much more likely that culture changes come in waves caused by unpredictable and contingent factors, and that the philosophers who have happened to have developed ideas that are compatible with the new culture then get to ride the cultural waves to fame. Those philosophers’ arguments did not create the cultural waves.  Rather, the cultural waves created the philosophers’ reputation for their arguments. The philosophers with contrarian views, having stochastically ended up being wrong, fell away into obscurity. And the result is an illusion that the philosopher’s ideas had consequences, but they didn’t. Instead, random cultural events had consequences, and one of those consequences was that some philosophers ex post seemed very influential. [Tree of Woe]
  • In Texas, Republicans even allow Democrats to chair committees. All of that means that in some ways, there is no conservative answer to states like California, Oregon, and Washington state. A Daily Wire analysis compared the American Conservative Union’s ratings of state lawmakers with the partisan makeup of the legislatures they served in, and found paradoxically that the more “red” a red state is, the more moderate its Republican lawmakers tend to behave. The states with the boldest Republicans were also some with the narrowest margins of control: Florida, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Arizona. Ninety percent of Wyoming’s lawmakers were Republican, but they ranked 43rd in terms of conservative voting records–behind Republicans in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Delaware. [Daily Wire]

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