Alexei Navalny’s Death Is a Timely Reminder of How Much Russia Sucks

By Eric Boehm, Reason, February 16, 2024


If there is the thinnest bit of a silver lining to be found in the untimely demise of Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who reportedly died this week in prison, perhaps it is this: It is a well-timed reminder of how much Russia sucks.

Most Americans probably don’t need the reminder. After all, Russia has been an authoritarian state for as long as any American alive today can remember, and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s record of murdering political opponents, imprisoning critics, and silencing dissent is well established. Also, there’s that foolish, destructive war in Ukraine.

This week, however, the internet has been treated to the absurd spectacle of former Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson’s bizarre propaganda tour of Moscow (on the heels of his more defensible decision to interview Putin). Via videos posted to X, formerly Twitter, Carlson raved about the beauty of the Moscow subway system and was wowed by the stunning technology of…shopping carts? Through it all, Carlson has repeatedly suggested that maybe Russia isn’t such bad a place, as if a lack of subway graffiti were the most important metric for measuring the quality of a country.

My comment: It’s too bad that Tucker didn’t seem to have seen any Dollar stores in Moscow. Surely then, he would have seen through his own hype.

1968 Robert F. Kennedy Campaign Ad

Ignorant U.S. Senator Scares the Bejesus out of Young Children


Los Angeles’ one weird trick to build affordable housing at no public cost

by Ben Christopher, Cal Matters, February 7, 2024. (HT2 co-blogger Scott Sumner)


Another key detail: Unlike most recent statewide laws aimed at speeding up the approval of new housing, the Los Angeles law doesn’t require developers to pay construction workers heightened “prevailing wages” — roughly equal to what unionized construction workers earn on a public infrastructure projects. Muhammad Alameldin, a researcher at UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation, said that makes Executive Directive 1 a kind of alternate reality for housing policy in California.

Then comes the next step. Most so-called “ED1 projects” also make use of a hodgepodge of statewide “density bonus” laws that allow developers of 100% affordable housing projects to pack far more units and floors onto a given lot than would otherwise be allowed under local zoning rules. These laws also let affordable developers pick and choose from a wide range of goodies and freebies that cut costs further and allow for yet denser development. That means no parking spots, limited open space, smaller rooms and fewer trees.

All those added units mean developers can set the rents lower and still pay themselves back for the cost of construction and then some.

Comment: By “No Public Cost” in the title, the author means not “no cost to the public,” but “no cost to taxpayers.” The people who buy them will still pay a pretty penny, but it’s worth it to them.

Biden administration to reportedly relax EV rule on tailpipe emissions

Reuters, February 18, 2024


U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration intends to relax limits on tailpipe emissions that are designed to get Americans to move from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles, the New York Times reported, citing people familiar with the plan.

The administration would give car manufacturers more time instead of requiring them to rapidly ramp up sales of electric vehicles over the next few years, the report said, adding that the new rule could be published by early spring.

The shift would mean that EV sales would not need to rise sharply until after 2030.

Reuters previously reported that the White House could enact proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations as soon as March that would mandate dramatic reductions in tailpipe emissions. The administration proposal would require boosting U.S. EV market share to 67% by 2032 from less than 8% in 2023.

I predict that the mandate for EV sales will NOT rise sharply before 2035.


Me vs Huemer

by David Friedman, David Friedman’s Substack, February 13, 2024


One problem with Huemer’s argument is that the expertise of the expert rarely covers enough of the issue to derive a conclusion on the basis of his own knowledge. A climatologist knows more about climate than I do so the expert consensus on what is going to happen to global temperature, assuming I can figure out what it is, is a better guess than I can produce for myself. But the climatologist has no expertise in economics, which is one of the things needed to work out the consequences of that change — and I do. He probably has little expertise in statistics; I am better off figuring out for myself, with the assistance of information from statisticians,  whether to believe Michael Mann’s hockey stick diagram. His expertise in climatology tells him nothing about the effect of CO2 concentration on crop yields, a question it may not have occurred to him to think about. His conclusions about the consequences of climate change depend on quite a lot of things he is not an expert in. Once I have accepted his prediction of future climate I have no reason to give special weight to his conclusions about its effect on human welfare or the cost of reducing CO2 production, both of which the policy conclusions that people argue about depend on, so there is little reason to prefer his conclusions to mine.

That is one example that I happened to have looked at in considerable detail. The same would be true of gun control, where one of the main controversies (over concealed carry) was set off by an article by two economists offering evidence for an economic point I had made, years before, in my Price Theory. For the abortion controversy the issues are religious and moral questions on which, as best I can tell, there are no experts, at best people whose writing helps the reader think through the issue for himself.