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Articles of interest

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1. Matt Yglesias points out that as America’s conservatives are rejecting YIMBYism, Canada’s conservative are embracing the freedom to build. Aitchison is not alone on the Canadian right. Conservative MP Raquel Dancho questioned the incumbent housing minister on land use regulation in Parliament on April 5, while interim party leader Candice Bergen said on April 7: “Canada’s housing crisis can’t be left up to municipalities to solve on their own. We need federal leadership to build more supply.” Pierre Poilievre, another leadership candidate, said that under his fiscal plans, “if they want more federal money, these big-city politicians will need to approve more homebuilding.” 2. Sadly, Miami’s commissioners do not believe in YIMBYism: Miami commissioners voted 4-1

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1. Matt Yglesias points out that as America’s conservatives are rejecting YIMBYism, Canada’s conservative are embracing the freedom to build.

Aitchison is not alone on the Canadian right. Conservative MP Raquel Dancho questioned the incumbent housing minister on land use regulation in Parliament on April 5, while interim party leader Candice Bergen said on April 7: “Canada’s housing crisis can’t be left up to municipalities to solve on their own. We need federal leadership to build more supply.” Pierre Poilievre, another leadership candidate, said that under his fiscal plans, “if they want more federal money, these big-city politicians will need to approve more homebuilding.”

2. Sadly, Miami’s commissioners do not believe in YIMBYism:

Miami commissioners voted 4-1 last week in favor of an ordinance that would essentially force developers to build more parking.

“This is not a pedestrian and bicycle city,” Commissioner Manolo Reyes said. “we don’t have a mass transit system, period.”

Reyes went on to complain that people were parking in front of his house due to a lack of parking space.. .

Commissioners are going against a recommendation of a Miami zoning task force, which recommended further reducing minimum parking requirements.. .

They also overrode the Planning and Zoning Board, which voted against the plan. One member of that board called the proposal “garbage.”

Requiring more parking will make housing even less affordable to build in Miami, and smaller developments might become completely unviable, advocates say.

3. Janan Ganesh has an excellent article on the value of optimism:

The modern world is said to over-reward academic intelligence, and so it does. Of the most successful people I know, though, none are the very smartest in their organisations, much less their generational cohorts. Beyond a certain cognitive level, another trait seems to become more decisive. “Optimism” is the crispest word for it, but it gives a banal ring to what is a complex and eerie mental gift: the sifting for good news among the bad, the willingness to magnify and even invent some, the reinterpretation of adverse events as what one had wanted all along.

It can border on self-deception. But it also gets people through the night. And the most underrated component of success is continuing to show up.

Ganesh speaks of optimism in instrumental terms, as an aid to success. I’d go further and argue that optimism is success. Listed in order of importance in generating utility, I’d say:

1. Optimism

2. Beauty (and more broadly physical advantages such as talent in sports and dancing)

3. Wealth

4. Intelligence

Progressives worried about “inequality” should worry most of all about optimism inequality, then beauty inequality, then wealth, then intelligence.

4. This tweet hits the nail on the head:

Articles of interest

5. I’m not sure if FBI agents believe that black lives matter, but I have no doubt that they believe wealthy lives matter:

When FBI agents served a search warrant at Abou-Khatwa’s home in Kalorama Heights, a swanky D.C. neighborhood “favored by diplomats and power brokers,” there was no answer at the door. But instead of breaching the front door, the agents went around the back to preserve “the aesthetics” of an “affluent neighborhood.”

While that issue was not part of Abou-Khatwa’s appeal, Millett said, “I found this deeply disturbing.” When it became clear that a forced entry was necessary, an FBI agent testified, “the decision was made, since it was an affluent neighborhood,” to do it inconspicuously. “Due to the aesthetics of the neighborhood,” he said, “we decided to use a rear entrance so as to maintain the integrity of the front of the residence.”

6. Literally NOTHING surprises me anymore. Polls suggest that Americans are much more likely to blame the US for the Ukraine war than are residents of Europe or Brazil? I don’t even recognize my country any longer.

Articles of interest

Take a deep breath; gotta maintain my optimism here.

7. Unfortunately, the “man on horseback” is on the rise all over the world. The Economist has a good review of a new book by Gideon Rachman, entitled “The Age of the Strongman.”

Mr Rachman argues convincingly that the strongman style is a continuum, in which its exponents’ affinities are amplified or muffled by the particular political system in which each operates.. .

The harm is not just to the people they oppress or the national political systems that they corrode. Strongmen also chip away at global institutions, international norms and multilateral co-operation. Many are suspicious of free trade. Few are inclined to endure much inconvenience to curb climate change. They are prone to adventurism and aggression in foreign policy—witness Mr Putin’s murderous invasion of Ukraine.

Putin supporter Viktor Orban was just re-elected in Hungary, a country that’s just barely holding on to democracy. Putin supporter Marine Le Pen might win in France, and Putin admirer Donald Trump is likely to win in 2024. He privately told his aides that he intended to pull out of NATO if re-elected. Putin cannot defeat the Ukrainians, but he can seduce the West.

It’s getting harder to be optimistic.. .

8. The Economist has an interesting article discussing how Putin’s views changed over time:

[T]he onset of the covid-19 pandemic two years ago brought a raising of the ideological stakes. At the time, the most discussed aspect of the constitutional changes that Mr Putin finagled in July 2020 was that they effectively removed all limits on his term in office. But they also installed new ideological norms: gay marriage was banned, Russian enshrined as the “language of the state-forming people” and God given an official place in the nation’s heritage.

Mr Putin’s long subsequent periods of isolation seem to have firmed up the transformation. He is said to have lost much of his interest in current affairs and become preoccupied instead with history, paying particular heed to figures like Konstantin Leontyev, an ultra-reactionary 19th-century visionary who admired hierarchy and monarchy, cringed at democratic uniformity and believed in the freezing of time. One of the few people he appears to have spent time with is Yuri Kovalchuk, a close friend who controls a vast media group. According to Russian journalists they discussed Mr Putin’s mission to restore unity between Russia and Ukraine.

It also feels like China’s gone to a much darker place since the onset of Covid. Someday, we are going to wake up and find that we miss globalization.

9. Even here in Orange County the forces of darkness are getting closer each day. Our local multiplex cinema is showing The Kashmir Files. This is from a review in The Economist:

These other casualties get no mention in the film. Instead, within its first 15 minutes we see Muslims betraying Hindu neighbours, chanting “Convert or die!”, beating Pandit children and visiting unspeakable (but apparently not unfilmable) acts of savagery upon women. By the end of the film it is not just the awfulness of Muslims that is doggedly bludgeoned into viewers. So is the perfidy of whiny leftists, intellectuals and politicians who dare suggest that Muslims, who are 95% of the Kashmir Valley’s population, might be victims of a sort, too. Small wonder that in cinemas across India hot-headed youths, many of whom appear to belong to extreme Hindu-nationalist groups, are making rousing sectarian speeches.

The purpose of these films seems to be to whip up enthusiasm for oppressing India’s Muslims. Lots of people here in Orange County support Putin, Xi Jinping and/or Modi. These people are all around us.

But I try to remain optimistic. I’m relatively old, and thus I may avoid seeing the full impact of the rising wave of nationalism.


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Scott Sumner
Scott B. Sumner is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, the Director of the Program on Monetary Policy at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and an economist who teaches at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. His economics blog, The Money Illusion, popularized the idea of nominal GDP targeting, which says that the Fed should target nominal GDP—i.e., real GDP growth plus the rate of inflation—to better "induce the correct level of business investment".

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