It’s Not 230 You Hate, It’s Oligopolies

As we continue to hear calls to repeal or change Section 230, it appears that many people have conflated a law that affects the tech giants (among many others) with Big Tech as a whole. Section 230 is not a gift to Big Tech, nor is repealing it a panacea for the problems Big Tech is causing—to the contrary repealing it will only exacerbate those problems. The thing you hate is not 230. It’s lack of competition.

Section 230 stands for the simple principle that the party responsible for unlawful speech online is the person who said it, not the

Read more

The Moral Case for Capitalism

“Western civilization under its capitalist economic order has produced a worldwide cornucopia of consumer goods and a remarkable improvement in human health,” writes Donald Devine in The Enduring Tension: Capitalism and the Moral Order.

“But few among the beneficiaries are grateful,” he continues. “Many in the West are instead reconsidering socialism as an alternative economic order and way of life.”

Devine’s book is a learned, sound, and detailed answer to these critics. It couldn’t come at a more opportune moment, as global leaders from Joe Biden to Pope Francis seek to move the Western world away from capitalism.

Read more

Biden’s ‘Debt Doesn’t Matter’ Theory Guarantees Economic Crisis

So Joe Biden is now president.

With the stock markets hitting new highs and mortgage rates new lows every other day, what could possibly go wrong?

Multiple trillions in additional government spending to “stimulate” the economy should eliminate any remaining doubts about a vigorous economy for the future, right?

While rejecting Sanders’ pure Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) idea that debt does not matter at all, Biden and his new Treasury secretary appear attracted to a close approximation it.

A new COVID-19 pandemic policy will now be based on sound, expert-devised, “comprehensive” scientific rules for all Americans rather

Read more

End Two Federal Programs that Fund Police Surveillance Tech

The new administration can do two things immediately that would help stop some of the more nefarious ways that police departments get surveillance technology. It should further roll back the infamous 1033 program of the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows local police to inherit military gear. And it should bar the use of funds seized by civil asset forfeiture to fund these technologies. 

Police surveillance tech is a multi-billion dollar industry. Police departments find as many avenues to fund it as they can. This technology is not just deployed against suspects after acquiring a warrant—often police use it

Read more

Twitter and Interoperability: Some Thoughts From the Peanut Gallery

Late in 2019, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey floated “Project Blue Sky,” a plan for an interoperable, federated, standardized Twitter that would let users (or toolsmiths who work on behalf of users) gain more control over their participation in the Twitter system. This was an exciting moment for us, a significant lurch towards an interoperable, decentralized social media world. We were especially excited to see Dorsey cite Mike Masnick’s excellent Protocols, Not Products paper.

It’s been more than a year, and Twitter has marked its progress with an “ecosystem review” that sets out its view of the landscape

Read more

For Many, the Arab Spring Isn’t Over

Ten years ago today, Egyptians took to the streets to topple a dictator who had clung to power for nearly three decades. January 25th remains one of the most important dates of the Arab Spring, a series of massive, civilian-led protests and uprisings that spread across the Middle East and North Africa a decade ago. Using social media and other digital technologies to spread the word and amplify their organizing, people across the region demanded an end to the corruption and authoritarian rule that had plagued their societies.

Despite setbacks, much of the work that was started in 2011 is 

Read more

A First-Rate Study of the Founders’ First Principles

First Principles: What America’s Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country 
Thomas E. Ricks
(Harper, 416 pages, $23)

The next time I start a college, I’d like to hire Thomas E. Ricks as the provost. Even before Ricks wrote his excellent new volume First Principles, he would have been a strong choice to direct the academic priorities of a university. Few writers have proven themselves as attuned to the idea that the end of a liberal education ought to be preparedness for the duties of citizenship and statecraft. His twin biography Churchill

Read more

The Silence of Joan Didion

I suspect Joan Didion would be amused to learn that I keep her on my obituary watch.

The 86-year-old essayist is the first person whom, a few years ago, I put on my list of heroes I expect to die soon. It has grown quite lengthy since. Didion is a spring chicken compared to some members: Hal Holbrook, Tom Lehrer, and, until his demise last year, Max von Sydow, were born nearly a decade earlier. 

I never would have started the list if it were not for Didion’s own writing on death. She made the subject profitable. That’s in

Read more

Will Biden Leave Little Sisters Free to Choose?


President Joe Biden likes to talk about unity and his intent to rise above partisan rancor to heal the divisions that led a pro-Trump mob to swarm the Capitol on Jan. 6. Given his history of cutting deals with Republicans, I believe he wants to work across the aisle.

But a hail-fellow-well-met demeanor can’t paper over his party’s intolerance and readiness to use government as a club to beat dissenters into submission. Choice? That’s not for Little Sisters of the Poor — or at least it wasn’t last year as Biden was the presumptive Democratic nominee and the

Read more