Category Archives: Uncategorized

Quality Insults in History

Gibbon lobs a lot of quality insults in the Decline and Fall. Some of the best are hidden in his footnotes. Here is one from note 44 of Chapter XLVI, on p. 1534 of the edition I have:

[S]ee the Annals of Eutychius and the lamentations of the monk Antiochus, whose one hundred and twenty-nine homilies are still extant, if what no one reads may be said to be extant.


A Bit Drastic, But at Least They Correctly Identified the Problem

A barbarous solution to the barbarous problem of over-legislation:

A Locrian who proposed any new law stood forth in the assembly of the people with a cord round his neck, and, if the law was rejected, the innovator was instantly strangled.

-Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, p. 1435.

I personally prefer peaceful solutions that reform the institutional rules that make over-legislating and over-regulation possible in the first place. But before the days of Douglass North and James Buchanan, this was apparently what people had to work with.

How to Change Trump’s Mind on Tariffs

It turns out the word “tariff” is of Arabic origin, according to Henri Pirenne, Economic and Social History of Medieval Europe, p. 145.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

The big regulatory news is a proposed loosening of fuel economy standards for cars. This will likely improve safety; lighter cars don’t hold up as well in crashes, and the government has admitted in court that its CAFE standards kill people. Better for people to find their own preferred tradeoffs between safety and other car features. Meanwhile, the number of new final regulations in 2018 will likely pass the 2,000 mark this week, with the newest entrants ranging from giving to charity to Sri Lankan tarantulas.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 60 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 55 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 48 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 1,959 final regulations in 2018. At that pace, there will be 3,265 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 3,236 regulations.
  • Last week, 1,844 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,643 pages the previous week.
  • The 2018 Federal Register totals 38,179 pages. It is on pace for 63,632 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (which subtracts skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Three such rules have been published this year, none in the last week.
  • The running compliance cost tally for 2018’s economically significant regulations is $319.1 million.
  • Agencies have published 69 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year.
  • In 2018, 323 new rules affect small businesses; 16 of them are classified as significant.

Highlights from selected final rules published last week:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

Congress Should Reclaim Delegated Trade Authority and End President Trump’s Harmful Trade War

This is a press release CEI issued in response to today’s tariff news. Note that my title is “Fellow,” unless I got promoted and nobody told me.

On Friday, China announced it would impose new tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods, further escalating trade tensions between the two countries.

CEI Senior Fellow Ryan Young said:

“Just as numerous analysts have predicted, China is responding in kind to President Trump’s trade policies, and the costs will be felt by American consumers. China announced plans to enact retaliatory tariffs ranging from 5 percent to 25 percent on 5,207 different U.S. goods worth a total of $60 billion. Trump has been mulling raising recent 10 percent duties on $200 billion of Chinese goods up to 25 percent, on top of an earlier levy on $34 billion of Chinese goods. He is reportedly also considering tariffs on all imports from China, which currently total more than $500 billion of goods.

“One does not lower trade barriers by raising them. Trump’s long history of protectionism mean he is almost certainly not telling the truth when he says his goal is zero tariffs and zero trading barriers. Tellingly, he already has the power to lower tariffs himself, and is not doing so. Proper authority to set tariff policy belongs with Congress, not the president. Congress needs to take back the authority it delegated away, and end President Trump’s harmful and unpopular trade war.”

Lawyers Have Been Unpopular for a Long Time

From p. 1064, footnote 19 of Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the first volume of which was published in 1776:

The Germans, who exterminated Varus and his legions, had been particularly offended with the Roman laws and lawyers. One of the barbarians, after the effectual precautions of cutting out the tongue of an advocate and sewing up his mouth, observed with much satisfaction that the viper could no longer hiss.

Tariffs and Vaping

Trade really does affect everything. Michael McGrady quotes me on tariffs and intellectual property reform in a piece on how the trade war is affecting the vaping industry.