As changing technologies and preferences make government-funded broadcasting increasingly preposterous, such broadcasting actually becomes useful by illustrating two dismal facts. One is the immortality of entitlements that especially benefit those among society's articulate upper reaches who feel entitled. The other fact is how impervious government programs are to evidence incompatible with their premises.
When in the Senate chamber, Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, sits by choice at the desk used by the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan. New York's scholar-senator would have recognized that Sasse has published a book of political philosophy in the form of a guide to parenting.
"But what good came of it at last?"
Quoth little Peterkin.
"Why that I cannot tell," said he,
"But 'twas a famous victory."
-- Robert Southey
"The Battle of Blenheim" (1798)
Having bestowed the presidency on a candidate who described their country as a "hellhole" besieged by multitudes trying to get into it, Americans need an antidote for social hypochondria. Fortunately, one has arrived from Don Boudreaux, an economist at George Mason University's Mercatus Center and proprietor of the indispensable blog Cafe Hayek.
Three months ago, State Trooper Jonathan Otto, 33, of the Arizona Department of Public Safety pulled over a car that had caught his attention by traveling 104 miles per hour long after midnight, just south of Kingman. He smelled marijuana in the car. It was driven by a man with an adult female wearing only lingerie. Their passenger was a female juvenile whose fake document showed her to be 18. She was, Otto says, "not wearing a whole lot of clothing."
When not furrowing their collective brows about creches and displays of the Ten Commandments here and there, courts often are pondering tangential contacts between the government and religious schools. Courts have held that public money can constitutionally fund the transportation of parochial school pupils to classes -- but not on field trips. It can fund nurses at parochial schools -- but not guidance counselors. It can fund books -- but not maps. Daniel Patrick Moynihan wondered: What about atlases, which are books of maps? On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will consider the constitutional significance of this incontrovertible truth: "A scraped knee is a scraped knee whether it happens at a Montessori day care or a Lutheran day care."
One hundred years ago, two events three days apart set the 20th century's trajectory. On April 9, 1917, in Zurich, Vladimir Lenin boarded a train. Germany expedited its passage en route to Saint Petersburg -- known as Leningrad from 1924 to 1991 -- expecting him to exacerbate Russia's convulsions, causing Russia's withdrawal from World War I, allowing Germany to shift forces to the Western Front.
Although the National Endowment for the Arts' 2016 cost of $148 million was less than one-hundredth of 1 percent of the federal budget, attempting to abolish the NEA is a fight worth having, never mind the certain futility of the fight.
When he was Ronald Reagan's secretary of state, George Shultz was once asked about the CIA's disavowal of involvement in a mysterious recent bombing in Lebanon. Replied Shultz: "If the CIA denies something, it's denied."
In 1960, when John Kennedy was elected president, America's population was 180 million and it had approximately 1.8 million federal bureaucrats (not counting uniformed military personnel and postal workers). Fifty-seven years later, with seven new Cabinet agencies, and myriad new sub-Cabinet agencies (e.g., the Environmental Protection Agency), and a slew of matters on the federal policy agenda that were virtually absent in 1960 (health care insurance, primary and secondary school quality, crime, drug abuse, campaign finance, gun control, occupational safety, etc.), and with a population of 324 million, there are only about 2 million federal bureaucrats.