George Will describes and decries the racist Davis-Bacon Act.  A slice:

By 1931, the Depression had made government construction money especially coveted and Davis-Bacon passed with the support of the American Federation of Labor. The congressional debate that preceded enactment was replete with references to “unattached migratory workmen,” “itinerant labor,” “cheap, imported labor,” “cheap bootleg labor” and “labor lured from distant places” for “competition with white labor throughout the country.

Who’d a-thunk it?  (HT James Nellis and Walter Williams)  One lesson from this, and from the previous, link is that a sure-fire way to inflict economic damage on poor people is to use legislation to artificially raise their wages.  How marvelously progressive!  (Proponents of the minimum wage will, of course, offer far-fetched reasons why this apparent confirmation of the law of demand in California’s labor market is no such thing.)

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Dartmouth economist Matthew Slaughter busts the myth that American firms that invest in operations abroad harm American workers at home.  A slice:

Academic research has repeatedly found that when U.S. multinationals hire more people at their overseas affiliates, it does not come at the expense of American jobs. How can this be? Large firms need workers of many different skills and occupations, and the jobs done by employees abroad are often complements to, not substitutes for, those done by workers at home. Manufacturing abroad, for example, can allow workers in the U.S. to focus on higher value-added tasks such as research and development, marketing, and general management. Additionally, expanding overseas to serve foreign customers or save costs often helps the overall company grow, resulting in more U.S. hiring.

The ultimate proof is in the numbers. Between 2004 and 2014, the most recent year for which U.S. government data are available, total employment at foreign affiliates of U.S. multinationals rose from nine million to 13.8 million. Yet the number of jobs at U.S. parent companies rose nearly as much, from 22.4 million to 26.6 million.

Also in the Wall Street Journal, the great John Tierney writes about Philip Hamburger’s important work on the unlawfulness of American administrative ‘law.’  A slice:

“Administrative power is like off-road driving,” Mr. Hamburger continues. “It’s exhilarating to operate off-road when you’re in the driver’s seat, but it’s a little unnerving for everyone else.”

He says he observed this effect during a recent conversation with a prominent legal scholar. The colleague, a longtime defender of administrative law, was discussing the topic shortly after Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

The colleague told Mr. Hamburger: “I am beginning to see the merit of your ideas.”

Scott Sumner calls out Jeff Madrick for misleading reporting on U.S.-poverty-rate figures.

Here’s Ludwig von Mises on the incompatibility of war with liberty.

Katherine Restrepo is correct: government-mandated health-insurance terms artificially raise the cost of health insurance.

Paul Offit explains that Rachel Carson’s ideas are deadly.


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