Bonus Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on March 29, 2023

in Trade

… is from page 114 of Ludwig von Mises’s 1938 paper titled “The Disintegration of the International Division of Labor” as this paper appears in Money, Method, and the Market Process: Essays by Ludwig von Mises (Richard M. Ebeling, ed., 1990):

The most famous objection [to free trade] once was the infant industry argument. But everything that could be said about the inability of newly established industries successfully competing with old and well-established producers holds good in both cases whether the competitors are of the same or of different nations. That nobody likewise ventured to demand protection for new firms starting a new business against the overwhelming competition of older firms working in the same town, district, or country can already be considered as a proof that the argument is not economic but political.

DBx: Protectionism as a means of enriching the ordinary people of a nation has always been, remains, and will always be economic alchemy. Attempting to create greater abundance by intensifying the bite of scarcity is as likely to succeed as is the most whackadoodle attempt to create gold out of lead, leather, or legumes.

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Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:


You accurately describe as “hilarious” Commerce secretary Gina Raimondo’s attempt to justify the strings the administration is attaching to subsidies dispensed under the Chips Act (“Gina Raimondo, Social Policy Planner,” March 29). As you note, Ms. Raimondo’s explanation isn’t merely a lie, it’s a lie that insults Americans’ intelligence.

Why, I wonder, do so many Americans nevertheless continue to take politicians and bureaucrats seriously. Not only do these officials routinely lie and spin tales, too often the lies and tales they tell reveal their belief that ordinary people have intellects the equivalent of preschoolers. Ms. Raimondo’s remarks would be no more credible had she instead said “We’re imposing these requirements at the request of Santa Claus.”

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

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Here’s part 27 of George Selgin’s brilliant series on the Great Depression, the New Deal, and recovery. A slice:

If [Franklin] Roosevelt has gotten too much credit for the FDIC’s establishment, he deserves more credit than he’s received for having recognized the dangers it and similar deposit schemes pose, and for having preferred other options for that reason.

Speaking of George Selgin, he was recently interviewed by Reuvain Borchardt.

David Boaz finds evidence in support of Phil Magness’s and Michael Makovi’s thesis that Karl Marx was a relatively minor figure until being turned into a major one by the Russian revolution. (HT David Henderson)

Brian Balfour explains some harms caused by progressive taxation.

Reason‘s Eric Boehm understandably isn’t surprised by the damage done by the return of tariffs on baby formula.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board understandably isn’t buying U.S. Commerce secretary Gina Raimondo’s attempt to justify the strings attached to the subsidies dispensed by the CHIPS Act. A slice:

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has one heck of a deadpan. Semiconductor companies that want federal funds under the Chips Act are being told to follow mandates from the Biden Administration on everything from child care to union pay for construction workers. Ms. Raimondo is insisting with a straight face that this is only about helping chip makers be successful.

“There is zero ‘social policy’ that we’re trying to achieve here,” she told the Journal in an interview. “We want them to show us a workforce plan, including how they think about child care, not because we have a social agenda but because we know [that] they’re struggling to hire workers.” You’re trying too hard, Madam Secretary.

When the Commerce Department began rolling out the rules in February, news reports noted President Biden’s grand ambitions to subsidize child care. Once it became clear those ideas would fail on Capitol Hill, as the New York Times reported, “Ms. Raimondo gathered aides around a conference table. She told them, she said, that ‘if Congress wasn’t going to do what they should have done, we’re going to do it in implementation’ of the bills that did pass.”

J.D. Tuccille writes about current ‘farm’ bill that it “embodies all that is wrong with American lawmaking.” A slice:

In many ways, the farm bill up for consideration this year in Congress embodies all that is wrong with American lawmaking. It’s a massive piece of legislation, combining unrelated matters to commit the U.S. government to spending mind-bending amounts of money at a single go. Passed roughly every five years, farm bills are less about legislating in any deliberative sense than they are about lawmakers packaging a trillion-plus dollars of goodies and committing taxpayers to fund them for years to come—and then doing it over and over again.

Dr Ben Irvine tweets about England: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

March 2020 was like 56m people pushing at a gigantic towering dam and toppling it over. Then, as the floods ravaged the plains, a few of the vandals who had found high ground started prancing around and lamenting the floods and saying the disaster wasn’t their fault.

Ramesh Thakur reports on the retreat of the official covidian narrative. Two slices:

Panic saw 100 years of evidence-based pandemic response programmes junked. The accumulated wisdom was to quarantine the sick, not those feeling well; to prioritise the most vulnerable, not coerce the least vulnerable. I’ve gone back to read the CDC’s 2017 ‘Community Mitigation Guidelines to Prevent Pandemic Influenza‘. Among its conclusions:

  • The CDC “might recommend the use of face masks by ill persons as a source control measure during severe, very severe, or extreme influenza pandemics when crowded community settings cannot be avoided.” However, “little evidence supports the use of face masks by well persons in community settings”.
  • “Persons in community settings who show symptoms consistent with influenza and who might be infected with (probable) pandemic influenza should be separated from well persons as soon as practical, be sent home, and practice voluntary home isolation.”

While Sweden was a lonely outlier in sticking with existing science and plans, almost all others chose experimentation over decades of experience. Bizarrely, with lockdown normalised as the default response, Sweden was the one called on to explain staying with its existing plan.

This happened because superstition-driven diktat took over in the wish to be seen to be doing something. Fear was instrumentalised to terrify citizens. A Yale study in November 2021 concluded that public health messaging was effective in shaming and embarrassing people into getting vaccinated to protect themselves, in the belief that this would also expedite the date on which the entire community could be released from the restrictions.


On every major point of contention in managing the pandemic, the Great Barrington Declaration was right. The commonsense distilled into the few words of the Great Barrington Declaration was an uncommon virtue. Fearmongers-in-Chief like Neil Ferguson, Anthony Fauci (whose omniscience deserted him during deposition) and a host of PUIs (Pfizer’s useful idiots) were wrong. The three eminent scientist-authors were taken down savagely and belittled as “fringe epidemiologists.”

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Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on March 29, 2023

in Monetary Policy, Seen and Unseen

… is from page 132 of Edward Chancellor’s excellent 2022 book, The Price of Time: The Real Story of Interest (footnote deleted; link added):

The Federal Reserve’s reflexive tendency to ease monetary conditions whenever markets become turbulent encouraged yet more risk-taking. [Claudio] Borio observed that central bankers were slow to hike rates during booms but rushed to ease them after every bust. Their asymmetrical approach imparted a downward bias to interest rates and an upward bias to debt, he noted. The danger arising from the Fed’s inconsistency was a long-standing concern: ‘lowering rates or providing ample liquidity when problems materialise but not raising rates as imbalances build up, can be rather insidious in the longer run. They promote a form of moral hazard that can sow the seeds of instability and of costly fluctuations in the real economy.’

DBx: Chancellor goes on to note that the internal quotation was penned (in a paper co-written by Claudio Borio and Philip Lowe) in 2002.

Alan Greenspan (pictured here) was not the monetary maestro that many had made him out to be. His successors have been no better.

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Some Links

by Don Boudreaux on March 28, 2023

in Books, Current Affairs, Media, Myths and Fallacies

Brian Albrecht debunks the myth of “greedflation.”

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board rightly wonders what the IRS is doing by paying an unannounced visit to the home of journalist Matt Taibbi. Two slices:

House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan sent a letter Monday to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellenseeking an explanation for why journalist Matt Taibbi received an unannounced home visit from an IRS agent. We’ve seen the letter, and both the circumstances and timing of the IRS focus on this journalist raise serious questions.

Mr. Taibbi has provoked the ire of Democrats and other journalists for his role in researching Twitter records and then releasing internal communications from the social-media giant that expose its censorship and its contacts with government officials. This effort has already inspired government bullying, with Chair Lina Khan’s Federal Trade Commission targeting new Twitter owner Elon Musk and demanding the company “identify all journalists” granted access to the Twitter files.

Now Mr. Taibbi has told Mr. Jordan’s committee that an IRS agent showed up at his personal residence in New Jersey on March 9. That happens to be the same day Mr. Taibbi testified before the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government about what he learned about Twitter. The taxman left a note instructing Mr. Taibbi to call the IRS four days later. Mr. Taibbi was told in a call with the agent that both his 2018 and 2021 tax returns had been rejected owing to concerns over identity theft.


The bigger question is when did the IRS start to dispatch agents for surprise house calls? Typically when the IRS challenges some part of a tax return, it sends a dunning letter. Or it might seek more information from the taxpayer or tax preparer. If the IRS wants to audit a return, it schedules a meeting at the agent’s office. It doesn’t drop by unannounced.

The curious timing of this visit, on the heels of the FTC demand that Twitter turn over names of journalists, raises questions about potential intimidation, and Mr. Jordan is right to want to see documents and communications relating to the Taibbi visit.

The fear of many Americans is that, flush with its new $80 billion in funding from Congress, the IRS will unleash its fearsome power against political opponents. Mr. Taibbi deserves to know why the agency decided to pursue him with a very strange house call.

Arnold Kling writes insightfully about the challenge of getting incentives right.

Randy Holcombe is a fan of Rainer Zitelmann’s new book, In Defense of Capitalism. A slice:

The history of humankind goes back hundreds of thousands of years. Only in the past few hundred has economic progress raised most people out of poverty. What has been responsible for this remarkable increase in the global standard of living? Capitalism!

Reason‘s Robby Soave reports on yet another abominable move by the woke crowd.

The Swiss Doctor decries “lockdown lunacy.” A slice:

Lockdowns did succeed, however, in causing perhaps unprecedented social and economic disruptions. According to the World Bank, lockdowns caused an “historically unprecedented increase in global poverty” of close to 100 million people, and according to UNICEF, over 150 million children missed school for more than a year. In many countries, unemployment, bankruptcies, drug abuse, and psychological problems soared to record levels.

Unlike the targeted isolation of sick patients and their immediate contacts, complete nationwide lockdowns have never been part of the established public health response to epidemics and pandemics. It is important to understand, therefore, how exactly the near-global adoption of such an irrational and destructive measure during the recent covid pandemic came about.

Trump was an agent of lockdowns. Two slices:

The whole machinery of DC had been marshaled with Trump’s approval. The order read: “indoor and outdoor venues where people can congregate should be closed.” He issued this order on March 16 and expected full compliance, and then lobbied for trillions in welfare to the states to make sure they stayed locked down.

Only South Dakota with Kristy Noem refused. And for that she was dragged through the mud of media lies for two years because she allowed motorcyclists, for example, to organize and ride in her state. The fake studies coming out about the Sturgis bike rallies set a new low standard for real-time science.

Georgia is important because it was the first state to open. Trump tweeted his opposition to this move both in general and then, two weeks later, in opposition to Kemp’s opening.


This is why we must be grateful for people like [Wall Street Journal editor James] Taranto for digging more deeply into the actual history of what happened in those fateful months from 2020 when life itself was completely upended by dreadful decision-making from the White House. If we had more journalists interested in what actually happened, rather than just pretending that either what happened was perfectly normal or that it didn’t happen at all, we would be far closer to getting to the truth, and making sure that such a calamity never repeats itself.

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Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on March 28, 2023

in Man of System

… is from page 62 of the 2011 revised and enlarged edition of Thomas Sowell’s 2009 book Intellectuals and Society (footnote deleted):

Why the transfer of economic decisions from the individuals and organizations directly involved – often depicted collectively and impersonally as “the market” – to third parties who pay no price for being wrong should be expected to produce better results for society at large is a question seldom asked, much less answered. To say, as John Dewey did, that there must be “social control of economic forces” sounds good in a vague sort of way, until that is translated into specifics as the holders of political power forbidding voluntary transactions among the citizenry.

DBx: Yes. And of course what was said long ago by John Dewey is being said again today by many others, from Robert Reich and Elizabeth Warren on the political left to Oren Cass and Marco Rubio on the political right.

Like Dewey, these supporters of replacing substantial swathes of voluntary market transactions with coercive government diktats tell us neither how government officials will get the detailed information they would need in order to enrich the country with their commands, nor why even miraculously fully informed officials spending other people’s money are to be trusted to spend that money better than it would be spent by people spending their own – and only their own – money.

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“Though well positioned to weather the pandemic, California instead pursued disastrous restrictions and cracked down on dissent” – so reports John Tierney. Two slices:

No state was in a better position than California to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. It had a relatively young population, a climate that encouraged people to spend time outdoors, a tech industry that profited from the pandemic’s surge in online traffic, and top-flight medical and research institutions with some of the world’s leading experts on public health and epidemiology. But no state inflicted so much needless suffering for so long on its children and adults.

When the pandemic began, researchers in California were the first in the United States to analyze the threat accurately and offer sensible advice, urging focused protection for the elderly, while warning that school closures and lockdowns were futile and destructive. But instead of heeding their expertise, the progressives dominating the state’s public and private institutions launched campaigns to defame, ostracize, and silence them. These experts, like so many other fleeing Californians, had to leave the state to find leaders who embraced scientific analysis and rational policies.

No other state infringed upon individual liberties more zealously. California was the first to lock down and the last to end its state of emergency (at the end of February of this year). It closed not only schools and businesses but also playgrounds, parks, and beaches. A police boat in Malibu chased down a solitary surfer so that he could be arrested and handcuffed; another surfer was fined $1,000 for endangering precisely no one. Church gatherings were outlawed for nearly a year, until the Supreme Court finally overturned the ban. Other courts had to intervene to keep public schools in San Diego and Los Angeles from mandating vaccines for students.


Yet the state’s leaders remain unapologetic. Governor Gavin Newsom insists that his policies were guided by “the science and data,” while using deceitful statistics to claim falsely that Florida’s less restrictive Covid policies were deadlier than California’s authoritarianism. Instead of acknowledging that the lockdowns were unnecessarily costly, he boasts how much the state spent to mitigate his errors: nearly $40 billion in direct payments and tax relief (which would have been more than enough to offset the state’s current projected budget deficit of $23 billion). Instead of encouraging scientific debate, Newsom signed the nation’s first state law, recently blocked by a federal judge, subjecting doctors to discipline by the state’s medical board if they provide their patients with Covid “misinformation.”

That word presumably means anything challenging the orthodoxy enforced so disastrously during the pandemic. The crackdown on dissent began at Stanford in the spring of 2020, when John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist and one of the world’s most cited scientists, warned that lockdowns could be a “once-in-a-century fiasco” because they were being imposed without any consideration of costs and benefits. He joined with Stanford colleagues, including Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of health policy at the medical school, to measure the spread of Covid in two California counties. Their results (subsequently confirmed by other researchers) showed that the fatality rate among the general population was much lower than the estimates being used by computer modelers, whose doomsday projections (2 million Americans dead by summer’s end, hospitals overwhelmed by 30 Covid patients for every available bed) terrified Newsom and other governors into locking down and ordering nursing homes to accept Covid patients from hospitals.

For daring to question the doomsday narrative, the Stanford researchers found themselves vilified in the media and bombarded with personal threats. The university’s administrators were cowed into hiring an outside law firm to conduct a fact-finding inquiry into a spurious accusation of bias. The inquiry found no bias, but the researchers endured continuing harassment from some Stanford administrators and faculty. “Academic freedom at Stanford is clearly dying,” Bhattacharya wrote in a recent essay recounting the hostility he faced after coauthoring the Great Barrington Declaration, a critique of lockdowns signed by thousands of scientists around the world in the fall of 2020—but that remained taboo for discussion at Stanford.

Bhattacharya’s department chairman blocked his attempt to hold a seminar discussing the declaration, and the medical school never invited him to present an alternative to the Covid orthodoxy that it was promoting. California officials ignored his advice. After Bhattacharya spoke at a roundtable hosted by Florida governor Ron DeSantis and questioned the evidence for masking schoolchildren, activists put Bhattacharya’s face on posters around the Stanford campus blaming him for deaths in Florida, and the chairman of epidemiology at Stanford circulated a petition at the medical school asking the university to censor such speech.

Jay Bhattacharya tweets:

Predictable and sad. Lockdowns were a monstrous policy.
The best available external evidence… demonstrates an increase in child maltreatment hospitalisations & a concerning decrease in child maltreatment referrals.” — @WesleyJPark & Kristen Walsh

How Zeynep Tufekci and Jeremy Howard Masked America.”

Kimberlee Josephson explains that “when it comes to big tech and monopoly power, patience is a virtue, antitrust is a vice.”

Brendan O’Neill says that Bernie Sanders’s new book “feels like a self-help book for upwardly mobile leftists.” Here’s his conclusion:

And yet, Bernie’s book has convinced me that he has squandered any chance of left-wing populism in favour of embracing the moralism of the new elites who hate capitalism not for its structural deficiencies, but for being too productive, too big, too much. One can’t help but feel that Bernie’s main audience now is those leisured classes of priestly loathers of capitalistic greed, rather than the working classes who have a vested interest in more job creation, more industry creation, more fracking, more oil and, let’s be honest about it, more capitalism. For now anyway. Those people don’t hate Jeff Bezos’ yacht – they want it. They’ll never get it, though, as long as the left is led by people whose opposition to capitalism has morphed tragically into opposition to modernity.

Wall Street Journal columnist Gerard Baker calls on employers to “put the squeeze on woke intolerance.” A slice:

For a long time we tolerated campus behavior much as we used to tolerate the behavior of toddlers. They’ll grow out of it, we thought, when they enter the real world. But the joke was on us. They graduated into the real world and started to impose their views on it. Weak-kneed managers, eager to protect their privileges and preserve a quiet life, couldn’t face the hostility they’d get from their employees and a media of the same ideological mindset always willing to air the grievances.

We see the implications—occasionally bursting into the open—as when the New York Times forced its opinion editor to resign for publishing an article the radicals didn’t like, or Google dropping a Pentagon contract because employees objected to helping the U.S. defend itself. Most of the time it advances without publicity, as steadily, day by day, the former campus totalitarians make their way in the “real world.”

It’s time employers started to resist, and began to educate their employees—the hard way if necessary—why free speech is so important.

They’ll find this juice is definitely worth the squeeze.

Noah Rothman decries the population controllers.

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Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on March 27, 2023

in Other People's Money, Seen and Unseen

… is from page 173 of Thomas Sowell’s 1983 book, The Economics and Politics of Race: An International Perspective (original emphasis):

[P]olitical systems give expression to beliefs, often at negligible cost, while economic systems are constrained by the hard realities and thus impose substantial costs for being wrong and confer substantial benefits for being right.

DBx: The persons who Sowell has in mind as experiencing the consequences of their decisions are individual decision-makers. When individuals make political decisions, too often the bulk of the costs of these decisions not only fall on other people, but fall in a manner as to be spread across multitudes of other people.

Each individual upon whom such a cost is imposed therefore typically doesn’t realize that he or she is bearing this cost, because for him or her that cost is very small and comes amidst countless other changes. But even when the person does ‘feel’ this cost and correctly identifies its source, it’s usually so small in comparison with the additional costs that would have to be borne to resist its imposition as to make resistance worthwhile.

Politics, in short, allows each of us to live at each other’s expense. This politics-enabled socialization of the costs of decisions, by largely shielding each person from the costs of taking decisions, results in the taking of far more bad decisions than would occur absent this socialization of costs. The ironic outcome is that, overall, each person is weighted down with far heavier net costs than he or she would bear were fewer decisions made politically.

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In a new paper, GMU Econ alum Alex Nowrasteh and Vanessa Brown Calder explain how “the minimum wage undermined the au pair program in Massachusetts.” Here’s the abstract:

The au pair visa program allows young foreign-born individuals to provide in-home childcare in the United States as part of a cultural exchange. Regulated by the U.S. Department of State, au pairs are paid a minimum of $195.75 for a 45-hour work week by sponsor host families in addition to room, board, educational expenses, and other forms of compensation. A ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in December 2019 required sponsor host families in Massachusetts to pay au pairs the state’s considerably higher minimum wage. On January 1, 2020, wage compensation for au pairs rose to $528.63 for a 45-hour work in Massachusetts – a 170 percent increase in the minimum wage. Consequently, the number of new au pairs arriving in Massachusetts in 2022 was 68.1 percent below 2019. The number of new au pairs in all states unaffected by the court’s ruling rose 4.4 percent over the same time. The court-mandated wage increase reduced the number of au pairs and inflicted high costs on American families and au pairs who were not hired.

David Henderson shares a lovely story about Milton Friedman.

Laura Williams casts light on the ugly realities of regulation by government.

Reason‘s Nick Gillespie talks with Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears.

Juliette Sellgren talks with GMU Econ alum Eli Dourado about energy abundance.

Michael Crowley explains that “green campaigners are not ‘following the science’ – they are promoting a Biblical fantasy.” A slice:

The zealous, unreasoned activism this kind of thinking promotes is bad enough. But the second effect of this environmentalist apocalypticism is arguably even more damaging. Casting human history and humanity’s achievements as effectively sinful, abominable, indeed fallen, can only demoralise people. It contributes to a broader societal pessimism that undercuts any prospects for positive social change.

Michael P Senger tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

When President Biden’s official White House Facebook account announced the suspension of J&J’s COVID vaccine, Facebook’s algorithm censored the account for encouraging vaccine hesitancy—an algorithm that had been implemented at the request of Biden’s administration.

The Wall Street Journal‘s James Taranto writes about Georgia governor Brian Kemp. A slice:

In April 2020, businesses in Georgia were shuttered by government decree as in most of the rest of the country. Mr. Kemp was hearing from desperate entrepreneurs: “‘Look man, we’re losing everything we’ve got. We can’t keep doing this.’ And I really felt like there was a lot of people fixin’ to revolt against the government.”

The Trump administration “had that damn graph or matrix or whatever that you had to fit into to be able to do certain things,” Mr. Kemp recalls. “Your cases had to be going down and whatever. Well, we felt like we met the matrix, and so I decided to move forward and open up.” He alerted Vice President Mike Pence, who headed the White House’s coronavirus task force, before publicly announcing his intentions on April 20.

That afternoon Mr. Trump called Mr. Kemp, “and he was furious.” Mr. Kemp recounts the conversation as follows:

“Look, the national media’s all over me about letting you do this,” Mr. Trump said. “And they’re saying you don’t meet whatever.”

Mr. Kemp replied: “Well, Mr. President, we sent your team everything, and they knew what we were doing. You’ve been saying the whole pandemic you trust the governors because we’re closest to the people. Just tell them you may not like what I’m doing, but you’re trusting me because I’m the governor of Georgia and leave it at that. I’ll take the heat.”

“Well, see what you can do,” the president said. “Hair salons aren’t essential and bowling alleys, tattoo parlors aren’t essential.”

“With all due respect, those are our people,” Mr. Kemp said. “They’re the people that elected us. They’re the people that are wondering who’s fighting for them. We’re fixin’ to lose them over this, because they’re about to lose everything. They are not going to sit in their basement and lose everything they got over a virus.”

Mr. Trump publicly attacked Mr. Kemp: “He went on the news at 5 o’clock and just absolutely trashed me. … Then the local media’s all over me—it was brutal.” The president was still holding daily press briefings on Covid. “After running over me with the bus on Monday, he backed over me on Tuesday,” Mr. Kemp says. “I could either back down and look weak and lose all respect with the legislators and get hammered in the media, or I could just say, ‘You know what? Screw it, we’re holding the line. We’re going to do what’s right.’” He chose the latter course. “Then on Wednesday, him and [Anthony] Fauci did it again, but at that point it didn’t really matter. The damage had already been done there, for me anyway.”

My GMU Econ colleague Bryan Caplan shares Gabrielle Bauer’s introduction to her new book, Blindsight is 20/20. Here are two slices from Ms. Bauer’s introduction:

Why would a 66-year-old woman object so strenuously to policies designed to keep her safe? My book Blindsight is 2020, recently published in English by the Brownstone Institute and in Spanish by Mandala Ediciones, takes on the question. The book grew out of my deep misgivings about the pandemic lockdowns, mandates, and what I call Covid culture. I’m honored to share a few details about the book with this community.

Remember the early days, when everyone was telling us to follow the science? Like many others, I had a problem with this slogan. From the day the lockdowns were announced, I wondered: Why are only scientists being consulted? Where are the mental health experts to tell us how social isolation will affect our most vulnerable, both young and old? Where are the economists to insist on a cost-benefit analysis? Where are the ethicists to weigh in on the appropriate balance between risk avoidance and human rights? Or the philosophers to zoom out to the big questions, like the perils of splitting off biological subsistence from meaningful living?


Letting people die alone may align with the goal of viral containment, but that doesn’t mean it serves the “greater good,” whatever the term means. Yale University philosopher Samantha Godwin made this point in 2021 Tweet: “We have collectively accepted, without meaningful debate, the ideological belief that the greater good can be equated with maximum COVID mitigation, without concern for or recognition of the collateral harms caused by these mitigation efforts.” I wrote the book to give pride of place to such insights, which the mainstream Covid narrative has summarily discounted.

The dominant narrative positioned the virus as the enemy in a planetary war—an enemy we must fight to the bitter end, costs be damned. But as it became clear that we were waging an unwinnable war, a second story began gaining momentum. This story cast Covid as a guest that, while not exactly welcome, was here to stay, so we needed to find a way to coexist with it without destroying our social fabric. In his book Gone Viral, Justin Hart calls the supporters of each story Team Apocalypse and Team Reality, respectively.

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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on March 26, 2023

in Current Affairs, Politics

… is from Christopher Snowdon’s March 23rd, 2023, Spectator essay, “Jonathan Portes – my part in his downfall“:

As a rule of thumb, the greater the political implications of a prediction, the worse the prediction will be.

DBx: Pictured here is the hypocritical Imperial College ‘modeler’ Neil Ferguson. His reckless predictions of covid fatalities played a major role in triggering governments in the U.K. and U.S., starting in the Spring of 2020, to treat their citizens like caged lab rats.

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