Here’s wisdom from my emeritus Nobel-laureate colleague Vernon Smith:

Prominent in the pandemic episode are the control freaks, activated by crises, both real and exaggerated; they are at the center of the exaggeration–the “chicken Little’s” of this world. This phenomenon in human experience is so common that it is captured world-over in historical Fairy Tale’s, including Aesop’s “The boy who cried wolf” that introduces the sly fox who does, guess-what?

Jeffrey Tucker reports on the demise of another of the now-countless Covid-19 myths.

“Life will never be normal with Covid passports” – so wisely writes Janice Turner.

The late Duke of Edinburgh long ago explained the mindset that leads to the Covidocracy.

Giles Fraser decries the ease with which people give up on freedom. A slice:

Clearly, something very odd has happened. Consider, for instance, the events of the last week. On Good Friday, the Christian community reflects on Jesus being taken before the Roman Authorities, charged with setting himself up as an alternative king. This year, the Polish Roman Catholic Church of Christ the King in Balham had the ingenious idea of incorporating a real police raid into the liturgy. The police broke up the gathering of Christian worshippers, rather effectively making the point that even in the most apparently benign of political circumstances, Christians derive their authority not from the law of the land but from a king who is not of this world.

Unfortunately, of course, it wasn’t a creative piece of liturgy. Someone had phoned the police to complain. We do not know if his name was Judas. But breakup the service they did. “This is an unlawful gathering,” announced the boys and girls in blue, threatening to fine those gathered in prayer. Despite the fact that — as images of the service clearly showed — most of the congregation were social distancing, wearing masks and had pre-booked their attendance, the police closed down the service on one of the holiest days of the year.

TANSTAFPFC (There Ain’t No Such Thing As Free Protection From Covid)

So Anthony Fauci, now fully vaccinated, says that he will nevertheless continue indefinitely to refrain from dining indoors at restaurants. He’ll also not travel or go to the movies. As Phil Magness correctly points out in response, Fauci thus reveals himself to be America’s leading vaccine skeptic. (DBx: Remind me why we should continue to pay attention to Fauci?)

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… is from page 112 of Virginia Postrel’s superb and still-relevant 1998 book, The Future and Its Enemies:

By dispersing knowledge and control, a dynamic society takes advantage of the human quest to create and discover. Dynamism allows the world to be enriched through the decentralized, trial-and-error experiments in which we all engage when left free to do so. While reactionaries seek rules that will ban change and technocrats want rules that will control outcomes, dynamists look for rules that let people forge new bonds, invent new institutions, and find better ways of doing things. Like the laws of physics and chemistry, which permit the simplest of particles to form complex combinations, dynamist rules allow us to create the bonds of life – to turn the atoms of our individual selves, our ideas, and the stuff of our material world into the complex social, intellectual, and technological molecules that make up our civilization.

DBx: Beautifully put.

This insight is one that is lost on proponents of industrial policy such as Oren Cass, Julius Krein, Mariana Mazzucato, Marco Rubio, and Elizabeth Warren. Industrial-policy proponents want to play god with the material of the social universe. They believe that only by conscious design – design usually along the particular lines that they fancy – can good social orders be formed.

Industrial-policy proponents might well have the motivations of a god. But because of their ignorance of sound economics and their obliviousness to the unfathomable details and complexity of the modern global economy, the consequences of industrial-policy proponents’ ideas are destined to be indistinguishable from those wrought by a devil.

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Covidocratic Tyranny

by Don Boudreaux on April 10, 2021

in Country Problems, Current Affairs, Seen and Unseen

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:

Editor:

Leana Wen’s defense of vaccine passports is propaganda that would bring glee to Goebbels (“Stop calling them ‘vaccine passports’,” April 10).

After assuring us that “almost no one is proposing this [Israeli “Green Pass”] kind of national ID for coronavirus vaccination in the United States,” she writes “Many public and private institutions already ask people to complete a pre-arrival questionnaire that screens for symptoms of covid-19. Some venues check temperatures or even administer a rapid coronavirus test before entry. Requesting proof of vaccination would be another such health screen. If questionnaires or tests aren’t seen as constraints on individual liberties, showing vaccine status should not be, either.”

Of course differences separate some details of the Israeli vaccine-passport system from what is proposed for, and might be implemented in, the U.S. But the bottom line, as Dr. Wen herself lets slip, is that proof of vaccination to enter the likes of restaurants, gyms, stadiums, and courthouses is a real likelihood. And her use of the word “requesting” is Orwellian, as obviously under such a regime all who turn down such ‘requests’ will be denied access.

That we Americans were indeed willing (too willing, in my view) to tolerate temporarily under Covid the likes of temperature scans and questionnaires hardly implies what Dr. Wen takes it to imply – namely, that a permanent regime of vaccine passports is an innocuous extension of these temporary intrusions and, thus, would not dramatically and tyrannically constrain individual liberties in ways that have never before been imposed wholesale on the entire American population.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
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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Some Covid Links

by Don Boudreaux on April 10, 2021

in Current Affairs, Myths and Fallacies

David Henderson likes many, but not all, of the remarks made by my colleague Tyler Cowen in Tyler’s recent appearance on Russ Roberts’s EconTalk. A slice from David’s post (original emphasis):

I don’t know if Jeff Tucker said exactly what Tyler said he said, but it doesn’t matter: Jeff Tucker is not one of the authors of the GBD. I had lunch with Jay Bhattacharya on Tuesday and asked him point blank: “Did Jeff Tucker write or edit any part of the GBD?” Jay’s answer: No.

This is not a small issue. Had we focused on protecting the vulnerable and not locking down the young and healthy and keeping children out of school, we would be in a lot better shape today, with fewer COVID deaths of the elderly and less destruction of the economy.

Ethan Yang reports on the especially great harm that lockdowns inflict on young people.

Covid Derangement Syndrome is real.

Anthony Cadman rightly decries the doubling down of Covid hysteria. Two slices:

The Great Covid Lie – that the disease is of such lethal virulence that almost any measure, no matter how repressive, is justified to combat it – has been the settled narrative since the first lockdown began just over a year ago. From that point, it became inevitable that ever more extreme and destructive measures would be introduced, the latest of which is the deeply sinister ‘Covid passports’ initiative.

…..

As disaster is heaped upon disaster, lie upon lie, ever more extreme, unnecessary and authoritarian measures are needed for the maintenance of the hysterical narrative. It is this, rather than some sinister conspiracy, that is now the major political driver behind the Covid passport scheme and all subsequent society-destroying schemes to come: as Covid becomes less virulent, the lie becomes ever more so – the disease could apparently still bounce back, sweeping across a now substantially vaccinated population in some ‘fourth wave’ – no doubt to be followed by a tsunami and subsequently a megatsunami. After all, if restrictions were universally lifted tomorrow and nothing much happened, the lie would be at risk of being exposed. Better instead to double down – and double, triple and quadruple down they will.

There are others who benefit from the propagation and continuation of the Great Covid Lie – those, such as the Machiavellian Tony Blair, who really do relish an increase in authoritarian power, or the media, who from the start prostituted themselves because cheap sensationalism was a bigger money-spinner than maintaining critical faculty, or the scientists given the power of gods over our civilisation, now able to conduct their experiments on an unprecedented scale.

All are ultimately trapped, as are the rest of us, by the same enormous lie.

Here’s good sense from the editors of The Telegraph:

The public might assume the goal of all this red tape is to prevent the entry into Britain of dangerous new variants, but unless one attempts to seal the borders completely, which we are not doing (haulage drivers will still be coming, along with seasonal workers), this is impossible.

A choice has to be made between obedience to the precautionary principle, which can only be enforced with heavy-handed methods – economically disastrous, harmful for mental health, unsustainable – and learning to live with Covid and make personal decisions based upon a balance of risk.

In a letter published in the BMJ, Maryanne Demasi and Peter Gotzsche warn of the slippery slope of vaccine passports. A slice:

We wonder, however, whether this comes at a time when Britons have ‘lockdown fatigue’ and may be willing to consent to anything in order to restore ‘normality’. This is a slippery slope and there’s no telling where this could lead if law-abiding citizens are expected to show documentation in order to eat out with their families or enjoy an afternoon at the pub.

Julia Hartley-Brewer tangles with a supporter of Britain’s tyrannical Covidocracy.

“A year of school shutdowns and family trauma leads to social isolation, stress and mental-health issues” – so reports the Wall Street Journal.

Also reported in the Wall Street Journal is this unsurprising fact: “With rare exceptions, the states that shut down the longest suffered the most economic harm.” Here’s more:

By contrast, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis let nearly all businesses stay open after May. Florida’s private GDP had shrunk only 1.1% by year-end, dragged down by weak international and domestic tourism. New York’s food and accommodation industry shrank more than twice as much as Florida’s and the most in the U.S.

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Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on April 10, 2021

in Current Affairs, History

… is from page 5 of Alan Macfarlane’s vital 1978 book, The Origins of English Individualism:

[A] central and basic feature of English social structure has for a long time been the stress on the rights and privileges of the individual as against the wider group or the State.

DBx: I fear that the English, made hysterical by Covid Derangement Syndrome, abandoned this central feature of their social structure in 2020. Indescribably sad. Immeasurably tragic.

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Here’s a letter to a woman who is aggressively hostile to me:

Ms. H___:

You write that I “damage [my] already low credibility” by linking at Café Hayek (as I do today) to Prof. Robert Kaplan’s Wall Street Journal op-ed in which he counsels against the demonization of persons who are reluctant to get a Covid-19 vaccine.

I don’t see how. Prof. Kaplan is a respected member of the medical faculties of Stanford University and UCLA. More importantly, the counsel that he offers in the WSJ is wise. Contrary to what you suppose, it’s meant to encourage more people to get vaccinated.

You also write that “now’s not the time to give aid & comfort to people with irrational fears which keep them from behaving to keep themselves and others safe.”

I’m sorry, but this accusation is too much. If it is acceptable, as it now is, to act to avoid even the most minuscule of risks posed by SARS-CoV-2, why is it unacceptable to act to avoid even the most minuscule of risks posed by vaccines? If it is praiseworthy, as it now is, to treat even very small prospects of suffering from Covid as if these prospects loom large, why is it blameworthy to treat even very small prospects of suffering from vaccination as if these prospects loom large?

I, personally, don’t oppose vaccines. But no vaccine – no anything in this vale – is risk-free. As such, extraordinary hypocrisy is committed by those, such as yourself, whose fear of Covid leads them to believe that even vanishingly small risks of harm from Covid justify avoiding Covid at all costs, but who then scold others whose fear of vaccines leads them to believe that even vanishingly small risks of harm from vaccines justify avoiding vaccines at all costs.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
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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Yesterday at Marginal Revolution Tyler Cowen featured, in its own post, this comment made by James Markels in response to Tyler’s link a day earlier to a Cafe Hayek post of mine – a post of mine critical of some remarks about Covid-19, and the response to it, that Tyler offered in the latest episode of EconTalk. My original post included my disagreement with Tyler’s insistence on discounting the fact that Covid reserves its dangers overwhelmingly for the very old.

James Markels believes my criticism of Tyler to be mistaken. One of Mr. Markels’s points is this one:

First, the fact that COVID-19 disproportionately killed the elderly was not something that was readily apparent right out of the box, when the virus was spreading rapidly.

This claim by Mr. Markels is incorrect. (Other of his claims also strike me as being either incorrect or inapt, but here – save for a brief point made below in closing – I limit my attention to the point quoted above.)

Yesterday in the comments section of Tyler’s post I offered some evidence of the early recognition of the age profile of Covid’s victims. This evidence was questioned by at least one other commenter. This morning, I happened to learn of an op-ed by Dr. David Katz that appeared in the March 20th, 2020, edition of the New York Times. Dr. Katz is founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center.

I’ve tried twice this morning in MR’s comments section to share a quotation from Dr. Katz’s op-ed, but for some reason my latest attempts to leave a comment appear to be rejected. (NOTE: I sincerely and emphatically do not believe that anything sinister is going on. I’m quite sure that my failure to post a new comment results from a technical glitch.)

So I share here the relevant portion of Dr. Katz’s op-ed:

The data from South Korea, where tracking the coronavirus has been by far the best to date, indicate that as much as 99 percent of active cases in the general population are “mild” and do not require specific medical treatment. The small percentage of cases that do require such services are highly concentrated among those age 60 and older, and further so the older people are. Other things being equal, those over age 70 appear at three times the mortality risk as those age 60 to 69, and those over age 80 at nearly twice the mortality risk of those age 70 to 79.

These conclusions are corroborated by the data from Wuhan, China, which show a higher death rate, but an almost identical distribution. The higher death rate in China may be real, but is perhaps a result of less widespread testing. South Korea promptly, and uniquely, started testing the apparently healthy population at large, finding the mild and asymptomatic cases of Covid-19 other countries are overlooking. The experience of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which houses a contained, older population, proves the point. The death rate among that insular and uniformly exposed population is roughly 1 percent.

We have, to date, fewer than 200 deaths from the coronavirus in the United States — a small data set from which to draw big conclusions. Still, it is entirely aligned with the data from other countries. The deaths have been mainly clustered among the elderly, those with significant chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, and those in both groups.

This is not true of infectious scourges such as influenza. The flu hits the elderly and chronically ill hard, too, but it also kills children. Trying to create herd immunity among those most likely to recover from infection while also isolating the young and the old is daunting, to say the least. How does one allow exposure and immunity to develop in parents, without exposing their young children?

The clustering of complications and death from Covid-19 among the elderly and chronically ill, but not children (there have been only very rare deaths in children), suggests that we could achieve the crucial goals of social distancing — saving lives and not overwhelming our medical system — by preferentially protecting the medically frail and those over age 60, and in particular those over 70 and 80, from exposure.

Not only does Dr. Katz’s op-ed from nearly 13 months ago disprove the claim that the age profile of Covid’s victims was not known early on, note that Dr. Katz’s recommendation for how best to deal with Covid-19 is essentially the same as that offered in the Great Barrington Declaration.

Dr. Katz’s entire op-ed is excellent. (I’m sorry that I learned of it only today.) I share below, from it, other slices the relevance of which will be recognized by people who follow closely the debate over the proper response to Covid-19. And I ask Tyler and others who dismiss the Great Barrington Declaration as wrongheaded: What, specifically, do you find to be a problem with the substance of Dr. Katz’s analysis and proposal? Answers to this question will help us to learn what, specifically, opponents of the GBD find to be misguided about that document.

And surely Dr. Katz’s argument is further evidence (not that any is needed) against the assertion that the Great Barrington Declaration is merely a reflection of libertarian ideology, that it represents only a fringe view, or that the GBD is unscientific.

Also, as regards Dr. Katz, I don’t believe it’s possible to dismiss his argument by issuing an ad hominemad hominem argumentation, sadly, being a widely used means of dismissing the Great Barrington Declaration.

Now more from Dr. Katz’s March 20th, 2020, NYT op-ed:

I am deeply concerned that the social, economic and public health consequences of this near total meltdown of normal life — schools and businesses closed, gatherings banned — will be long lasting and calamitous, possibly graver than the direct toll of the virus itself. The stock market will bounce back in time, but many businesses never will. The unemployment, impoverishment and despair likely to result will be public health scourges of the first order.

…..

So what is the alternative? Well, we could focus our resources on testing and protecting, in every way possible, all those people the data indicate are especially vulnerable to severe infection: the elderly, people with chronic diseases and the immunologically compromised. Those that test positive could be the first to receive the first approved antivirals. The majority, testing negative, could benefit from every resource we have to shield them from exposure.

…..

If we were to focus on the especially vulnerable, there would be resources to keep them at home, provide them with needed services and coronavirus testing, and direct our medical system to their early care. I would favor proactive rather than reactive testing in this group, and early use of the most promising anti-viral drugs. This cannot be done under current policies, as we spread our relatively few test kits across the expanse of a whole population, made all the more anxious because society has shut down.

This focus on a much smaller portion of the population would allow most of society to return to life as usual and perhaps prevent vast segments of the economy from collapsing. Healthy children could return to school and healthy adults go back to their jobs. Theaters and restaurants could reopen, though we might be wise to avoid very large social gatherings like stadium sporting events and concerts.

So long as we were protecting the truly vulnerable, a sense of calm could be restored to society. Just as important, society as a whole could develop natural herd immunity to the virus. The vast majority of people would develop mild coronavirus infections, while medical resources could focus on those who fell critically ill. Once the wider population had been exposed and, if infected, had recovered and gained natural immunity, the risk to the most vulnerable would fall dramatically.

A pivot right now from trying to protect all people to focusing on the most vulnerable remains entirely plausible. With each passing day, however, it becomes more difficult. The path we are on may well lead to uncontained viral contagion and monumental collateral damage to our society and economy. A more surgical approach is what we need.

*****

In closing, I mention one final statement made yesterday in the comments section of Marginal Revolution by Mr. Markels. It’s this:

Frankly, I never heard of the GBD under Boudreaux mentioned it, and I have no axe to grind with them.

If “under” is a misspelling of “until” – which, given the structure of the sentence and the paragraph of which the sentence is a part, appears to be the case – then it’s strange that Mr. Markels had never heard of the GBD. Since its publication more than six months ago it has been front and center in the Covid discussion. It’s baffling (to put it mildly) how someone can be informed about Covid-related issues and not have heard of the GBD unit I mentioned it, presumably in the Cafe Hayek post to which Tyler linked on Wednesday.

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Some Covid Links

by Don Boudreaux on April 9, 2021

in Country Problems, Current Affairs, Risk and Safety, Trade

Wall Street Journal columnist Joseph Sternberg draws a very important lesson from Britain’s experience with Covid Derangement Syndrome and the resulting lockdowns. Two slices:

Precisely because the medical news in Britain is so cheerful, its difficulties escaping lockdown serve as a cautionary tale for everyone else. The task, it would appear, no longer is to suppress the virus or meter hospital demand or save lives or anything health-related. The task is to manage the dangerous interactions between a fearful political class and an overweening medical class.

…..

Which brings us to the other jaw of the vise: an overweening public-health class.

The things these medical experts say become more outlandish by the day. Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, for example, is now warning that even with widespread vaccination the U.K. may need to brace for future lockdowns. Imperial College modelers project that—again, even with widespread vaccination—Britain could see a third wave of the virus leading to as much hospitalization and death as the rest of Europe currently is experiencing.

Setting aside scientific questions about all this, such pronouncements represent a bold tendency by public-health professionals to adopt maximalist aims regarding the virus and then impose politically impossible conditions—to wit, to deny the public its freedom even after delivering the vaccinations that were supposed to unlock the economy. A braver politician would sideline these folks. Alas, that’s not what the U.K. has.

Patrick O’Flynn has more on Britain’s Covidocracy; he writes that “ministers are sleepwalking into a ‘zero Covid’ strategy.” A slice:

So, finally, I am led to another conclusion: that ministers and advisers who have explicitly rejected the idea of setting a “zero Covid” goal nonetheless find themselves taking the very decisions that one would take if such a strategy were in fact being pursued. Not only is this the case in respect of vaccines for 20-somethings, but also with the idea of twice-a-week testing for everyone, ongoing mask-wearing and distancing and the trialling of those illiberal and un-British Covid passports.

And among the awful consequences of Britain’s oppressive Covidocracy is a terrifying decline in mental health, especially among children. (TANSTAFPC – There Ain’t No Such Thing As Free Protection From Covid.)

Carl Heneghan exposes the hidden toll of lockdowns. A slice:

Evidence-based medicine might sound like a tautology – what kind of medicine isn’t based on evidence? I’m afraid that you’d be surprised. Massive decisions are often taken on misleading, low-quality evidence. We see this all the time. In the last pandemic, the swine flu outbreak of 2009, I did some work asking why the government spent £500 million on Tamiflu: then hailed as a wonder drug. In fact, it proved to have a very limited effect. The debate then had many of the came cast of characters as today: Jonathan Van-Tam, Neil Ferguson and others. The big difference this time is the influence of social media, whose viciousness is something to behold. It’s easy to see why academics would self-censor and stay away from the debate, especially if it means challenging a consensus. Academics who are tenured, like me, don’t have to worry so much about people pulling strings above us. This is the importance of tenure; it allows academic freedom. In a crisis, when tempers run so high, you need a variety of views more than ever.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Robert Kaplan protests the demonization of those who are skeptical of Covid-19 vaccines. A slice:

Distrust of the establishment plays a role in vaccine hesitancy, but it’s probably time to back off on the prevailing commentary suggesting that those avoiding vaccines are irresponsible, uninformed or politically manipulated.

Peter Earle celebrates the free movement of people that has helped to diminish the risks of Covid. A slice:

It was globalism that enabled researchers and startup executives to produce and distribute the vaccines that have now reached hundreds of millions of people around the world. Fair-weather trade wars look more and more nonsensical with each passing month of pandemic-era restrictions on exchange.

Tom Moran: “It’s high time that we stop allowing fear to rule our lives and re-establish a healthy relationship with the risks that have surrounded us since time immemorial.” Yes.

Omar S. Khan is impressed with Steve Deace’s new book, The Faucian Bargain: The Most Powerful and Dangerous Bureaucrat in American History. Two slices:

Early on, Dr. David Katz of Yale urged that we consider an approach that minimized “total harm” by looking after the vulnerable, as it was by now evident C-19 was not an equal opportunity offender and the median age of those passing “with” or “from” it was above 80.

…..

Dr. John Ioannidis of Stanford, justly esteemed for his research, penned a peer-reviewed study on the “harms of exaggerated information and non-evidence-based measures” on the same day that Fauci was delivering his Congressional doomsday testimony.

John Miltimore: “Texas Has Fewer COVID Cases Than Michigan—Despite Nearly 20M More People and No Restrictions.

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Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on April 9, 2021

in Philosophy of Freedom

… is from page 154 of John Mueller’s excellent 1999 book, Capitalism, Democracy, & Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery:

But it must be acknowledged that democracy is, and will always be, distressingly messy, clumsy, and disorderly, and that in it people are permitted loudly and irritatingly to voice opinions that are clearly erroneous and even dangerous.

DBx: Indeed. Mueller here very nicely summarizes a key part of the democratic ethos.

People who wish to silence – to “cancel” – those with whom they disagree are enemies of democracy regardless of how loudly they might scream in support of it. Equally enemies of democracy are those who would silence – and who, disgustingly, are silencing (as here documented by Jeffrey Tucker) – the voices of those who dissent from Covidocratic dogma.

Democracy is about much more – much, much more – than the exercise by today’s majority of raw power.

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Art Carden celebrates the 50th birthday of my great, warm, brilliant, and amazingly creative colleague Bryan Caplan. A slice:

Poverty: Who’s to Blame? promises to be controversial. As he has argued in lectures he has given on the book’s themes, we can blame third-world governments for lousy policy and first-world governments for immigration restrictions. So far, so good. The most controversial part of the book will be where he argues that if someone could have taken reasonable steps to prevent their plight, then they themselves are to blame. I expect this part of the book to be just as popular with the “personal responsibility” right as it is unpopular with the “you’re blaming the victim!” left.

Bryan reminisces about his 40s.

And Bryan’s talent is evident also in his children. Identical twins, Aidan and Tristan Caplan – who are seniors in high school – have their first referred-journal publication. Congrats to them!

And here’s Bryan on his forthcoming book, Build, Baby, Build: The Science and Ethics of Housing. A slice:

Chapter 1: The Home that Wasn’t There. Here I explain why the supply-and-demand story for rising housing prices, though true, is deeply misleading.  Why?  Because regulation is strangling housing supply, especially in desirable locations.  In a free market, housing would be very affordable throughout the country because building up and in is easy.  We have the technology; what we lack is permission to use it.

Chapter 2: The Manufacture of Scarcity.  Now I go over the empirical work that measures the effect of housing regulation on housing prices.  Standard estimates of the effect are massive.  It is very plausible that U.S. housing would be 50% cheaper under laissez-faire.

As Eric Boehm reports, Joe Biden continues to tell “Progressive” fairy tales.

And as my intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy reports, Biden also continues, good “Progressive” that he’s become, the nightmare of fiscal recklessness.

Also from Vero is a proposal for a better form of unemployment insurance. A slice:

Personal Unemployment Insurance Accounts (PISAs) were pioneered by Chile in 2002. The accounts are financed through a payroll‐​tax contribution from both the employer and employee and are individually owned by workers. During spells of unemployment, idled workers can make withdrawals to compensate for the loss to their incomes, but when employed they continue to build their balances. At retirement, workers can use the balances in these accounts to bolster their retirement income or transfer the funds to their heirs. The program includes a solidarity fund — a public safety net — financed by employers and the government. Unemployed workers can receive payment from the solidarity fund when their own savings are insufficient to cover their period of employment.

These accounts provide insurance while keeping strong incentives for people to return to work. Several studies have confirmed that under this system, workers are motivated by a desire to keep their own savings for retirement, so they are careful about tapping into this money during their working years. On net, workers seem as well off with PISAs as they were under the old UI system.

Mark Jamison writes that “Biden’s broadband plan would waste $100 billion.”

Scott Lincicome reports on American industrial policy in action!

Chris Edwards is right: Janet Yellen is wrong.

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