According to David Henderson, “yes” answers to the following questions are evidence of a policy fit for a banana republic:

Does the government prevent people from practicing their occupation and shut down huge parts of the economy based on the idea, not that people are sick and might spread their sickness to others, but that people might be sick, even though most of them aren’t, and might spread their sickness to others? And relatedly, does it threaten people who could easily prove themselves not to be sick with fines and/or jail sentences for not complying?

Also, related, does the government keep changing its rationale for the shutdowns.

Speaking of banana-republic policies, Zuri Davis rightly criticizes civil asset forfeiture.

Max Gulker praises the initiative exhibited, and local knowledge used, by some enterprising businesses in western Massachusetts to survive amidst the madness of the covid lockdowns and centrally planned ‘phased reopenings.‘ A slice:

In May and June, as state governments began proposing and then implementing their plans to gradually roll back shelter-in-place orders and business shutdowns implemented earlier in the spring, it became clear that the worst of the economic damage from misguided government policy was far from over. The conventional approach that emerged, and Massachusetts followed with gusto, were “phased” reopenings where crack teams in state capitols placed different kinds of businesses into different buckets with different reopening dates.

There would be no local input, no taking into account the complex ecosystems in which small businesses exist, and little room for the unique insight and creativity of business owners themselves.

Razeen Sally is understandably worried about the rise of “malign mercantilism” and the economic nationalism that fuels it. A slice:

Mercantilism – the exercise of state power to control markets domestically and internationally – existed after 1945, but was constrained by the expansion of markets: it was relatively benign. But malign mercantilism governed the preceding decades, shattering domestic economies, shrinking individual freedom, destroying the world economy, and so poisoning international politics as to culminate in global war. Today’s emerging mercantilism is still far from that reality, but it risks heading in that direction.

My old undergrad professor Oscar Varela, now at U.T.-El Paso, has this nice letter in today’s Wall Street Journal:

Fundamentally, education cannot be free. The time and energy required in education and the associated opportunity costs of lost income or leisure make it impossible for someone to obtain a free education. Indeed, these opportunity costs can be substantially high relative to the nominal tuitions at many state colleges and universities.

This essay by GMU Econ alum Alex Salter is a superb primer on the indispensable and awe-inspiring role, in the modern economy, of money, money prices, and economic competition.

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