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Some Non-Covid Links

J. Peder Zane profiles, in the Wall Street Journal, Duke professor John Staddon’s defense of the scientific method and his resistance to the idiocy and dangers of wokeness on campus. A slice:

Mr. Staddon has challenged the work of leading social scientists, including Duke sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, whose books include “Racism Without Racists: Colorblind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America.” “If colorblindness, the MLK ideal, is itself racist,” Mr. Staddon has written, “we are in an Alice-in-Wonderland world, and racial strife without end.”

Mr. Staddon is especially troubled by the concept of “implicit bias,” which holds that unconsciously held beliefs about social groups perpetuate racism, so that “basically, we are racist no matter what we do or even think.” He notes that the main mechanism for measuring it, the Implicit Association Test, “fails the most basic reliability and validity criteria. Yet it is still widely administered to hapless employees in numerous institutions across the country.”

John McWhorter writes about today’s neoracists. (HT Arnold Kling) A slice:

I suspect that deep down, most know that none of this catechism makes any sense. Less obvious is that it was not even composed with logic in mind. The self-contradiction of these tenets is crucial, in revealing that Third Wave Antiracism is not a philosophy but a religion.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board rightly warns us to be on guard against the arrogant social engineers being appointed by Biden. A slice:

Mr. Biden sent the nomination of Rohit Chopra, an Elizabeth Warren protégé and commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission, to the Senate last week. Senators who want to understand Mr. Chopra’s thinking about the role of regulators in American democracy might crack open a report he co-authored in 2018 for the Roosevelt Institute. It envisions an unaccountable Washington “corruption” czar writing rules, issuing fines and working his will over politicians, think tanks and nonprofits.

Art Carden explains that prices set on markets help us to bear one another’s burdens. A slice:

As a lot of people have pointed out, high prices for water, gas, and building supplies are like signal flares specifically saying “Send water, gas, and building supplies!” Importantly, a sudden high price for bottled water in New Braunfels raises the cost of selling bottled water in New Mexico, New York, or New South Wales: the relevant cost of selling bottled water in one of these places is the now-higher price people in New Braunfels are willing to pay. Even if it’s cost-prohibitive to remove water from shelves in New South Wales and ship it to New Braunfels, higher prices will tell merchants and customers in New South Wales to expect to pay more in the future and, therefore, to conserve what they have today.

The uncivilized banana-republic practice of civil asset forfeiture expands in Indiana.

Eric Boehm calls on Biden to remove Trump’s tariffs. A slice:

The tariffs on Chinese imports that came to define Trump’s trade agenda have been economically damaging, but Biden appears unwilling to discard them for fear of losing the domestic political benefits that come with standing up to China. The U.S.-E.U. front of Trump’s trade war, meanwhile, is economically nonsensical and politically pointless—it is causing unnecessary pain to American businesses and the economies of longtime allies without providing any apparent benefits (even vacuous, populist ones).

Peter Wallison warns against raising the minimum wage.

David Henderson carefully lays out the core economic case against minimum wages. A slice:

Among non-economists and politicians, the minimum wage is one of the most misunderstood issues in economic policy. President Biden and almost all Democrats and some Republicans in the US Congress advocate increasing the federal minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour over four years. They argue that many of the workers earning between $7.25 and $15 will get a raise in hourly wage. That’s true. But what they don’t tell you, and what many of them probably don’t know, is that many workers in that wage range will suffer a huge drop in wages—from whatever they’re earning down to zero. Other low-wage workers will stay employed but will work fewer hours a week. Many low-wage workers will find that their non-wage benefits will fall and that employers will work them harder. Why all those effects? Because an increase in the minimum wage doesn’t magically make workers more productive. A minimum wage of $15 an hour will exceed the productivity of many low-wage workers.

The reason some workers earn low wages is not that employers are greedy exploiters. If exploitation were enough to explain low wages, then why would employers ever pay anyone over $7.25 an hour? Wages are what they are because they reflect two things: (1) workers’ productivity and (2) competition among employers.

And don’t miss this new paper – discussed by David Henderson. It’s by David Neumark and Peter Shirley, and reviews minimum-wage research. Here’s the abstract:

The disagreement among studies of the employment effects of minimum wages in the United States is well known. What is less well known, and more puzzling, is the absence of agreement on what the research literature says – that is, how economists even summarize the body of evidence on the employment effects of minimum wages. Summaries range from “it is now well-established that higher minimum wages do not reduce employment,” to “the evidence is very mixed with effects centered on zero so there is no basis for a strong conclusion one way or the other,” to “most evidence points to adverse employment effects.” We explore the question of what conclusions can be drawn from the literature, focusing on the evidence using subnational minimum wage variation within the United States that has dominated the research landscape since the early 1990s. To accomplish this, we assembled the entire set of published studies in this literature and identified the core estimates that support the conclusions from each study, in most cases relying on responses from the researchers who wrote these papers. Our key conclusions are: (i) there is a clear preponderance of negative estimates in the literature; (ii) this evidence is stronger for teens and young adults as well as the less-educated; (iii) the evidence from studies of directly-affected workers points even more strongly to negative employment effects; and (iv) the evidence from studies of low-wage industries is less one-sided.