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Some Non-Covid Links

Writing recently in the Wall Street Journal, Williamson Evers rightly ridiculed the effort in California to dumb down instruction in mathematics. A slice:

This will be the result if a proposed mathematics curriculum framework, which would guide K-12 instruction in the Golden State’s public schools, is approved by California’s Instructional Quality Commission in meetings this week and in August and ratified by the state board of education later this year.

The framework recommends eight times that teachers use a troubling document, “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction: Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction.” This manual claims that teachers addressing students’ mistakes forthrightly is a form of white supremacy. It sets forth indicators of “white supremacy culture in the mathematics classroom,” including a focus on “getting the right answer,” teaching math in a “linear fashion,” requiring students to “show their work” and grading them on demonstrated knowledge of the subject matter. “The concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false,” the manual explains. “Upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuates ‘objectivity.’” Apparently, that’s also racist.

George Leef reviews Gary Saul Morson’s and Morton Schapiro’s uneven new book, Minds Wide Shut. A slice:

Finally, the book contains one glaring error. Among the divisive “new fundamentalisms” the authors indict is what they call “market fundamentalism.” By that, they refer to economists who allegedly base their conclusions purely on economic laws without actually looking at evidence.

That part of the book (which is considerable) is laughably weak. Instead of showing instances where economists who oppose government intervention have argued purely on the basis of economic laws (or from supposedly sacred text such as The Wealth of Nations), all Morson and Schapiro do is to quote two advocates of massive government economic intervention (George Soros and Joseph Stiglitz) who assert that their opponents are fundamentalists.

That’s the academic equivalent of relying on hearsay evidence in a trial. Morson and Schapiro never show that “market fundamentalism” actually exists, much less that it’s a divisive force.

I know of no serious economist whose case for minimal government is “fundamentalist” in nature. Nor do they respond in a fundamentalist manner when their viewpoints are questioned; they respond with counter-arguments, not with haughty references to inerrant texts or with ad hominem attacks. The authors have wasted a lot of pages pounding on a strawman.

Worse still, telling readers that arguments against minimum wage laws, for example, needn’t be taken seriously because they’re rooted in “market fundamentalism” is to encourage exactly what the authors say they are against—refusing to reason with people with whom you disagree.

George Will describes Democrats’ proposed ‘For the People Act’ as “constitutional vandalism.” A slice:

FTP reflects an appetite for constitutional vandalism that was displayed seven years ago when 54 members of the Democratic Senate caucus voted to amend the First Amendment to empower Congress to regulate the quantity, content and timing of campaign speech. They thereby implicitly acknowledged that the amendment (“Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech”) is, by its text, and Supreme Court rulings, incompatible with their desire to strictly control campaign spending, all of which directly or indirectly funds political advocacy.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy decries Joe Biden’s appalling fiscal irresponsibility. A slice:

To pay for all this spending, Biden proposes to borrow $3.7 trillion in FY 2021. Not surprisingly, the national debt under this plan is projected to increase from $24 trillion this year to $39 trillion by 2031. That’s an increase of debt held by the public from 100 percent of the gross domestic product in 2020 to 117 percent by 2031. As a reminder, at the height of World War II, public debt as a share of GDP was 106 percent.

And Peter Suderman explains that Biden’s ‘budget’ is even more costly than it appears.

Anyone who hoped that Biden would at least be significantly better than Trump on the trade front are disappointed.

No lie: The Nazis were indeed socialists.

John Lott looks at voting laws globally.

Kimi Katiti explains her escape from “the cult of wokeness.” (HT Dan Klein)

Pepperdine economist Gary Galles explains the damage done by government-issued prohibitions of so-called “price gouging.” A slice:

While someone always complains about paying higher prices, it only raises a furor during situations hyped as emergencies. Everyone seems to oppose “gouging” in a crisis. But it is even more important to allocate resources efficiently when they are scarcer than usual. And contradicting the “poison pen” press it receives, “gouging” not only accomplishes that, but it results in lower total costs to consumers of acquiring the goods involved than gouging laws.

Here’s Jonah Goldberg and Mark Perry talking with Jason Riley about Thomas Sowell: