Some Non-Covid Links

by Don Boudreaux on August 20, 2021

in Business as usual, Country Problems, History, Immigration, Inflation, Monetary Policy, Movies, Seen and Unseen, Subsidies, Trade

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy understands the dangerous logic of government hubris. A slice:

One needn’t be a foreign policy expert to recognize that something in Afghanistan went terribly wrong. While many will blame the Biden administration for a fiasco that will have horrifying humanitarian consequences for the Afghan people, the failure also belongs to those who made the decision to go and remain there for two decades. These American officials argued that a continuing U.S. military presence there was important for achieving several goals, like training the Afghan army to resist the Taliban. Yet, today, the almost-immediate collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghan government makes it clear that whatever our strategy was, it failed.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that those who believed in nation building in the first place will realize from this dreadful episode that it never works as well as planned, even though the tragic scenario now unfolding before our eyes isn’t the first U.S. government foreign policy disaster. And it won’t be the last. People never seem to learn. Making matters worse is the fact that this sad state of affairs isn’t limited to foreign policy. It exists everywhere and throughout all levels of federal, state and local government.

Pierre Lemieux points to clear evidence of a reality that typically remains shrouded by economic ignorance – namely, employers need employees no less than employees need employers.

If god were in charge of public policy we might be justified in authorizing this leader to have the state tackle problems such as climate change, the spread of infectious diseases, and Big Tech’s wokeness. But god’s not in charge; instead, policy is heavily affected by appallingly ignorant – and authoritarian – people such as Rashida Tlaib.

Anthony Gill uses economics to explain the Taliban’s rapid advances.

Executive power continues to be used unconstitutionally.

Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley is right: meritocracy is indeed worth defending. A slice:

Meritocracies weren’t designed to degrade and exclude. Rather, the goals were to replace a system based heavily on patronage and nepotism, to treat people as individuals rather than as members of groups, and to distribute opportunities according to ability and talent. “For millennia, most societies have been organized according to the very opposite principles to meritocracy,” Mr. [Adrian] Wooldridge writes. “People inherited their positions in fixed social orders. The world was ruled by royal dynasties. Plum jobs were bought and sold like furniture. Nepotism was a way of life. Upward mobility was discouraged and sometimes outlawed.”

David Henderson reports on a recent case of a common disease: the affliction that leads a person to believe that when a neighbor engages in self-destructive behavior the proper response is for that person also to engage in the same self-destructive behavior.

Scott Lincicome and Ilana Blumsack look at new data, released by the Congressional Budget Office, on incomes, taxes, and inequality.

Sam Staley reviews the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights. A slice:

Miranda’s movie is a full-throttle, layered, and vivid depiction of the struggles and tensions faced by recent immigrants and their first-generation American children. The neighborhood serves as both an emotional and economic safety net, a platform to launch aspirations, and a seductress to those unwilling to break through its own cultural barriers.

Entrepreneurship is also front and center within the story. Miranda has sculpted an unusually textured depiction of how a business creates economic and social value. More importantly, throughout the film, he shows how these small businesses provide opportunity, fulfillment, and identity to a generation struggling to make their own way in an unfamiliar culture.

Alan Reynolds writes informatively about the unfortunate events of August 1971.

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