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Some Non-Covid Links

James Bovard explains why so-called “fair trade” is still a fraud. A slice:

When politicians call for fair trade with foreigners, they use a concept of fairness diametrically opposed to the word’s normal usage. In exchanges between individuals – in contract law – the test of fairness is the voluntary consent of each party to the bargain: “the free will which constitutes fair exchanges,” as Sen. John Taylor wrote in 1822. When politicians speak of unfair trade, they do not mean that buyers and sellers did not voluntarily agree, but that federal officials disapprove of bargains American citizens made. Fair trade means government intervention to direct, control, or restrict trade.

Fair trade often consists of some politician or bureaucrat picking a number out of thin air and forcibly imposing it on foreign businesses and American consumers. Fair trade meant that Jamaica was allowed to sell the U.S. only 970 gallons of ice cream a year, that Mexico could sell Americans only 35,292 bras a year, and that Poland could ship us only 51,752 pounds of barbed wire. Fair trade meant permitting each American citizen to consume the equivalent of only one teaspoon of foreign ice cream per year, two foreign peanuts per year, and one pound of imported cheese per year.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Lawrence Krauss explains “how ‘diversity’ turned tyrannical.” Two slices:

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was supposed to host Thursday’s John Carlson Lecture on climate. MIT’s department of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences canceled the event because the speaker turned out to have expressed a dissenting opinion—though not about climate science. University of Chicago geophysicist Dorian Abbot argued in a Newsweek piece that universities’ obsession with “diversity, equity and inclusion,” or DEI, “threatens to derail their primary mission: the production and dissemination of knowledge.” If MIT wanted to prove Mr. Abbot’s point, it could hardly have done better. (His lecture will be hosted instead by Princeton’s conservative redoubt, the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions.)


Critics have likened DEI statements to the loyalty oaths of the Red Scare. In 1950 the University of California fired 31 faculty members for refusing to sign a statement disavowing any party advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government. That violated their freedom of speech and conscience, but this is worse. Whereas a loyalty oath compels assent to authority, a DEI statement demands active ideological engagement. It’s less like the excesses of anticommunism than like communism itself.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy applauds efforts to fight the illiberalism that now cancerously infects higher education. A slice:

Recognizing the threat of rising illiberalism, five alumni groups from Cornell University, Davidson College, Princeton University, the University of Virginia and Washington and Lee University just created the Alumni Free Speech Alliance to fight for open inquiry on campus. Also, as of now, 82 institutions or faculty bodies have adopted or endorsed the Chicago Statement or a substantially similar statement to show their commitment to free speech on campus. Also, Princeton university is stepping up to host a conference by the University of Chicago’s Dorian Abbot, whose lecture at MIT was canceled under pressure from activists who objected to his political views.

And writing again in the Wall Street Journal is Bjorn Lomborg, who argues that the appropriate response to climate change is adaptation, not panic. A slice:

Nonetheless, many in the media push unrealistic projections of climate catastrophes, while ignoring adaptation. A new study documents how the biggest bias in studies on the rise of sea levels is their tendency to ignore human adaptation, exaggerating flood risks in 2100 by as much as 1,300 times. It is also evident in the breathless tone of most reporting: The Washington Post frets that sea level rise could “make 187 million people homeless,” CNN fears an “underwater future,” and USA Today agonizes over tens of trillions of dollars in projected annual flood damage. All three rely on studies that implausibly assume no society across the world will make any adaptation whatever for the rest of the century. This isn’t reporting but scaremongering.

GMU Econ grad student Dominic Pino, writing at National Review, defends “I, Pencil” against a recent, uninformed criticism that appeared in The American Conservative. Here’s Dominic’s conclusion:

Instead of suggesting constructive reforms to improve our global supply chains, [Declan] Leary advocates that we should “withdraw from dependence on the global system and reconnect ourselves to local, tangible, human networks of production and consumption.” He has in mind shopping at farmer’s markets and growing your own food. “We can reject the miracle, as fully as we’re able,” he writes.

“Reject the miracle” is not a conservative impulse. Libertarians are often derided as hyper-individualistic, and sometimes that criticism is fair. But who are the hyper-individualistic ones: the people who appreciate the complex interactions of humans all over the world that are necessary to make a pencil, or the people who think they are better off withdrawing from dependence on others, as fully as they’re able?

People who make “I, Pencil” into a religion are wrong to do so, but [Leonard] Read’s insight is fundamentally empirical, anti-individualistic, and pro-humanity. Lots of people all around the world had to do plenty of hard work to provide you with your pencil. That’s a cause for the fundamental conservative sentiment: gratitude.

“DC Metro Overpays for Defective Cars Thanks to Buy American Protectionism” – so reports Colin Grabow.

Reason‘s Eric Boehm is always worth reading.

George Will rightly decries the abuse of language in public discourse. Here’s his conclusion:

In June, when Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra testified to a Senate committee about “birthing people,” a.k.a. mothers, he was already falling behind the swift evolution of progressive nomenclature. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s revised “lactation-related language” respects mothers by identifying them as “human milk-feeding individuals.”

Almost nothing infuriates people as much as inflation — government’s failure to preserve the currency as a store of value. Even more infuriating, however, is a pervasive sense of arrogance and disorder, which now includes public officials and others propounding aggressively, insultingly strange vocabularies. Next November, there might be a cymbal-crash response to all this.

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