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Some Non-Covid Links

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My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy, writing at EconLog, shares new evidence on the perverse incentives unleashed by expansion of the child tax credit [2]. Here’s her conclusion:

The bottom line is that the cost of the child credit expansion isn’t the only or even the biggest concern we should have. Its impact on some people’s willingness to work, marry, and ultimately on intergenerational mobility and child poverty should be front and center of anyone’s concern with this program expansion.

George Will applauds Gordon Klein, the UCLA business-school lecturer who is standing up to the moronic, but dangerous, woke mob [3]. A slice:

When UCLA warned the Anderson School against immediately punishing Klein, the school did so anyway. On June 3, the next day, it placed Klein on involuntary administrative leave, accusing him of violating unspecified provisions of the university’s Faculty Code of Conduct. Antonio Bernardo, dean of the Anderson School, took center stage to preen about his sensitivity. He epitomizes the invertebrate academic bureaucrats who, oozing wokeness from every pore, pander to mobs clamoring for the unethical and hoping for the illegal.

Here’s GMU Econ alum Erik Matson on “Adam Smith and problems with the new paternalism.” [4] Here’s Erik’s conclusion:

To speak of any kind of “paternalism” justly smacks of “parentalism,” of treating others like children, and that brings us to the third problem, the cultivation of self-command. Smith identifies [5] the wide world of social experience as “the great school of self-command.” We learn through error, instances of self-disapproval, and social feedback. We learn to act like adults by being treated like adults, not children; we learn responsibility by having responsibility.

The point is not to say that we can do nothing to help individuals better themselves. It is to say that, at least from a Smithian perspective, we must carry on that conversation in terms other than those proposed by the new paternalists. We should talk in terms that recognise the problems that inhere in claims about regulating affairs that make people better off by their own standards.

Nearly every year after the announcement of the Nobel Prize in economics, David Henderson writes in the Wall Street Journal on the prize winner(s) [6]. A slice from this-year’s piece:

MIT’s Amy Finkelstein and other health economists used a natural experiment in Oregon to assess Medicaid’s effect on health. The state government had set up a lottery for people who wanted to get on Medicaid. The economists could be reasonably confident that those who won the lottery wouldn’t be much different from those who lost. So they followed a large number of each and found that getting on Medicaid “generated no statistically significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes in the first two years.”

Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady explains – and applauds – the defection of half of Cuba’s under-23 national baseball team [7]. A slice:

The ballplayers were part of what the regime called its “patriots” team because they were supposed to embody youthful zeal for the communist state. Instead, when they saw freedom, they bolted—though not all at once. First three went missing, and then another three [8]. Later reports trickled in of one here and two there who failed to show up when expected.

The 12th, according to El Nuevo Herald, vanished while on a team shopping trip to Walmart [9]. He could hardly have chosen a more poetic escape from a life sentence of deep privation, disappearing as he did in a big-box store that screams capitalism. Viva la libertad.

Art Carden explores what it means to be “an informed citizen.” [10] A slice:

To the presumptuous statesman and lawgiver, I would add the presumptuous voter–and saying “voters have a duty to be informed so that they vote well” runs into a lot of complications when we consider just how much one might need to know to be “informed.” The epistemic bar for “voting well” is pretty high [11]. While it’s easy to speak in terms of vague generalities like “Poverty is bad,” it seems rather heroic to think voters or the statesmen and lawgivers they elect are well-positioned to cast well-informed, epistemically-justified votes. The sheer complexity of it all suggests that it probably is OK to ignore politics [12]; moreover, political passivity is at least not blameworthy and might even be praiseworthy [13].

Walter Olson reports on a happy legal development (from, of all places, the Ninth Circuit) [14].

Mustafa Akyol explains why he, as a Muslim, champions liberty [15].

George Leef busts some myths about student debt [16]. A slice:

But, before the onset of federal intervention to make college “accessible” to everyone, Americans were not undereducated. Much of their skill and knowledge, however, was acquired outside of classrooms—especially through on the job training and apprenticeships. People found ways to optimize their education and only a small percentage concluded that they needed a college degree.

But those who had college degrees were among the wealthiest in the country. Higher education had obviously worked for them, so why not make it available to all?

The reasoning is fallacious.  Just because X is beneficial for some people doesn’t necessarily mean that having X will be beneficial for everyone. If anyone questioned the logic of “college for everyone,” his objections did not deter the politicians from going full speed ahead.

Scott Lincicome draws a brief lesson from Germany on manufacturing, mercantilism, and economic resilience [17].