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Some Non-Covid Links

Neal McCluskey writes that things are looking up for private-school enrollment. A slice:

What’s driving the increase? Consistent with previous findings on school responses to the pandemic, The Economist writes that Catholic schools, like private schools broadly, tended to re‐​open to in‐​person instruction more quickly than public schools. “Last autumn many public‐​school systems delayed reopening and did not offer full‐​time in‐​class learning,” says the article. “When Catholic schools reopened, most provided in‐​person learning. This appealed to families who struggled with remote learning.”

Richard Gunderman explains why he believes that “[i]t is hard to imagine a stauncher and more influential defender of liberty than Maria Montessori.”

My GMU Econ colleague Dan Klein writes wisely about the recovery of liberty.

Alberto Mingardi asks if the future of conservatism is “national.” A slice:

“National conservatives”, on the other hand, are extremely vocal on the issues of the day, beginning with left wing hegemony in education and race and crime. They are certainly growing in visibility. Yet one can still wonder, as [Nate] Hochmann and [Arnold] Kling do, what they stand for. Arnold proposes to consider national conservatism as “20th century conservatism minus fiscal responsibility plus class warfare rhetoric”.

There are a couple of things that crossed my mind in this regard. The movement was christened by the publication of Yoram Hazony’s The Virtues of Nationalism. I found that to be not a persuasive book, to say the least. But I think it was a clever book, as it proposed to conservatives, who were kind of shocked after Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican party, something that seemed to offer an ideological outlook. Lots of pieces are missing: why, for example, Hazony’s insistence on the biblical roots of modern nation states, or his notion that *true* (good?) nationalism is actually hard wired in the Anglo Saxon political culture, why, indeed, all this should lead to fiscal profligacy is not clear to me. That attitude toward a bigger spending conservatism was actually rooted in support for Trumpism. National conservatives fashion themselves as the intellectuals who take Trump seriously and endeavoured to weave a coherent approach out of his many idiosyncratic policies.

Thomas Berry and Nicole Saad Bembridge argue, quite correctly, that “the First Amendment protects everyone, even Facebook and Twitter.” Here’s their conclusion:

When he signed 7072, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis likened social media platforms’ content moderation to the “tyrannical behavior” of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. If DeSantis is really concerned about free speech and authoritarianism, he should think twice before giving the government more control over private communications platforms.

Tim Worstall longs for the good ol’ days when Barack Obama lived in the White House.

Tyler Cowen correctly concludes that Milton Friedman’s legacy remains strong – as it should.

Claude Barfield reports the unfortunate news that “[o]n steel and aluminum trade, Trumpism still rules.” A slice:

On Fareed Zakaria’s CNN Sunday show, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan recently touted “profound” differences between the administrations of President Biden and former President Trump. On some issues, Sullivan has a case to make — but not on extending the bogus national security rationale for imposing steel and aluminum import restrictions on U.S. allies.

To recount, in 2018, the Trump administration, in a flagrant misuse of legal statutes, placed steel and aluminum tariffs — 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively — on imports from a number of U.S. allies and trading partners, invoking the national security exceptions in Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act. In response, the European Union (EU) levied 25 percent tariffs on a number of U.S. products — and planned to increase these taxes substantially on Dec. 1.

Though strongly critical of Donald Trump’s trade policies, the Biden administration has chosen to “maintain but modify” the Section 232 tariffs. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai has stoutly defended tariffs as a legitimate trade policy tool, while also stating that tariffs can provide the United States with negotiating leverage. She also has defended the use of the “unfair trade practices” provision, Section 301 of the 1974 U.S. Trade Act, as a legitimate tool for unilateral retaliation against such practices — namely $370 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods.

My Mercatus Center colleagues Alden Abbott and Adam Thierer explain that spin-offs are neither new nor troubesome. A slice:

More generally, recent legislative proposals and antitrust enforcement actions aimed at arbitrarily discouraging mergers threaten to undermine market forces that generate economic welfare by reorganizing corporate assets. These initiatives stem from the mantra that the American economy has become more concentrated and less competitive due to lax antitrust enforcement—claims that have been debunked by economic research.

Real-world evidence demonstrates that rather than being stagnant and uncompetitive in recent decades, the American economy has been dynamic and free from supposed monopoly control. The media sector provides perhaps the most remarkable examples of the constant churn that occurs in dynamic markets.

A couple decades ago, critics were lambasting the mega-merger of AOL and Time Warner, fearing that the deal represented “the end of the independent press,” and was a harbinger of a “new totalitarianism.” But just two years after the merger took place, the firm reported a $54 billion loss, which grew to $99 billion by January of 2003. By September 2003, Time Warner decided to drop AOL from its name, and the marriage finally ended miserably in 2008 with AOL being spun-off entirely.

AOL’s decline continued, and not even its brief ownership by Verizon helped much. In May, Verizon sold both AOL and Yahoo!, another once-mighty tech company that was formerly considered the king of search. In the divestiture, Verizon lost about half what it paid acquiring both firms.