But as a broader matter of principle, Hannah-Jones’s behavior illustrates the absence of basic scholarly integrity from her approach to writing history. Rather than following the evidence where it leads, Hannah-Jones picks and chooses bits and pieces of her arguments from a secondary literature based on whether it conforms to her preconceived political narrative. She approaches citations as a tool by which she can reward other scholars who affirm that narrative. And if a previously-cited scholar runs afoul of Hannah-Jones, she is perfectly willing to alter the “history” presented in the 1619 Project in ways that excise the offending work and replace it with a completely different narrative – provided that its author flatters Hannah-Jones’s own personal politics and ambitions in the process.
But as Reason‘s Jacob Sullum pointed out last month, journalists tend to get unreasonably sniffy about their profession, insisting that it’s an elevated status rather than an activity that anybody can do.
“As UCLA law professor and First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh has shown, the idea that freedom of the press is a privilege enjoyed only by bona fide journalists, however that category is defined, is ahistorical and fundamentally mistaken,” Sullum wrote. “It is clear from the historical record that ‘freedom of the press’ refers to a technology of mass communication, not to a particular profession.”
That is, anybody gathering information and releasing it to the public is engaged in journalism, even if others doing the same thing have different ideas about how that information should be acquired and what should be reported. And, while government officials habitually evoke “national security” as a talismanic phrase to ward off scrutiny, there’s no convincing reason why the use of those words by themselves should prevent publication of Manning’s information, the Pentagon Papers, or anything else.
The experience of the 1970s showed that once inflation starts, stopping it is a slow and painful experience. The threat of inflation has been apparent for some time now (here’s what I said about it in May), but those who have the power to do something about it seem to have the attitude that it will go away on its own.
Despite strong private investment levels during the Obama era, labor productivity—the mother’s milk of wage gains—averaged less than half the growth of the previous 20 years. The problem was business “investment” was made to meet regulatory requirements, rather than to increase efficiency and expand the productivity of the economy.
During the first days of the Biden administration, the cold dead hand of government regulation reached further than it had during the Obama years. Initial executive orders eviscerated cost-benefit analysis as the basis for regulatory policy by defining benefits to include “social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity and the interests of future generations.” Executive orders opposed business mergers and acquisitions independent of consumer benefit and targeted the oil and gas industry for extinction.