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Some Non-Covid Links

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George Will calls 2021 the “year of weird speaking.” [2] Three slices:

At the end of 2021, a year of weird speaking, Americans learned [3] from Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) that “student debt is policy violence.” Previously, Americans were lectured [4] that “silence is violence” — that not voicing support for this or that supposedly oppressed group is violence against it. The proliferation of new forms of violence raises a question: Are old forms — say, a flash mob looting [5] a Louis Vuitton store — still violence? Or is this just the vigorous articulation of intersectional consciousness against consumer culture’s commodification of everything, including commodities?

Normal people, who might want to toss anvils to progressives drowning in their jargon, should modify George Orwell’s axiom [6] that “the great enemy of clear language is insincerity.” Today, the enemy of clarity is the scary sincerity of progressives who are politically inflamed about everything.

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Colorado’s constitution forbids [7] “any distinction or classification of pupils … on account of race or color,” a provision adopted in 1974, during the national recoil against segregation. Now, however, a Denver school is planning [8], when covid-19 permits, a “families of color playground night,” a project overseen by something not all elementary schools have: the school’s “dean of culture.”

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Actor Jussie Smollett had said [9] that when he went out for a sandwich … at 2 a.m. … in a subzero Chicago January … he encountered — such rotten luck! — two political activists shouting “this is MAGA country” … who, amazingly, on their ramble just happened to be carrying a noose … and bleach … that they doused him with … and ….

A 2021 jury of Chicagoans said [10]: Puh-lease. We think this tale belongs on the growing list (e.g., the 2006 [11] Duke lacrosse rape, the 2012 [12] University of Virginia fraternity rape) of American horrors that never happened.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy has a wish for 2022 [13]. A slice:

At the eve of a new year, it’s traditional to make a resolution or two. I have no such list for myself or others, but I do have a wish. For 2022 and beyond, I wish that all of us who still cherish liberal values will band together to oppose the worrisome rise of authoritarianism around the world.

For decades, those inclined toward free markets have focused on authoritarianism coming from the political left. We have spared no energy denouncing and opposing it. We’ve rightfully been concerned about the push to centralize more power in the hands of federal governments and to increase the scope and size of all government. We have warned that these policies, pursued consistently, pave what the great F.A. Hayek called “the road to serfdom.”

This fight should continue. However, it’s time to be equally harsh toward those on the Right who want to use state power to control individuals’ choices and destroy those with whom they disagree. In America, this illiberalism was visible in many of the policies pushed by former President Donald Trump, including industrial policies riddled with favoritism and hostility to foreign workers and immigrants. It peaked during the last months of his presidency with claims of stolen elections and other conspiracy theories.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board decries Beijing’s continuing tyranny over Hong Kong [14]. A slice:

China’s shredding of Hong Kong’s autonomy is reaching new levels of nastiness. This week authorities forced the closure of the online publication Stand News and levied new charges against Apple Daily executives.

On Wednesday authorities arrested seven people linked to Stand News for “conspiracy to publish seditious publication,” according to the Hong Kong police. They include top editor Patrick Lam, as well as pop singing star Denise Ho and former lawmaker Margaret Ng, both former board members.

Police also arrested former top editor Chung Pui-kuen, whose wife—former Apple Daily associate publisher Chan Pui-man—has been in jail since July. In these days of Beijing control in Hong Kong, families that dissent together end up separated behind bars.

Citing the city’s new national security law, more than 200 police descended on the Stand News office, seized computers and documents, and froze some $7.8 million in assets without due process. Police said “further arrests may be made,” even as Stand News announced its immediate closure.

Trevor Burrus reports on a new amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by the Cato Institute. [15]

Jim Dorn reflects on Alan Greenspan’s “irrational exuberance” speech of 25 years ago [16].

My Mercatus Center colleague Rosolino Candela explains the continuing relevance of the work of Ludwig von Mises [17].

Matt Welch is impressed neither with Joe Biden’s veracity nor with mainstream-media’s reporting on Biden’s flimsy connection to reality [18].

GMU Econ student Dominic Pino, writing for National Review, warns of a new call to use price controls to fight inflation [19]. A slice:

[UMass economics professor Isabella] Weber gets the causation backward right from the start. She writes that “a critical factor that is driving up prices remains largely overlooked: an explosion in profits.” It makes no sense to say that profits drive up prices in competitive markets. Profit is defined as revenue minus costs. For profits to go up, something has to change about revenue and costs. The equilibrium price of a good is not in any way dependent on profit.

(DBx: Any “economist” who advocates the use of price controls for any purpose, but especially for controlling inflation, deserves the same intense degree of contempt as does any “biologist” who advocates creationism as an explanation for biodiversity and living-creatures’ phenotypes.)

As Jeff Jacoby explains, another person who (if her public statements are to be believed) is utterly clueless about inflation is Elizabeth Warren [20]. A slice:

In the world according to Warren, every unwelcome spike in prices is the result of a conspiracy to put the screws to consumers, while every dramatic price reduction is an irrelevancy. In the real world, market forces, not corporate villainy, explain why prices fluctuate. And “market forces” go far beyond decisions made by a handful business leaders in C-suites. They comprise choices made by tens of thousands of producers and vendors, as well as millions of consumers.

Inflation isn’t on the march because, after decades of stable prices, corporate America was suddenly seized by a wave of greed. It’s a ridiculous theory, but it’s the one Warren is sticking to. So she plays the corporate-greed card over and over, like a relative repeating the same dreary party trick at every family gathering. Meanwhile prices keep rising, and voters are less and less amused.

Brian Riedl explains “how higher interest rates could push Washington toward a federal debt crisis.” [21]

My GMU Econ colleague Robin Hanson warns about what might eventually kill the “innovism” (Deirdre McCloskey’s term) that is responsible for modernity’s immense prosperity [22].