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Some Non-Covid Links

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George Will rightly criticizes “profligate Democrates and delusional Republicans.” [2] Two slices:

There is an exception to the federal government’s general inability to accomplish anything briskly. It drove [3] the national debt past $30 trillion this past week, which only two years ago it had not been expected [4] to accomplish until 2026.

Defenders of the government’s fiscal performance say: Who could have predicted the pandemic? But that is the point — prudent people expect the unexpected and plan risk management accordingly. Instead, today’s deficit doves are doubling down on their hubris, asserting [5] (in the skeptical words of the Manhattan Institute’s Brian Riedl [6]) “that this time they can predict interest rates decades in advance.” The average interest rate on government borrowing has fallen from 8.4 percent to 1.4 percent since 1990, a decline economists did not forecast but which many now forecast far into the future.

…..

This past week, as Washington passed the $30 trillion mark, Washington’s National Football League team, formerly the Redskins, renamed itself the Commanders [7]. It disregarded this column’s suggestion [8] that the team should be called the Continuing Resolutions. This would have proudly embraced the durable bipartisanship that — never mind the surface rancor — defines today’s national government: a bipartisan aversion to budgeting and a plucky refusal to be inhibited by any scarcity of revenues relative to political appetites.

(DBx: I still prefer, as a name for the former Redskins, the one suggested by David Hart: Predators. That name, even more than Continuing Resolutions, conveys the essence of Washington. A second-best name is, alas, already taken by Las Vegas’s NFL franchise [9]. And of course the name of my favorite NFL team [10] would be wholly inappropriate for the DC team.)

Also decrying the U.S. government’s appalling fiscal incontinence is Peter Earle [11]. A slice:

Instead of engaging in unsubstantiated forecasting or policy attitudinizing, a more productive and considered approach would focus on social science, historical precedent, and moral principle. It is precisely because we do not and cannot know where and when national debt levels are “too” high, or what will happen to global interest rates as the slug of US debt lumbers higher, or what the next congressional spending whim will embrace that we should look to the very public record of disastrous fiscal (and monetary) extravagance. We know that rising indebtedness brings colossal opportunity costs, which in turn affect every American citizen and our national security. And clearly, in a world of unlimited desires amid scarce resources, political decisions to trade the future for the present tempts further, possibly more withering assaults upon the already decremented soundness of the US dollar to meet rising obligations.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy explains why price controls inevitably cause calamity [12]. A slice:

Still, to those unwilling to learn from history, such controls will always seem sensible. Inflation amounts to rising prices, they say, so locking in prices is a supposed easy fix.

But treating inflation this way is like masking a symptom rather than curing the illness. Inflation can no more be controlled by fixing prices than your body weight can be controlled by programming your bathroom scale not to display pounds above some maximum number.

And just like masking your weight will not improve your diet, the misinformation conveyed by price controls will worsen the economy. Most of the time, prices are not simply set by an all-powerful seller; they’re a measurement of what consumers and sellers agree a product is worth. They tell entrepreneurs and businesses how to move resources from activities consumers want less of to those consumers value more.

Who’d a-thunk it? [13]

Jacob Sullum reports on yet another instance of the banana-republic practice of civil asset forfeiture [14].

GMU Econ alum Daniel Smith is not impressed with Biden’s nominees to the board of the Federal Reserve [15].

David Henderson calls on everyone to wake up and smell the CAFE [16].

Juliette Sellgren talks with Jonathan Rauch about “the constitution of knowledge.” [17]

Tim Worstall flags an egregiously misleading – no, false – headline [18].

Ben Zycher isn’t impressed with a recent analysis of policy by Arnold Schwarzenneger [19].