Some Non-Covid Links

by Don Boudreaux on March 5, 2022

in Books, Country Problems, Education, Energy, Environment, Monetary Policy, Myths and Fallacies, Podcast, Regulation, War

Reason‘s Nick Gillespie talks with AIER’s new president, Will Ruger, about Putin’s vile invasion of Ukraine.

David Henderson warns against the deceptively named bill “American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICO),” that is now working its way through Congress. A slice:

But who put the platforms together? Big Tech firms did. Did they take a risk? Absolutely; no one guaranteed that they would succeed. Consider Facebook. It entered the industry when Myspace already had a market position and a market advantage. Now, a serious question that is asked online is “Is Myspace still active?” It is, but it’s a shadow of its former self. Facebook knocked it out of serious competition by innovating.

It seems reasonable that when a company innovates, it should get to keep the rewards of innovating. In a 2004 study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Nobel Prize–winning economist William Nordhaus of Yale University found that only 2.2 percent of the total value of innovation goes to the innovator; the rest goes to consumers. It’s hard enough for innovators to capture much of the value of what they create. So we should let them keep what they can.

Does allowing platforms to give preference to their own products hurt potential competitors? Sure, it does. But these platforms don’t usually prevent consumers from buying from the platforms’ competitors. Consumers can typically buy competitors’ products; they simply must search a little harder.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy ponders cryptocurrencies and Russia.

Juliette Sellgren talks with GMU Econ alum Abby Hall Blanco about military drones.

George Leef asks if affirmative action helps or hinders individuals in those groups that affirmative-action supporters say they wish to help. A slice:

So, what is [Holden] Thorp’s argument?

He writes, “Failure to enroll a diverse undergraduate population has already excluded outstanding people from science and limiting affirmative action will only make matters worse.”

Thorp must know that virtually all of the top colleges and universities in America have been going to great lengths to “enroll a diverse undergraduate population” for the last forty years. No one is being excluded from going to college and studying science or anything else. What I believe he means to say is that in the absence of racial preferences, there would be substantially fewer students “of color” admitted to universities such as Harvard and UNC. That is undoubtedly true. If it weren’t for such preferences, those institutions would admit fewer black and Hispanic students, and more students of Asian background.

Wouldn’t that exclude the students Thorp is concerned about? No, because students who don’t get into their top, most prestigious college picks just enroll somewhere else.

Think for a moment about those Asian students who are rejected at Harvard, et al, in order to make room for “diverse” students. They’re excluded from Harvard, but not from going to college. They simply enroll in one of the other schools to which they applied. If the Supreme Court were to rule against the legality of racial preferences, that wouldn’t exclude anyone from Harvard, but would mean that students who didn’t have high enough academic qualifications would have to go to a school where their qualifications were on a par with most of the other students. A black student who wanted to study engineering at Harvard might, for example, go to Purdue instead.

I’m eager to read William B. Allen’s forthcoming book, The State of Black America.

Prices rising at the pump are a helluva lot better than government prohibiting prices from rising, so expertly argues Ron Bailey.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board justifiably takes Biden to task for his administration’s irrational hostility to fossil fuels. A slice:

We reported last month that a federal judge slapped down the Biden Administration’s inflated “social cost” estimate for greenhouse gas emissions. The Administration’s estimate captured all of the potential harm from carbon emissions globally over three centuries—yes, centuries. They threw in everything from property damage to health harms and war.

Biden officials were furious at the judge’s decision because they planned to use this grossly inflated social cost estimate to support restrictions on fossil fuels—from stricter fuel-economy rules to methane emissions curbs for oil and gas production. Now they can’t, so dozens of rule-makings are stalled.

But here’s the kicker: The White House budget office says the injunction has caused it to halt permitting work on at least 18 wells on federal oil and gas leases in New Mexico and new lease sales. The White House is blaming the judge for what it was already doing or, rather, not doing.

J.D. Tuccille is understandably unimpressed by Biden’s agenda. A slice:

“My plan to fight inflation will lower your costs and lower the deficit,” the president asserted. Then he proposed to let the federal government set drug prices, subsidize home-weatherization along with solar and wind power, and underwrite part of the cost of purchasing electric cars as well as build 500,000 charging stations for those vehicles. Biden also wants the government to pay for childcare, subsidize long-term care, and pick up the cost of pre-kindergarten. All of this will come, he promises, without raising taxes on anybody making less than $400,000 per year. That’ll be quite a trick with national debt soaring above $30 trillion without such an ambitious agenda.

Biden also wants more government oversight of nursing homes, a higher minimum wage, and increased government subsidies for college education, among other federal schemes too numerous to mention, most drawn from the stalled Build Back Better monstrosity of a spending bill. None of this sounds like a plan for reducing costs, though it hides some by shifting them to taxpayers. The same can be said of Biden’s vow: “When we use taxpayers’ dollars to rebuild America, we are going to do it by buying American: buy American products, support American jobs.” That’s guaranteed to increase expenses by eliminating consideration of overseas sources and the competition they offer.

David Simon is rightly dismayed that so many allegedly well-informed people remain so poorly informed about climate change. A slice:

Global warming, Matt Ridley has recently explained, also improves forest, grassland, and tree leaf growth and raises agricultural yields.

The facts regarding natural disasters also are positive. A 2021 EPA report admits that as the earth has warmed since the late 19th century, the number of hurricanes per year has not increased. An August 5, 2021 article by Bjørn Lomborg similarly details that the area burned by fires annually has decreased and most rivers flood less.

The most important fact regarding natural disasters, however, is that while the planet’s average temperature has risen by 1.12 degrees and its population has quadrupled from less than two billion to almost eight billion since 1920, the number of people killed each year by natural disasters has declined by about 90 percent.

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