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Some Non-Covid Links

Here’s the abstract of the just-published paper, in the Economic Journal, by my GMU Econ colleague Vincent Geloso, along with Phil Magness, John Moore, and Philip Schlosser; the paper’s title is “How pronounced is the U-curve? Revisiting income inequality in the United States, 1917-1960“:

Piketty and Saez (2003) found a pronounced U-curve pattern of American income inequality since 1917, displaying a precipitous decline during World War II to a level that would hold until 1980. We offer revisions to their income inequality estimates prior to 1960 with three important findings. First, Piketty and Saez overstate inequality levels in this period. Second, the decline during WWII was smaller than depicted. Third, the Great Depression, rather than WWII, played the more significant role. These findings indicate a need to reevaluate commonly held assumptions about the evolution of inequality during the period of the ‘Great Leveling,’ as well as the nature of its posited relationship to tax policy.

Citing the work of Gail Heriot, George Will rightly criticizes “America’s cultural sensitivity industry.” A slice:

In 1986, the Supreme Court held that the EEOC had correctly decided that employees have a right (herewith the court’s language) “to work in an environment free from discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult.” Heriot correctly calls this “a somewhat unusual statement” because “no one has a general ‘right’ to be free from ridicule or insult, and the federal government cannot, consistently with the First Amendment, create such a right” for “the context of employment.”

The evolving law of “harassment” and “hostile environment” prompted attitudinal changes congruent with three emerging cultural ideas: That it is wholesome to define one’s identity with reference to race, sex or ethnicity. That this should make one acutely alert to affronts, even if micro. And that there is an entitlement to pass through life without emotional distress occasioned by abraded sensitivities.

GMU Econ student Dominic Pino schools the economically ignorant Elizabeth Warren about the reality and role of profits.

The great Bruce Yandle explains that the cause of today’s inflation in America is Washington and not Moscow. A slice:

For too long now, our political leaders have been unwilling to accept the notion that their policies are the major source of inflation, that the inflation embedded in our economy is not transitory, that inflation is not just associated with sudden supply chain problems, and that inflation is not caused by business leaders suddenly becoming unusually greedy. Few have admitted inflation is created in Washington, here to stay, and likely to worsen over the next 12 months.

Many analysts (and even Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers) now recognize that, fed by trillions of stimulus dollars distributed in 2020–21, surging consumer demand placed extraordinary pressures on the straining supply of home appliances, automobiles, residential structures, gasoline, paint, and even cat food. With money flooding and consumers shopping, prices had to sail higher.

Alan Reynolds calls Biden’s – and Jen Psaki’s – theory of oil prices “unintelligible.” A slice:

The White House needs a lesson in basic energy economics. The global market for oil depends on the amount demanded and supplied, not where it comes from or where it goes. The global market for crude oil does not depend on whether the U.S. imports oil from Russia or Canada, nor does it depend on whether Russia sells that oil to the U.S. or China.

Colin Grabow continues to explain the damage done to Americans by the Jones Act. A slice:

Passed in 1920, the Jones Act restricts the domestic waterborne transportation of goods—including energy products—to vessels that are U.S.-flagged and built as well as mostly U.S.-crewed and owned. Meeting these requirements isn’t cheap. A U.S.-built tanker is estimated to cost nearly four times more than one built overseas ($150 million versus $40 million) while operating costs are also significantly higher.

The inevitable result is expensive shipping rates that can make it cost‐​prohibitive to transport oil within the United States, thus tipping the scales in favor of imports.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy explains that spending more on national defense doesn’t ensure more national defense. A slice:

Providing military defense is a valid function of the federal government. However, that doesn’t give license to Congress to simply pile on more spending, even when there are dangers out there. Nor does it mean that more spending will result in a completely safe world for us Americans. That’s in part because that world doesn’t exist. There’s only so much safety money can buy.

While I certainly don’t pretend to know what the optimal budget for our military is, we are already spending a large amount on national security and on the Pentagon. In fiscal year 2023, the United States is expected to spend more than $770 billion on national defense, with $729 billion of this amount being for the Department of Defense’s military operations. This enormous sum is more than the next 10 countries spend combined. Russia, for instance, spends close to $62 billion. France and Germany spend almost $53 billion each. Assuming China’s numbers are accurate, it spends $252 billion.

Alberto Mingardi remembers the late Antonio Martino. A slice:

He studied in Chicago, in the late 1960s (where he met his wife, Carol), and when he returned to Rome he soon became a University professor. In Chicago, he’d befriended Milton Friedman. Meeting Friedman reshaped his worldview. He was expecting professors to be cold and distant, as, particularly at that time, they used to be in Italy. Friedman was accessible, kind, and funny, and took the young Sicilian under his wing.