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Some Non-Covid Links

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy is correct: Today’s battering of free speech on college campuses is ultimately rooted in a toxic campus culture. A slice:

In a recent New York Times op-ed, University of Virginia senior Emma Camp powerfully defended freedom of expression as she described her own practice of self-censoring while on campus. In doing so, she highlighted the disappearance of free-speech culture, both in America at large and at a university with respectable free-speech credentials.

It is obvious that Camp values free expression and welcomes a diversity of viewpoints. In fighting for changes, she is also willing to face some consequences for her speech. Yet you feel her pain as she admits being fearful of speaking up, and her disappointment when she confesses to often taking the easy way out by remaining quiet.

As an adult with views that are often distinctly different from those of my personal and work friends, I can relate. Of course, it’s sometimes good to hold one’s tongue about dissenting opinions, like at Thanksgiving dinner or a birthday party with friends whose opinions vary widely. There is more to life than just the debate of ideas. However, such silence is a problem when one feels pressure to hide opinions, or even acknowledge them, in settings — such as classrooms — that should encourage the search for truth by welcoming different viewpoints.

Juliette Sellgren talks with Jim Otteson about Adam Smith.

J.D. Tuccille warns of the looming drastic contraction of prosperity-creating globalization. Two slices:

Casualties were inevitable the moment Vladimir Putin sent Russia’s army across the border into Ukraine. But after the initial tally in lost and shattered lives, destroyed homes, and depleted wealth, we’re likely to discover that we’ve also lost a world of expanded trade that pulled billions of people out of poverty by removing barriers to free exchange. The walls were already rising because of pandemic restrictions and politicians’ thirst for greater control, but the war in Ukraine has accelerated a process that threatens human freedom and prosperity.

Economic sanctions and the retreat of Western businesses in response to the invasion of Ukraine have left Russia largely isolated. But they’ve also made clear that the integration of the global economy in recent decades wasn’t inevitable and is vulnerable to political decision-making.


That’s a shame because free-trade advocates are correct. While a strong case can be made that free trade is a basic human right involving consensual relations among individuals, it’s also a miraculous cure for misery. Over the last half-century or so, economists have rediscovered comparative advantage and that “trade openness is a necessary—even if not sufficient—condition for economic growth and reducing poverty,” as Pierre Lemieux wrote for the Cato Institute’s Regulation in 2020.

Steven Greenhut is wise. Two slices:

As a long-time critic of American military interventionism, I’ve been dismayed by the lack of moral clarity expressed by some libertarians and conservatives regarding Russia’s inexcusable attack on Ukraine. There’s a difference between opposing, say, direct American military interference with a nuclear-armed Russia and excusing its autocratic leader, Vladimir Putin.

Sadly, many of these folks haven’t just gotten close to the latter. They’ve gone over the line. It’s one thing to argue that perhaps the United States shouldn’t have pushed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to Russia’s borders and another to sound like those old Soviet commentators spewing unsophisticated agitprop.


Many conservatives seem willing to toss aside our nation’s constitutional protections and market economy in favor of post-liberal autocrats because they’re frustrated by our nation’s cultural tilt. Prominent conservative writer Sohrab Amari famously tweeted that he’s “at peace with a Chinese-led 21st century,” because “(l)ate-liberal America is too dumb and decadent to last as a superpower.”

Liberal democracy is perhaps too messy for them.

Fraser Nelson is also rightly critical of conservatives who have a soft spot for Putin because Putin says things that give the impression that he has a soft spot for them and their values. A slice:

Mostly, all this was the bovine logic of embracing your enemy’s enemy. Spend your life fretting about neocons and Washington hawks and you’ll find, in Putin, a doughty opponent of the Iraq war and Nato expansion. Eurosceptics like Le Pen and Salvini wanted to see an unapologetic defender of traditional values and the nation state. They all wanted to believe that the idea of Russia as a military threat died in 1989.

But Russia is back as a threat precisely because Putin hasn’t proved very convincing, finding the public far harder to dupe than the populists. He has become more desperate in his anti-woke ruse and a few months ago devoted a speech to trying to rescue the agenda. What’s the civilised world coming to, he asked, when Shakespeare is being dropped from school curricula? “In Hollywood,” he went on, “memos are distributed about proper storytelling and how many characters of what colour or gender should be in a movie. This is even worse than the USSR agitprop department.”

The average Russian, of course, couldn’t care less about English lessons in Connecticut or casting in Bridgerton. Putin was hoping to make common cause with Eastern Europeans, even Ukrainians, and telling them that these Western ways were not their ways. But the Slavs were having none of it. Surveys in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary showed that most voters said Putin has been “cynically pretending to stand up for European values”. They might be more socially conservative than in Western Europe, but theirs is the conservatism of people who remember being ruled by Soviet-imposed leaders. By a vast margin, they say they are culturally closer to Europe than to Russia.

John O. McGinnis laments the fragmentation of America’s democracy.

Gary Galles reminds us of the value of federalism. A slice:

In political democracy, your vote has no influence on the outcome when it is not aligned with majority wishes, and others’ rights are always at risk of being sacrificed. Under federalism, the potential of voting with your feet into jurisdictions that offer a preferred mix of burdens and benefits allows those with similar preferences to voluntarily share those bundles and limits the burdens majorities can impose on those who disagree. Voluntary market arrangements also offer a superior form of democracy. Those arrangements do not require the permission of the majority, yet markets represent a democracy in which every dollar vote counts and each person’s dollar votes determines their results, without providing the ability to violate others’ rights in the process.

Here’s part 15 of George Selgin’s invaluable series on the New Deal.