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Some Non-Covid Links

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy warns of the dangers of price controls. A slice:

To believe that inflation is the product of corporate greed requires even more obliviousness to reality. Inflation is truly a general and ongoing increase of all prices, including wages (which are the price of our labor). This reality means that all companies would have to be getting greedier simultaneously, and that all workers are, at the same time, overcome with similar avarice.

Scott Shackford criticizes “California’s incredibly stupid, market-denying emergency ‘price-gouging’ laws.”

John Stossel is rightly critical of some media companies. A slice:

The New York Post broke the [Hunter Biden] laptop story near the end of the presidential campaign. The story was explosive, of course, and the media pile-on intense. Some piled on Hunter Biden, but more piled on the Post. They questioned the authenticity of the hard drive and the timing and accuracy of the story.

Twitter blocked the story from even being shared. Facebook hid the story. Politico said it might be “Russian disinformation.” A Washington Post column called it “laughably weak.” A New York Times piece labeled it “farcical retread of the Russian hack-and-leak operation that helped torpedo Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations.” The story was mocked and buried.

Now, a year and a half later, the Post and Times admit that major parts of the story were accurate.

Do you know what they haven’t said?

“Sorry. We cannot stand the idea of another Trump term, so we didn’t report on bad things Democrats did.”

The Washington Post finally wrote that the way the media handled the story was an “opportunity for a reckoning.” But then they spent the rest of their editorial making excuses for their mistakes.

I’m an Atlanta Braves fan, but – for reasons explained by J.C. Bradbury – that team’s stadium deserves no fans.

Robert Wright rightly applauds Mario Rizzo’s and Glen Whitman’s book, Escaping Paternalism. A slice:

The most brilliant chapter in Escaping is Chapter 8, which turns behavioral economics on itself after unleashing utter carnage upon behaviorists’ assumptions and studies in the first seven chapters. It essentially asks how, if behavioral economists are correct that most individuals suffer from sundry irrationalities, people, including the behavioral economists themselves, can expect paternalistic policymakers to affect positive change.

Colin Grabow reports that even labor unions (quietly) agree that the cronyist Jones Act impedes Americans’ access to supplies.

Here’s Pierre Lemieux on different meanings of “liberal democracy.”

GMU Econ student Sebastián Rodríguez, writing with Gilberto Ramírez, examine the history of classical-liberal ideas in Colombia.

This letter-to-the-editor in the Wall Street Journal reveals some of the many dangers of Biden’s proposed wealth tax:

Put aside the constitutional questions. Jason Furman’s support for a wealth tax on unrealized appreciation (“Biden’s Better Plan to Tax the Rich,” op-ed, March 29) is based significantly on a market-liquidity argument, fairly identifying that an estate basis step-up creates large incentives to hold stocks longer than many investors otherwise would.

The Biden plan would enhance liquidity, however, through widespread forced liquidations, with harsh economic consequences, including clear downward market pressure from selloffs to fund taxes. Perhaps most significant would be the deterrence to invest in startups and private companies without liquid or, often, any traded market, leading to many fire-sale exits—potentially devastating to companies and investors alike. Even orderly liquidations over the proposed five-year window could leave some founders and investors with negative net worth should a catastrophic event occur to their companies after accrued tax liabilities, or where margin loans to fund taxes become due on highly devalued assets.

Further, one can easily anticipate the necessary Rube Goldbergesque regulations for implementing broad-based mark-to-market rules, and the certain litigation that will come with administering exceptions, exemptions and costs of establishing valuations. Surely, it would give rise to an extra—and entirely legal—economic drag of tax-avoidance schemes. And it isn’t hard to imagine the politicization of granting exceptions and special treatment for the right kind of companies and shareholders.

Mark Noonan
New Canaan, Conn.