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Some Non-Covid Links

Phil Gramm and Mike Solon, writing in the Wall Street Journal, explain that “stakeholder capitalism” springs from a rejection of the values of the Enlightenment. A slice:

The pre-Enlightenment world was dominated by the powerful, who defined the public interest to benefit themselves and imposed their will on productive members of society. When labor and capital are forced to share what they produce with stakeholders, the reward for working and savings is plundered.

In the post-Enlightenment world, people were empowered to pursue their own private interests. Private interests and free markets accomplished what no benevolent king’s redistribution, no loving bishop’s charity, no mercantilistic protectionism, and no powerful guild ever did—deliver broad, unending prosperity.

Remarkably, amid the recorded successes of capitalism and failures of socialism rooted in Marxism, pre-enlightenment socialism is re-emerging in the name of stakeholder capitalism. These stakeholders claim that “you did not build your business” and that your labor and thrift should serve their definition of the public interest.

The initial target of this extortion is corporate America. Stakeholders argue that rich capitalists who own big businesses already get more than they deserve. But since roughly 70% of corporate revenues go to labor, the biggest losers in stakeholder capitalism are workers, whose wages will be cannibalized. And of course, the idea that rich capitalists own corporate America is largely a progressive myth. Some 72% of the value of publicly traded companies in America is owned by pensions, 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts, charitable organizations, and insurance companies funding life insurance policies and annuities. The overwhelming majority of involuntary sharers in stakeholder capitalism will be workers and retirees.

Nate Hochman reports the happy news of some increased resistance in corporate America to wokism.

I’m always pleased to be a guest of Amy Jacobson and Dan Proft.

Megan McArdle warns against taking at face value “the data on American right-wing violence.” A slice:

After all those reports on the threat of right-wing violence, any new case with a tenuous link to the alt-right or the Aryan Brotherhood seems like part of a trend meriting wall-to-wall coverage. Meanwhile, a Black man driving into a parade after making anti-White remarks on Facebook is seen as a sick individual. There’s some danger that this becomes the policy equivalent of a self-licking ice cream cone: Media primed by nongovernmental-organization reports play up even glancing connections to racist or militia groups, which in turn guarantees that the next such report will feature a disproportionate share of cases coded as “right-wing violence.”

T.J. Rodgers sits “on the boards of four solar energy companies that are being harmed badly by existing U.S. tariffs and threats of new ones.” A slice:

Silicon Valley prospers because it invents and then moves on quickly from yesterday’s technologies, such as the assembly of personal computers and cellphones. My next-generation solar technology companies are Enphase Energy (solar power electronics and storage), FTC Solar (utility-scale solar trackers), SunDensity (solar quantum concentrators) and Solaria Solar (complete residential solar and storage systems). All these companies enjoyed the benefits of cheap Chinese solar panels because low prices drove higher sales volume—as Adam Smith and David Ricardo would have predicted.

Eric Boehm weighs in against the nitwitted attempt to use government to outlaw high fuel prices. Here’s his conclusion:

Price controls are lies—pleasant ones, perhaps, but lies just the same—and the government ought not to be in the business of forcing businesses to lie to consumers for political reasons.

GMU Econ alum Ryan Young makes clear that today’s baby-formula shortage is made worse by cronyism.

Alberto Mingardi remembers Independent Institute founder David Theroux. A slice:

The books that the Independent Institute has published are remarkable: their catalog includes some “classics”, at least within the boundaries of our movement (I think of Dominick Armentano’s Antitrust and Monopoly, Bruce Benson’s To Serve and Protect, Dowd and Timberlake’s Money and the Nation State, the excellent The Voluntary City edited by Beito, Gordon and Tabarrok); some provocative pamphlets (like Alvaro Vargas Llosa’s The Che Guevara Myth) and a good number of titles which would deserve to be better known (our own Scott Sumner’s The Midas Paradox or The Economies of Immigration edited by Ben Powell, for example). The Independent Review is even more extraordinary. Its founding editor, Robert Higgs, is a remarkable (and much underrated) economic historian and left his impression in the journal. Besides Crisis and Leviathan, Higgs wrote a number of important works, my favorite being perhaps Depression, War, and Cold War. Challenging the Myths of Conflict and Prosperity, a genuine eye-opener. In many ways, he is that rare bird: a scholar who is both outspoken and rigorous.

His successors as editors of the Independent Review (Chris Coyne, Mike Munger and Robert Whaples) are doing a splendid job. “Independent scholarship developed by independent minds” sounds a bit like an advertisement quip, but in this case is a fair description.

His long time association with Higgs signals that David had a clear vision for his think tank, the philosophy (the kind of libertarianism, if you prefer) it should advance and the means by which it should promote it – and kept to it, for some 35 years. Not bad. His legacy is of great relevance, for classical liberal all over the world.