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Some Non-Covid Links

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My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy and our colleague Jack Salmon explain that Biden’s strategy to fight inflation ignores inflation’s root causes [2]. A slice:

The president’s op-ed shows that no one is yet willing to take ownership of this catastrophic failure. The Federal Reserve has adopted a more hawkish message when it comes to inflation, but it continues to issue projections of inflation falling back to trend, persisting in this oblivious optimism although Fed policies are still accommodative for the current inflationary environment. The central bank’s purportedly anti-inflation monetary policy will leave real interest rates in negative territory even after several rate hikes. In other words, the Fed’s message for well over a year now has been that inflation will fall on its own after supply disruptions are resolved. But its predictions have been consistently wrong, and it has revised its forecast upward at every meeting.

George Will decries politicians’ recklessness with other people’s money [3]. Here’s his conclusion:

Once government begins to pursue the chimera of ever-more-perfect fairness, it finds — actually, it incites — more and more factions claiming that justice demands their inclusion in the government’s ever-expanding plans for smoothing life’s rough surfaces. Congress can talk about refilling the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, but it can never be full enough to service all factions who can claim, with some plausibility, that they experienced unfairness not easily distinguished from that suffered by factions who benefited from the first $28 billion.

There comes a point where the right policy is: Stop smoothing. And stop digging.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, J. Howard Beales and Timothy Muris lament the return of FTC nanny-state activism [4]. A slice:

Transforming the American economy into a progressive utopia would require the FTC to become a powerful legislature. To expedite FTC-crafted legislation, or rulemaking in agency-speak, the Commissioners last year approved substantial changes, on a 3–2 party-line vote [5]. They did so with neither public comment about the changes nor input from most of the agency’s professional staff.

FTC leaders should have learned from the past. To avoid the mistakes of the 1970s, the Commission must use processes that guarantee scrutiny of its proposals, provide for an inquiry into their facts, and ensure a critical evaluation of proposed remedies and their likely effects. Congress sought to establish just such a process when it first codified rulemaking authority.

Instead, the Biden FTC’s changes are all about accelerating the progressive agenda. The Commission’s explanation doesn’t say the goal is writing better rules or avoiding mistakes. The new rules will produce greater political control of rulemaking and less public input, violating both the agency’s statutory authority and sound public policy. For example, the changes remove the statutory requirement that the Commission explain its reasons “with particularity,” allowing instead a general statement of reasons. The many critiques of 1970s rulemaking identified the Commission’s failure to articulate clear legal and substantive theories as a root cause of the problems.

GMU Econ alum Byron Carson asks: “Can Star Wars be an intergalactic gateway to better understand public choice theory?” [6]

My GMU Econ colleague Bryan Caplan here writes about parenting and about other people who write about parenting [7].

GMU Econ alum Nathan Goodman’s list of books to read in your 20s doesn’t fully overlap the list that I’d make, but his is nevertheless an excellent list [8].

Pierre Lemieux wisely warns against the folly of supposing that processing and pondering big-enough data is key to knowledge and sound public policy [9].