And here the story of the Minitel, even though not a resounding failure, offers a great illustration of one of the problems with industrial policy. When thinking of the Minitel story, we are lucky to have a perfect product to compare it to: The iPhone. As Mercatus Center’s Dan Rothchild reminded me, the iPhone came out 15 years ago, and its evolution offers a sharp contrast with the Minitel. While the iPhone has changed and improved dramatically over the years, thanks to Apple investment and innovation, the Minitel pretty much stagnated. The difference couldn’t be more stark.
Now, [Chief Justice John] Roberts writes, the court is reluctant to find a sweeping power “lurking” in vague Clean Air Act language. There is little reason, Roberts writes, to think Congress, without clearly saying so, tasked the EPA, “and it alone, with balancing the many vital considerations of national policy implicated in deciding how Americans will get their energy.” The majority should have invoked the related doctrine that Congress cannot properly delegate to an executive agency essentially legislative decisions.
By pruning the EPA’s pretensions, the court has signaled a quickened interest in policing the separation of powers. If, as is desirable, the decision presages similar ones, they could, cumulatively, revive Congress by compelling it to resume its proper responsibilities. This would limit the excessive autonomy currently enjoyed by the executive agencies that are the increasingly autonomous, unleashed and unaccountable administrative state.
In a 6-3 decision by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court held that the Clean Air Act doesn’t authorize the Clean Power Plan, or CPP, through which the Obama administration sought to force America’s electricity sector to switch to renewable sources. The plan would limit each state’s total allowable greenhouse gas-emissions under the banner of “performance standards” for power plants. That was the strategy the EPA had pursued for nearly a decade as its best option for imposing climate regulations by unilateral executive action.
The EPA’s attempt to impose such a scheme on states was particularly bold because Congress had just declined to enact a similar scheme. After the 2008 election, Democrats introduced the Waxman-Markey bill, a sweeping cap-and-trade scheme to reduce carbon emissions dramatically. Even with Democratic supermajorities in both houses, Congress failed to pass the bill.
Side note: The CBS reporter, Phil Williams, describes Hillsdale as “ultraconservative.” I wonder what he thinks that means? For comparison, Williams is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, which didn’t manage to admit its first black student until 118 years after Hillsdale did, Hillsdale having been open to African Americans from its founding by abolitionists in 1844. Hillsdale was also the second U.S. college to grant four-year degrees to women. It is true that Hillsdale emphasizes classical and Christian education, and that Larry Arnn is what you would call a “movement conservative.” I suppose Hillsdale is “ultraconservative” if your yardstick is Bryn Mawr, but why should we accept that as our norm?
(DBx: My observations from a long career of teaching at the collegiate level confirm Arnn’s assessment. Exceptions, of course, exist – some quite notable. But as a rule, education majors are below average as students.)
So, if we’re going to blame the entities that caused inflation, they are, in order, the Federal Reserve, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden. On the plus side, we should give huge credit to Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator from West Virginia, for standing strong against Biden’s further huge spending increase, misleadingly labeled “Build Back Better.”
Many social scientists have difficulty separating facts from faith, reality from the way they would like things to be. Critical research has itself become taboo which, in turn, means that policy makers are making decisions based more on ideologically-driven political pressure than scientific fact.
Adding to the intrinsic difficulty of social science, race, particularly, has become a topic where disinterested research on the causes of, for example, racial disparities, has become almost impossible. “Scientific” conclusions increasingly reflect ideological pre-dispositions, rather than appropriately cautious inferences from necessarily inadequate data. The rise of the influential concept of systemic racism is the result. Systemic racism is unmeasurable, hence ineradicable. Its rise has been accompanied by a stifling of research that might shed real light on racial and gender disparities. This suppression bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the tragedy of Soviet Lysenkoism.
I’ll never forget the moment I realized that the U.S. was in deep trouble; Fauci was testifying in Congress very early in the pandemic and admitted that they weren’t weighing costs and benefits in their response. “Aghast” best describes my reaction.
US schools closed because public health officials from Tony Fauci on down misled parents about covid risks to children. Now that the scope of the catastrophe is clear, many claim they supported opening schools “safely”. Schools would still be closed under the conditions they set.