The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board should win a prize for this understatement about Biden: “The President doesn’t appear to know anything about how the private economy works.” Here are two slices from the accompanying editorial:
“My message to the companies running gas stations and setting prices at the pump is simple: this is a time of war and global peril,” Mr. Biden tweeted Saturday. “Bring down the price you are charging at the pump to reflect the cost you’re paying for the product. And do it now.” Had Donald Trump issued such a command as President, the left would have cried “authoritarian.”
It’s embarrassing for the leader of the free world to sound like he’s channeling Hugo Chávez. A Chinese state media flack praised Mr. Biden’s tweet: “Now US President finally realized that capitalism is all about exploitation. He didn’t believe this before.” Or maybe he did, and nobody wanted to believe it.
The President’s economic ignorance isn’t a one-off. In recent months he has accused oil and gas companies of price gouging and demanded that they increase production even while his Administration threatens to put them out of business. Mr. Biden doesn’t understand that businesses make long-term decisions based on demand expectations and policy signals. Jeff Bezos called the President’s weekend tweet “either straight ahead misdirection or a deep misunderstanding of basic market dynamics.” They aren’t mutually exclusive.
But US refineries are already operating at 94 percent of their capacity, with US refineries in the Gulf of Mexico running at 98 percent, which is the highest rate in 30 years. Running refineries at a higher capacity than that risks damaging the equipment. As such, Biden isn’t just wrong, he insulted some of the hardest working people operating in one of the most dangerous industries in America.
If Biden wants more American fuel, then he should allow the building of new refineries, right?
But, on May 12, Biden’s Interior Department blocked a proposal to open up more than one million acres of land in Alaska for oil and gas drilling. Two days later, Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency blocked plans to expand an oil refinery in the US Virgin Islands.
Biden and his defenders said he had to block the expansion of the Virgin Islands refinery, given how polluting it was.
But had Biden’s EPA allowed the Virgin Island refinery to expand, the owners would have poured nearly $3 billion into retrofitting the plant so it produced gasoline and other products more cleanly, while significantly increasing production at the same time.
When oil and gas executives visited the White House in June, Biden snubbed them by refusing to attend the meeting. Instead, at the very same moment, he met with wind industry executives. A few days earlier, Biden administration officials signaled they may support a large new tax on the oil industry proposed by a Senator from Oregon.
All of this has soured the oil and gas industry on investing in production. “If you were an oil company,” a senior executive at a major US bank told me, why would you invest hundreds of millions of dollars into expanding refining capacity if you thought the federal government or investors would shut you down in the next few years? The narrative coming from the administration is absolutely insane.”
We often hear that global warming is responsible for greater and more frequent floods, and more drought. But Koonin quotes the IPCC report itself noting that climatologists have “low confidence” about whether floods will be greater and more frequent, or smaller and less frequent. Also, the IPCC report states that climatologists have “low confidence in a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th century.” Translation: the IPCC isn’t even sure about what has happened in the recent past let alone what will happen in the next few decades.
Johan Norberg alerts us to this new volume, edited by Karl Wennberg and Christian Sandström, that questions the value of the so-called “entrepreneurial state” and the prospects for success of industrial policy. Here’s Johan’s description of the volume:
We forgot the 1970s, so active industrial policy is back, from Beijing to Brussels. Therefore, the new book “Questioning the Entrepreneurial State”, eds Karl Wennberg and Christian Sandström, is a blessing. 30 scholars explain the state of knowledge about industrial policy, and remind us that it usually fails, big time. The problem with picking winners is that losers are so good at picking governments.
One of the main grievances of the Founding Fathers that led to the Revolutionary War was the growing use by Great Britain of sketchy venues like admiralty courts to prosecute colonists for offenses such as smuggling. In these proceedings, colonists were forcibly made to go to the mother country or the then-British colony of Nova Scotia (now a Canadian province) for trials without juries and with much lower standards of evidence than normal colonial courts. These travesties of justice were a significant factor in turning a wealthy Virginia agricultural entrepreneur, who had fought as a colonel for Britain in the French and Indian War in the 1750s, into the leader of the Revolutionary War who would become the new nation’s first president: George Washington.
In a 1774 letter, Washington wrote to his longtime friend and neighbor Bryan Fairfax making the case for drastic action against Great Britain (reprinted in the appendix of my book—George Washington, Entrepreneur—and available at Founders Online). Washington identified the quasi-courts’ lack of justice as one of his primary motivations for drastic action against the mother country. In the letter, he decried the British government’s “transporting offenders into other colonies or to Great Britain for trial where it is impossible from the nature of the thing that justice can be obtained.” This letter from Washington was coincidentally—or providentially—dated July 4, 1774.
Are we now paying the price of the worldwide Covid obsession? By throwing endless resources at the pandemic response, we disrupted access to routine healthcare and crucial immunisations. The stay-at-home messaging kept patients away from appointments and convinced health practitioners that it was appropriate to postpone their services.
The Covid pandemic saw one condition prioritised above all else, including life-saving vaccinations against childhood diseases. The return of polio could well be the latest example of how this approach created collateral damage that was entirely avoidable. It is time we acknowledged that our cure has been worse than the disease, especially for children.
Wall Street Journal columnist Allysia Finley is rightly skeptical of the alleged ‘need’ to vaccinate young children against covid – young children, of course, being at virtually no risk from that particular disease. A slice:
In fact, we don’t know if the vaccines are safe and effective. The rushed FDA action was based on extremely weak evidence. It’s one thing to show regulatory flexibility during an emergency. But for children, Covid isn’t an emergency. The FDA bent its standards to an unusual degree and brushed aside troubling evidence that warrants more investigation.
As it initially did for adults, the FDA granted the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for toddlers an emergency-use authorization allowing the agency to expedite access for products that “prevent serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions.” While adult Covid vaccines clearly met this standard in late 2020, the toddler vaccines don’t.
Only 209 kids between 6 months and 4 years old have died from Covid—about 0.02% of all virus deaths in the U.S. About half as many toddlers were hospitalized with Covid between October 2020 and September 2021 as were hospitalized with the flu during the previous winter. More children were hospitalized during the Omicron wave last winter, but hospitalization rates were still roughly in line with the 2019-20 flu season. None of the 5,400 or so toddlers in Moderna’s trial were hospitalized for Covid. Yet at least 15 were hospitalized for non-Covid infections.