Some Links

by Don Boudreaux on July 10, 2022

in Books, Crony Capitalism, Current Affairs, Risk and Safety, Seen and Unseen, Technology

George Will decries the digital-age stupidification of millennials.

Here’s part two of George Leef’s review of Deirdre McCloskey’s and Art Carden’s Leave Me Alone and I’ll Make You Rich. A slice:

Another currently popular explanation for the wealth of some nations (especially the United States) is that it was due to slavery. Among “progressives” in recent years, it has become fashionable to maintain that slavery was the cause of society’s wealth, and since the unfairness of slavery still has lingering effects, government reparation programs must be undertaken. The problem is that enslaving others is no way to earn great profits, much less catalyze economic growth. “Slavery,” the authors write, “is a common if horrible human institution. If slavery led to Great Enrichment, it would have happened in the slave societies of Greece or Rome.”

McCloskey and Carden then take a scalpel to the academic literature that supports the idea that slavery was what made western nations rich, finding it riddled with errors, and conclude by observing that slavery was ended due to the efforts of people who had earned fortunes the liberal way — through commerce.

Marcus Witcher reviews Matthew Continetti’s The Right: The Hundred Year War for American Conservatism. A slice:

Other conservatives joined the denunciations. [George] Wallace’s conservative fans, National Review founding senior editor Frank Meyer wrote, need to recognize that “there are other dangers to conservatism and to the civilization conservatives are defending than the liberal Establishment, and that to fight liberalism without guarding against these dangers runs the risk of ending in a situation as bad as or worse as our present one.” In modern parlance: Don’t back a man like Wallace to own the libs.

Ultimately, movement conservatives did not embrace Wallace. Ronald Reagan refused to run on his ticket with him (the idea had been floated by some conservative activists), and Wallace ultimately gave way to another Southern Democrat, Jimmy Carter (who Wallace endorsed and campaigned for in both 1976 and 1980). But the fact that he made so many inroads is revealing.

Dave Seminara isn’t impressed with Gavin Newsom’s attacks on Ron DeSantis. A slice:

California was far from free for much of the pandemic. In April 2020, a paddleboarder was handcuffed and arrested for being out in the Pacific Ocean alone while beaches were closed. Newsom put harsh limitations on personal freedoms, imposing mask and vaccine mandates that resulted in many Californians losing their jobs. A paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, ranking states on a Covid Report Card, had Florida sixth-best in overall performance, while California finished at 47. (As Bloomberg recently noted, Florida’s age-adjusted Covid mortality rates are almost identical to California’s.)

DeSantis also fought to keep Florida schools open. According to Burbio’s K-12 school opening tracker, Florida’s percentage of in-person school days was third-highest among the states in the 2020–2021 academic year, while California’s was dead last. Virtual learning represented a massive infringement on both the freedom of parents and the academic development of children, but Newsom was too afraid of teachers’ unions to insist on in-person learning during the pandemic.

Nate Hochman criticizes “the catastrophe grift.”

David Kirkwood describes the computer code used by Neil Ferguson as “amateurish.”

Writing in Spiked, David Livermore says that “[t]he worst thing we could do right now is impose new restrictions.” A slice:

The answer to the first question lies in the delusion that took hold in 2020. Those in positions of power believed that they could halt a respiratory pandemic through societal interventions. This ran counter to previous experience and beliefs. Historical respiratory pandemics – including the ‘Russian Flu’ of 1889-94, the ‘Spanish Flu’ of 1918-19, and the flu outbreaks of 1957-58 and 1968-69 – were allowed to run their course. Pre-Covid planning by Public Health England (2011) and the World Health Organisation (2019) anticipated that, next time, we would need to be similarly stoical. They recommended that life should be allowed to continue as normally as possible, with minimal panic. Neither agency advocated lockdowns or travel bans, and both were sceptical about the efficacy of masks for the uninfected.

Yet, in March 2020, all this planning and experience were discarded. It was enough that China asserted that lockdowns worked and that Neil Ferguson, then an adviser to the UK government, calculated that non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) could reduce deaths from 500,000 to 20,000. Without NPIs, the government stated, the NHS would be overwhelmed.

And, so from March 2020 onwards, the government imposed a whole range of NPIs, from lockdowns and masks, to Test and Trace and fines for non-compliance. The expectation was that NPIs should cut transmission by reducing human contacts. And any failure to cut transmission should be interpreted as a failure of public compliance. Hence the authorities were empowered to enforce the rules, while critics of the government’s approach were publicly denigrated and demonised.

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