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Arnold Kling explains that DEI leads to racism. A slice:

If individuals are equally qualified on the basis of standards and you want to use diversity as a tie-breaker, that might be ok. But achieving diversity by getting rid of standards is counterproductive.

Jettisoning standards insults the many black students who are capable of meeting the highest standards of excellence. It probably depresses their achievement as well.

John Cochrane points us to two powerful essays on academia’s on-going self-destruction.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown reports that “the FDA’s awful labeling regulations made the baby formula shortage worse.”

Juliette Sellgren talks with my Mercatus Center colleague Weifeng Zhong about propaganda from the Chinese government.

Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel rightly observes that too many Republicans are hypocritical about government spending. A slice:

This is Republican business as usual. The GOP that is assisting in this quarter-trillion-dollar spendathon is the same GOP that last year provided the votes for a $1 trillion infrastructure boondoggle. The same GOP that in 2020 signed on to not one, not two, three or four, but five Covid “relief” bills, to the tune of some $3.5 trillion. The same GOP that smartly cut taxes in 2017, but pretended it didn’t and blew through discretionary spending caps. The same GOP that has unofficially re-embraced earmarks. The party occasionally takes a breather—say to gripe about the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion Covid bill in 2021—but then it’s right back to the spending grindstone.

When was the last time anyone heard a Republican talk about the need to reform Social Security or Medicare? That disappeared with the election of Donald Trump (opposed to both) and the retirement of Speaker Paul Ryan and never reappeared. Instead, a growing faction of the party sees a future in buying the votes of working- and middle-class voters with costly new entitlement proposals of their own, such as expanded child tax credits. Who wants to dwell on painful budget or welfare reform when Republicans can promote their values by doling out federal cash?

Some will note that “only” 16 Senate Republicans voted to advance the new “innovation” blowout—that the significant majority of the 50-strong GOP caucus remains opposed. But 16 is still a lot. Especially for a party that claims a core belief in “limited government.” The number is a function of a party leadership that is no longer making a top priority of fiscal restraint, giving license to its spenders. That, and outside conservative groups that are increasingly focusing on the culture wars rather than the threat of big government.

GMU Econ alum Caleb Fuller learned from personal experience “that even the most well-intentioned public policy has ripple effects that policymakers are not always capable of anticipating.”

Phil Magness observes on his Facebook page:

When you look back on the last 2.5 years, keep in mind that it took Fauci and Biden getting Covid before the public health profession conceded that basically none of the measures that they pushed upon us for that same period worked as they claimed.

Wesley Smith writes about a new study that finds that natural immunity is as effective as vaccines at protecting against serious consequences from covid. Here’s his reasonable conclusion:

Natural immunity should count as much as vaccinated status in determining risk of serious illness. More broadly, coercion to force vaccination is not defensible as a matter of policy. The mandates should be repealed. Military members who refused vaccination should not be discharged. People in the private sector who lost their jobs because of the vaccine hysteria should be reinstated. Anyone adversely impacted by their personal decision to remain un-vaxxed should be made whole.

Joel Zinberg says “no more masks.” Two slices:

Covid-19 cases are on the rise again in the United States. Even President Biden is infected. But the biggest danger is not the virus—the now-dominant and highly contagious Omicron BA.5 variant—but the risk that public health officials will overreact.

Over the past two months, new Covid cases have risen by roughly 15 percent. Covid hospitalizations have risen even more. But BA.5 does not cause more severe disease than earlier variants. In fact, the percentage of Covid cases leading to bad outcomes appears to be declining.

The hospitalization increase is likely artifactual. The severity of illness among hospitalized Covid patients has been declining since autumn 2021—both intensive-care unit admission and mortality rates have been steadily falling. The likely explanation is that many Covid-positive admissions actually entered the hospital for other reasons before testing positive on routine tests for Covid. In fact, current cases and hospitalizations are still moderate when viewed over the history of the pandemic and are far lower than previous spikes. More importantly, Covid death rates have been relatively flat for the past three months.

But these facts have not kept Los Angeles County from planning to reinstate its indoor mask mandate on July 29. Multiple California universities and school districts have already reinstated mask mandates. Gwinnett County, Georgia, employees and schools have imposed new masking requirements. And it’s always possible that enterprising officials could inflict more restrictive lockdown-type measures if cases continue rising.


A study of Covid infection rates in all 50 states during the first year of the pandemic concluded that “mask mandates and use are not associated with slower state-level COVID-19 spread during COVID-19 growth surges.” Other studies comparing counties and states with different masking policies suggested that mandates could reduce Covid case growth, but these were generally conducted early in the pandemic, when multiple infection-prevention and control measures were in place, making it challenging to measure the independent impact of mask mandates. Moreover, these studies preceded the advent of more highly transmissible variants like Omicron, and especially the now prevalent and even more transmissible BA.5 subvariant, and therefore may not be directly relevant to the current situation.

Here’s the abstract from a June 2022 paper by Michaéla Schippers, John Ioannidis, and  Ari Joffe:

A series of aggressive restrictive measures around the world were adopted in 2020-2022 to attempt to prevent SARS-CoV-2 from spreading. However, it has become increasingly clear that an important negative side-effect of the most aggressive (lockdown) response strategies may involve a steep increase in poverty, hunger, and inequalities. Several economic, educational and health repercussions have not only fallen disproportionately on children, students, and young workers, but also and especially so on low-income families, ethnic minorities, and women, exacerbating existing inequalities. For several groups with pre-existing inequalities (gender, socio-economic and racial), the inequality gaps widened. Educational and financial security decreased, while domestic violence surged. Dysfunctional families were forced to spend more time with each other, and there has been growing unemployment and loss of purpose in life. This has led to a vicious cycle of rising inequalities and health issues. In the current narrative and scoping review, we describe macro-dynamics that are taking place as a result of aggressive public health policies and psychological tactics to influence public behavior, such as mass formation and crowd behavior. Coupled with the effect of inequalities, we describe how these factors can interact towards aggravating ripple effects. In light of evidence regarding the health, economic and social costs, that likely far outweigh potential benefits, the authors suggest that, first, where applicable, aggressive lockdown policies should be reversed and their re-adoption in the future should be avoided. If measures are needed, these should be non-disruptive. Second, it is important to assess dispassionately the damage done by aggressive measures and offer ways to alleviate the burden and long-term effects. Third, the structures in place that have led to counterproductive policies, should be assessed and ways should be sought to optimize decision-making, such as counteracting groupthink and increasing the level of reflexivity. Finally, a package of scalable positive psychology interventions is suggested to counteract the damage done and improve future prospects for humanity.

In response to Philip Bump’s defense of lockdowns, Jay Bhattacharya tweets:

This WaPo columnist thinks the lockdowns were justified because they delayed when Pres. Biden got infected. Shocking blindness to the tremendous harm they caused to children, the poor, & the working class in the meantime.