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My Mercatus Center colleagues Alden Abbott and Andrew Mercado explain “what the administration misunderstands about the current crisis, and how the Jones Act makes everyone worse off.” A slice:

Another constraint on shipping companies’ ability to service US ports quickly is the Jones Act. Because the vast majority of ocean-based shipping companies are not based in the United States and do not meet Jones Act requirements, they cannot pick up cargo in one US port and drop it off in another US port. This generates a substantial inefficient underutilization of shipping capacity. Whether by additional ship, truck, or rail, these extra steps add cost, complexity, and time to the shipping process that would not be relevant if a single foreign ship could service more than one US port.

George Will writes about the changing economics of the news business. A slice:

[Andrey] Mir believes that all this has produced “post-journalism,” by which the mainstream media supply not news but “news validation,” the validation of news that is disturbing “within certain value systems.” This business model — media as “agents of polarization” — results in the stratification of newspapers because, Mir says, it produces large rewards for only a few nationally significant newspapers.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy is rightly critical of how airlines in the U.S. responded to their receipt of gargantuan covid subsidies.

In this letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal, Michael Doran makes a good point:

In “The 20-Year Experiment Holding the U.S. Back” (op-ed, July 29), John Berlau and Josh Rutzick make a good point about the Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s responsibility for the demise of smaller initial public offerings and many public companies. But the lynching of these firms at the hands of Congress and various government agencies was a tragedy in multiple acts, not only one.

In the 1980s and ’90s, smaller investment banks offered smaller IPOs and made a market in the stocks after the deal closed. They did this not only to support their clients, but also because it was profitable. Under the old over-the-counter trading system, spreads were large, but that made it attractive to trade these smaller-cap stocks and ensured that there would be a market.

Under progressively tighter best-execution regulations, together with the decimalization that eliminated the cushion in a one-eighth or even a one-sixteenth spread, it became unprofitable to trade small-cap stocks, and the number of market makers willing to try shrank dramatically. Without aftermarket liquidity, smaller IPOs became impossible to sell. Once again, in regulators’ zeal to improve the market, they killed it.

By forcing private companies to stay private for longer, regulators reduced the public’s access to information about those companies, locked retail investors out of opportunities, restricted promising young companies’ access to capital and empowered venture-capital and private-equity funds, which have virtually no reporting requirements.

Jane Shaw writes wisely about Hayek’s atavism thesis.

Paul Moreno is not impressed with Willian Novak’s case for a robust administrative state. A slice:

Novak especially misses the “political” in the sense that these prophets of regulation wanted to rule, to remake American society in their own image, to establish a new regime. They were truly social engineers in the sense that Paul Johnson so ably outlined in Modern Times. The curse of the 20th century, Johnson observed, was the belief that experts, technocrats, bureaucrats, or planners “can shovel human beings around like concrete.” In this way, “our democracy” was fundamentally anti-democratic. “Substantive” democracy cannot abide the procedural (what the progressives dismissed as “formal”) democracy of political parties, representation, elections, and, above all, accountability of bureaucrat-engineer-experts to the people. Herbert Croly, a giant figure in the progressive movement, was honest enough to say in 1909, “the average American individual is morally and intellectually inadequate to a serious and consistent conception of his responsibilities as a democrat.” It is telling that Novak largely keeps Croly off-stage in New Democracy.

Rand Paul plausibly accuses Fauci of lying about gain-of-function research.

Ian Miller reports on a new low in mask studies.

Responding to an ignorant physician who accuses the authors of the great Great Barrington Declaration of being “backed by Koch brothers money,” Jay Bhattacharya tweets:

For this doctor, pointing out the damage that the lockdown policies he supported on the poor, the vulnerable, small business owners, and the working class is “faux populism.” Though working doctors are not members of the laptop class, many have values aligned with it.

(DBx: I call the physician who prompted this apt response by Jay “ignorant” because the term fits perfectly. Only ignorant people resort to ad homimen argumentation. And when the central fact that allegedly justifies the ad hominem attack is itself untrue, the ignorance at work is revealed to be especially intense.

I propose a study: Someone should research the prevalence of ad hominem arguments used by pro-lockdowners compared to the prevalence of such arguments used by anti-lockdowners. I strongly suspect that of the two groups – pro-lockdowners and anti-lockdowners – the former rely far more frequently on ad homimen argumentation.)