≡ Menu

Some Links

Heather Mac Donald notes a telling difference that separates the Wall Street Journal from the New York Times. A slice:

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by George Soros, billionaire hedge fund manager and founder of the Open Society Foundations. Soros defended the resources he has poured into the campaigns of progressive prosecutors ($40 million over a decade, according to a June report). His efforts on behalf of criminal-justice reform are both popular and morally righteous, he claimed. American law enforcement is “rife with injustices,” Soros wrote, as evidenced by the fact that “black people in the U.S. are five times as likely to be sent to jail as white people.” (It was not clear whether Soros literally meant “jail,” whether he was using the term as a synecdoche for both prisons and jails, or whether he knew the difference between the two.)

What happened next was startling: nothing. To be sure, the conservative commentariat outside the Wall Street Journal sprang into action, penning articles, editorials, and letters to the editor challenging Soros’s claims. But within the Wall Street Journal’s editorial offices, quiet reigned. No editorial writer or columnist tweeted that Soros’s op-ed put him in danger. There were no calls for the opinion page to retract or renounce the op-ed, or for the opinion editor to resign.

Yet Soros’s piece fundamentally contradicted the Journal’s editorial position on policing and prosecution. The paper has argued in its editorials that the American criminal-justice system is not racist. Nor are decriminalization and decarceration a blow for racial justice, despite being fiercely pursued by Soros-backed district attorneys. Such policies harm law-abiding blacks most of all, the Journal’s opinion section maintains, by leaving them defenseless against criminals.

Despite Soros’s challenge to its longstanding editorial line, the opinion section proceeded as if publishing contrary views were a normal part of being a newspaper opinion page.

Contrast that calm with the outcry at the New York Times in June 2020, when the paper published an op-ed by Arkansas senator Tom Cotton. Cotton argued that then-President Donald Trump should consider calling out the military in response to the race riots that had been triggered by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and that were then engulfing urban areas. The senator explicitly distinguished the rioters from “peaceful, law-abiding protesters”; the latter should not be confused with “bands of miscreants,” he said. But the police were at present overwhelmed, outnumbered, and disproportionately targeted by the violence, Cotton noted. Cotton grounded his argument in historical precedent, invoking, among other examples, President Dwight Eisenhower’s deployment of the 101st Airborne to protect Little Rock Central High School’s desegregation efforts.

The Cotton op-ed threw the New York Times into crisis. It was apparently life-threatening to the paper’s black employees.

Writing at Reason, my Mercatus Center colleague Michael Farren explains the damage lurking in industrial policy. A slice:

The political zeitgeist has been moving back toward industrial policy, seemingly coincident with rising populism since the 1990s—despite abundant evidence that central planning is poisonous to innovation. Whether it’s encouragement via subsidies or constraint via regulation, using the government to guide the economy is akin to thinking that just a little bit of cyanide won’t hurt.

Samuel Gregg isn’t impressed with David Brooks’s recent criticism of capitalism. A slice:

And here’s the problem: The more you allow the government to intervene in the economy—whether through regulation, subsidies, tariffs, or industrial policy—to try and, say, diminish wealth differentials, the greater the opportunities for what economists call rent-seeking. This is when an individual or business tries to attain wealth by extracting resources from others (e.g., the government) but without actually doing much by way of economic productivity—in short, without adding value. There’s no reason why government interventions to address some of the wealth differentials and their effects that Brooks laments would not become yet another source of rent-seeking.

The Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards looks carefully at the Orwellian-named “Inflation Reduction Act.” A slice:

The budget modelers at Penn‐​Wharton estimate that the Senate bill would reduce the deficit by $86 billion in 2031, at most. That would be just 4 percent of the projected deficit that year and just 0.2 percent of U.S. GDP. So the bill’s impact on inflation through reducing deficits and demand would be close to zero.

Tax Foundation calculates that the Senate bill would reduce deficits by $178 billion over 10 years, which is just 1 percent of expected deficits over the period. Both Tax Foundation and Penn‐​Wharton find that the Senate bill would actually increase deficits the first few years, and thus have the opposite effect on inflation as the “reduction” promised by the bill’s title.

Pat Lynch remembers Geoff Brennan.

Debbie Lerman reports on how Deborah Birx got a White House job.

Maj. Gen. James Eifert, writing in the Wall Street Journal, warns of the ill-consequences of the Pentagon’s covid-vaccine mandate. A slice:

While the Pentagon suggests that military readiness is at risk with anything less than “maximum vaccination,” it’s vital that we consider the real consequences of enforcing its mandate. My Florida National Guard formations face the potential loss of about 1,000 unvaccinated guardsmen out of 12,000 total airmen and soldiers. That leaves us shorthanded as our state enters hurricane season, while more than 1,000 soldiers and airmen are also deployed on federal missions around the world.

Since March 2020, even before the vaccine, none of my military units have suffered any reductions in readiness as a direct result of the virus. The only loss in military readiness we’ve experienced has been the result of quarantine requirements, wholesale base lockdowns, travel restrictions and training cancellations.

Sound policy must be more beneficial than detrimental; the military’s Covid mandate decidedly isn’t. The benefits of vaccination are limited. Existing vaccines don’t prevent transmission of the dominant variants. And the virus has become less capable of rendering severe clinical outcomes, while effective treatments are now available for those who do get sick.

Even at its worst, Covid posed far less of a threat to young, healthy military cohorts than it did to other populations. There have been only 95 U.S. service-member deaths attributed to Covid from a total military population of 2.154 million. That’s a mortality rate of 0.004%—and a case-survival rate of 99.98%, based on the 421,807 infections the Pentagon has reported as of July 1. By contrast, the military’s suicide rate during 2020 was about seven times as great (0.027%). Any loss of life is regrettable—but shouldn’t our military be able to accomplish its missions while accepting a health risk this small?