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Charlotta Stern summarizes the history and current state of the Swedish labor market.

My GMU Econ colleague Bryan Caplan shares his favorite pages from Chapter One of his new book, Build, Baby, Build: The Science and Ethics of Housing Regulation.

Jeff Jacoby’s assessment of Gorbachev is realistic. Here are his concluding paragraphs:

Fortunately for the former Soviet republics, Gorbachev’s tolerance for slaughter was low. He was too decent to successfully rule an evil empire. When he first rose to the highest position in the Kremlin in 1985, the longtime Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko vouched for his ruthlessness. “Comrades, this man has a nice smile,” Gromyko told the Politburo. “But he has teeth of iron.”

He didn’t live up to that billing. Maybe he wished he could be more brutal, but ultimately Gorbachev chose not to follow the path of unlimited bloodshed. As it became clear that the great Soviet revival he had hoped to engineer would come to naught, he did not resort to bullets to cling to power. “He will go down as a giant not because he succeeded but because he failed repeatedly,” wrote R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. in The American Spectator. “But in his repeated failures he made the world a better place.” There are worse ways to be remembered.

George Will looks back on elites and their role. A slice:

The mandarins who elicited the journalistic swoons that [David] Halberstam detested were not satanic. But they had, as Tenner says, “the disadvantage of unbroken success and cumulative advantage that so many experience”: “The confidence conferred by mandarin education can be seductive when not tempered by career reversals. Men and women sometimes fail because in eluding failure they come to ignore their own fallibility.”

Tenner cites Robert Hutchings — scholar, diplomat and former chairman of the National Intelligence Council — warning that academic careers can make people susceptible to self-deception “because they have been socialized in a world of theory in which their ideas have no consequences.” [Edward] Tenner says Americans today live in “Immoderation Nation, swinging between uncritical admiration and scorn” for elites. He hopes that “the mandarins of the future will include more people who, unlike the [McGeorge] Bundys of the world, have crashed once or twice on the fast track.”

Max Borders decries the mistaken and malignant impulse to blame capitalism. A slice:

The problem isn’t capitalism. The problem isn’t greed per se–or maybe it is. Too many people want to live at others’ expense or charge the national credit card, which – at 138 percent of GDP plus unfunded liabilities – is maxed out.

So when it comes to laying blame, we have to start getting more specific. Yes, there are bad individual actors, bad corporate actors, and bad government actors. But instead of blaming entrepreneurial capitalism, which is just a system for people sustainably to serve each other, it’s time to blame those who keep intervening to “save capitalism” or those who keep trying to save us from capitalism. And it’s time to blame those whose failures of imagination always end up in one of interventionism’s ideological ditches: regulation or redistribution.

Ian Vásquez reflects on “Chile and Latin America’s Disposable Constitutions.”

The straw man is currently wreaking havoc on the people of Chengdu.

Here’s the abstract of a new paper by Michaéla Schippers, John P. A. Ioannidis, and Ari Joffe: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

A series of aggressive restrictive measures were adopted around the world in 2020–2022 to attempt to prevent SARS-CoV-2 from spreading. However, it has become increasingly clear the most aggressive (lockdown) response strategies may involve negative side-effects such as a steep increase in poverty, hunger, and inequalities. Several economic, educational, and health repercussions have fallen disproportionately on children, students, young workers, and especially on groups with pre-existing inequalities such as low-income families, ethnic minorities, and women. This has led to a vicious cycle of rising inequalities and health issues. For example, educational and financial security decreased along with rising unemployment and loss of life purpose. Domestic violence surged due to dysfunctional families being forced to spend more time with each other. In the current narrative and scoping review, we describe macro-dynamics that are taking place because 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 toward 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 humanity’s prospects.