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George Will lets loose – appropriately so – on the ignorant and self-absorbed ‘academics’ who attacked history professor James Sweet for daring to question the merits of wokey ‘history.’ Two slices:

Sweet had threatened the fun of progressive vanity, of celebrating oneself by disparaging historical figures: Washington, Lincoln, Churchill — all were the moral inferiors of 21st century professors. Worse, from the perspective of the woke, is Sweet’s skepticism about history as progressivism’s servant, which is history “that matters.”

He criticized the New York Times’s “The 1619 Project” so delicately (it is, he said in an amusing understatement, not “primarily” a work of history) that he did not mention its most nonsensical claim: The American Revolution was primarily ignited by a British offer of freedom to persons who fled slavery and joined the British — an offer that came after the battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill, and after George Washington assumed command of the Continental Army. For his mild impertinence regarding “The 1619 Project,” he was denounced as “against social justice.”

So, in four paragraphs of self-flagellation, Sweet almost instantly apologized for the “harm” his “ham-fisted” and “clumsy” attempt to “open a conversation” has caused. What harm? He did not say. Presumably progressive historians would somehow be harmed by hearing the thoughts in this column’s third paragraph. And harmed by his sin against political solidarity: In breaking ranks regarding the sacrosanct status of “The 1619 Project,” he gave aid and comfort to Republicans. The horror, the horror.

Sweet’s abject plea (“I’m listening and learning”) to be forgiven by those he has supposedly harmed is particularly puzzling because woke academics today cultivate an aura of toughness. For example, literature professors do not just critically read, say, George Eliot’s “Middlemarch,” they “interrogate” it, like hard-bitten detectives whose eyes, which have seen too much in our fallen world, peer beneath the brims of their fedoras. These interrogators are oblivious of how their vocabulary announces their childish role-playing.

Some excitable professors now histrionically regret having elected Sweet president of the American Historical Association. When their indignation subsides, and before another occasion for woke rage arrives, as surely it soon will, they might ask themselves: Why were less than 1.2 percent of bachelor of arts degrees awarded to history majors in 2019, the lowest percentage since records began being kept in 1949?

Perhaps one reason for this — and for today’s number of jobs for history PhDs being half the 2008 number — is students are not interested in learning history from professors who are less interested in history than in playing at politics. Such professors understand politics as the activity of advertising their virtue in the sandbox of today’s academia, where Sweet is crawling toward redemption.

My GMU Econ colleague Larry White explains that private currency has been quite common throughout history.

My GMU Econ colleague Bryan Caplan decries what he calls “the fakery of ‘fighting inflation.'” A slice:

Snapping the pieces together, we reach a shocking conclusion: Free markets are fundamentally deflationary. In the absence of monetary intervention, Aggregate Demand stays roughly stable*, while Aggregate Supply is growing. Per every textbook, stable demand and rising supply imply falling prices.

While then is inflation almost always positive in almost every country? Because central banks keep increasing the money supply. If they did nothing, deflation would be the norm.

It is therefore quite absurd to give the Fed or any other central bank credit for “fighting inflation.” You might as well give your hard-partying neighbor credit for “fighting loud noise” because he turned his stereo volume down from 10 to 7. Key point: If the neighbor wasn’t home to “fight loud noise,” the volume would be 0.

The most you can honestly say about any central bank is that they are trying to start causing a lot less inflation. Which sounds underwhelming. Which is why they twist the truth.

(DBx: Bryan expresses later in his post some mild support for the conventional notion that deflation, even when caused by rising productivity, is likely harmful – a notion with which I disagree, largely for reasons laid out by George Selgin.)

Antony Davies busts myths about student-loan ‘forgiveness.’ A slice:

Myth #4: Forgiving student loans is good for the economy because those students will be more able to purchase homes and cars.

It is true that student loan forgiveness will give students financial freedom they wouldn’t otherwise have – freedom to invest in starting businesses or to buy big ticket items like houses and cars. But this is only half of the truth. For every additional dollar students will be able to spend because their loans are forgiven, the rest of us will have one dollar less to spend because we must pay for the forgiven loans. In the end, there’s no positive economic effect. All the forgiveness does is augment students’ spending in exchange for diminishing the general population’s spending.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board explains that antitrust can literally be hazardous to your health. A slice:

Antitrust regulation is running off the rails in Europe and the U.S., and their citizens could wind up as collateral damage. The latest example is the European Commission’s order Tuesday to derail gene-sequencing giant Illumina’s acquisition of cancer blood-test startup Grail.

Grail has developed a lab test that can identify more than 50 cancers at early stages with a simple blood draw. Screenings don’t exist for most cancers, so many aren’t caught until they’ve spread and are harder to treat. While Grail’s test can’t catch all cancers, it can detect the 12 deadliest with about 76% accuracy, and its false positives are less than 1%. The tests could save tens of thousands of lives a year if widely adopted.

Enter Illumina, which makes platforms that sequence genetic tests for the likes of fetal abnormalities and Covid variants. While Illumina dominates this market, its growth in recent years has slowed amid competition from China’s BGI Group. Illumina saw a growth opportunity two years ago by making an $8 billion bid for Grail.

Illumina says its experience negotiating insurer reimbursements for genetic tests could accelerate Grail’s commercial adoption. Because most insurers currently don’t cover Grail’s test, the startup last quarter generated only $12 million in revenue and ran an $187 million operating loss. This makes the EC’s order blocking the deal all the more bizarre.

John Johnson and Denis Rancourt explain that lockdowns did not save lives. Quite the contrary. Here’s their conclusion:

Similarly, Rancourt et al. (2021) found that the temporal and spatial distribution of all-cause mortality in the pandemic period is inconsistent with the effects of a viral respiratory disease. They found evidence that many excess deaths during the pandemic were misdiagnosed bacterial pneumonia infections, likely exacerbated by disruptions to the US healthcare system.

Thus, there exists strong evidence supporting the hypothesis that lockdowns placed a sudden and severe stress burden on vulnerable demographics in the US, leading to significant increases in death in those states that used lockdowns as disease control measures.

Emma Camp reports on the data that show the enormous damage that covid school closures have inflicted on children. A slice:

However, it simply isn’t true that complicated reopening procedures were required to keep American schoolchildren safe during the pandemic. Nor were lengthy closures. Thankfully, COVID-19 generally spares the young. Sweden kept primary schools open for the entire pandemic, yet according to the Swedish Public Health Agency, COVID-19 cases among Swedish children were no higher than those in neighboring Finland, where schools temporarily closed. According to a 2022 study published in the International Journal of Educational Research, Swedish elementary schoolers suffered no learning losses during the course of the pandemic.

Tyler Cowen hopes that the American Economic Association will drop its absurd vaccination-boosted-masking requirements for attendees of its January 2023 meetings.

Carl Heneghan and Tom Jefferson write about the start of the “lockdown back-peddling race.” A slice:

Then there are the advisers who may have said things they knew were wrong at the time but as part of the Government machinery they had no control over their affirmations.

Then there are the interventionists who spun their words on the imposition of fear and the need for precautionary principles – all for our good, of course.

Finally, there are those who have left the seat of power with sweeping statements on the epidemiology of respiratory viruses which were dictated by their desire to know best in the face of considerable uncertainty.

This might be entertaining and could go on for some time, were it not for the human, economic and democratic disaster it has left present and future generations to deal with.

Brendan O’Neill is correct: “The ideology of lockdown is a menace to society.” Three slices:

Remember Zero Covid? This was the idea that the only way to deal with Covid-19 was by eliminating it. Only when every trace of the virus had been scrubbed from society would it be safe to let the masses out again, insisted the Zero Covid fanatics. Zero Covid ideologues were everywhere. In the medical establishment, the political elite, the media. In early 2021 the Guardian’s leader writers were telling Boris Johnson that he should ‘[stamp] out the virus with a Zero Covid strategy’. Kill Covid to save society.

How is Zero Covid looking now? Ask China. The suffering of the Chinese people under the ideology of Zero Covid is extraordinary. Lockdown may be a mercifully fading memory for us in the West but it remains the ruthless daily reality for the Chinese. The numbers are staggering. Sixty-eight cities in China are currently in partial or full lockdown. As of last week this includes the megacity of Chengdu, where 21million people have been instructed to stay indoors. Only one person from each household is allowed out to do essential shopping. No exercise, no strolls in the park, no going to work. Briefly nipping out for food is the only civil liberty the people of Chengdu enjoy.

The Chengdu lockdown is truly dystopian. Not only have millions been placed under house arrest – others have been forced to take up residence at their places of work. Chengdu is an economic powerhouse, home to global players in the automaker and technology markets, including Volkswagen and Foxconn Technology Group. And to ensure that the lockdown doesn’t disrupt production too much, some factories are operating ‘closed loop systems’. This means ‘separating workers from the rest of the community’. The workers stay on site, in campuses, away from their fellow citizens and families, and are constantly tested for sickness. All so that they can carry on being a cog in China’s vast economic machine. Under Zero Covid you’re either a potential carrier of disease that must be sealed into your home or a machine to be separated from society so that you can carry on producing for profit. Zero Covid dehumanises all.


The harms of Zero Covid are becoming clearer and clearer. As the British Medical Journal pointed out, there were even ‘reports of people [in Shanghai] dying from non-Covid causes because they [could not] access their usual medicines’. The entire oath of medicine – First, Do No Harm – is turned upside down when society devotes itself so singularly and psychotically to tackling one virus alone. Spiritual health, social health, even physical health – all have been sacrificed in China’s crusade to achieve Zero Covid. Let’s be grateful Boris didn’t heed the Guardian’s plea to pursue a Zero Covid strategy. Actually, the horrors of Shanghai seem to have changed even the Guardian’s mind. ‘Fear, paranoia, anger – this is life under China’s Zero Covid strategy’, a headline said in April.


Zero Covid has been an act of self-sabotage for China. It is now having a huge impact on China’s economy and political stability. It is all an apt and depressing reminder of what happens when the state elevates ideology over reason. When citizens are reduced to vectors of disease to be managed and controlled rather than being treated as wise, good individuals who should be trusted to behave responsibly. The nightmare in China is an indictment of the regime in Beijing, and also of some of the lockdown fanatics here in the West who might have happily led us down the same path to social destruction.

(DBx: Never forget that Imperial College’s Neil Ferguson – the ‘modeler’ whose scientistic prognostications in early 2020 so impressed so many western ‘leaders’ – expressed admiration for the Chinese government’s tyrannical and deranged method of dealing with covid.)

Dan Wootton tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

I feel sick to the stomach for the poor souls in China continuing to live through the dystopian hell of Zero Covid.
Shame on Jeremy Hunt, Jacinda Ardern, Devi Sridhar, Nicola Sturgeon and every other western leader who championed such an insane philosophy.