And more is on the way: liberation of financial services, lighter business regulation, easier planning, cheaper childcare, safeguards against strike action. Liz Truss, the first PM to come from a think-tank background, understands detail and, just as important, knows which wonks to hire.
Especially encouraging was the recognition that complicated taxes are as damaging to prosperity as high taxes. The elimination of the 45p rate makes taxes flatter and simpler as well as lower. This matters enormously. In opposition, the Tories used to complain that, under Brown, the tax guide had grown from 5,000 to 11,000 pages. It now stands at 24,000 pages, and HMRC employs more officials than the NHS does GPs.
Most of Friday’s announcements were designed to boost our prosperity as a nation rather than being aimed at any particular group. Yes, poor people will benefit – but they will benefit as British citizens rather than as poor people.
This point cannot be stressed too strongly because it runs against the prevailing analysis. No sooner had [Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi] Kwarteng sat down than we were seeing those familiar bar charts showing that his tax cuts would be more valuable to higher than to lower earners.
This finding is delivered as if it were a devastating critique of government policy but, taken to its logical conclusion, it becomes an argument against cutting any tax ever. By definition, tax cuts help people who pay taxes more than people who don’t.
Chair Khan’s presentation, which called for a far-reaching “course correction” in U.S. antitrust, was even more bold and alarming. She announced plans for a new FTC Act Section 5 “unfair methods of competition” (UMC) policy statement centered on bringing “standalone” cases not reachable under the antitrust laws. Such cases would not consider any potential efficiencies and would not be subject to the rule of reason. Endorsing that approach amounts to an admission that economic analysis will not play a serious role in future FTC UMC assessments (a posture that likely will cause FTC filings to be viewed skeptically by federal judges).
A few weeks later it became clear: schools could be run safety (largely through Sweden’s experience), the risks to children were low, teachers did not have vastly elevated risks of death, and, by late summer, a German study proved that opening school did not drive substantive community transmission.
Many European nations reopened after 6 weeks (e.g. Switzerland) in the spring of 2020, while nearly all reopened by the fall of 2020. Some US states managed to reopen rapidly too, such as Florida, Texas and Rhode Island. But many cities remained closed: DC, Chicago, SF, Portland, Los Angeles.
During these months, Fauci went on television stirring up fear that reopening schools was dangerous. This would be disastrous advocacy. Even now, in 2022, with the benefit of hindsight, Fauci comments remain full of errors. He still doesn’t not get it— He was wrong; Spectacularly wrong; Once in a century error sort of wrong.
In conclusion, Anthony Fauci did position himself initially as a forceful defender of school closure. When much of Western Europe and Ron DeSantis reopened— Fauci went on TV to criticize the Florida governor. Even now, 2 years later, Fauci clings to delusional ideas to justify closures. He denies the reality that many US cities—with strong allegiance to him— closed the longest. Fauci’s comments show a person not capable admitting error. I suspect these comments will not age well in history.